The 2014 season wasn’t exactly kind to Adam Eaton as he spent 32 days total on the disabled list. The same can be said about Avisail Garcia and his 2014 season. Although Eaton was only on the disabled list for two stints totaling 32 days, Garcia was stuck on the list for a majority of four months with a torn labrum in his left shoulder that happened 8 games into the season.
Eaton was exactly what the White Sox needed a lead-off man to be. While he didn’t steal a lot of bases, 15 in 24 attempts, but he had a .362 on base percentage hitting the entire time out of the top spot. He gave the White Sox something they’d been lacking using Alejandro DeAza, a lead-off hitter who’d set the stage for the middle of the batting order. Instead, when DeAza was in the top spot in previous seasons, he would try to strike out attempting to hit home runs and as a result would leave no one on base for Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, or anyone else who’d hit in the heart of the lineup.
The biggest problem Eaton ran into, other than trying to stay healthy by not letting walls beat him up is having the second hitter in the lineup hit a double play eliminating the chance to get the offense rolling. The hitters who spent some time in the second spot combined for a total of 57 double plays throughout the season. That plus the countless number of fielder’s choices supplied throughout the lineup kept the offense sputtering at times when they would finally get runners on base.
However with a 5.2 wins above replacement number and a .338 average with runners on base, Eaton was able to come away with last season knowing he’d done his job. It also showed he’d taken the step forward the Sox had hoped he would after they had acquired him in the trade with Arizona. He’ll look to keep his foot forward this season and hopefully he’ll keep his body away from the outfield fences that had him seeing time on the disabled list last season.
Last season was supposed to be the breakout season for Avisail Garcia. He was supposed to take a leap towards becoming the player everyone has projected the 24-year old to be. However one play in April changed the route Garcia’s season would take. He would spend the next four months recovering and rehabbing from a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He finally returned later in August from the DL quicker than some expected and was able to get work in at the major league level in the outfield and at the plate. He would go on to hit just .244 last season in a total of 46 games, but that wasn’t as important as him taking advantage of the playing time on a team that wasn’t going anywhere.
The obvious hope for the White Sox is to get to see Garcia the whole season, especially after he’s lost the extra weight he gained at the end of 2014. Garcia’s been dieting and working out trying to get his speed back to make him once again a projected five-tool player. If the Sox intend to be successful this season and compete for the division and the World Series, it’ll take Garcia being successful from wherever in the lineup Robin Ventura sees him fitting. The most likely spot in that lineup will probably be at number five hitting behind either Adam LaRoche or Jose Abreu.
Other than Emilio Bonifacio who is listed as a back up to all the outfielders, Leury Garcia is also among the list to back up Eaton in centerfield. As a utility fielder in 2014, Garcia only hit .166 in 74 games playing a multitude of positions including one inning in relief during an extra inning game. The 23-year old Garcia needs to come out firing on all cylinders come the February 24th when the Sox position players report and spring training gets going. He’s going to have competition for utility player with the acquisitions of Gordon Beckham, J.B. Shuck, and Emilio Bonifacio. If he does have a mediocre spring, it could be his versatility that keeps him on the 25-man roster coming out of Camelback Ranch.
Non-roster invitee and former Chicago Cub Tony Campana was supposed to be in the mix for a bench role but on February 10th the White Sox twitter account reported that Campana had torn his ACL while training recent to the announcement and would most likely be out for the entire 2015 season.
While the Sox tried to set their roster up with defensive depth in all three positions, it may have come at the cost of offensive depth. The starters shouldn’t have an issue producing runs, but we’ll have to see what combination of bench players Sox management gives themselves heading into the regular season. However, for what we as Sox fans have dealt with over the recent seasons, we’ll take the starting three as is and deal with the lack of offensive depth when it becomes an issue.
For the last two off-seasons, the White Sox have tried to address their left field situation. Unfortunately, the off-season leading into the 2014 season came and went for the club leaving them with both Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro DeAza still on the roster. The goal going in had been to move Viciedo and leave DeAza as the everyday left fielder, but with the start of spring training on them, the time ran out on the move. So they became stuck with both players and decided to use them in a platoon fashion in left field and occasionally at the designated hitter position.
