Under the blue skies at Camelback Ranch in Arizona the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are getting ready to toss the first pitches in the 2015 spring training season for both teams.
Jose Quintana will take the mound for the north side against the stout Dodgers lineup that features Jimmy Rollins and Carl Crawford at the top of the lineup and a healthy mix of lefties and righties throughout the lineup. The mix in the lineup will give Quintana an excellent chance to work on whatever he needs to for hitters on both sides.
A couple players to keep an eye on during the game would be how Gordon Beckham does at third base and Carlos Sanchez at second base, Both players are looking to make a statement this spring, going forward it’ll be interesting to see how both positions play out in the next month.
Another thing to watch out for is the lineup in general for the White Sox. Throughout the offsesason it was expected that the lineup would feature Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, Avisail Garcia, and Alexei Ramirez as the order of the top six. It’ll be interesting to see if this lineup will prosper as is or how Manager Robin Ventura might tweak the lineup throughout the spring to see what different combinations are the most successful since a majority of the positions are already set.
The rest of the week will see the south side ball club take on the Dodgers again tomorrow, then will go to the Padres at , come back to Camelback Ranch to take on the Mariners Saturday and will go to the Athletics on Sunday. Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s games are at 2:05 Central Time and Sunday’s game will be at 3:05 Central Time.
If someone wanted to see the power of a fan base not showing up to games at a record pace to make management notice it, one would have to look no further than the south side of Chicago. The White Sox organization have taken the message to heart and have done a massive amount of wheeling and dealing to fix chinks in the lineup, rotation and bullpen.
The Sox didn’t take long to get to work as they turned their attention to the black hole they had in 2014, the bullpen. The bullpen was responsible for 32 losses in relief, most in Major League Baseball. It shouldn’t be too shocking to most considering their ERA in the eighth and ninth innings were 5.42 and 4.74 respectively. So how do you fix a bullpen that was amazingly horrendous?
The Sox started with signing Zach Duke to a 3-year, $15 million contract in the middle of November. Duke’s coming off one of his better seasons of his career playing for Milwaukee as a non-roster invitee in 2014. The Sox were desperate to get Duke off the free agent market with how dreadful their left-handed relievers were last season. If Duke were to carry an ERA near his career average of 4.46 out of the pen, he still would be almost a whole run better than the combined ERA of 5.21 from Eric Surkamp and Donnie Veal of 2014. The former Brewer however has had an under 2.50 ERA in two and a half of the last three seasons. So the hope is he’d continue the trend and help solidify a rough spot for the Sox last season.
After they filled the first glaring hole in the bullpen the Sox looked to replace the retiring Paul Konerko and the traded Adam Dunn at designated hitter and backup first baseman. Former Washington National Adam LaRoche put his name to a two-years, $25 million contract to help fill the void in the lineup. LaRoche holds a .264 batting average and has hit 20 or more home runs in four of the last five seasons. If the Sox were to hit him third, in front of Jose Abreu, LaRoche’s numbers could be even better with the more hitter friendly pitches he’d see with protection like that. It could be similar to the benefit Alexei Ramirez had in 2014. He may not hit as many home runs as Dunn and Konerko have had in the past but especially compared to 2014, he’d provide more offense in the way of his batting average being near .040 higher than Dunn and .060 higher than Konerko.
Once the MLB winter meetings came about last week, the Sox offseason was thought of as being just ok since they filled a couple holes. General Manager Rick Hahn saw an opportunity very few people saw coming from them, the chance to get an ace-like pitcher to slide behind Chris Sale in the rotation and they pulled it off. The Sox sent infielder Marcus Semien, catcher Josh Phegley, right-handed pitcher Chris Bassitt, and first baseman Rangel Ravelo to the Oakland Athletics for former Cub Jeff Samardzija and fellow right-hander Michael Ynoa.
The Northern Indiana native, who grew up a Sox fan, gets the opportunity to give the Sox one of the best top of the rotation duos in baseball. His 2.99 combined ERA with his time on the north side and on the west coast in 2014 is what Rick Hahn and the Sox are hoping to be a fix to the carousel of starters in the bottom of the rotation. Pending any surprises coming out of next spring, the Sox should be able to trot out a lefty, righty combination throughout their rotation.
