Showing posts with label Milwaukee Brewers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Milwaukee Brewers. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Howie Kendrick, Jean Segura, Carlos Quentin, Mark Buehrle, etc.

Howie Kendrick
Shifting the focus from SoxFest and its aftermath, let's take a look at some of the other news and notes from around baseball the past few days.

Kendrick returns to Dodgers on two-year deal; Segura to Diamondbacks

Veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick signed a two-year, $20 million contract to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, a deal that figures to be a bargain for the Dodgers.

Kendrick turned down a qualifying offer that would have paid him $15.8 million for the 2016 season, and apparently could not find another team that was interested in coughing up a draft pick in order to sign him.

This move makes the Dodgers better, because Kendrick is a better solution at second base than a platoon of Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez. Moreover, it keeps Kendrick away from the NL West rival Arizona Diamondbacks, who have needs in the middle infield and seemed to be a logical destination for Kendrick.

Apparently, the Diamondbacks didn't want to part with the 39th pick in the draft, which they would have surrendered to the Dodgers had they signed Kendrick. Instead, they traded pitcher Chase Anderson, infielder Aaron Hill and minor leaguer Isan Diaz to the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop Jean Segura and pitcher Tyler Wagner.

Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said the club is "seeking a little bit more offense" with this trade. OK, let's compare Kendrick and Segura.

2015:
Kendrick: .295/.336/.409, 9 HRs, 54 RBIs, 6 SBs
Segura: .257/.281/.336, 6 HRs, 50 RBIs, 25 SBs

Career:
Kendrick: .293/.336/.409
Segura: .266/.301/.360

If you were "seeking a little bit more offense," which player would you add? Kendrick, right? It's a slam dunk.

So, instead of surrendering the 39th pick in the draft to sign Kendrick and keep him away from the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks surrendered a major league pitcher (Anderson) and a good prospect (Diaz) to trade for Segura, who is clearly a lesser player than Kendrick.

This is a fail for Arizona.

Quentin comes out of retirement, signs with Twins

Former White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, 33, will attempt a comeback with the Minnesota Twins. He signed a minor league deal Tuesday that would pay him $750,000 if he is added to the 40-man roster.

Quentin enjoyed his best season in 2008 with the White Sox, when he totaled 36 home runs and 100 RBIs. Injuries have plagued his career -- he hasn't played more than 86 games in a season since 2011. He last played in the majors with San Diego in 2014 and announced his retirement after Atlanta released him in April 2015.

Buehrle not signing a contract, not retiring either

Former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, currently a free agent, says he's “not planning to sign, but not officially retiring," acccording to reports.

The 37-year-old lefty finished last season with a 3.81 ERA with the Toronto Blue Jays and probably could help a team as a veteran at the back of the rotation.

If some team has an injury to a significant member of its starting staff during spring training, I wouldn't be surprised if that team gives Buehrle a call.

Will anyone sign Thornton?

Continuing with this theme of former White Sox, they say left-handers can pitch forever. That being the case, how come relief pitcher Matt Thornton can't find a job?

Sure, he's 39 years old and not as overpowering as he used to be, but he held left-handed hitters to a .198/.205/.279 slash line and compiled a 2.18 ERA with the Washington Nationals last year.

Hard to believe some team can't use that.

Olivo gets minor league deal with Giants

Former White Sox catcher Miguel Olivo, 37, has signed a minor league deal with San Francisco. Olivo spent 2015 in the Mexican League, exiled after the Dodgers released him in 2014 for biting off a chunk of Alex Guerrero's ear during a dugout brawl at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

White Sox finally generate some first-inning offense

Avisail Garcia has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games.
A not-so-fun fact: The White Sox have scored just 10 first-inning runs through their first 31 games. That's the lowest total of any team in the majors.

Better news: Three of those 10 first-inning runs came Wednesday night, and they gave the Sox the jump they needed to come away with a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Sox won consecutive road games for the first time this season and also won their first road series, taking two out of three from the last-place Brewers.

The three-run rally in the first inning featured both small ball and long ball. Adam Eaton started the game by working a walk after a 12-pitch at-bat. He moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a groundout by Emilio Bonifacio and scored on a sacrifice fly by Melky Cabrera.

