Showing posts with label Steve Stone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Steve Stone. Show all posts

Thursday, July 13, 2017

White Sox trade Jose Quintana to Cubs for four prospects

Jose Quintana
Shock and disbelief are reverberating throughout Chicago, after the White Sox traded left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs on Thursday.

I'm probably not as stunned as some people are. If you watched any of the Sox-Rockies series over the weekend, you might have heard Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone talking about how it would be "crazy" for the Sox not to entertain trade offers from the Cubs.

Harrelson, for better or for worse, has long been regarded as a mouthpiece for Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Listen carefully to the oracle, and you might be able to read the tea leaves. If Harrelson is talking about a potential Sox-Cubs deal, then you shouldn't be shocked when one occurs.

Let's take a look at the four guys the Sox acquired:

  • Eloy Jimenez, OF -- The best prospect in the Cubs' system, the 20-year-old outfielder is ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the game, according to Baseball America. Jimenez, who was on the World roster for the Futures Game, was hitting 271/.351/.490 with eight home runs and 32 RBI in 42 games with Class-A Myrtle Beach this season. 
  • Dylan Cease, RHP -- The sixth-round pick of the Cubs in 2014, Cease was regarded as the best pitching prospect in the North Siders' system. He is ranked as the No. 83 prospect in the game, according to Baseball America. In 13 starts with Class-A South Bend, Cease had a 2.79 ERA and 1.258 WHIP with 74 strikeouts.
  • Matt Rose, 1B-3B -- The 22-year-old was an 11th-round pick in 2015. Rose had a .227/.281/.481 slash line with 14 home runs and 38 RBIs in 65 games at Myrtle Beach this season.
  • Bryant Flete, IF-OF -- The 24-year-old has played both infield and outfield positions. He was slashing .305/.355/.425 with six home runs and 37 RBIs in 70 games at Myrtle Beach.
People who know me will probably not be surprised that I'm less than enthusiastic about this trade. I'm not going to say that Sox general manager Rick Hahn did not acquire good prospects in this deal -- he did. He said he was looking to get the top two prospects out of an organization in a Quintana trade, and the Cubs clearly met his asking price.

That said, while Jimenez and Cease are high-quality prospects, neither is close to MLB-ready. Both still need significant development time in the minor leagues, and the Sox are going to have to coach these guys up in order for them to reach their potential.

Based upon what you've seen over the past 10 or 15 years, what have the Sox done to earn our faith as fans that they can develop this talent? Very little in my estimation, and that's why I'm less than excited about this haul, just as I wasn't overly enthused about the haul the Sox get in the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton trades.

It's nice to have a highly regarded farm system, but that doesn't amount to a hill of beans if the Sox do not handle these prospects correctly. I will continue to be skeptical until I see results at the major league level, and I think we all understand that it will be a few years before we can make any firm judgments on that.

As I've said before, it's not the rebuild itself that offends me. It's the actors in charge of the rebuild who concern me. The fan base seems to be in favor of this trade, and frankly, I've surprised by the lack of skepticism among Sox fans these days.

In the past, we as a fan base have always been willing to ask tough questions, to not just take things on faith or face value. In this rebuild, we are putting a lot of faith in the same people who brought us Jeff Keppinger, Adam LaRoche, James Shields and assorted other bums.

We can only hope their judgment of young talent, and their development of that young talent, is much better than their judgment on which veteran players to pursue in trades and in free agency. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Carlos Rodon extremely wild in return, but there were positives

Carlos Rodon
I'm not going to say White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon pitched well in his first start of the 2017 season. He did not.

He walked six guys in five innings, struck out only two, and threw only 41 of his 94 pitches for strikes. The Sox lost, 12-3, to the New York Yankees on Wednesday in a game that was every bit as ugly as the final score indicates.

That said, we can take some positives out of this Rodon performance -- his first in the big leagues since last September -- in the sense that he looked like a healthy pitcher. Rodon missed the first three months of the season with bursitis in his throwing shoulder. Steve Stone always says velocity comes from the shoulder, so you can conclude that a pitcher with an injured shoulder will lack velocity on his pitches.

Rodon did not lack velocity on his fastball Wednesday night. In fact, he uncorked a couple all the way back to the screen in the first inning, which was an indication that perhaps he felt too strong in this outing. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. That's about where Rodon should be.

The problem was, he couldn't command anything. I can't recall a single time where he got a called strike on his slider in the five innings he was out there. He was essentially a one-pitch pitcher, and he had no control of that one pitch -- his fastball.

As fans, we'll have to show a little patience here. Rodon is still basically in spring training mode, and for a pitcher who has missed significant time, the feel for the breaking ball is usually the last thing that returns. Once Rodon regains the feel for his slider, and can grab a strike with it, he can win some games for the Sox -- as long as he's healthy and throwing 94 to 97 on the fastball. He's never been a precise command guy, but he doesn't have to be with the velocity and movement he has on his pitches. He does, however, need to throw more strikes.

Really, given that ball-to-strike ratio, it's borderline miraculous that Rodon made it through five innings allowing only three unearned runs. When he left the game, the Sox were trailing, 3-2. He took the loss, but he wasn't the one responsible for allowing the score to get out of hand. Reliever Jake Petricka coughed up five runs in the sixth inning. Michael Ynoa gave up four more in the ninth while only recording one out.

Poor pitching by middle relievers made the score ugly, more than anything Rodon did. The main thing I'm looking for with Rodon right now? Does he come out of this healthy, make his next start five days from now and look sharper than he did Wednesday? If so, I'm happy.

