The All-Chicago Team: 1960-2011

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The All-Chicago Team: 1960-2011

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, with today's version being the best Cubs and White Sox players from 1960-1969. Be sure to check out our 1960-69, 1970-1979, 1980-1989, 1990-1999 and 2000-2011 teams if you haven't already.
JJ: We cannot emphasize enough that this list only takes into account stuff that happened after 1960. We had to make that a hard cutoff date so we couldn't fudge anything -- and because of it, Mr. Cub got left out of the starting lineup. From 1960-1971, Ernie Banks hit .260.315.464 (a 111 OPS) with 284 home runs. From 1988-2000, Mark Grace hit .308.386.445 (a 122 OPS) with 148 home runs while winning four Gold Gloves. For comparison, Paul Konerko has hit 389 home runs since joining the White Sox in 1999 with a 123 OPS. While the main debate will be over leaving Banks off, the most vigorous one should be about Grace vs. Konerko.

Tony: I agree. It's tough to discount anything Banks did while in a Cubs uniform but it's not hard to see why Grace is the option here over the man affectionately known as "Mr. Cub." Konerko is one heck of a player and a fantastic leader so it's hard to leave him off as the starting first baseman, but Grace's defense takes the cake here.

JJ: There were plenty of easy position player calls here: Pudge, Sandberg, Santo, Williams, Sosa and Thomas. There could've been an argument made for Ozzie Guillen over Luis Aparicio based on longevity, but Aparicio was the superior hitter and defender even though he only played six years with the Sox after 1960. Center field was the toughest call -- we went with Chet Lemon, although as you'll see below, there's plenty of debate over that pick.

Tony: My idea to help quell some of the CF debate was to put Sammy Sosa in center, pushing Andre Dawson to right. Sosa played 158 games in center in a Cubs uniform, but as JJ pointed out, he wasn't very good there and that's not much of a sample size. When people think of Sosa, they think of him in right field. It would have been a loophole to place him in center, and would have created a whole other debate.

JJ: When I first suggested Carlos Zambrano for the rotation, Tony was a little apprehensive -- which I'm guessing is pretty indicative of Cubs fans given the starter's ugly departure from Chicago. But in his prime from 2003-2008, Zambrano had a 3.39 ERA and finished in the top five in Cy Young voting more times than Rick Sutcliffe (of course, Sutcliffe won the award, which is worth noting). Nasty breakup or not, Zambrano deserves a spot on this roster.

Tony: Yeah, I initially balked at the idea of Zambrano on any list besides the All-2000 roster. But JJ and I discussed it and I wound up conceding. This whole feature has been about the numbers and statistics and not about sentimental value. By numbers, Zambrano is a no-brainer. His longevity is a huge reason why. By sentimental value...well, he left a bad taste in Cubs fans mouth. I still cringe at seeing his name on this list, but I don't want to take away anything he did on the mound in a Cubs uniform.

JJ: There were plenty of good bullpen names to choose from, and those we left off -- Keith Foulke, Bobby Thigpen, Terry Forster, Sean Marshall -- deserve a mention. So here it is.

Tony: There were so many good relievers to choose from. We even had to leave off Bobby Jenks, the World Series-winning closer of the White Sox, along with the four guys JJ listed. Point is, there just weren't enough spots for all the quality guys. The same can be said across the entire roster. Thank God we expanded to 25 guys, otherwise these debates would have gotten downright nasty.

And now, to the roster:

C: Carlton Fisk
1B: Mark Grace
2B: Ryne Sandberg
SS: Luis Aparicio
3B: Ron Santo
LF: Billy Williams
CF: Chet Lemon
RF: Sammy Sosa
DH: Frank Thomas

Bench: Robin Ventura
Bench: Paul Konerko
Bench: Ernie Banks
Bench: Andre Dawson

SP: Fergie Jenkins
SP: Mark Buehrle
SP: Carlos Zambrano
SP: Rick Reuschel
SP: Greg Maddux

CL: Bruce Sutter
RP: Lee Smith
RP: Wilbur Wood
RP: Hoyt Wilhelm
RP: Carlos Marmol
RP: Matt Thornton
RP: Roberto Hernandez
The final word
Chuck Garfien: Ernie Banks is Mr. Cub and he is sitting on the bench?? He and Luis Aparacio are both in the Hall of Fame and belong in the starting lineup. Banks actually played more games at first base than shortstop. Put him at first. Mark Grace should be a reserve.