Avisail Garcia and Adam LaRoche then hit back-to-back home runs to give the Sox the early 3-0 advantage. That was another in a night of firsts for the Sox -- it was the first time they've gone back-to-back this season.

Sox pitcher Jose Quintana was probably stunned to have three runs of support before he ever took the mound. The Sox lefty entered Wednesday's action with a 2.37 ERA over his previous three starts, but all he had to show for it was two losses.

Blessed with an early lead this time, Quintana made it stand up. He fired seven-plus innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits and a walk. He struck out 10 batters.

The Sox have received quality starting pitching in four of their last five games. They've also won four of their last five games. Funny how that works, huh?

One other note about Garcia: His 2-for-4 night raised his batting average to .322. The right fielder has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games. He's had more than one hit in nine of those contests. The 23-year-old has been mostly overlooked, even in Chicago, but he's been the Sox's most consistent hitter to this point in the season.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chris Sale pitches more like himself; Carlos Rodon added to White Sox rotation

And now for some rare good news White Sox fans ...

Chris Sale pitched like the ace he is Tuesday, putting a stop to the Sox's absurd seven-game road losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Sale fired eight innings of two-run ball, allowing just three hits while striking out 11 and walking only one. This was Sale's 19th double-digit strikeout game in just his 91st career start.

We've come to expect this sort of dominance from Sale, but he's been off to a slow start this season after missing most of spring training with a broken foot. In his previous two outings, Sale had allowed 13 earned runs on 16 hits over 8.1 innings. He uncharacteristically walked seven batters over that same stretch.

On Tuesday, Sale did not issue a walk until there were two outs in the eighth, his last inning of work. The command was back, his breaking ball was better on the whole, and his velocity was in the high 90s into the late innings.

It goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway: The Sox need Sale to pitch like this regularly if they have any hope of getting back into contention in the AL Central race.

Rodon moves into rotation

The White Sox also announced Tuesday that prized prospect Carlos Rodon will make his second career start Friday in Oakland and will move into the rotation in place of Hector Noesi.

We probably haven't seen the last of Noesi starting games, as the Sox will keep a close eye on Rodon's innings count.

“There is going to be scheduled periods of breaks, there will be times when he is skipped, there will be times when he has more than the regular four or five days off,” GM Rick Hahn said in an ESPN Chicago article. “But the process of transitioning him into a starter will begin Friday in Oakland.”

That works for me. I didn't want Rodon to continue wasting away in a mop-up bullpen role. The kid is a starting pitcher, and I'm glad the Sox are going to let him start.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Miserable first inning typical of White Sox malaise

This isn't a newsflash, but the White Sox stink on the road.

Sure, they had a nice 4-2 homestand, taking two out of three from both the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds, but it's naive to think the Sox's early-season struggles are over until they can resemble a major league team while playing away from the comfortable environs of U.S. Cellular Field.

The Sox fell to 2-12 on the road Monday with a 10-7 loss to the NL Central cellar-dwelling Milwaukee Brewers, and the South Siders wasted no time reminding fans just how bad a team they are. The first inning of this game was disgraceful.  Let's take a moment to review the sad timeline:
  • Milwaukee leadoff hitter Gerardo Parra hit a grounder toward second baseman Micah Johnson, whose lame attempt to backhand the ball was a failure. The ball deflected off Johnson's glove for a "single." The play should have been made. It was not.
  • Parra successfully stole second base, and catcher Geovany Soto's throw was nowhere near the bag. Parra had a good enough jump that he probably would have been safe regardless, but Soto still looked like a fool with his lame toss.
  • Ryan Braun, the second Milwaukee hitter of the game, hit a weak grounder to shortstop that Alexei Ramirez kicked for an error. The play should have been made. It was not. Runners on first and third, no outs.
  • Adam Lind, the third Milwaukee hitter of the game, hit what should have been a double-play ball to Johnson, who was too slow to field it and too slow to get the ball to Ramirez. The Sox did force Braun out at second base, but Lind was needlessly safe at first. The play should have been made. It was not.
  • Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija hangs a slider to Milwaukee cleanup hitter Carlos Gomez, who homers to put the Brewers up 3-0.
Amazing, isn't it? Four batters into the first inning, and the Sox had already made a handful of glaring miscues. Is it any wonder this team is 12-17?

Samardzija eventually dug the team a 6-0 hole, and to the Sox's credit, they did battle back against inferior Milwaukee pitching to tie the game at 7-7 in the eighth inning.

