Konerko-less Sox shut out by Blue Jays

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Konerko-less Sox shut out by Blue Jays

The South Side heat wave has cooled off.

The White Sox managed only two hits against Brandon Morrow and lost for the third time in four games, dropping a 4-0 decision to Toronto on Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field.

The loss trimmed Chicagos lead in the AL Central over Cleveland to a 12 game in being manhandled by Morrow, who threw his AL-leading third shutout of the season and tied Justin Verlander of Detroit for the AL lead in complete games with three.

Morrow (7-3) only allowed five baserunners, including one through six innings. The only hits came on a pair of singles by A.J. Pierzynski. Other baserunners came when Adam Dunn reached on an error in the seventh and was walked in the ninth. Morrow also walked Alejandro De Aza in the ninth.

Morrow struck out five as the Jays beat Chicago for the second night in a row.

Sox rookie left-hander Jose Quintana (1-1) took the loss in his third career start. Quintana flirted with trouble in the first four innings, but some timely pitches and a couple stellar defensive plays kept the game scoreless.

The best of those defensive plays came in the second when third baseman Orlando Hudson snared a line drive by Yan Gomes that appeared destined for the left-field corner, which would have scored Kelly Johnson easily from second.

Quintana pitched himself out of trouble in the fourth, stranding runners at first and second by getting Gomes to pop out to Pierzynski in foul territory behind home plate.

Even when his luck ran out in the fifth, Quintana benefited from a good defense play as the Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead. With David Cooper at second, Colby Rasmus drove the ball into left-center field to score the run.

But Rasmus was out when he tried to stretch the hit into a double as Dayan Viciedo threw a strike to Gordon Beckham at second, easily getting Rasmus for the innings final out.

Jose Bautista gave the Jays a 2-0 lead with his 15th home run of the season, a 423-foot shot into the left field seats to open the sixth against Quintana.

Quintana was replaced by Nate Jones to start the seventh. He gave up two runs on nine hits (eight singles) with one walk and one strikeout. He also threw a wild pitch.

The Sox used three pitchers in the seventh to get out of a jam they pitched themselves into. Jones gave up two singles after striking out Gomes to start the inning. Jones then got Brett Lawrie on a pop-up to Beckham before being replaced by Will Ohman.

Ohman hit the only batter he faced -- Rasmus -- to load the bases with two outs. Jesse Crain entered and struck out Batista to squelch the threat.

The Sox finally got another base runner with one out in the seventh when Dunn reached on an error against the infield shift. That snapped a streak of 14 consecutive batters set down by Morrow.

But the Sox stranded Dunn at first as Viciedo struck out and Alex Rios hit a fly ball to the edge of the right-field warning track.

Pierzynski led off the eighth with a single, just Chicagos second hit off Morrow. But pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge was caught stealing to put a stop to any momentum that might have started.

The Jays stretched their lead in the ninth on a two-run home run by Rajai Davis, who hit a Hector Santiago pitch into the Sox bullpen.

White Sox revamp would mean fewer 'stopgaps' and 'half-measures'

White Sox revamp would mean fewer 'stopgaps' and 'half-measures'

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Seems like every hour another juicy rumor surfaces in which the White Sox are considering the unthinkable: a trade for five-time All-Star Chris Sale.

With baseball’s Winter Meetings starting on Monday, those reports have begun to arrive at a furious pace. Team A has shown interest in Sale and plans to make a push at the four-day conference. Team B doesn’t think it can meet the White Sox reported asking price. Teams C and D have made their top prospects untouchable in a potential deal for Sale.

While the White Sox won’t reveal their direction until they make their first few major moves, the tone of most reports has made it clear they’re at least entertaining a trade for Sale, who has finished in the top six in the American League Cy Young Award vote in each of his five seasons as a starting pitcher.

In the past, trading Sale has been an afterthought as the White Sox have envisioned the lanky left-hander leading them back to the postseason. But those days appear to be numbered. To understand how they’ve reached this point, where Rick Hahn isn’t just humoring his fellow general managers by picking up the phone but is actively listening on Sale, you only need to look at the White Sox roster over the past five seasons.