The Sox could use another starting pitcher they can rely on, with Miguel Gonzalez on the DL, James Shields looking washed-up and Mike Pelfrey being Mike Pelfrey.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

White Sox name Jason Benetti new announcer, settle questions about TV booth

Jason Benetti (left) has been added to the White Sox broadcast team.
The White Sox on Wednesday named Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate Jason Benetti their new TV play-by-play announcer, while at the same time extending the contracts of Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone.

Benetti, 32, will call 81 games alongside Stone this season. The local product grew up as a White Sox fan and has called college basketball, football, baseball and lacrosse at ESPN since 2011. He also previously served as the radio play-by-play man for the Syracuse Chiefs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

"Jason is one of the top up-and-coming voices in sports television," White Sox vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer said in a news release. "He is a homegrown talent who will mix a love for the game with a deep knowledge of the White Sox and an informative and entertaining style. We believe Sox fans will immediately connect with his humor, intellect and personality."

"Joining the White Sox television team of Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone -- with the chance to work with Steve on home games -- is truly a dream come true for a kid who grew up in the south suburbs watching Sox games during the 1990s," Benetti said in the release. "This is beyond exciting for me."

The 74-year-old Harrelson will begin a reduced schedule this year. Like Benetti, "Hawk" will work 81 games, 78 of them on the road, plus Opening Day at U.S. Cellular Field and the two home games against the Cubs.

I like the move to bring Benetti on board for a few reasons. First, he's a professional broadcaster. He already knows his way around a broadcast booth, and he has earned this opportunity through his previous work. Those things seem like they should be a prerequisite for the job, but that's not always been the case with the White Sox -- who have inexplicably tried to force former players into the booth in the past. Darrin Jackson has improved through the years, but he really struggled when he first started with the team. And Chris Singleton's time in the Sox radio booth was a disaster. With Benetti, there shouldn't be any sort of learning curve that makes the broadcasts an awkward listen. He'll be ready to do the job from day one.

Secondly, Benetti is a guy who grew up in the area, so he's familiar with White Sox history, the Chicago market and the fan base. That institutional knowledge can only help as he works to build a connection with the fans in his first year. I'm optimistic his broadcasts will both entertain and inform, regardless of whether the White Sox are winning or losing. Too often, the Harrelson-Stone TV booth has had fans reaching for the mute button -- if not the off button -- in recent years. Benetti hopefully can provide a change of pace that makes Sox baseball more fun.

And, lastly, I think the reduced schedule will be beneficial for Hawk Harrelson. He has sounded terrible at times during these past few seasons, perhaps beaten down by the Sox losing a total of 264 games the last three years. His extension is a multiyear deal, but he admitted this could be his last year if the 2016 Sox stink it up.

"It’s a contract, that, as I told [Brooks Boyer] and [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf], it might be at the end of the season where I say 'Hey, I’ve had enough,' " Harrelson told the Sun-Times Wednesday. "I hope that’s not the case because that means our team didn’t do well again. If I have to go through another season like we did last year, that would probably be enough -- no, you can count me out."

Hawk has been a polarizing figure throughout his career, even for Sox fans, but I've always said this about him: He's great when the team is doing well, because his passion for Sox baseball shines through on the broadcasts. But when the team is doing poorly, as has been the case for three years, he becomes completely miserable and makes the broadcasts hard to listen to for even the most diehard of fans. I think the combination of bad play and grumpy Hawk has caused a lot of people to change the channel away from Sox baseball.

Hopefully, the Sox play well this year, and it all becomes a moot point. But if they do play poorly, it will be better for Hawk's health and demeanor if he doesn't have to watch the team flounder every day, and it will be more tolerable for fans if they don't have to listen to Hawk grump every day.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Chris Sale dominates Mariners lefties on Fourth of July

Here's a fun fact about White Sox ace Chris Sale: He has four starts this season where he has recorded 10 or more strikeouts while allowing one earned run or less. He is the only White Sox pitcher to accomplish that in the past 100 years, and we've still got almost half a season to go.

Sale latest dominant outing came Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. The left-hander improved to 8-1 on the season in the Sox' 7-1 victory. It was Sale's second complete game of the year. He struck out a season-high 12, walked nobody and allowed just six hits. The Mariners did not score a run until the ninth inning, when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

I'll be honest: This was an extremely favorable matchup for Sale. It's not that the Mariners aren't a good team. They are, as their 47-39 record will attest. But when I saw the Seattle lineup, I noted the Mariners had six left-handed hitters in there -- James Jones, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Logan Morrison, Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley.

Coming into Friday's action, left-handed hitters were posting an anemic .089/.196/.089 slash line against Sale. In fact, lefties had managed just four hits (all singles) off Sale all season.

Yeah, this wasn't going to end well for the Mariners. But give Seattle credit: its lefties went 4 for 21 in Friday's game, and Cano managed the first extra-base hit for a left-handed hitter off Sale all season. It was a bloop double in the ninth that should have been caught by Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo, but it still counts.

Nevertheless, the Mariners had no prayer of mounting a consistent attack with that left-hand dominant lineup. As TV analyst Steve Stone noted in the ninth inning on Friday, Seattle could have played this game 20 times and it probably would have lost it all 20 times.

I was looking at the Mariners' roster, and I can't blame manager Lloyd McClendon for stacking his lineup with lefties. He's only got four right-handed hitters on his team. He played three of them -- Corey Hart, Mike Zunino and Willie Bloomquist. The fourth, John Buck, is the backup catcher to Zunino.

McClendon played the cards he had. Against Sale, it was a losing hand.