Sox fans are well aware that the plan didn’t work out so well. Viciedo hit a measly .231 for an average and DeAza ended up being traded to Baltimore after hitting a mediocre .243 average.
So that left General Manager Rick Hahn with a decision to make during this off-season. One option was to go with Viciedo again in left field with the hope that he figures out how to hit with better consistency. The other option would be to try to trade him and find someone else on the market. The Sox would end up going with option number two because, with the moves that had been made before and while at the winter meetings, they showed the league that they were going to be serious about building a team to compete this season. The Sox were able to lock in one of the better left fielders off the free agent market.
Switch hitter Melky Cabrera joined the Sox in December on a 3-year, $42 million contract to become the team’s new everyday left fielder. He comes to the south side as a better defender and hitter then the Sox have rolled out there in recent times.
Defensively Cabrera hasn’t had a season where he’s committed more than 4 errors which happens to be half of the total Viciedo had last season by himself. While Viciedo may have a better arm than Cabrera, the Sox and their fans would rather have a player in the outfield that can make smart plays and limit stupid mistakes.
Offensively Cabrera brings much more to the table that fits the White Sox plans better than either DeAza or Viciedo would have. He might not have the power Viciedo had, but he brings versatility with his ability to be a contact hitter. Cabrera struck out only 67 times last season in 621 plate appearances. He only strikes out at an awesome one in ten plate appearances rate compared to Viciedo who struck out every one in five plate appearances.
It seemed like an off-season in which Hahn and Sox management went out looking for free agents that made more contact than the player they were replacing, and that’s just what they got in Melky Cabrera.
The question that’s left for Manager Robin Ventura is where to slot this switch hitting contact hitter in the lineup.
For a player with his hitting ability and with the hitters they’re surrounding him with the best answer would be as the second hitter. The reason being, he makes a lot of contact and hits for a high average with runners on base. Cabrera has a career .311 batting average on balls in play. More importantly with men on base he has a .315 batting average on balls in play. With that production in mind, and if Adam Eaton can reproduce his production from 2014, it would set up the heart of the lineup to improve their RBI chances. The “get them on, get them over, get them in” philosophy will be key at the top of the lineup and will be what makes the Sox successful this season.
Another reason he’d be great behind Eaton is his versatility as a switch hitter. If the Sox run a lineup of Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, Avisail Garcia out there and could use Conor Gillaspie and Alexei Ramirez after that, it would give the Sox a lefty-righty combination through the seventh spot in the order. That lineup would also feature three .300-plus hitters at the top of it.
To try to find depth at the left field position, the Sox have also signed former Angel and 2013 American League Rookie of the Year candidate J.B. Shuck, former Chicago Cub Emilio Bonifacio, as well as invited prospects Courtney Hawkins, Jared Mitchell, and Michael Taylor to camp this spring.
First, the left-handed hitting J.B. Shuck currently stands as the backup to Melky Cabrera in left, and he’s coming off a miserable year where he hit .145 for an average in 38 games for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Cleveland Indians. However, two seasons ago he was in the running for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. That season he hit .293 in 437 at-bats. So, worst case scenario for the team, they could end up stashing Shuck in Triple-A Charolette and let him find his way again since he’s under team control until 2020.
Next on WhiteSox.com’s depth chart for left field is Emilio Bonifacio. The journeyman utility player is all over the depth chart listings. In fact, he’s listed at all the infield positions except first base and every outfield position. Although he is listed at all those positions, Bonifacio has been mentioned to mostly platoon at third and to fill in at shortstop and second when necessary. The Sox are hoping that without injury Bonifacio won’t see much time past the lip of the infield.
The three prospects from the minors, Jared Mitchell, Courtney Hawkins, Michael Taylor are likely non-roster invitees to evaluate how they do against major league pitchers. Taylor did see some time in the pros last September when call-ups were made. He hit .250 for an average in his limited appearance in 2014, but carried a combined average of both pros and the minors of .273.
As long as Melky Cabrera stays healthy throughout the whole 2015 season and doesn’t go down the PED path again, the left field position on defense and in the lineup will be one of the team’s strengths this coming season.