Alas, reliever Zach Duke had his first bad outing of the year. He gave up three runs, including home runs by Elian Herrera and Khris Davis, in the bottom of the eighth inning. That Milwaukee rally sealed the Sox's fate. It was a fate they deserved after another night on the road of pitiful defense and subpar starting pitching.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

White Sox sign left-handed relief pitcher Zach Duke

The White Sox on Tuesday took their first step toward revamping their bullpen by signing left-handed relief pitcher Zach Duke to a three-year, $15 million contract.

Reports indicate Duke, 31, will earn $4.5 million in 2015, $5 million in 2016 and $5.5 million in 2017.

Duke spent the first six years of his career as a starter with the Pittsburgh Pirates. That didn't work out so well for him. He went 45-70 with a 4.54 ERA during those seasons.

He's been with four different teams since 2011, including Milwaukee, where he re-invented himself as a relief pitcher last year. He lowered his arm slot and found success in a LOOGY role. He posted a 2.45 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 58.2 innings for the Brewers in 2014. Opponents batted just .223 against him. More importantly, he limited left-handed hitters to a .198 batting average.

We know White Sox GM Rick Hahn likes relief pitchers who keep the ball on the ground. In that context, the Duke signing is hardly a surprise. The left-hander had a 57.7 percent ground ball rate with Milwaukee last season. Duke also saw a sharp increase in his strikeout totals. He fanned 11.35 men per nine innings in 2014, a huge jump from his career rate of 5.02 per nine innings.

That strikeout rate may not be sustainable, but I think Hahn will be happy with this signing if Duke throws as many ground balls as he did last season with the Brewers.

Is this an overpay? Probably, but that's how it goes in free agency. We live in a day and age where the Toronto Blue Jays gave a soon-to-be-32-year-old catcher in Russell Martin a five-year deal worth $82 million. Heck, the Miami Marlins just gave Giancarlo Stanton $325 million on a 13-year deal.

Most baseball contracts seem ridiculous these days, and you certainly cannot blame the White Sox for anteing up to try to fix their bullpen. The Sox had nothing coming out of their relief corps from the left side in 2014. Donnie Veal and Scott Downs both pitched their way off the roster. Eric Surkamp had a few good moments, but his 4.81 ERA over 24.2 innings didn't inspire enough confidence that he could be the Sox' main left-hander out of the bullpen.

So, the club has opened up its pocketbook a bit to add Duke. I suspect this isn't the last relief pitcher the Sox will sign this offseason. The Sox bullpen was last in all of baseball with 379 strikeouts last year, and the bullpen ERA of 4.38 ranked 14th out of 15 teams in the American League.

Relief pitching has been a real sore spot, and Hahn is making a $15 million bet that Duke can help fix those issues over the next three years.

Monday, September 8, 2014

White Sox release 2015 schedule

The White Sox have struggled to a 9-23 record over their past 32 games, so it's clearly time to start thinking about next year. Major League Baseball on Monday released its 2015 schedule, allowing fans of losing clubs like the Sox to put aside the current misery and take a look toward what will hopefully be brighter days ahead.

The first question I always ask myself when the schedule comes out: When is the Sox home opener? The answer is Friday, April 10. For the second straight year, the Sox will host the Minnesota Twins in their first home game. But, it won't be the first game of the year this time. The South Siders will start the season on the road Monday, April 6, in Kansas City against the Royals.

The other thing I always look for are possible road trips to take with the team. Those opportunities will be aplenty in 2015, as the Sox take on NL Central opponents in interleague play next season. They'll be at Milwaukee (May 11-13), Pittsburgh (June 15-16) and St. Louis (June 30-July 1).

I'll probably look into making the trip down to St. Louis. It's a nice ballpark. The Cardinals are always a good team, and it's refreshing to be in a city where baseball in the most important sport.

Naturally, the Chicago media is always quick to mention the crosstown series dates when the schedule comes out. For the record, the Sox will play the Cubs six times next season instead of four, and the series is moving back to weekend dates. The two teams will play at Wrigley Field from July 10-12. The series at U.S. Cellular Field will be from Aug. 14-16.

