The All-Chicago Team: 2000-2011

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The All-Chicago Team: 2000-2011

By Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz
CSNChicago.com

This spring, we at Cubs Talk and White Sox Talk have decided to unify Chicago's two baseball teams into one in an effort to pick out the best players to grace each side of the city over the last 50 years. Each Wednesday during spring training, we'll roll out a different All-Chicago team, beginning today with the best Cubs and White Sox players from 2000-2011.

Tony: Catcher was the biggest debate. Geovany Soto has put up some solid offensive numbers for the Cubs over the second half of this time period, but A.J. Pierzynski brought intangibles and led a World Series-winning pitching staff. Ultimately, we went with Soto for the pure numbers, but it was awfully close.

JJ: As you'll see below, not everyone agrees with this. Soto's tangibles broke the tie, although as Tony said, this one was probably the toughest of them all.

Tony: Ray Durham at second base shows just how poor that position was in Chicago over that time. Durham is a heck of a player, but he only spent a a few years with the Sox in this time period. Both Chicago teams have failed to find consistent options at second for quite some time now.

JJ: It came down to Durham vs. Tadahito Iguchi, which was a lot closer than I thought. Iguchi was a solid player, but Durham was just a bit better.

Tony: Jim Thome and Derrek Lee were fantastic players for their respective teams in the 2000s, but Frank Thomas at DH and Paul Konerko were just a little bit better.

JJ: No shame to either guy for being left off our starting lineup of sorts. Both had terrific careers with the Sox and Cubs, respectively.

Tony: The rotation was tough, as beyond Carlos Zambrano and Mark Buehrle, there were no clear-cut options. The battle for the fifth starter was especially challenging. Ted Lilly ultimately won out because for the three-and-a-half years he spent on the North Side, he was the Cubs' best pitcher.

JJ: Freddy Garcia deserves a shout-out here, as does Jon Garland, but in the end, Lilly was the guy.

Tony: At left-handed reliever, Sean Marshall has been the best relief pitcher from 2010-11, but Thornton was arguably the best reliever from 2008-2010 and has been better for longer.

JJ: No non-closer was better than Matt Thornton from 2008-2010 in baseball. While Marshall has been impressive in the last two seasons, there's no touching Thornton's string of dominance. And without further ado, here's our roster:

C: Geovany Soto
1B: Paul Konerko
2B: Ray Durham
SS: Alexei Ramirez
3B: Aramis Ramirez
LF: Carlos Lee
CF: Aaron Rowand
RF: Sammy Sosa
DH: Frank Thomas

Bench: Derrek Lee
Bench: Jim Thome

SP: Mark Buehrle
SP: Carlos Zambrano
SP: Kerry Wood
SP: John Danks
SP: Ted Lilly

Closer: Bobby Jenks
Righty Reliever: Carlos Marmol
Lefty Reliever: Matt Thornton
The Final Word

David Kaplan: I have a few problems with the list because I don't think that some of the selections take into account winning. Three Cubs starting pitchers in the rotation? Please. Kerry Wood wasn't a starter for a large percentage of the decade. Ted Lilly? He didn't even finish the four-year deal he signed before the 2007 season. I would go with Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Jose Contreras, Carlos Zambrano, and Freddy Garcia.

At catcher A.J. Pierzynski is a no-brainer. Soto didn't even come up until 2007 and he had two bad years since then. No chance he belongs on the All-Decade team. Pierzynski is a winner and is still effective. This one is not even close! Carlos Lee? He didn't play in Chicago after 2004 so I would go with Jermaine Dye, who was a World Series MVP, and although he was a right fielder with the Sox he could play left field. Some of the selections are not great, but it speaks more to how subpar Chicago baseball has been for the past 11 years with 2005 our only true shining moment.

Chuck Garfien: Taking a first glance at the list, A.J. Pierzynski is the best catcher in Chicago of the decade. He didn't win the Rookie of the Year like Geovanny Soto, but he helped win the White Sox countless games behind the plate. Statistics don't always tell the whole story about a player. The intangibles A.J. brings into every game were immeasurable, especially in 2005.

And I agree with Kap. Jermaine Dye has to be on this list. Carlos Lee put up good numbers but was terrible in the clubhouse. That's why Ozzie Guillen asked Kenny Williams to trade him. The Sox went out and signed Jermaine Dye. He won the World Series MVP, was a great teammate. He belongs on the team.

And I would replace Ted Lilly with Greg Maddux. I know his best days with the Cubs were way before that, but it was great to see him back with the club for a final swan song. Plus, any all-time list looks better with Greg Maddux on it.

Share your thoughts on this list with us! Drop us a line in the comments or on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

Starters help White Sox bullpen maintain health for lengthy stretch

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Starters help White Sox bullpen maintain health for lengthy stretch

The White Sox are at another point in their schedule where every inning is precious.

So even though they only managed a split in Monday’s doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians, the White Sox have to feel good not to have taxed their bullpen.

