The All-Chicago Team: 1980-1989

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The All-Chicago Team: 1980-1989

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 1980-1989. If you didn't catch our first two installments, check out our 1990-1999 and 2000-2011 teams.

Tony: In some areas, this 1980s list was easy. Carlton Fisk as catcher? Done. Ryne Sandberg as second baseman? No question. Leon Durham at first and Ron Cey at third even went largely unchallenged. In other ways, this was a tough list. Center field, for example, was incredibly difficult. There was no clear-cut favorite and CF was largely a crapshoot in Chicago in the '80s.

JJ: Yeah, as you'll see below, we were chided for not having Rudy Law in center. He had two good years, then two bad years with the Sox. Chet Lemon had two good years, too, and while those were his only two with the Sox in the decade, they were better than Law's, so he got the spot.

Tony: I wanted to put Shawon Dunston here at SS over Ozzie, but it just couldn't be done. Ozzie wasn't head and shoulders better, but he was still the logical choice.

JJ: Guillen's defensive ability earned him this spot. Offensively, there's no question Dunston was better.

Tony: Jody Davis was an iconic Cubs player in the '80s, but I was a bit iffy at first in handing him a bench spot. As JJ found, he was the Cubs' second-most valuable position player of the decade by WAR. This is the first time we've actually had a clear-cut favorite as a catcher and then another catcher crack the bench.

JJ: Finally, a week without a catcher debate!

Tony: The rotation was also extremely difficult. There were plenty of solid options, but nobody great. Names like Dennis Eckersley, Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton toed the rubber in Chicago, but the latter two were in the twilight of their careers and Eck was pitching before he truly became a star. There were a plethora of pitchers who were good one year, but not the next, or had lofty win totals. Richard Dotson won 22 games in '83, but never topped 14 in any other season and also led the league in losses with 17 in '86. He made 228 starts for the Sox in the '80s, but his record was only 92-88 in that span and he boasted a 4.04 ERA and a surprisingly-bad 1.38 WHIP. Also, his KBB ratio was just 1.36. Not exactly All-Decade worth numbers.

JJ: Honestly, I didn't even look at Dotson's win totals. I just don't think that's a worthwhile stat. We could've built a good case based on his 1982-1984 (3.53 ERA, 25 complete games), and in retrospect, maybe we should've. But Eck did have some good years with the Cubs, including an MLB-best KBB ratio in 1985. This was one we agonized over. Fire away.

Tony: Rick Sutcliffe was an easy choice as the "ace" of the decade and if anybody questions that, I'd love to hear the argument there. The guy won the NL Cy Young in only 20 starts in '84, for Pete's sake!

JJ: Yeah, but LaMarr Hoyt was fantastic in 1983, leading baseball in WHIP, walk rate and KBB. And he won the Cy Young that year, too.

C: Carlton Fisk
1B: Leon Durham
2B: Ryne Sandberg
3B: Ron Cey
SS: Ozzie Guillen
LF: Ron Kittle
CF: Chet Lemon
RF: Andre Dawson
DH: Harold Baines
Bench: Greg Luzinski
Bench: Jody Davis

SP: Rick Sutcliffe
SP: Britt Burns
SP: LaMarr Hoyt
SP: Greg Maddux
SP: Dennis Eckersley

Closer: Lee Smith
RH reliever: Bobby Thigpen
LH reliever: Willie Hernandez

The final word
David Kaplan: Wow, I am stunned by some of the selections on this team. Chet Lemon as the CF? He left the White Sox in 1981! In addition, he only played in 94 games during the 1981 season. No chance he should be on this team. A better choice? White Sox CF Rudy Law, who stole 77 bases in 1983 and played four seasons on the South Side.

Dennis Eckersley? That's ridiculous! His numbers as a starter for the Cubs were lousy. How can you guys not have Richard Dotson on your team! His numbers crush Eckersley's.

Some of the other choices are easy like Sandberg and Fisk but I debated long and hard whether Shawon Dunston would be a better choice over Ozzie Guillen at shortstop. Greg Luzinski? He was okay, but with the Cubs not having a decade full of great teams he probably gets a spot, but that is more a testament to the lack of competition than his numbers.