It's no secret I hate the crosstown series. I haven't attended one of those games since 2008. It's overpriced. It's not fun to go. There are too many drunk people. There are too many fights. The rivalry brings out the worst in both fan bases. If the crosstown series were outlawed, I wouldn't shed one tear. I'll be selling my tickets to those games.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Remember when the Indians traded CC Sabathia?

Whenever an established veteran is traded for a package of prospects, experts routinely say we won't know how good of a deal a trade is until four, five, six years down the road.

For the most part, I think that's a fair way of looking at things, but we don't always take the time to re-evaulate deals of the past once that future finally arrives.

But with the Cleveland Indians in town to play the White Sox for a four-game series over the weekend, I got to thinking about the trade the Tribe made on July 7, 2008, in which they sent their ace pitcher, CC Sabathia, to the Milwaukee Brewers as part of a blockbuster deal.

Now that nearly six years have passed, I think it's fair to take a look back at this trade. For Sabathia, the Indians acquired outfielder Matt LaPorta, pitchers Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson and a player to be named later.

How did the Brewers come out in this deal? Well, Sabathia made 17 starts for them the rest of 2008 and went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA. He pitched like an ace down the stretch of that season and helped Milwaukee secure the wild card spot in the National League. Unfortunately for the Brewers, Sabathia got shelled in his lone postseason start, and Milwaukee lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual world champion Philadelphia Phillies.

That offseason, Sabathia left Milwaukee for much greener pastures, signing an 8-year mega-deal with the New York Yankees, for whom he still pitches today.

I doubt the Brewers regretted making the deal. It didn't net them a World Series, but it did help get them in the playoffs, and they probably knew Sabathia was going to walk at season's end at the time they made the trade.

Time has shown the players Milwaukee parted with on that July day didn't amount to much. Bryson was not much of a prospect and never pitched above Triple-A. Jackson appeared in 12 games over two seasons with the Indians, going 2-3 with a 6.11 ERA. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009. Left-handed pitchers tend to live forever, so the now-30-year-old Jackson is still kicking it around in the Washington Nationals organization, but he never helped the Tribe.

That brings us to LaPorta, who was considered "the big piece" of the deal. He was the 23rd-best prospect in baseball going into the 2008 season, as ranked by Baseball America. He was holding pretty steady at No. 27 on that list going into 2009, the spring after he had been dealt to the Indians.

Some experts were surprised the Brewers would part with LaPorta in exchange for a half-season of Sabathia, believing LaPorta was destined to be a prolific right-handed power bat. As it turns out, that didn't happen.

LaPorta made it to the majors with Cleveland, but he made little impact. He posted a .238/.301/.393 slash line with 31 home runs in 120 RBIs over 291 games from 2009 to 2012. He never hit more than 12 home runs in any season. The 29-year-old is now playing for Campeche of the Mexican League, where he is a teammate of former Cubs pitcher Sean Gallagher.

So, from all this we can safely conclude the Brewers fleeced the Indians back in 2008, right? Not so fast.

Remember, the trade included a player to be named later. That October, the Brewers completed the deal by sending outfielder Michael Brantley to the Indians. The 27-year-old is now in his fourth full year as a fixture in the Cleveland outfield. While Brantley is not an All-Star, he's a legitimate everyday player, having posted a .284/.332/.396 slash line in 2013, to go along with a career-high 10 home runs and 73 RBIs.

When a team acquires four prospects in exchange for an established veteran, it's a successful trade if even one of those prospects turns into something decent. After all, most prospects are complete busts. In this particular trade, the highly regarded prospect was a bust, while the player to be named later has become a major league starting outfielder.

Funny how it works out sometimes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chris Sale's strong outing alleviates bogus 'concerns'

I had to laugh Monday when I read news stories about the White Sox naming Chris Sale their starting pitcher for Opening Day. As if there were another pitcher on the roster under consideration.

That decision might be the easiest one Sox manager Robin Ventura has to make all season. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Sale made his third start of the spring Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers and turned in 4.1 dominant innings. He retired 13 of the 15 hitters he faced and allowed just a pair of two-out singles. He struck out three and walked none.

I was relieved to hear Sale pitched well, not because I was worried about him, but because it was obnoxious to hear the bogus "concerns" other people had when Sale got knocked around in his second outing against the San Diego Padres last week.