Lefties Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and John Danks should anchor the first, third and fifth starts while Samardzija and Hector Noesi take on the second and fourth day starts. The wild card in that plan could be the Sox’s first round pick from 2014, lefty Carlos Rodon.
The Sox started Rodon in Winston-Salem at A level baseball and quickly elevated him to triple-A Charlotte after he posted a 1.86 ERA in 4 games. Rodon’s 2014 season went 24.2 innings with 38 strikes outs and a 2.92 total ERA. If he lives up to the hype and shows the same level of skill in the majors as he did this past season in the minors, the Sox could be looking at having one of the best rotations in baseball. Several White Sox management members have said that Rodon will start the season in the minors and then possibly come up later in the year if he continues his success. We’ll have to wait till spring training to see if Rodon forces their hand with an outstanding spring and makes the team out of Arizona.
Even if Rodon doesn’t make it to Chicago in the spring, the rotation will be solid as is. The front spots are covered by a Cy Young runner up and former Cubs’ ace. Quintana will get his usual amount of quality starts and hopefully some offense to go with it for wins. Danks and Noesi will have their rough games but should be serviceable in a majority of their starts. It’ll be exciting for fans to come out and see this staff do its thing on a daily basis especially compared to what they witnessed last season.
A day after Samardzija was acquired; the Sox stole another hot target off the free agent market with former Yankee, David Robertson. The right-handed closer signed with the club for 4 years, $46 million.
A quote from Robertson in the Chicago Sun-Times gives a glimpse into what he was thinking leading up to his signing and it also says exactly what Sox fans and baseball analysts are thinking as well of the busy offseason.
“First of all, I think the White Sox have a great club,” he said. “I love the city of Chicago, and I love what [general manager] Rick Hahn has been doing this offseason. I like the moves he’s making with getting LaRoche and Duke and the trade for Samardzija, I feel like he’s building a competitor next year, and I’m hoping we end up back in the playoffs.”
As a life-long Sox fan, I completely agree with every word!
All that being said Rick Hahn still wasn’t done tweaking the roster. He sent pitcher Andre Rienzo to the Miami Marlins in return for relief pitcher Dan Jennings. The third year south paw has a 2.43 ERA in his career with 100.0 innings pitched. The only concern to be had in this trade seems to be Jennings WHIP. His walks and hits per innings pitched has been over 1.500 for two of his three seasons in South Beach. In both of those seasons however he carried an under 2.00 ERA as well. So while he may let them on, he seems to keep them from scoring.
That brings up to the latest signing in Melky Cabrera. The right-handed hitting outfielder inked his name to a three-year deal with the White Sox for $45 million. With this deal it shows that the talk for the last couple weeks has been Seattle’s interest in Dayan Viciedo for their outfield was getting serious. Viciedo has three years left of team control before he hits free agency which makes him a favorable piece to move. Unfortunately with the deal the Mariners pulled off yesterday with the Cubs for a 32-year old Justin Ruggiano may have put any Viciedo deal to the northwest on hold. The move for Melky though was simply to improve upon the lack of production from the third spot in the outfield and to have back to back hitters at the top of the lineup that get on base and make contact on a consistent basis.
The traded Alejandro DeAza and Viciedo combined to hit for a .236 batting average last season. Cabrera comes to the team off a season he hit .301 and only 67 strike outs in 568 at-bats. Rick Hahn said yesterday on the Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN 1000AM that he liked what Cabrera brought to the team and he would be a nice piece in the second spot of the lineup.
There’s a breeze of fresh air coming through the Sox’s fan base. With 2014 so awful the Sox attendance last season was the in the bottom third of the league. There were games where there were maybe 1,000 people in the stands for the first few innings. It had to have embarrassed the front office daily. Now that they’ve shown they will spend money on quality players to turn things around, Rick Hahn’s said in interviews that the fan base has responded at the box office. 2015 will be different in Chicago for sure. As a fan I’m excited to see what’s to come!
On Monday the White Sox assured themselves of having the second of their top two starting pitchers in their organization for several years. They had already signed Sale at the beginning of last season to a five-year, $65 million contract with two years of team options. That contract locked up the ace of the staff until 2020 when he could become a free agent.