Opening day is one of the most beloved days of the year on the calendar. It is the time of the year where every Major League team and fan base have hope of making it to the World Series.
The White Sox entered the game Monday with the hope that the retooling effort they put in during the offseason will pay off throughout the 2014 campaign and beyond.
Monday’s season opener saw the Chris Sale and the Sox take on Ricky Nolasco and the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale was wildly effective during the first couple innings. No matter whether it was nerves, the chill, or something else he looked tight. He faced the minimum through two innings despite giving up a hit in the top of the second.
The Twins would get to Sale for two Runs in the third starting with a lead-off base on balls to Twins right fielder Oswaldo Arcia. That would be followed by a single to left field by Aaron Hicks, then they were moved into scoring position by shortstop Pedro Florimon on a bunt back to Sale. Two hitters later, Kurt Suzuki roped a two out single to left, scoring both Arcia and Hicks.
Sale would give up one more run in the eighth after being taken out of the game with one out and having already a given up a double by Hicks to left field. Reliever Ronald Belisario would come into the game and give up a rope single to left off of the bat of Suzuki, scoring Hicks. Sale closed the day with 7.1 innings pitched, three runs on five hits, and had eight strike outs to go with one walk.
The offense showed signs of how good it could be this year if every thing falls their way.
Sox center fielder Adam Eaton tried making sure the season got off to a good start with a shot right back up the middle to start off the season for the new look offense. Unfortunately, last year’s issue showed up in the next batter when Marcus Semien grounded into a five, four, three double play.
The Sox offense got started again in the second when Jose Abreu smashed a fastball that was on the edge of the left hand batters box to right field. The ball one hopped the fence so fast that all Arcia could do was jump and hope he could get it some how. The ball would bounce away from Arcia allowing Abreu to turn the hit into a double. Adam Dunn would follow with a full count walk in a solid at-bat, but he would be erased by a Avisail Garcia double play. Alejandro DeAza would come up next, and would start his season off with a bang. DeAza turned around a slider that hung in inner half for a two run home run that would score Abreu.
The Sox would add two more runs in the third on a RBI single to left by Jose Abreu, and an RBI sacrifice fly by Adam Dunn. Dunn’s sacrifice fly started out a normal pop out to the shortstop but drift all the way to the tarp in foul territory due to the strong winds blowing across the field. Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon drifted with the ball and made a sliding catch going away from home plate which allowed Sox third baseman Connor Gillaspie to score from third.
The Sox would add one more in the sixth on another DeAza line drive home run to the right field bullpen.
Matt Lindstrom, who was named the closer on opening day by manager Robin Ventura and called upon in the ninth to shut the door on the Twins. Even though he did give up a one out double to designated hitter Chris Colabello, Lindstrom was able to close out the Twins and preserve the 5-3 victory.
After a day off on Tuesday, the White Sox will return for another matinee on Wednesday against the Twins. The Sox will send right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino against fellow right-hander Kevin Correia for the Twins. The game is a 1:10pm start in Chicago.
In a Sunday matinee, Jose Quintana and the White Sox looked to get back on the winning track. After back to back terrible outings, Quintana was trying to settle down and pitch the best he could in his next to last start of the spring.
Sunday’s game was definitely Quintana at his best. In a five inning shutout, he gave up only one hit to Wilin Rosario to center field. After a fly out, Quintana would pick Rosario off first base and then would get Josh Rutledge to ground out to get out of the second inning. Quintana would also finish with a pair of strike outs as well.
Connor Gillaspie continued his solid spring with two doubles in the game. Outfielders Alejandro DeAza and Blake Tekotte would also get two hits in the game. One of Tekotte’s hits was a double to right field that scored DeAza in the second. The Sox as a team would get 11 hits as a team.
Tyler Flowers would tally the second run for the Sox as he scored on a single by Leury Garcia. Adam Eaton would follow Garcia with a single to left scoring Blake Tekotte. These runs would give the Sox a three to nothing lead.
They would also add two more runs in the fifth on a Konerko single and a Tyler Flowers fielder’s choice. These were the last runs that the Sox would put across the plate on Sunday for the pitchers. Quintana left the game after the fifth with the lead.