In that game, Sale allowed six earned runs over 2.2 innings and struggled to get command of his breaking ball. Sale hadn't thrown his slider at all in his first outing of the spring, so it stands to reason he had difficulty with that pitch the first time he threw it in game situations this year.

It was yet another example of spring training being about getting ready for the season, as opposed to being about achieving optimal results. Established guys who already know they are coming north with the team don't need to concern themselves with statistics. A pitcher can work on a specific pitch during a given outing, and if he happens to get shelled, then so be it. It's a means to an end in terms of refining that pitch so it will be effective when the results begin to matter in three weeks.

A pitcher who will not be missed

Even as pitcher Zach Stewart languished through a miserable 6-14 season last year at Triple-A Charlotte, I was always somewhat (irrationally) fearful the White Sox would recall him and and give him a few starts at the big league level at the end of the season.

That fear is gone now after the Sox on Monday traded Stewart to the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations. Thank goodness that guy is gone -- hopefully for good.

Stewart went 3-7 with a 6.14 ERA in 28 appearances (9 starts) with the Sox over a two-year period. He was last seen in a White Sox uniform on June 18, 2012, when he gave up six runs, nine hits and four home runs in a 12-3 loss to a Cubs team that would go on to lose 101 games.

Six days later, Stewart and Brent Lillibridge were traded to the Boston Red Sox for third baseman Kevin Youkilis. Naturally, Stewart did nothing to impress in Boston. He was traded to Pittsburgh in November 2012, placed on waivers and later picked up by the Sox once more in January of 2013.

Ugh. I guess somebody had to pitch at Charlotte last year. At least Stewart never got back to the bigs in Chicago. This is one pitcher I hope we never see in the Sox organization again.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

More on Matt Garza, creative contracts

It took a few days for the Brewers to officially announce their deal with pitcher Matt Garza, but with the news trickling out slowly, so have some interesting details about the contract.

It's basically a four-year, $50 million deal with some twists. In addition to some deferred money ($2 million per year) and a fifth year that vests if Garza is healthy and pitching. There's also a couple interesting team options for 2018.

If Garza doesn't pitch often enough to vest his fifth year at $13 million, the Brewers can bring him back for that fifth year at $5 million. Unless Garza misses 130 days during any roughly 13-month period during the first four years. Then they can bring him back for only $1 million.

Basically, if Garza has an arm injury -- a concern that kept some teams away -- and it costs him a year of this contract on the Brewers' dime, this contract says he'll give that year back at the end of the deal.

This kind of give-back isn't entirely unique. When the Red Sox signed John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million contract, it had a clause giving Boston the option to bring him back for one more year at the league minimum salary if Lackey were hurt.

Lackey did hurt his elbow, had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2012. And unless he gets hurt again, he'll likely be pitching in Boston in 2015 in what might be baseball's best bargain contract.

For the Brewers and Garza, there's just as much flexibility. If Garza pitches as he has and stays relatively healthy, he'll get a fifth year and what seems like less than the going rate for a good pitcher on the free agent market. If he's banged up, but maybe still pitching well when he does take the mound, the Brewers can bring him back on a cheap make-good option that compares favorably to the one-year deals teams gave injury-risk-ridden starters like Ben Sheets and Dan Haren  in recent offseasons.

Of course, Garza could pitch like Jeff Suppan and be designated for assignment before getting a chance at seeing his fifth year vest. In which case, Milwaukee will get to re-live the worst memories of one of the worst free agent contracts the organization has given out. (Though maybe not worse than the Jeffrey Hammonds deal.)

This kind of add-on contract year seems like it was a good way to give everyone what they want. The Brewers hedged against the risk of signing Garza. Garza will be compensated for exceeding expectations the market had for him this winter.

Not a bad way to split the difference to get a deal done.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Does Matt Garza make the Brewers a contender?

The short answer is: probably not.

So why was it worthwhile for Milwaukee to add pitcher Matt Garza with a four-year, $50 million contract?

The Brewers are coming off a poor 74-88 season that saw them finish ahead of only the Cubs in the NL Central Division. It was their worst finish in nearly a decade.

Besides the exodus of stars from Milwaukee since going 96-66 and winning a division two years ago -- Prince Fielder, Zack Greinke were both part of that postseason team -- the Brewers were bit by just about every kind of misfortune last year.

