The All-Chicago Team: 1990-1999

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The All-Chicago Team: 1990-1999

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 1990-1999. If you didn't catch our first installment, check out our 2000-2011 team.

Tony: I was excited for this list. I was a product of the '90s, growing up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and DougQuail Man. And the '98 Cubs team will stick with me as long as I live. I remember Kevin Tapani being the ace of that pitching staff, winning 19 games. So I thought he would be a lock for this list. But on closer examination, he actually had a poor 1998 season, with a 4.85 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Steve Trachsel, meanwhile, was a stalwart in the Cubs' rotation. Mind plays tricks on you, I guess. It also proves how inconsequential a statistic wins are for pitchers.

JJ: The '90s were a great time to grow up. I just wish we could've put Good Burger or Heavyweights on this list.

JJ: Catcher was once again a point of debate for us, with our decision coming down to Rick Wilkins vs. Ron Karkovice. Wilkins had a nice OBP, although not the longevity of Karkovice, but we went with Wilkins anyway. See a pattern here?

Tony: On memory, I thought Kark would be the choice at catcher. Or maybe Carlton Fisk. But upon looking at the numbers, the choice was Wilkins, albeit by a very narrow margin.

JJ: We had to fit Mark Grace on the team, so while Frank Thomas played most of the decade at that position, we moved him to designated hitter to give Grace his rightful spot on the roster.

Tony: I was ready to fight tooth and nail with JJ to get Grace as the starting first baseman over Big Frank, but fortunately, I didn't have to. Grace had the most hits and doubles of ANY player in the '90s, a truly incredible feat. It doesn't hurt that he's my all-time favorite player, either.

JJ: There were quite a few easy picks: Second base, third base and the entire outfield were selected with no debate.

Tony: I'm glad Andre Dawson was able to make it on this list, but it's almost a shame he didn't crack the starting lineup over Sammy Sosa. But no way we could leave Sosa off, despite all the controversy that has surrounded in him seemingly every facet of his life. It is a baseball list, after all, and he was a damn good baseball player.

JJ: The last starter came down to Steve Traschsel vs. Kevin Tapani, both of which are pretty meh. But Trachsel was better in the ERA department and was a workhorse, albeit about the slowest pitcher in all of the decade.

Tony: It was also pretty cool to see how many guys played for both teams in this decade. Tapani, Assenmacher, Lance Johnson, Sosa, Matt Karchner.

To the list:

C: Rick Wilkins
1B: Mark Grace
2B: Ryne Sandberg
3B: Robin Ventura
SS: Ozzie Guillen
LF: Tim Raines
CF: Lance Johnson
RF: Sammy Sosa
DH: Frank Thomas

Bench: Andre Dawson
Bench: Magglio Ordonez

SP: Greg Maddux
SP: Jack McDowell
SP: Wilson Alvarez
SP: Alex Fernandez
SP: Steve Trachsel

CL: Roberto Hernandez
RH reliever: Bobby Thigpen
LH reliever: Paul Assenmacher
The final word
Chuck Garfien and David Kaplan weigh in on the list from Arizona (also, if you ever wondered what Kap's ringtone is, you can find out below):

Check back next Wednesday for the All-Decade team of the 1980s!

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."