Colorado would crawl their way back into the game with a ground out by Jackson Williams in the bottom of the sixth to score DJ LeMahieu. They would add another in the bottom of the seventh on a single by Jordan Pacheco to left that scored Drew Stubbs making it 5-2.
The Rockies would add three more in the eighth inning to tie the game up on one hit. Josh Rutledge would lead off the inning against reliever Scott Downs with a single to left field. A wild pitch by Downs would lead to Josh Rutledge scoring after he stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Kevan Smith. An error by shortstop Marcus Semien would then allow both Charlie Culberson and Ryan Wheeler to score who got on base by walks.
Neither team would add runs in the ninth leading to the game being called a tie. It’s the White Sox’s fifth tie of the spring. The next game is Monday afternoon affair against the Seattle Mariners with rookie Eric Johnson getting the nod for the Sox.
Saturday saw the White Sox play in their last two split squad games before the conclusion of spring training. The White Sox sent one squad to the San Diego Padres camp, while the other squad welcomed the San Francisco Giants to Camelback Ranch.
In the first matchup versus the San Diego Padres, the White Sox managed to put up a little offense for Chris Beck, their rookie right-handed starting pitcher. Avisail Garcia started the scoring out in the most unfortunate way: by a double play to second base which scored Micah Johnson in the top of the third inning to tie it up 1-1.
Garcia came back up in the top of the eighth inning and hit a single to right field off of Padres’ first baseman Yonder Alonso to score Micah Johnson. Adam Dunn then added a run with a ground out to first base which scored right fielder Denis Phipps, making it 3-1. The White Sox offense failed to add any more runs in the ninth.
Second baseman Micah Johnson, third baseman Connor Gillaspie, and left fielder Dayan Viciedo went two for four each in the game. Adam Dunn also went one for two with a pair of walks.
Starter Chris Beck and the White Sox relievers turned their performances around a little bit as compared to the previous couple games. Beck turned in a decent five innings in which he gave up five hits and one earned run. He also gave up a walk while striking out five batters. The bottom of the first was Beck’s only blemish in the run category. He gave up a line drive double to left field center which scored Alexi Amarista.
Both relievers, Scott Carroll and Dylan Axelrod, followed up Beck’s performance with two hit-one run performances themselves. Carroll did it while locking down the sixth through eighth innings, while Axelrod was given the blown save in the ninth.
The game ended after the ninth inning as a 3-3 tie.
In the second matchup of the day, the White Sox took on the Tim Hudson and the San Francisco Giants.
The Sox sent Felipe Paulino to the hill in his fifth start of the spring. Much like his last start, Paulino created his own trouble. The second inning started off with a base on balls to Brandon Hicks and the inning just got worse from there. After a double play to Juan Perez, Paulino walked Giants first baseman Mark Minicozzi, and gave up a back to back singles to Ehire Adrianza and Tim Hudson to load the bases. Center fielder Gregor Blanco then walked giving the Giants their first run of the game.
From the third through fifth innings, Paulino calmed down and went the minimum faced even though he gave up a walk to Juan Perez in the forth. The sixth inning is where things fell apart.
Buster Posey, who went three for four on the day, led off with a single then stole second base. After a single that moved Posey to third and a stolen base by Brandon Hicks, Juan Perez hit a three-run homer to left field off of Paulino making it 4-1. Minicozzi would chase Paulino with his single to center.
As for the Sox, Alejandro DeAza got the offense going with his first home run to right field in the second inning. The Sox offense finally came to life in the seventh inning with a double by back-up catcher to right field. Right fielder Blake Tekotte and center fielder Adam Eaton followed the double up with singles of their own scoring Nieto.
After a pitching change by the Giants, pitch hitter Grant Buckner doubled to left field which scored Semien and Black making it seven to five.
The Giants would add one in the ninth, but the Sox would go out in order in the eighth. In the ninth the Sox would get a single by Dan Black and had Grant Buckner reach on a catcher’s interference call. Unfortunately for the Sox neither player would score. The White Sox would fall by the eight to five score.