My all-time favorite White Sox player is Chet Lemon, but hard to believe you have him as the best centerfielder on either side of town in the last 50 years??!! I know there haven't been too many exceptional CFs, but there is one. Two words: Lance Johnson. He ranked first in triples every season from 1991 to 1994, led the American League in hits in 1995, was an awesome leadoff hitter, quick defender, and had a great nickname: 1-dog. Not sure how you guys missed him.

Carlos Zambrano and Rick Reuschel had long careers on the Cubs. They both had exceptional games, but none of them ever won a Cy Young Award. Lamar Hoyt did for the White Sox in 1983. I know he didn't last long, but he needs to make the team just for that achievement alone -- and also because he was in the trade that brought Ozzie Guillen to the White Sox.

And no offense to Matt Thornton and Carlos Marmol, but have they ever saved 57 games in a season? Bobby Thigpen did in 1990. He's gotta be in the bullpen.

Chris Kamka: First things first, at first base, Paul Konerko is my starter. Mark Grace was a fine player, and I'm aware that his WAR was better, but WAR is something to use in the argument; it's not the entire argument. I strongly disagree that Grace was more valuable to the Cubs than Konerko was, and is, to the White Sox. For me, Grace just wasn't able to produce the power numbers a first baseman should produce (no 20-HR seasons, no 100-RBI seasons despite hitting 3rd or 4th 74.9 of his career). Konerko was the main offensive cog of the Sox' World Series winning team, and could quite possibly retire as the Sox franchise leader in HR and RBI. Grace is certainly deserving of a spot on this roster; I'd just put him at one of the bench spots.

Another spot I'd make a change would be center. In another move that goes against the statistics, I'll take Jim Landis, whose numbers took a hit during an offense-suppressed era. Landis won five Gold Gloves (1960-64), and I once read a quote from the late Jerome Holtzman where he recalls a conversation with Ted Kluszewski in which they both agreed that Landis was a better center fielder than Willie Mays. I do like Chet Lemon a lot though, his offensive numbers are sort of similar to Carlos Quentin, with an OBP inflated by a large total of HBPs, only with a better contact rate (Lemon would also fit in nicely with Ozzie's 2011 Sox -- he had 45 SB and 48 CS while on the Southside).

Jack McDowell vs Greg Maddux is air tight. Maddux has the wins (133 to 91) and BB9IP (2.4 to 2.8), but McDowell has a better win pct (.611 to .543), ERA (3.50 to 3.61), ERA (117 to 112), H9 IP (8.4 to 8.8), and K9 IP (6.1 to 5.8). Can't really go wrong either way, but I felt it necessary to mention how close they are.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN. Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the current All-Chicago team heading into the 2012 season.

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If Carlos Rodon starts on the disabled list as expected, the White Sox won't turn to any of their vaunted top prospects in the interim.

The news on Rodon has been encouraging so far as no structural damage has been discovered. Still, the White Sox won't clear Rodon until after he receives a second opinion on Monday. While the length of Rodon's absence won't be determined for several days, the White Sox are certain of one route they won't take — they don't want to disrupt the development of their young starting pitchers. Were a DL trip for Rodon necessary, the White Sox would likely select either Saturday's starter, Dylan Covey, or minor leaguer David Holmberg over their top prospects. Covey made a strong impression on Saturday afternoon with 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched and the White Sox rallied for a 10-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

"When you have an opportunity to stabilize action or movement for players it serves them better," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "They get a little more comfortable where they're at. They get comfortable with the staffs they're working with and the information they're gathering, being in a routine. It is a little disruptive going from team to team to team. It happens, but it's not the most conducive (to learning)."

The White Sox are all about development this season. Therefore, they have no plans to call upon Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer or Michael Kopech unless they're A) ready and B) throwing every fifth day in Chicago. Renteria's comments Saturday reiterated Rick Hahn's earlier message, saying the club doesn't want to disrupt the development path.