So the White Sox went into this spring wanting to lock up another of their young pitchers for years to come on Monday. The 25-year old, Jose Quintana was rewarded for his 2013 performance with a five year contract of his own.
According to WhiteSox.com, if Quintana is eligible for arbitration after this season, the sum of the guaranteed dollars would be at $26.5 million for the length of the contract. That breaks down into $850,000 this season, a nice bump up to $3.4 million next season, a raise to $5.4 million in 2016, $7 million in 2017 and $8.85 million in 2018. The contract also holds two team options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, at $10.5 million and $11.5 million respectively. There is also a $1 million buy out if the Sox don’t pick up either option on Quintana.
Again according to WhiteSox.com, if Quintana is not eligible for arbitration after this season, the sum of the guaranteed dollars would be $21 million for the length of the contract. This contract breaks down into the same $850,000 this season, $1 million for next season, $3.8 million in 2016, $6 million in 2017 and $8.35 million in 2018. The Sox would still hold the same two options for Quintana as they do in the arbitration eligible contract.
Quintana who posted a 3.51 ERA last season in 200 innings has shown that even without over powering stuff he could still get guys out effectively. He did have six games where he gave up either four or five runs, but for the most part he kept the games in the quality start category. The biggest problem he ran into last season was the lack of a White Sox offense to support him.
Quintana so far during Spring Training has pitched 11 innings and has given up 18 hits and 20 runs in those innings. The worst of his outings is the one against the Oakland A’s in which he never recorded an out and gave up 9 runs.
Rick Hahn said today in an interview about the signing that he took blame for the rough outing because he thinks Quintana may have been concerned over the physical that was pending in the days after the outing for his contract to be finalized.
Sale said of the move to WhiteSox.com, “What he does on the field is secondary to who he is in the clubhouse.” He continued, “How hard he works at pitching but with being a good teammate and I mean, a year ago today, he needed an interpreter and now he’s doing all this on his own. He’s a very hard worker and he’s very dedicated to what he does.”
In a statement about his contract, Quintana said, “That’s a lot of money. But I want to focus on games. The money, my family is happy with that. I talked to them and they’re so happy.” Quintana went on, “I want to say thank you to the Chicago White Sox for this opportunity to be here for a long time. I want to play hard every five days and better this team.”
It’s rare these days to have a team’s management, the player who signed the contract and his teammates all truly happy with the size of deals that’ve been handed out. In this case, everyone’s happy. Now that the stress of the contract negotiations are over, it’ll be interesting to see if Quintana’s rough days were really from the stress or if it’s a sign of things to come. With the faith the Sox put into him, the chances are it’s just from the stress even though he’d never admit there was any to begin with.
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.
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.
Sunday’s spring training game left a lot to be desired by starter Felipe Paulino, while the offense managed to get nine runs off Texas pitchers.
Newly acquired Paulino only lasted an inning and two thirds in his Sox debut. With 42 pitches thrown, he gave up four runs on eight hits. He also had a balk, walk and a strike out during his time on the mound.
Other pitchers of note from today’s game are: non-roster invitees David Purcey, Deunte Heath, Scott Snodgrass, and Zach Putnam who all held the Rangers hitless and off the scoreboard in relief. Purcey and Heath had three strike outs a piece.
Offensively the Sox managed 13 hits and had nine runs cross home plate. Mike McCade and Carlos Sanchez led the team with two hits each, and Tyler Flowers smashed a two run home run in the sixth inning.
In the ninth inning the Sox were able to get five runs across off Texas relievers. New comer Adrian Nieto and prospect Jared Mitchell were responsible for four runs on singles by both players. Carlos Sanchez had the game winning RBI on a single to left field scoring Leury Garcia from third.
Paul Konerko was held out of the game due to a stomach matter. Robin Ventura gave Adam Dunn the day off after a morning workout to accept a once in a lifetime invitation to the Oscars. Dunn decided that he would accept his opportunity today, and was given tomorrow off so he didn’t have to worry about getting back to the team in a hurry.
Next stop for the rest of the team on the road to the regular season is the Kansas City Royals at Camelback Ranch. The matchup has Jose Quintana going for the Sox versus Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals. First pitch is at 2:05pm CT.