Star third baseman Aramis Ramirez was hurt. Longtime pitching stalwart Yovani Gallardo imploded. Closer John Axford never regained his form. Left fielder Ryan Braun was suspended for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. Second baseman Rickie Weeks forgot how to hit, and after improving with his glove through the middle portion of his career, saw his defense continue to nosedive as it has since 2012. After a torrid first half last year, shortstop Jean Segura was awful in the second half. More injuries forced Milwaukee to go through first basemen faster than Spinal Tap went through drummers, including guys like Alex Gonzalez (!), Juan Francisco (!!) and Yuniesky Betancourt (!!!).

That's a long list, and the Brewers certainly have more areas that could use some fixing up. At least you would think they'd have signed a free agent before January.

Here's the thing: The Brewers might not need to add that many more pieces to improve over last year. They still have good players in center field (Carlos Gomez) and at catcher (Jonathan Lucroy), and a steady, if not spectacular, starting pitcher in Kyle Lohse.

Even if minor additions Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay make an awful platoon at first base, they'd be hard pressed to be worse than what was out there last year.

There's the hope that Segura makes adjustments and is better his second full season as a starter. Plus there's optimism younger players like Khris Davis can hit well in a corner outfield spot, while starting pitchers Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg can either improve or build on last year's work. Maybe Gallardo works out his struggles, too.

A mostly healthy Ramirez could boost them at third base. Ryan Braun just playing, even if he's never as good as what might have been his PED-lifted peak, will help the offense. If Weeks has just lost too much bat speed to ever be useful again, Milwaukee has an option in Scooter Gennett, who probably hit over his head last year (.324/.356/.479), but could be passable at second base.

If all of those things happen for the Brewers, that's not a shabby team. Maybe one that can contend in the NL Central, where nobody made any big upgrade, and where the Reds and Pirates might fall back to earth a little bit.

Granted, things rarely always go your way in baseball. So expecting the best-case scenario across the board is probably foolish.

Still, the Brewers can't dismiss their need for another pitcher, or the fact that the guy they signed came at a decent price, or that Garza might be a key piece for a team that could rebound from a disappointing year.

After how long it took Milwaukee to return to respectability this last decade, their winning season in 2007 being its first in 14 years previous, the Brewers should be working to maintain some of that respectability.

The work isn't over, but bringing Garza aboard and paving over a sinkhole at first base are good starts.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

'Bo knows ambassadorship'

Is "ambassadorship" even a word? I'm not sure it is, but former two-sport star Bo Jackson returned to the White Sox as a team ambassador on Wednesday.

Jackson will serve as a team representative in the community and make appearances on behalf of the organization. Other White Sox ambassadors include former players Frank Thomas, Carlton Fisk, Minnie Minoso, Ron Kittle, Bill Melton and Carlos May.

Jackson played for the Sox from 1991-93 and remains a resident of the Chicago area. His two most memorable moments came in 1993, when he hit a home run in his first at-bat after returning from hip-replacement surgery. Later that season, his three-run homer against the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 27 clinched the 1993 American League West championship for the Sox.

"Bo is an American sports legend, who always will hold a special place in hearts of White Sox fans," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "His heroic return from what seemed to be a catastrophic career-ending injury helped us win a division title in 1993, and demonstrated to the sports world an unrivaled will and determination to be the best. It is great to again welcome Bo Jackson as a member of the White Sox."

Garza to sign with Brewers

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports the Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal with former Cubs right-hander Matt Garza.

Now that Masahiro Tanaka is off the market, we can expect some of the other free-agent starting pitchers to sign. The Brewers were not a player for Tanaka, so their pursuit of Garza likely was unrelated. Nevertheless, Milwaukee might have been compelled to move now on a deal for Garza, knowing the remaining free-agent pitchers might have more suitors now that Tanaka has signed with the New York Yankees.

Other notable remaining free-agent starters include Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another unwritten rules violation, Carlos Gomez edition

Atlanta Braves left-hander Paul Maholm drilled Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez in the leg with an 88 mph fastball on June 23. Gomez took exception to it, believing it was intentional, and he hasn't forgotten about it.

So, Gomez went to the plate looking for revenge when the two men competed against each other again Wednesday night. There's no question Gomez was looking to take Maholm deep. He took a mighty cut and missed on the first pitch, almost falling down in the process. On the second pitch, he connected, sending one deep into the seats in left-center field.