The Chicago White Sox welcomed Jesse Chavez and Oakland A’s yesterday at Camelback Ranch, but the bright sunny Tuesday in Glendale turned dark in a flash for the Sox.
Jose Quintana was hoping to forget his last outing when he gave up 7 runs to the LA Angels in three innings on the mound, but things got even worse for him in this outing. Without recording a single out in the first inning, Quintana gave up three singles, two doubles, a triple, a home run and two walks in the nine batters he faced.
He isn’t in trouble of losing a spot in the rotation, and Robin Ventura will still have the confidence to put him out there. However the last two games have to be slightly concerning, especially games like Tuesday’s where he didn’t get a single out.
Connor Gillaspie, who’s in control of the winning the job at third base got one back for the Sox with a home run in the last of the second inning. Gillaspie has taken the lead in the competition for the starting role at the hot corner by hitting .273 in the spring games with three home runs.
Jeff Keppinger was also involved in the race for the spot at third, but with a stubborn shoulder injury that he had cleaned out at the end of last season, he is likely going to start the season on the disabled list.
Matt Davidson has only one less hit than Gillaspie in spring games, but has accumulated half of those in just two games. In an interview Davidson had with Whitesox.com he said, “I’m human and I want to be in the big leagues and I’m not satisfied with going to the Minors but then again, I’m not going to be disappointed. I still want to have a collective great 2014.” Davidson is still a 50-50 shot to make the big club this season. There are still 13 more moves that need to be made after the six moves from today.
Tyler Flowers added another home run to center field in the bottom of the third. Flowers beat out Josh Phegley for the starting position at catcher still has to prove himself as a hitter in the majors. The White Sox are hoping he can turn around his injury plagued 2013 season. The team can’t afford another to have Flowers hit .195 again this season if they plan to compete for the central division.
One of the hottest players on the team right now is outfielder Jordan Danks. Danks contributed a pair of home runs in the seventh and ninth innings. A hot Danks could give the Sox an opportunity to trade either or both Alejandro DeAza or Dayan Viciedo.
The Sox relief pitchers didn’t fare much better in the game Tuesday. They used six relievers and only two of them didn’t allow a run. Most of the pitchers seemed like they had lost control of most of their pitches, and couldn’t consistently hit their targets. With only a couple of weeks left before the start of the season it’s a little concerning that most of the six were wildly ineffective.
The game was a blow out from the beginning. The Sox ended up losing 16 to 6 and gave up 20 hits in the game with Alexei Ramirez having the only error in the game.
Today marks the week anniversary of the start of spring training games for the White Sox. After today’s win at the Cincinnati Reds, the Sox have 3 wins, 4 losses, and a tie for a record.
While the Sox are still trying to win games, even this early in spring training, getting ready for the regular season is most important. An example of that is pitchers that are working on pitch location, arm strength, or even learning a new pitch. John Danks is currently trying to hone in on creating a solid cut fastball.
“We actually worked on throwing it to both sides of the plate, and that was effective.” Dank’s told ChicagoWhiteSox.com. “It was around the zone, had a sharp break on it. That’s where I expected to be at this point. Keep on improving, but I’m really pleased with how it was so far.”
This is what spring training is all about. Danks had major issues last season controlling his pitches, especially with his cutter. His cutter last season lacked the snap that his cutter had before the surgery. He came to camp wanting to work on making his cutter more efficient and have more bite. He showed off his work in his game against the Mariners, where he went scoreless through three innings and had two strike outs.
Danks is trying to solidify his stuff as he’s vying for the second spot in the rotation against Jose Quintana. No matter which guy is second or third in the rotation, it gives the White Sox three left-handed people at the top of their rotation which is pretty rare throughout the league.
Jose Abreu is using his time in spring training to become accustomed to major league pitching. Abreu crushed his first home run of the spring Thursday against the Royals. He’s shown his natural power even in fly outs on pitches out of the zone when he muscles them to within feet of the warning track in the outfield. Abreu only has two hits in 10 at-bats in the spring, one home run and one double. The good news is that he’s making contact in every at-bat as he has no strike outs so far.
