Tagged: Josh Phegley

Sox Pick Up an Extra Catcher

A few days after trading Josh Phegley to the Oakland Athletics, the Sox pick up another catcher off the free agent market. A journeyman catch, George Kottaras has been with seven teams in seven seasons and now will be with his eighth according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Kottaras agreed to a minor league contract with the team and will be the fourth catcher appearing at spring training. Tyler Flowers and his backup, Adrian Nieto are already on the 40-man roster from 2014, but the Sox also claimed Rob Brantly off waivers from Miami and now have Kottaras, all to fight for the two spots on the 25-man rotation.
Kottaras brings some power, draws walks, but does strike out often. His strikes outs to walks ratio is almost two to one. Last season he played for three teams and had 14 strikes outs in 25 at-bats. If he’s on the roster going into the season, it’ll be as a body to be able to give Flowers a day off and occasionally provide a good at-bat.


Fast and Furious Offseason for the White Sox

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!

Danks Doubles Up on Home Runs in White Sox Blow Out Loss

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.

Phegley Among Six Players Reassigned by the White Sox

The White Sox made six roster moves today as they cut their active roster to 38 players.

In the most notable move of the day, they reassigned catcher Josh Phegley to their Triple-A Charlotte club. Coming into Spring Training, Phegley was in competition with Tyler Flowers for the starting job at the catcher spot. The club made the announcement on Sunday that Flowers would be the starting catcher.

Phegley had six hits in 23 at bats with one home run. Flowers currently has seven hits on the spring in 28 at bats and two home runs. With the competition so close, they decided to go with Flowers since he is older and has shown that he handles the pitchers well. Phegley will use the opportunity to be Charlotte’s everyday starting catcher, and work on his game to be ready for when his name is called.

Phegley addressed the issue in an interview with WhiteSox.com, telling the website “I believe I’m a starter and I can be a front-line starter in the big leagues, but there just needs to be some improvement, and I think sitting, catching every four, five days, I don’t think that’s going to do me any justice.”

”I want to play every day, and I’d like to help this club. It’s everyone’s goal to be a big leaguer. I want to be a starter, and going to Charlotte and playing every day is going to help my game out, so I’m all for it,” Phegley continued.

Phegley wasn’t the only one going to the minors today. Right-hander Andre Rienzo and left-hander Eric Surkamp were also optioned down to Triple-A along with Phegley.

Infielder Andy Wilkins and right-handers Chris Beck and Cody Winiarski were reassigned to the Minor League camp.

The moves now leave the White Sox with 17 pitchers, three catchers, 12 infielders, and six outfielders remaining in the Major League camp. There are still 13 players left to cut to reach the 25-man roster for opening day.

Flowers Tapped as Starter for Friday’s Opener

One position that was a major issue for the White Sox in 2013 that wasn’t addressed in the offseason was catcher. The three catchers that played a most of the season combined for a .198 average.

Tyler Flowers, Josh Phegley, and Hector Gimenez started behind the plate in all but six games last season. There were rumors afloat in the off-season that the Sox were trying to trade for a catcher from the Tampa Bay Rays. Whether the talks fell through or the White Sox convinced themselves that Flowers or Phegley can rebound, those are the catchers they plan to start the season with.

On Saturday Manager Robin Ventura gave the fan base a hint as to which way he is leaning for a starting catcher. He announced that Tyler Flowers is going to start the first spring training game against the Dodgers on Friday.

“We know what we get with Tyler, and I like the way he calls games,” said Ventura Saturday.

Going into Flowers’ first season as a starter, pitchers complement him often on his size (giving pitchers a bigger target to throw to). They also bragged about how he called games as well. He proceeded to only hit for a .195 average, 10 home runs, and 94 strike outs. As a career .200 hitter, it doesn’t seem like Flowers will turn the offense around but will give a solid glove behind the plate. Hector Gimenez will likely start the season out with triple A Charlotte Knights.

The possible surprise in camp could be Rule 5 Draft pick Adrian Nieto. This is his first run through a major league training camp, but the 24 year-old switch hitting Cuban has to make the 25 man roster for the White Sox otherwise they will lose him back to the Nationals. In the Carolina League last season, Nieto hit .285, 11 home runs, and 82 strike outs in 390 at bats.

The career .254 minor league hitter, according to the Rule 5 Draft rules on MLB.com must stay on the 25 man roster the entire season. His biggest advantage, if he can hit like he did in the minors, is the fact he’s a switch hitter. It isn’t a secret that the Sox lack left handed hitters, so if he can provide any production from the left side it would a positive.

The catching position was pretty much a nightmare last season. It seems like the coaching staff is asking Tyler Flowers to lead the young catching crew into the 2014 season. The fan base is hoping that they can improve even a little compared to 2013 because it’d be hard to be worse.

White Sox Talking Trade for Rays’ Catcher?

The White Sox need a catcher to step up or find one. The White Sox played the 2013 season with three different catchers, two of which were rookies. It sounds like they weren’t content with what they saw. Who can really blame them though?

They started the season with Tyler Flowers, who tanked to a .195 average. Then Hector Gimenez stepped in as a backup and only came up with a .191 batting average. He was sent down to the minors by the All Star break. Josh Phegley stepped into the role next, took over the starting catcher position and proceeded to only manage a .206 average. So needless to say they need an upgrade at the position.

According to MLB Trade Rumors’ Steve Adams, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Times is reporting that the Tampa Rays are listening to offers for their catcher Jose Lobaton.

Lobaton, a switch hitting catcher, batted .249 last season as well as a .320 on base percentage. He had 7 homeruns in 277 at bats, plating 32 RBI. If he could match these numbers he’d be a definitely upgrade compared to who the Sox played with last year. It would also help with the lack of left handed hitters on a mostly right handed roster.
According to Adams, Lobaton has some defensive issues. He brings up the fact that he only threw out 16 percent of attempted base stealers and had a hard time blocking pitches in the dirt.

Catching around the league hasn’t been anything too special as of late especially when it comes to offense. The White Sox are going to have to look in a mirror and tell themselves we have three catchers that can’t bat higher than .210, and aren’t throwing runners out at a 50 percent average anyways. So depending what the Rays want in return, the Sox need to consider pulling the string on this trade.

It would give you a 29 year old catcher who can hit a middle of the road average, will be patient at the plate and isn’t going to hurt any worse than what they have defensive anyways. They could send Phegley and Gimenez back to the minors to get playing time, and use Tyler Flowers as the backup.

The Sox would have to consider this pretty quick because the Sox are not alone in the trade talks. According to Adams article, the Diamondbacks, Indians, Rockies, Mets and Nationals all are teams with interest or need at the catcher position. Also, Lobaton’s contract is controllable until the 2017-18 offense.