The All-Chicago Team: 2000-2011

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The All-Chicago Team: 2000-2011

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, beginning today with the best Cubs and White Sox players from 2000-2011.

Tony: Catcher was the biggest debate. Geovany Soto has put up some solid offensive numbers for the Cubs over the second half of this time period, but A.J. Pierzynski brought intangibles and led a World Series-winning pitching staff. Ultimately, we went with Soto for the pure numbers, but it was awfully close.

JJ: As you'll see below, not everyone agrees with this. Soto's tangibles broke the tie, although as Tony said, this one was probably the toughest of them all.

Tony: Ray Durham at second base shows just how poor that position was in Chicago over that time. Durham is a heck of a player, but he only spent a a few years with the Sox in this time period. Both Chicago teams have failed to find consistent options at second for quite some time now.

JJ: It came down to Durham vs. Tadahito Iguchi, which was a lot closer than I thought. Iguchi was a solid player, but Durham was just a bit better.

Tony: Jim Thome and Derrek Lee were fantastic players for their respective teams in the 2000s, but Frank Thomas at DH and Paul Konerko were just a little bit better.

JJ: No shame to either guy for being left off our starting lineup of sorts. Both had terrific careers with the Sox and Cubs, respectively.

Tony: The rotation was tough, as beyond Carlos Zambrano and Mark Buehrle, there were no clear-cut options. The battle for the fifth starter was especially challenging. Ted Lilly ultimately won out because for the three-and-a-half years he spent on the North Side, he was the Cubs' best pitcher.

JJ: Freddy Garcia deserves a shout-out here, as does Jon Garland, but in the end, Lilly was the guy.

Tony: At left-handed reliever, Sean Marshall has been the best relief pitcher from 2010-11, but Thornton was arguably the best reliever from 2008-2010 and has been better for longer.

JJ: No non-closer was better than Matt Thornton from 2008-2010 in baseball. While Marshall has been impressive in the last two seasons, there's no touching Thornton's string of dominance. And without further ado, here's our roster:

C: Geovany Soto
1B: Paul Konerko
2B: Ray Durham
SS: Alexei Ramirez
3B: Aramis Ramirez
LF: Carlos Lee
CF: Aaron Rowand
RF: Sammy Sosa
DH: Frank Thomas

Bench: Derrek Lee
Bench: Jim Thome

SP: Mark Buehrle
SP: Carlos Zambrano
SP: Kerry Wood
SP: John Danks
SP: Ted Lilly

Closer: Bobby Jenks
Righty Reliever: Carlos Marmol
Lefty Reliever: Matt Thornton
The Final Word

David Kaplan: I have a few problems with the list because I don't think that some of the selections take into account winning. Three Cubs starting pitchers in the rotation? Please. Kerry Wood wasn't a starter for a large percentage of the decade. Ted Lilly? He didn't even finish the four-year deal he signed before the 2007 season. I would go with Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Jose Contreras, Carlos Zambrano, and Freddy Garcia.

At catcher A.J. Pierzynski is a no-brainer. Soto didn't even come up until 2007 and he had two bad years since then. No chance he belongs on the All-Decade team. Pierzynski is a winner and is still effective. This one is not even close! Carlos Lee? He didn't play in Chicago after 2004 so I would go with Jermaine Dye, who was a World Series MVP, and although he was a right fielder with the Sox he could play left field. Some of the selections are not great, but it speaks more to how subpar Chicago baseball has been for the past 11 years with 2005 our only true shining moment.

Chuck Garfien: Taking a first glance at the list, A.J. Pierzynski is the best catcher in Chicago of the decade. He didn't win the Rookie of the Year like Geovanny Soto, but he helped win the White Sox countless games behind the plate. Statistics don't always tell the whole story about a player. The intangibles A.J. brings into every game were immeasurable, especially in 2005.

And I agree with Kap. Jermaine Dye has to be on this list. Carlos Lee put up good numbers but was terrible in the clubhouse. That's why Ozzie Guillen asked Kenny Williams to trade him. The Sox went out and signed Jermaine Dye. He won the World Series MVP, was a great teammate. He belongs on the team.

And I would replace Ted Lilly with Greg Maddux. I know his best days with the Cubs were way before that, but it was great to see him back with the club for a final swan song. Plus, any all-time list looks better with Greg Maddux on it.

Share your thoughts on this list with us! Drop us a line in the comments or on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

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."