Another bright spot so far of the off-season is center fielder, Adam Eaton. The left-hander has had an excellent start to camp. In the four games he’s played in, Eaton has gone five for nine with a walk and a stolen base. If Eaton, who went one for one today in the game against Cincinnati, continues to have a hot bat through the spring, it may open up the possibility of the Sox trading Alejandro DeAza.
With Eaton’s emergence, there have been rumors that the White Sox would consider trading either Dayan Viciedo or Alejandro DeAza. Both players right now are going to be splitting playing time in left field throughout the season. Both also are at the end of the minor league options, but it’s DeAza that has only one more year of arbitration left of control. The Sox already have a back-up in the outfield, Jordan Danks. So it leaves Alejandro DeAza the odd man out.
In fact, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN in Minnesota, there are people in the Twins’ front office who are big fans of DeAza. It’d be a little odd for the Twins to go after DeAza since they have a plethora of young outfield talent in their organization. The Tigers may be a better fit for DeAza since they lost Andy Dirks for about three months. He’d be in another backup or platoon situation but would likely be Torii Hunter’s replacement if he leaves via free agency in 2015. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Orioles, Mariners, and Pirates may also be a few teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield.
Tomorrow the Sox take on the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch. Jose Quintana’s first pitch will be at 1:05 pm MST as he faces off Brandon McCarthy.
During the Ozzie Guillen tenure as manager of the White Sox all the talk was of how the team was going to play small ball. The team didn’t exactly follow that philosophy with players like Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and others jacking home runs as the main way of producing runs.
It seems like the White Sox of 2014 are going to try to mix their philosophies up. Today at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, AZ Adam Eaton and Alejandro DeAza were working on their bunting skills in the cages.
Eaton talked to Scott Merkin of WhiteSox.com yesterday and said, “Another part of my game that you have to work on, and I think any small guy has to. It’s all the same message: Get it down in a place where no one else can get it; different techniques and different styles, and how to go about it. As long as you have production, you are all right.”
Eaton had four singles off bunts with the Diamondbacks last season in 250 at-bats. DeAza actually had seven bunt hits last season as well. Both will more than likely be utilized at the top of the lineup, and are left-handed hitters. If the two are put at the top of the lineup, then that would have all three everyday left-handed hitters in the top four.
In this scenario it would leave the Sox vulnerable in later innings when the opponent brings in relievers. If they put all three left handers in the top four spots, the other team can bring in their left-handed specialist. If he manages to get both DeAza and Eaton out they could walk the third hitter, and try to get Dunn out in the fourth spot.
Production from the lineup is very important this year, especially considering how little there was last season. This leaves Manager Robin Ventura with a big decision on how he handles the lineup, especially since Adam Dunn and DeAza have right-handed replacements on the bench if the situation arises. This will definitely be something that he’ll tweak and test out throughout spring training.
If I were to ask someone, who was the second best player for the White Sox in several key offensive categories last season? The chances are very few people would give the name Alejandro DeAza, but the truth is he was. In fact, he was second on the team in categories that would have some people scratching their heads.
DeAza was second on the team in home runs, walks, and RBI. Most people would have probably have guessed that someone like Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, or someone else that normally produces power numbers.
It also highlights big issues the issue the Sox had last season. All of the Sox’s power hitters had a major outage. It’s not a good sign for a ball club, and won’t send them far into the playoffs if the lead-off hitter is second in home runs and RBI.
Something that he wouldn’t want to be second in was strike outs. He accumulated 147 strike outs throughout 2013. Unfortunately that’s an extremely high amount as a leadoff hitter, but on the flip side he had the second most walks. That makes it really difficult for anyone to ask him to be more patient, and he was second in hits so it’s hard to ask for more contact.
While he was on defensive, he was definitely far from the best. He led the outfield in errors, and was so inconsistent that he put up a defensive WAR (Wins above replacement) of a -2.0. Normally a war number is graded with a 2.0 and up being a player who’s good enough to start. Anything below 0 is normally someone who should be replaced at their position on the field or lineup.
Alejandro DeAza can drive some people crazy at times by his free swinging mentality; numbers also show that he was an asset on offense in 2013. An obvious statement, but his defense is in a need of fixing. With all that combined, I gave DeAza a B plus. His offensive output outweighed his defensive liability.