Sox Drawer: A Winter Meetings Blog


Sox Drawer: A Winter Meetings Blog

Monday, December 7th

5:48 pm

Sitting down with Ozzie Guillen today, I asked the Sox manager the one thing his team needs more than anything else. His answer?

A leadoff hitter.

Are you going to find one?

"That's Kenny's job," Ozzie said. "That's why they pay him the big money."

Unfortunately, the Sox GM doesn't have the kind of money needed to sign a Chone Figgins (I'm frankly tired of typing Figgins name. I think I'm just going to start calling him "the free agent the Sox have coveted for years and will never, ever get. Period.) So Williams is going to have to be creative if he's hoping to give his manager the kind of table-setter Ozzie would love to have.

In fact, when I asked Kenny what's tougher to find, a leadoff hitter or frontline starter ...his first answer was:

"It's harder to find a good manager. I'm still working on that."

Ozzie was in the room, but on the phone, so I don't think he heard the joke.

But then Williams said, "There aren't any more Rickey Hendersons. You have to draft them and develop them. Hopefully we're on the path as far as that's concerned."

The Sox are still having dialogue with Scott Podsednik's agent, but Williams didn't sound too optimistic about bringing Pods back. At least, not right now.

"I don't feel anything one way or another about it. We made no secret earlier on in this offseason that we felt there was a place of Pods," Williams said. We made overtures to that affect but he wanted to test the market and that's his right and we respect that."

The biggest surprise may have come when I asked Kenny if he hadn't traded for Jake Peavy, would he be involved in the trade market for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.

Kenny produced a wide grin and said, "no comment."

Dave Van Dyck then followed up, asking if the Sox were interested in Halladay.

Kenny's answer..."no comment."


3:12 pm

Ozzie met with the media a short time ago. Among the highlights:

If Kenny can't find a leadoff hitter, he reiterated that Gordon Beckham can bat in the 1 spot. I later asked Ozzie if he'd consider using Alex Rios, who has led off in the past with Toronto. Ozzie said yes, but he'd have to hit a lot better than he did with the Sox last year.

Asked if the Sox are the best team on paper in the AL Central, Ozzie said, "I have the best 5 starters."

He added, "I think we can take a little bit advantage of Detroit because I think we play with more fears when we're facing Polanco. A lot of people talk about Cabrera and Magglio and Inge, and to me Polanco, he's hurt our ball club a lot. Right now we look pretty good. We're waiting to see September where we are, but right now in the paper all five starters are pretty solid. If something happened to one of those guys, we've got a couple backups we've never had. Now we do."

Freddy Garcia will come to spring training as the 5th starter, not with a pen, but a pencil.

Said Ozzie, "It should be Freddy Garcia. It's not going to be, but it should. I think (Daniel) Hudson is a candidate. He did a tremendous job. I think the way I look at it...Freddy has to stay in shape and stay strong. Before he was a tremendous pitcher, and now what we're doing right now, he knows every winter he's got to work hard because the problems he had in the past."

We also sat down with Ozzie for an interview that will run tomorrow. Kenny Williams was one of the last GM to arrive here. Not sure if that's a sign of things to come this week. Maybe he got stuck in a snowstorm on I-65. He speaks to the media in 10 minutes. Gotta run!

1:23 pm

A quiet start so far. That is unless you include the Pirates signing free agent pitcher...and one of my favorite names of MLB.....Vinnie Chulk. He pitched 12 innings last year for the Indians. If Vinnie and I shared the same last name, I would be Chuck Chulk.

I just saw Ozzie Guillen in the hotel lobby. He'll be speaking with the media in about a half hour. Kenny will talk at 3:30 central. Crickets so far.

10:29 am

It's a wintry morning in America's heartland. Fitting that we're on our way to baseball's Winter Meetings.

Last year, they were held in the posh Bellagio Hotel in sunny Las Vegas. This year, we're headed for that vacation wonderland....Indianapolis.

Darn, I forgot to bring my bathing suit.

You never know what will happen, or not happen at this annual get-together. Kenny Williams said on Friday that he expects to be busier after the meetings. However, put 30 general managers in the same hotel for 4 days, and who knows.

The Sox need help in the bullpen, another outfielder, and a lead-off hitter...if they can find one.

The free agent market has been stagnant so far. Expect that to continue for a bit. In the meantime, it seems like many teams have come to Indy to deal. We'll see how it all shakes out.

We'll be talking with both Kenny and Ozzie this afternoon. I'll be giving updates here in the Sox Drawer throughout the day. And feel free to ask me a question regarding what the Sox are doing or not doing. I'll try to answer as many as of them as I can throughout the week.