That puts Covey, a Rule 5 draft pick in December, with a decent opportunity to make the club out of camp. Covey commanded the strike zone on Saturday only hours after Renteria said he hoped to see the young right-hander replicate an Arizona Fall League performance that initially warmed the White Sox up to him.

Aside from a two-out walk in his final inning, Covey was sharp the whole way. He allowed three hits and struck out three.

"My last couple of outings I was definitely feeling the stress," Covey said. "I was kind of pitching a little passive, pitching to not make a mistake instead of just going right after guys. So today and yesterday I just thought I'm just going to throw every pitch with conviction and see what happens. I got a lot of weak contact today and some swings and misses, so I felt good."

Covey threw 44 pitches, 27 for strikes. He potentially could stay in Arizona on Thursday and make an additional minor league start to build arm strength, which would get him to roughly 60 pitches before the regular seasons started.

The White Sox don't officially need a fifth starter until April 9 and they're off the following day. That break could allow the White Sox to start Covey as part of a bullpen day. Covey said he recently changed his mindset after lackluster results in relief this spring. The right-hander has a 6.94 ERA this spring in 11 2/3 innings.

"Obviously my last two outings out of the pen I wasn't getting crushed, but I just wasn't commanding the ball or commanding the count as much as I would like to be," Covey said. "The mistakes get hit a little harder when you're falling behind in the count. Today I wanted to have the mindset of attacking hitters, throwing everything down in the zone and going right after them, and it worked out."

The White Sox blasted six home runs in the contest, including a majestic, go-ahead grand slam by first baseman Danny Hayes in the top of the ninth inning. Hayes is hitting .351/.400/.595 with two homers and is tied for the team lead with 13 RBIs this spring. Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico, Cody Asche, Everth Cabrera and Jacob May also homered for the White Sox. 

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While he still has a second opinion ahead and is likely to start 2017 on the disabled list, a clean MRI has Carlos Rodon feeling relieved after a bizarre Thursday.

The White Sox pitcher described Saturday the strange experience he’s had the past few days dealing with soreness in his left bicep.

In the span of 48 hours, Rodon -- who will receive a second opinion on Monday -- went from feeling good enough after a midweek bullpen session to request that his first start be moved up to likely landing on the DL. As he prepares to navigate the rehab process, Rodon is more at ease after an MRI on Friday showed no structural damage.

“(Thursday) was a weird day for me,” Rodon said. “I wasn’t very happy with it. I got that checked out, trying to figure it out.

“I feel better. It’s reassuring.”

“(Your arm is) your tool. It’s concerning. But that’s why you go get those things checked out and make sure everything is ok. That’s what we did.”

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Rodon, who went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 165 innings in 2016, has one more checkup before he’s all clear. He travels to Los Angeles on Monday for an appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that a second opinion is “protocol.”

Though he has already been reassured -- the club’s diagnosis was he had no structural issues after a physical exam and then the clean MRI -- Rodon wouldn’t mind more confirmation. The left-hander said he hadn’t experienced the kind of tightness he suddenly felt in his biceps tendon before Thursday. He could lift his arm above his head, but Rodon said his stuff wasn’t the same. After he informed them, the White Sox determined to be cautious.

“It’s pretty tight up there,” Rodon said. “I’ve never really been that tight. I couldn’t really step on some balls I wanted to throw to get that arm going. So, I had to get it checked out. It didn’t feel too good.”

The White Sox already had Rodon on a delayed schedule where he needed to hit every mark to be ready for the regular season. They did so in hopes of helping him avoid the fatigue he experienced last summer and also reaching the 200-inning mark this season. Now it appears Rodon will begin the season on the DL, according to Hahn.

Though he’d like to start the season on schedule, Rodon wants to make sure he’s physically good to go.

“Just trying to be healthy man,” Rodon said. “You don’t want to go the start of the season and be behind the best guys. You are a tick down from the best guys in the world. It’s not fun pitching when you are not feeling too good. I want to be 100 percent when I’m out there. That gives our team the best chance of winning.”