While the White Sox have an extremely competitive top half of the roster, one that could seemingly compete on an annual basis in the AL Central, much of the rest has been comprised of what Hahn himself referred to as “stop-gaps” and “half measures.” Since the start of the 2012 season, more than 30 players who have appeared for the White Sox made their final major league appearances on the South Side. Several others made brief stopovers but have spent the rest of their time in the minors, another country or retired. Were they to begin a rebuild and bolster the farm system, Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams could better position themselves to avoid the use of short-term players and quick fixes to supplement the roster for a team that hasn’t reached the postseason since 2008.

“I think we’re veering away from the standpoint of looking for stopgaps,” Hahn said last month at the GM meetings in Phoenix. “A lot of what we did in the last few years had been trying to enhance the short-term potential of the club to put ourselves in a position to win immediately. I feel the approach at this point is focusing on longer-term benefits. It doesn’t mean we won’t necessarily be in a good position in 2017. It means that our targets and whatever we’re hoping to accomplish have a little more longer term fits in nature.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Whereas they were taking a step back in 2014, the White Sox at least went into four of the last five seasons with hopes of reaching the postseason.

But those aspirations were dashed in part because of a thin farm system. Whether depleted by an international program that was dormant for five seasons, trades of prospects to fill holes or previous draft misses, the White Sox have had few internal answers to cover for injuries or underperformance. That lack of depth has led to a number of short-term signings or bargain trades in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.

Last season, the White Sox signed Jimmy Rollins, Mat Latos and Austin Jackson in February and March in hopes of providing depth at shortstop, in the rotation and in center field. Those moves are typical of the way the club has hoped to plug holes the past few years.

Rollins and Latos were released in June while Jackson suffered a season-ending injury. Jackson is a hopeful free agent this offseason and should find a home, but Rollins didn’t find a new team after the White Sox released him and Latos made six appearances with Washington, compiling a 6.52 ERA.

From the 2015 roster, Adam LaRoche retired and Mike Olt and Hector Noesi haven’t resurfaced in the majors since departing the White Sox. Kyle Drabek appeared in one game for Arizona before he was released last July.

One-time 2014 closer Ronald Belisario played six games for Tampa Bay in 2015 and sat out last season. Moises Sierra has spent time in the minors with Kansas City and Miami. Adrian Nieto played 37 games with Miami’s Triple-A squad in 2016, Felipe Paulino and Dayan Viciedo finished the season in Japan, Maikel Cleto split the year between Mexico and Atlanta’s farm system and Frank Francisco hasn’t played since winter ball in 2015.

Michael Taylor and Matt Lindstrom retired, Jordan Danks didn’t play in 2016 and Taylor Thompson, Scott Snodgress and Charlie Leesman all played independent ball.

Jeff Keppinger hasn’t returned to the big leagues since he was released in early 2014. The same goes for Hector Gimenez, Dewayne Wise, Tyler Greene, Blake Tekotte, Ramon Troncoso, David Purcey, Brian Omogrosso and Deunte Heath from the 2013 club.

Casper Wells briefly played with Philadelphia after he was waived in 2013 while Kevin Youkilis only played 28 games that season, a year after the White Sox acquired him on the cheap from Boston. Orlando Hudson, Kosuke Fukudome, Ray Olmedo, Jose Lopez, Will Ohman, Brian Bruney and Leyson Septimo never appeared in the majors after 2012.

Starting with Hahn’s declaration in July that the White Sox were mired in mediocrity, the club has made its frustrations very clear. Whereas the Sale rumors once seemed far-fetched, they might not be this time as the White Sox look to replenish an organization short on talent past the very top portion.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve had our conversations internally with Jerry and Kenny and the coaches and our staff and our scouts where we realize putting ourselves in a better position for the long term is the more prudent path,” Hahn said.

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.