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.
On a day where the White Sox had their game against the Cleveland Indians was washed out, they got back to the negotiating table with 24 of their players. With these signings the Sox now have all their players on the 40-man roster locked in for the 2014 season.
The players were given one year deals with the largest deal going to Jose Quintana which brings him up to $550,000 and possible closer Nate Jones at $545,000.
Others amongst the 25-man active roster that were able to reach a deal include Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, Josh Phegley and top prospect Erick Johnson.
Notable minor leaguers who received a deal today also include Leury Garica, Carlos Sanchez, Marcus Semien, Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson.
All these players are in their pre-arbitration part of their careers. Next season Nate Jones, Donnie Veal, and Jose Quintana reach their first year of arbitration. The best news for the Sox is most of the young talent they have on the current roster still has at least one year of arbitration left such as Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, and Erik Johnson.
Welcome to the start of the 2014 season! This season has several offensive story lines to keep an eye on, and most of them will have an impact on whether the Chicago White Sox can climb out of the basement of the American League Central.
One of the story lines that’s been hovering over the team this off-season is the pending retirement of Paul Konerko. Konerko, coming off one of his overall worst seasons, announced this off-season that he will retire at the end of the year. He also is going to have his role on the team reduced with the signing of Jose Abreu.
Almost every year that Konerko has had a rough season, he’s managed to recover and have solid seasons. In 2003, he hit .234 and turned his fortunes around the following year for a .277 average. Again in 2008, he could only manage a .240 average but spun it around the next year for another .277 average. He has shown the ability in the past to fight back the next year for a decent season.
What will the story lines read for Paul Konerko at the end of 2014? Did a cut in playing time affect his chances of bouncing back, and did the decision to publicize the fact that he’ll retire at the end of the season be a distraction?
Another story line walking into spring training is, “Will the in-season and off-season acquisitions help to bring the White Sox back to October?” Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson all have the ability to make an impact on this year’s roster.
Avisail Garcia came on via trade at the end of July last season, and tried to create a spark in the team when he was called up a week and a half later. He hit a .304 average last season and had 4 doubles, 2 triples, and 5 home runs in the 42 games he played in for the Sox. He has yet to play in more than the 42 games in a season.
The “Next Miggy” (as people have named him, comparing him to Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers), Garcia will get the chance to prove the nickname true as he heads into his first full season. The 22-year-old will roam the field in right for the White Sox in 2014, and bring his solid defense with him (having only committed 3 errors in the 92 games he’s play in the majors). If he is still a beast defensively, can maintain the .300 average, and be a major extra base threat at the plate, he’ll be a major asset for the Sox as the season and his career go along.
The White Sox went on and signed Jose Abreu in October. The 6 foot, 3 inch, first baseman was sought after as the heir to Paul Konerko’s first base position. He is projected to be a .290 hitter with 30 plus home runs a season. The Sox are hoping that those projections start with his rookie season. The 27-year-old first baseman may have an adjustment period coming in to this season- especially being in a rotation at first base and designated hitter with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.
The first player traded for in December was Adam Eaton. The Sox were looking for a young center fielder that could be productive and under their control for a while. With Eaton, they receive a center fielder that’s hard-nosed like former Sox player, Aaron Rowand. He also gives them a 25-year-old that isn’t up for arbitration till 2016, and the earliest he can reach free agency is 2019.
In the 88 games he’s seen as a pro, Eaton has put up a .254 average, 24 extra base hits, and 31 walks. The White Sox are hoping that he brings with him some of his abilities in the minors. He probably won’t hit the .348 average like in the minors, but closer to a .280 avg. with a mid .300’s OBP (On Base Percentage). The Sox are going to be looking at the former Arizona Diamondback to get on base and cause some havoc.
The final acquisition from the Diamondbacks was third baseman, Matt Davidson. The 23-year-old, rookie was traded for less than a week after Eaton. He will compete with Jeff Keppinger and Connor Gillaspie, who combined for around a .230 average last season for the starter’s role at third base. Davidson’s projected as a 30 home run hitter but comes with a high strike out rate. If he can hit even .240 with 25-30 home runs in his first couple seasons, he’ll be a big improvement on offense compared to his competitors at third base.
These are the major story lines on the offensive side for the White Sox heading into a 2014 with unknown potential ahead of them. Could all these story lines mesh together to have a magical season, we’ll find out as the season moves along!
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!” Those words couldn’t possibly be the way any White Sox fan, player, coach or office guy thought of the team going into the off season. In fact, this has been one of the most efficient off-seasons the White Sox have had in a while.
The team signed an international player who has the potential to be a future star in first baseman Jose Abreu, who will be the heir to Paul Konerko’s spot at first base when he retires at the end of the season. They then proceeded to trade twice with the Arizona Diamondbacks in less than a week of each other. In those transactions they picked up a center fielder, Adam Eaton and a third baseman, Matt Davidson who will be under the team’s control for several years.
The Sox also signed right handed pitchers Ronald Belisario and Mitchell Boggs to contracts while letting Brent Morel go to Toronto on waivers. Catcher Adrian Nieto was also claimed off waivers but this time by the Sox from the Nationals.
In return for all this work General Manager Rick Hahn has done to retool, not rebuild the White Sox hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, Sports Illustrated has given the team an A minus for it’s off season work. They are tied for second with Kansas City and the San Francisco Giants to only the St. Louis Cardinals who received an A plus for the job they did.
White Sox fans will still have mixed feelings going into this season. They’ll especially feel that way when Baseball Prospectus has their PECOTA standings with the Sox finishing fourth behind the Tigers, Indians, and Royals at 76 wins and 86 losses. Will the offense come back? Can the young guys in the bullpen close out games for the starters, and who’s all going to be in the rotation behind Chris Sale and John Danks? Who’s going to be the everyday catcher and third baseman this season? Like the old adage says, “That’s why they play the games!”