Mat Latos and Erik Johnson combined for 12.1 innings pitched and five relievers combined for another 5.1 on Monday for the White Sox, who are in the midst of a stretch of 17 games in 16 days. Given they have Chris Sale and Jose Quintana scheduled the next two games, the White Sox feel pretty fortunate at the midway point of their lengthy run.

“We didn’t really abuse anybody,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “These doubleheaders can kind of get away from you and both sides probably had that. You get out of these things without having to use anybody in both games and extending anybody.”

With the way things had recently gone for Latos and Johnson’s command issues in his last start, Monday’s doubleheader could have been trouble for the White Sox bullpen.

Latos hadn’t completed six innings since April 24 and posted a 7.84 ERA in his last four starts. And in his only major league start this season, Johnson allowed four earned runs in five innings against the Boston Red Sox on May 5.

Not only do the White Sox have two more here against the Indians, they start a four-game series in Kansas City on Thursday and then head to Citi Field for three against the New York Mets. Only then do they have another day off.

Johnson made two early mistakes, but mostly followed in the footsteps of Latos, who delivered six innings in the opening game before he departed with a 6-3 lead courtesy of a three-run homer by Brett Lawrie.

While Johnson left a 3-0 fastball up to Rajai Davis and he ripped it for a two-run homer, which put Cleveland up 3-1 in the fifth, he faced only five over the minimum through six innings.

“EJ did a good job for us, we just weren’t really getting anything going,” Ventura said.

Johnson — who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after the start — entered the seventh inning at 93 pitches. With his team trailing by two, Ventura hoped to steal another inning from his right-hander. The Indians took advantage as Juan Uribe homered and scored another run off the combination of Johnson and reliever Matt Purke, who allowed a hit in 2.1 scoreless innings.

“You want to help the team out and save the bullpen as best you can, especially on these nine and nines,” Johnson said. “That’s your job as a starter for a regular nine inning game, whether it’s a doubleheader or not.

“I’m thankful for the opportunities and if they keep coming I’m going to keep coming back here.”

For now, the opportunity belongs to reliever Tommy Kahnle, whom was added as the 26th man before the doubleheader. By optioning Johnson to Charlotte, the White Sox will employ an eight-man bullpen.

Preview: Chris Sale targets 10th win as White Sox battle Indians on CSN+

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Preview: Chris Sale targets 10th win as White Sox battle Indians on CSN+

The White Sox continue their series with the Cleveland Indians tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet Plus. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (9-0, 1.58 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (6-0, 3.56 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

White Sox offense struggles, drop Game 2 to Indians

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White Sox offense struggles, drop Game 2 to Indians

Jose Abreu continues to struggle and the White Sox offense followed suit in the nightcap of a doubleheader Monday.

Cleveland Indians starter Cody Anderson struck out nine batters and helped his team avoid a doubleheader sweep as the White Sox lost Game 2 by a 5-1 count at U.S. Cellular Field. Anderson wiggled out of a first-inning jam by retiring Abreu and limited the White Sox — who put 18 men on base in a 7-6 win in Game 1 — to five hits in seven innings. Erik Johnson allowed five runs, including three home runs, in 6.2 innings.

“He’s got a nice fastball, but the changeup/breaking stuff was much better than we’ve seen it before,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Their guy was up to it.”

Abreu doubled in nine at-bats in the doubleheader and stranded seven runners on base, including three early in the second game.

Anderson, who entered the game 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA, didn’t give the White Sox many opportunities. They had a shot at him early as Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera both singled with two outs in the bottom of the first inning and no score. But Abreu quickly fell behind 1-2 in the count, fouled off a pitch and weakly grounded out to first to end the threat.

Abreu also stranded a runner in scoring position in the third inning with the score tied at 1.

Frazier doubled with two outs and scored on Cabrera’s game-tying single and advanced to second on a Jose Ramirez error. Abreu, who stranded a pair twice in the opener, struck out to end the third. He went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in the doubleheader and is now hitting .236 in 67 plate appearances with 18 RBIs.

The strikeout of Abreu was the third of the inning by Anderson, who retired the final 13 White Sox hitters he faced.

“It was just one of those games where good pitching it will beat good hitting any day,” outfielder Austin Jackson said. “He was using all of his pitches. You really couldn’t sit on one pitch up there. We really didn’t get anything going to get those timely hits.”

Looking for a lengthy start, Johnson kept the White Sox competitive for six innings. He allowed a solo homer to Ramirez in the second inning. Rajai Davis jumped on a 3-0 pitch in the fifth inning for a two-run homer to put Cleveland ahead 3-1. Juan Uribe blasted a solo shot off Johnson to start the seventh inning, the first homer he’s hit against the White Sox in 26 career plate appearances.

Johnson allowed five earned runs and six hits with three walks in 6.2 innings. He struck out five.

“Certain situations like the 3-0 to Rajai, where you have an open base, you have to be smarter than that than to throw one right over the plate,” Johnson said. “Just a few pitches I wish I had back. For the most part, I’m thankful for another opportunity to help this team out as best I can. If those opportunities keep coming, I’m more than happy to keep rolling out there.”