Chuck Garfien: I dont have a problem with Carlton Fisk as catcher. Slam dunk there. Same with the infield of Durham, Sandberg, Cey, and Guillen.

As much as I loved Chet Lemon as a child, he only played a season and a half with the White Sox in the 80s and didnt make that big of an impact in the decade. He was an All-Star with the White Sox in 1978 and 1979. Id give the CF nod to Rudy Law, who stole 77 bases for the 1983 White Sox, and played a huge role at the top of the lineup in the Sox winning the division.

Dennis Eckersley never won more than 11 games with the Cubs as a starter. Thats the best you can come up with as a 5th starter? How about Richard Dotson? He went 22-and-7 for the White Sox in 1983. He won 14 games the year after that.

Check back next week for our Chicago all-decade team of the 1970s!

Chris Sale: Trade from White Sox 'bittersweet,' ready to move on with Red Sox

Chris Sale: Trade from White Sox 'bittersweet,' ready to move on with Red Sox

There’s no question he’s excited about the chance to pitch for a perennial playoff team in front of Fenway Park crowds deep into October.

But Chris Sale described the trade that sent him from the White Sox to the Boston Red Sox as bittersweet on Wednesday morning. On his way out of town, Sale, who was traded Tuesday for four minor leaguers, including two elite prospects, credited the White Sox for their support and belief in him from the outset of his career. But while he wishes he could have won a title on the South Side, Sale also said he’s ready to move on.

“It’s exciting for all the reasons I already said,” Sale said. “It’s tough. You build a relationship with these guys and they are like family. Everybody over there is being in your family. You are around these guys probably even more during the year than you are around your family. It’s tough. But knowing what lies ahead makes it a little bit easier for that transition.

“It didn’t work out. I really wish it did. I have nothing but really good things to take from that and I appreciate my time with the White Sox. But I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”

After several years of hearing trade speculation, the five-time All-Star said he started to sense the possibility was real a few weeks ago after a conversation with his agent. The chatter began to increase with the start of the Winter Meetings this week and Sale said he was inundated with texts from friends and family in anticipation of where he could be headed. When he learned it was the Red Sox, Sale said was ecstatic to learn he’d be playing for one of the “greatest baseball franchises ever.”

“It’s kind of like being monkey in the middle, you’re just glad when you finally get the ball,” Sale said. “It’s hectic. There’s a lot of speculation. There’s story after story and obviously getting flood with text messages from family and friends. Just to have the whole process out the way and to get back to normalcy will be nice.”

[Complete coverage of the White Sox-Red Sox Chris Sale blockbuster trade]

Many of those messages came from former White Sox teammates. Sale said he and his wife, who is soon due with their second child, spent much of Tuesday looking at old pictures and nostalgia from his White Sox tenure. Though he’s disappointed by the lack of team success with the White Sox, Sale said the team’s support was a critical element to his success.

The White Sox drafted Sale with the 13th overall pick in 2010 and he reached the majors later that season. Though he spent the first two seasons in the bullpen, the team’s plan all along was to make Sale a starting pitcher, something others weren’t certain he could handle. Sale has been an All-Star and also finished in the top six in the Cy Young Award vote in each of the five seasons since he became a starter.

“It didn’t work out the way we wanted it to in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot of great moments,” Sale said. “I had a very good conversation with Rick (Hahn) yesterday.

“I was in a situation in 2010, how many teams would have done what they did? It’s hard to say now, but probably not very many. They drafted me in the first round when people had questions. They brought me up to the big leagues really fast and people probably had questions. They threw in the rotation and people clearly had questions.

“They were really, they had my back a lot and they gave me opportunities that not a lot of other people would have given me. I’m very thankful for that.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Breaking down the Chris Sale trade

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Breaking down the Chris Sale trade

On the latest episode of the White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien and Dan Hayes break down the White Sox trade of Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox.

Plus, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provides some insight on what exactly the White Sox got in return for their former ace.

And Rick Hahn talks about just how difficult it was to pull the trigger and trade elite, homegrown talent.

Listen to the latest episode below: