Projecting the White Sox lineup


Projecting the White Sox lineup

Mark Gonzales joined Chicago Tribune Live on Tuesday to discuss what the White Sox lineup could look like on opening day -- which, by the way, is in less than two months. His breakdown is as follows: Alejandro De Aza, Brent Morel, Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Dayan Viciedo, A.J. Pierzynski and Gordon Beckham.

Check out the video for Gonzales' explanations on that lineup. Here's what I would do if given the chance to mold the Sox lineup:
1. Alejandro De Aza: A no-brainer. He gets on base and has good speed.
2. Alexei Ramirez: He's not ideal for this spot (a higher-OBP guy would be ideal), but he gets on base more than a Brent Morel, A.J. Pierzynski or Gordon Beckham and would be great to have ahead of the middle of the order. Putting the ball in play is extremely overrated for a No. 2 hitter -- better to have someone who can get on base here than a guy who doesn't strike out.

3. Paul Konerko: Ideally, I'd like to have Konerko hit cleanup to max out his chances to hit with runners in scoring position. But that would mean Dayan Viciedo would have to hit third, which would probably be too much pressure on the soon-to-be 23-year-old rookie.

4. Adam Dunn: Like Gonzales, I'm banking on a rebound here, although I'm more confident Dunn will bounce back than Rios. It's risky to hit Dunn here, because if he struggles as mightily as he did in 2011, the Sox will have a tough time scoring runs early on. But if he bounces back and has some semblance of offensive production, he'll be a good fit here.

5. Dayan Viciedo: He'll have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs here. Good fit.

6. A.J. Pierzynski: Ideally, Ramirez would hit here with Gordon Beckham batting second, but the Sox won't have an idea if that's feasible until a month or two into the season. Pierzynski isn't the best option to hit sixth, but if Rios struggles, there probably won't be a better option on the team.
7. Brent Morel: His spectacular September power production isn't sustainable, but if he really did turn an offensive corner in last season's final month, he should hit higher in the order than he did for most of 2011.
8. Alex Rios: It'd be a pleasant surprise if Rios' bat could come back around, but he's only had about three good months of offense since coming to the White Sox in August of 2009.

9. Gordon Beckham: He and Rios are probably interchangeable in terms of "guys who need to rebound at the back of the lineup," but Beckham gets the nod at No. 9 probably because he doesn't cost nearly as much as Rios.

White Sox Talk Podcast: How Sox fans are dealing with Cubs success


White Sox Talk Podcast: How Sox fans are dealing with Cubs success

In our next installment of the White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien is joined by Chris Kamka and Slavko Bekovic to discuss how White Sox fans are dealing with success on the North Side.

Later, White Sox fan and CSN producer Ryan McGuffey talks about his experience producing Cubs content. Finally, Cubs fan Nate Poppen shares his thoughts on Frank Kaminsky wearing a Steve Bartman jersey to the United Center before a Bulls-Hornets preseason game.

Check out the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast here:

White Sox coaching staff will rely more heavily on statistics

White Sox coaching staff will rely more heavily on statistics

Statistical analysis will weigh more heavily on the White Sox coaching staff’s daily decisions after Joe McEwing was elevated to Rick Renteria’s bench coach on Friday.

McEwing -- whose influence led to a 957 percent increase in defensive shifts utilized from 2013-16 -- replaces Renteria, who was named the team’s new manager on Oct. 3 after Robin Ventura announced he wouldn’t return.

Former player development director Nick Capra replaces McEwing as third-base coach while Curt Hasler was promoted from minor-league pitching coordinator to replace bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen.

McEwing’s promotion is another sign the franchise will stress the use of statistical analysis when constructing its lineup, etc., a move Ventura suggested was in progress when he said the White Sox needed a new voice. Renteria likes how he worked with McEwing last season and suggested analysis would have a big impact on their day-to-day operations.

“All the information that is provided to us plays an important part in how we move forward,” Renteria said. “We look at outcomes, which are the statistical analysis aspects. But then we are also trying to stay ahead of the curve. We do a lot of video work, trying to see if guys are changing their approaches. In terms of the shifts, we did incorporate shifts, but we also did some modifications as was to be expected when you see guys changing approaches with two strikes and things of that nature or runners in scoring position -- all those different aspects that come into play.”

Similar to many organizations, the White Sox have drastically modified how they align themselves defensively over the past four seasons under McEwing and general manager Rick Hahn. According to FanGraphs, the White Sox went from being ranked 27th in shifts implemented in 2013 to ninth by 2014 with an increase from 102 to 588. The White Sox shifted 1,079 times last season and McEwing has been instrumental in that transformation, several team sources said. It’s reasonable to expect analysis will be used more often in lineup construction and game strategy under Renteria, too. He didn’t shy away from the use of statistical analysis when he managed on the other side of town in 2014, Cubs third-base coach Gary Jones said last week.

“It’s part of our daily preparation,” Jones said. “Rick is good with it as we are right now. It was definitely a part of the equation, no doubt.”

[RELATED: White Sox announce coaching staff changes] 

Renteria cited familiarity when asked why he didn’t go outside of the organization for coaching staff hires. McEwing has long been held in high regard within the franchise and interviewed for managerial openings in Houston and Texas in 2014. Renteria suggested McEwing’s work ethic -- and how he works -- had a big impact on his promotion.

“Having sat side by side (with McEwing) going over a lot of game reviews and studying the opposition and setting up defense, I got to know him quite well,” Renteria said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s in there early looking for anything that will give us an edge. His managing experience and coaching experience also allows him an opportunity to be able to serve me well.

“It’s a good fit. We both are kind of high energy. Joey might be a little higher energy than me and I didn’t think that was possible. He brings a lot to the table.”

The White Sox announced the rest of its staff -- first-base coach Daryl Boston, pitching coach Don Cooper, hitting coach Todd Steverson, assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks and bullpen catcher Mark Salas -- would return in 2017.