We just arrived in Indianapolis. The outside temperature, a balmy 28 degrees. Sunblock anyone?

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

As if the possibility of clinching their first National League pennant in 71 years didn’t create enough drama and excitement in Wrigleyville, the Cubs have sent Kyle Schwarber to the Arizona Fall League, hoping he can add another chapter to his October legend.
Schwarber earned this chance after beating every expectation in his recovery from major surgery on his left knee in April. The Cubs haven’t ruled anything in or out – and still need to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers one more time this weekend – but they want to see how he responds on Saturday with the Mesa Solar Sox and ultimately decide if he would be a viable designated-hitter option for the World Series.
Schwarber gained clearance on Monday from Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating outfield collision during the first week of the regular season. Schwarber immediately phoned president of baseball operations Theo Epstein after the six-month checkup.   
“I wasn’t expecting the call,” Epstein said. “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard. 
“He asked for a chance to do this. And with as hard as Kyle has worked and as much as this means to him – and potentially to us – we wanted to give him that opportunity.”

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Schwarber flew from Dallas to Los Angeles, where he hit in the cage at Dodger Stadium that night. As the Cubs continued with what has been a classic NL Championship Series, Schwarber hit again on Tuesday and then left for Arizona on Wednesday to ramp up his baseball activities and prove whether or not he could again be a difference-maker in October.
Schwarber, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, generated 16 home runs in 69 games last season and then set a franchise record with five homers in the playoffs. 

The Cubs still have to deal with Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night in Game 6, and judge whether or not a this layoff is too long, even for one of their best young hitters, especially against what would be a dynamic Cleveland Indians pitching staff.
But the Cubs would also never bet against Schwarber.

“We’ll see where this goes,” Epstein said. “We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We have a lot of work to do here before this becomes pertinent. But it’s a testament to how hard Kyle has worked to even be in this position where it’s a possibility.”  

Fire try to 'escape from the bottom' in season finale at Toronto Sunday on CSN

Fire try to 'escape from the bottom' in season finale at Toronto Sunday on CSN

The 2016 Chicago Fire season will end Sunday and it has been over in terms of chasing a playoff spot for a few weeks, but coach Veljko Paunovic still believes the team has something to play for beyond trying to be a spoiler.

Paunovic wants to see his team avoid finishing last in the league for a second straight year. If the Fire can win at Toronto FC on Sunday, which will be televised on CSN with coverage beginning at 3 p.m., there is a chance the Fire can move ahead of Houston in the standings. The Fire (7-16-10, 31 points) are two points behind Houston, which plays at Colorado as part of the league’s simultaneous kickoffs to close the regular season.

“I think we owe to our job, to our fans, to our club, to everyone in the league professionality and we have to play the game the best we can,” Paunovic said earlier this week. “That’s very important for me. On the other end there is another motivation which motivates me even more. We have the opportunity if we win the game to win that second game in a row, second game on the road this year, but at the same time… we have the opportunity to escape from the bottom in the overall standings.”

Of course, winning on the road against a playoff team won’t be easy. The Fire are 1-13-2 on the road this year and Toronto (13-9-11, 50 points) is playing to get a first round bye in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Toronto just got reigning league MVP Sebastian Giovinco back from injury. Giovinco played all 90 minutes and had an assist in the 2-2 draw at Montreal last week after missing the previous five games. Giovinco did not play when TFC won 2-1 at Toyota Park on Sept. 10.

“We have to be on top of our performance to play against a team like Toronto and players like Giovinco and other guys,” Paunovic said. “I think they have a very good team.”

In addition to Toronto’s win in Bridgeview, TFC also beat the Fire 1-0 on July 9 in Canada.

“We know what we can expect from them,” Paunovic said. “We know how euphoric they’re going to be, the people, the stands, the crowd and everything.”

The Fire will be without forward Luis Solignac, who will be serving a suspension after being red carded in last week’s win against New England. David Arshakyan, who joined the Fire in August, could see more minutes or get a start in Solignac’s absence. Defender Johan Kappelhof is the only listed injury. Kappelhof is listed as questionable with a hip injury.

The game could also mark the last appearance in a Fire jersey for some of the players. After another disappointing season, more turnover in the roster should be expected. How much change there will be remains to be seen, but in all likelihood at least a couple of Sunday’s starters won’t be back.

Chicago Fire at Toronto FC

When: 3 p.m. Sunday


Where: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario