Sox Drawer: The dangers of being 'All-In'

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Sox Drawer: The dangers of being 'All-In'

The Detroit Tigers won the American League Central by 15 games last season. They have the reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner in Justin Verlander. Now they've added Prince Fielder for nine-years, 214 million, the largest contract in franchise history, in the hopes of getting 82-year-old owner Mike Ilitch a World Series ring.

But Detroit, before you crown your Tigers World Series Champions, or even division champions, be aware of the dangers of going "All-In" like you appear to be.

"If they're using that slogan, then I like our chances because the Red Sox had that slogan, we had that slogan and it didn't work out for either one of us," said A.J. Pierzynski in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.

A.J. knows from experience.

Last season, Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams bet heavy on free agents Pierzynski, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, and Jesse Crain with the hopes of bringing another title to Chicago. What did they get for it? 79 wins and a whole lot of heartache.

Pierzynski was also the featured star in an "All-In" commercial that seemed to run on a loop everyday from April through October.

"I'm glad it's over to say the least," Pierzynski said about the 2011 season. "Frustrating, confusing, everything. Every word you can use to describe craziness is about how it went last year. It wasn't good. It wasn't fun. It wasn't the way it was supposed to be. Things just didn't work out."

Go ahead and point the finger at Dunn, Alex Rios, and Gordon Beckham. Everyone else is. But really, if you look at how the whole season unfolded, with the exceptions of maybe Mark Buehrle and Konerko, every single White Sox player had a role in it: Matt Thornton unable to save games early, Juan Pierre's struggles on the basepaths and in the outfield, John Danks 0-8 start, Sergio Santos giving up 7 runs in back-to-back losses just as the Sox were making a move in June. There's plenty of blame to go around.

"It's not one person's fault. People want to look at this person to blame, that person, but it was everybody," Pierzynski said.

While the White Sox were crushing the Indians on Opening Day in Cleveland, Jim Thome says he and his Twins teammates were watching the game on television in the clubhouse.

And I remember our guys saying, It looks like Chicago is going to be tough to handle,'" Thome said. "And then as baseball goes, you just never know."

The White Sox won the first two games of the season and led the division by a half-game. They'd only be in first place one more time. Four days later. And they were tied.

Meanwhile, after a slow start themselves, the Tigers won 95 games thanks to an all-world season by Verlander, closer Jose Valverde not blowing a single save all season, and 24-year-old catcher Alex Avila suddenly hitting like Johnny Bench. Now after winning the division, and the pressure and expectations to win it all in 2012, could the Tigers find themselves in the same boat the White Sox were last year?

"One break here or there, one tough loss, you never know how people are going to react," Pierzynski said. "One guy goes down like Dunn last year with the appendectomy, and it seemed to affect him the whole year. You just never know. One little thing can affect the team for a long time. If the Tigers don't get off to the start they're supposed to get off to, maybe the pressure will rise, expectations mount, fans will get on them and they might struggle. But if you look at them on paper, they're as good as anybody."

The Tigers are good. Potentially great. The last time we said this about them was 2008 when they traded for Miguel Cabrera. What happened that season?

They finished in last place.

You just never know.

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

The White Sox agreed to one-year contracts with five players on Friday, including a $12-million deal for Todd Frazier.

Frazier established a franchise record for home runs by a third baseman in 2016 when he blasted 40 in his first season with the White Sox. A free agent after the 2017 season, Frazier hit .225/.302/.464 in 666 plate appearances, drove in a career high 98 runs and produced 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. 

Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is set to earn $5.9 million this season. The team also agreed to deals with relievers Dan Jennings ($1.4 million), Zach Putnam ($1.1175 million) and Jake Petricka ($825,000).

The White Sox acquired Frazier in a three-player trade from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2015. It's expected they would try to trade Frazier, who has hit 104 homers since 2014 and participated in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby three consecutive years, before the Aug 1 non-waiver trade deadline as part of the club's rebuilding efforts. 

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Gonzalez went 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) after he was signed to a minor-league deal in early April. 

Jennings posted a 2.08 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. 

Putnam had a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts before he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. 

Petricka was limited to nine appearances before his season was ended by hip surgery.

Both Petricka and Putnam are expected to be ready for spring training.

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

It was a limited look, but Yoan Moncada made a strong first impression on the White Sox this week.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox last month in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada arrived in Glendale, Ariz., earlier this week with the franchise hopeful he'd offer a glimpse of the skills that earned him the designation as baseball's top prospect.

Moncada didn't disappoint, either, as he had White Sox evaluators excited throughout a three-day hitters camp. Whether it's his physicality, how he carried himself or his baseball IQ, White Sox staffers couldn't have been happier about their first experience with their new prized possession.

"(Moncada) looks like a linebacker, but he moves like a wide receiver," player development director Chris Getz said. "He's got good actions. He's obviously a switch hitter. He's got power. He can hit. He's got a good smile. He seems to be enjoying himself out here, he interacts well with his teammates.

"So far it has been very impressive, and we look forward to seeing more."

Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Moncada, 21, looked every bit the part when he first observed him from across the hall at the team's facility. Steverson spoke to friends in the scouting community and wasn't the least bit surprised when he encountered the 6-foot-2, 205-pound second baseman. Moncada was just as impressive on the field with his skills and effort, Steverson said.

"This is a large specimen right here," Steverson said. "He's put together pretty well.

"On defense it looks like he has some really good hands.

"He got in the box and he hadn't swung for a while. But still, you could tell he had good hands going through the zone, has a nice approach and wants to work real hard."

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Moncada's fancy tools have been well publicized since he received a $31.5-million signing bonus from the Red Sox in March 2015.

MLB.com graded Moncada's hit tool at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale while his base running is 65 and arm is 60. Moncada's power received a 55 grade, and his fielding is 50. Moncada received an overall grade of 65, which suggests he has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and worth 4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

But the White Sox weren't just impressed with Moncada's physical ability.

One of manager Rick Renteria's top objectives for the camp was to emphasize fundamentals and what's important to the team. Renteria wanted to identify specific game situations and how players are expected to handle them so they're well prepared for the future. Moncada handled that area well, too.

"Yoan is a very knowledgeable baseball player who has experience on a multitude of levels," amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. "In the brief time we had with him this week, he showed a tremendous ability to drive the ball the opposite way as well as drive balls to the gap and out of the ball park from both sides of the plate. That ability will help him handle and any all situations that Ricky asks him to do at the plate. Defensively his hands and feet are very good and will have no problem there. He's a bright hard-working kid that is part of a bright future for the organization."