Give Gomez credit for that. If you believe a pitcher has hit you intentionally, one of the best ways to deal with that is to hit a home run next time you face him. Perfectly acceptable. What happened after Gomez made contact wasn't so acceptable, as he stood there and admired his handiwork, then stared at Maholm and flipped the bat behind him before rounding the bases.

On his way around the bases, Gomez jawed with Maholm, Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman and catcher Brian McCann. Gomez actually never touched home plate, because McCann confronted him about 20 feet up the third-base line. The two men exchanged more heated words, and the benches emptied. You can watch video of the incident here

It's no secret I've never liked Gomez. I've disliked him since his days with the Minnesota Twins. He's a hot dog and a loose cannon. His actions on the field often cross the line into obnoxious territory, and this incident is just the latest example. He got tossed out of the game, and rightfully so. He's an idiot.

However, I can't put 100 percent of the blame on Gomez for this one. There are certain teams around baseball that fancy themselves as gatekeepers of the unwritten rules of the game. Atlanta is starting to become one of those teams. Not even a month ago, the Braves were involved in a similar incident when Miami Marlins rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez, a 21-year-old kid, got a little too excited about hitting his first major league home run. 

Is it really necessary to have an altercation when someone stands and admires a home run for a little too long? Have our feelings gotten that sensitive? For me, the Braves are living in a glass house. One of their own players, Justin Upton, has been known to pose after hitting a home run. Most teams probably have a guy or two who is guilty of hot-dogging it after taking the opposing pitcher deep. I know a lot of people don't like to see that stuff, but it's pretty common in today's game.

I can agree that Gomez was over the line with his antics. But I'll be honest, I don't know exactly where that line is. At one point does a home run pose become offensive to the other team? I'm not sure. Maybe someone should take these unwritten rules I hear about all the time and write 'em down so we all understand what is acceptable and what is not.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ryan Braun and a few other random Friday thoughts

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally admitted Thursday that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his 2011 MVP season.

Apologies from disgraced athletes are nothing new, and I can't say I have anything to offer on the matter that hasn't already been written dozens of times before.

But you know who owes me an apology? The idiot Brewers fans who sat behind me at U.S. Cellular Field on June 23, 2012. Not that Braun could hear me, but I yelled insults at him and booed him the entire game as the White Sox defeated Milwaukee, 8-6, that night.

These Brewers fans seemed offended by my conduct, and on multiple occasions made snide remarks toward me and claimed that Braun "was right" for appealing his positive drug test after the 2011 season. Ha ha, whatever.

I guess some fans will defend the indefensible when it comes to players on their own teams. I think we all should be smarter than that. No matter which team is your favorite, understand that at some point you have cheered for a player that was using performance-enhancing drugs. That's just the sad reality we live in as baseball fans.

Six straight saves for Addison Reed

They say you can't win 'em all. Well, you can't lose 'em all either, and over 162 games, even struggling teams will have a winning streak at some point.

That where the White Sox are right now. They aren't very good, but they have won six games in a row after defeating the Kansas City Royals 4-3 in 12 innings Thursday night.

In an unusual twist, closer Addison Reed has earned a save in each of those six victories. The Sox did have an off day on Monday, so Reed has not pitched six consecutive days. Still, it's fairly remarkable to pitch six out of seven days and be effective every time.

The last closer to save six consecutive games for his team? Eric Gagne of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003.

Reed has been a bright spot in a dismal season for the Sox. He has 34 saves and five wins, meaning he has played a role in 75 percent of the Sox' 52 victories this year. He'd get my vote for team MVP.

Mike Olt is playing really bad

Coming into the 2013 season, third baseman Mike Olt was the second-ranked prospect in the Texas Rangers system. I don't think he'll be rated so highly going into 2014.

Olt has hit just .185 at Triple-A this year, and the Rangers gave up on him, sending him to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal. The Cubs could use some help at third base -- journeyman Donnie Murphy has been getting playing time at that position recently.

I think when the Cubs acquired Olt, they had designs on calling him up in September for a late-season look at the hot corner. Doesn't look like that would be wise.

Olt has played 28 games at Triple-A Iowa since joining the Cubs organization. He has gone 12-for-99 with two home runs and four RBIs. That would be a .121 batting average, to go along with a .194 on-base percentage and .222 slugging percentage.

Ouch.