The All-Chicago Team: 2012

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The All-Chicago Team: 2012

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 the final version being the squad we'd put together if tasked with creating one team out of the Cubs and White Sox for 2012. Be sure to check out our 1960-1969, 1970-1979, 1980-1989, 1990-1999, 2000-2011 and 1960-2011 teams if you haven't already.

Tony: Here we go again. AJ vs. Soto. The only difference is we're discussing two catchers who are at completely different points in their career and this All-Chicago team is more of a look at the future as opposed to the past. AJ still has a lot of value, and teams need two catchers, so he would get a ton of playing time still if Chicago really were to merge their two teams for the 2012 season (maybe that's not such a bad idea...).

JJ: Given his age and up-and-down career, Soto has a much better chance to put together a big offensive year than Pierzynski, who's 35 -- right around the age when catchers begin to experience an offensive decline. So that's why Soto is starting over Pierzynski.

Tony: A lot of players were no-brainers, like Konerko, Garza, Danks, Sale, Wood, Ramirez and Castro. The only problem was trying to figure out which one of the latter two plays shortstop and which one goes elsewhere. Alexei's defense is far, far superior to Castro's right now, so he gets the nod at short. Conceivably, we could have moved Castro to third or second here, but his ineptitude with the glove so far in his brief career makes him a better fit to just do what he does best -- hit.

JJ: The more I look at this, the more I think Castro would be bumped to second or third to make room for Adam Dunn at DH -- but in the interest of playing it safe, I'm cool with Castro. Get back to me in about a month and the answer would be Dunn (if you can't tell, I'm confident in a Dunn rebound).

Tony: The lineup leaves something to be desired -- heck, the entire team does -- but there are some really good defensive players in there and they all kind of complement each other in the order. There's speed and on-base ability at the top of the order in De Aza and DeJesus and then four good hitters in a row with Castro, Konerko, Soriano and Ramirez. Could you imagine a 3-4 punch of Castro and Konerko for 150 games? Man, that'd be awesome. At the bottom of the order, Barney fits perfectly as the No. 9 hitter. That's probably where he should be. He doesn't walk much and doesn't provide much power, but he's a fantastic defender and can hit for a high average. In the nine-hole, he would see a lot of fastballs and have almost no pressure on him, so he would just be able to relax and hit.

JJ: The lineup would lack some power, but there's decent on-base skills at the top and that would, hopefully, help generate plenty of runs. And as Tony said, having a Castro-Konerko middle would be excellent.

Tony: The rotation isn't flashy, but it's very solid. The bullpen is very good and if Marmol were to have a resurgence at closer, it may very well be the best bullpen in the MLB. Too bad it took merging two teams to get to that point.

JJ: Speak for yourself. The Sox make up most of this bullpen, which speaks to the South Siders' relief depth. And while Garza's the unquestioned ace here, Danks and Sale would make most three-game series difficult for opponents.

Tony: Obviously the Cubs and White Sox won't merge teams. It makes absolutely no sense. But it's still fun to think about. And hey, it would unite Chicago and give them one very solid team to cheer for instead of two mediocre-to-bad teams.

C: Geovany Soto
1B: Paul Konerko
2B: Darwin Barney
SS: Alexei Ramirez
3B: Ian Stewart
LF: Alfonso Soriano
CF: Alejandro De Aza
RF: David DeJesus
DH: Starlin Castro
Bench: Adam Dunn
Bench: Brent Lillibridge
Bench: Marlon ByrdBench: A.J. Pierzynski
SP: Matt Garza
SP: John Danks
SP: Chris SaleSP: Ryan Dempster
SP: Gavin Floyd

CL: Carlos Marmol
RP: Matt Thornton
RP: Addison Reed
RP: Jesse Crain
RP: Kerry Wood
RP: Hector Santiago
RP: James Russell

The final word

Chris Kamka: I actually agree with Soto over A.J. this time, with age and a higher offensive ceiling as my reasons. Can't agree with Barney over Beckham though. I believe Beckham will eventually unleash his potential whereas Barney is pretty much what he is. Can't have Castro as a DH, as he's a National League player. I'd swap him with Dunn, who actually is a DH. Also tempted to swap De Aza for Byrd, since the Sox centerfielder has yet to enjoy a full productive season. Can't argue with the rest of the lineup. James Russell on the roster doesn't sit well with me either, but I really can't bring myself to argue strongly in favor of Will Ohman, so I might as well leave it be.

White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito: No-hitter 'special' after early struggles

White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito: No-hitter 'special' after early struggles

Lucas Giolito got the “click” he was looking for on Thursday night and it resulted in a seven-inning no-hitter for Triple-A Charlotte.

Currently the No. 2-rated White Sox prospect, Giolito has struggled so far this season at Charlotte. He’s 2-5 with a 5.44 ERA in nine starts in 46 1/3 innings.

While he’s struck out 43 hitters, Giolito has also walked 25. But it all came together for the tall right-hander on Thursday when he threw an 87-pitch no-no against the Syracuse Chiefs.

“It was special,” Giolito said on a conference call on Friday. “Just the way the year has gone, it didn't start the way I wanted it to, the numbers haven't been great. So it's great to have a no-hitter under my belt, my first professional one. Just take that and work from there. I'm just going to keep working on the things I've been working on the past few weeks and hopefully string a few good ones together.”

Rated the No. 3 overall prospect in the majors before the 2016 season, Giolito’s profile has slipped some because of performance. The top name included from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal, Giolito has struggled with command of his offspeed pitches and fastball at times. Earlier this month, Giolito described his performance as “atrocious,” while remaining optimistic that his fortunes could change just like clicking on a light switch.

Giolito said he felt confident on the mound Thursday and it translated.

“I did a lot better job of keeping the fastball down in the zone to both sides of the plate,” Giolito said. “I was able to get the ball inside to lefties pretty well, maybe got a few jam shots some pop outs here and there and then I had my two-seamer working as well. It was just a pretty solid day as far as throwing the fastball.”

Pleased as he is, Giolito is striving to be better. He pointed at his three walks as an area he’d like to improve upon. But he’s also happy with how it all worked on Thursday.

“There's always still work to do,” Giolito said. “I walked three batters and that is not something I want to be doing. The walk numbers are a little too high for my liking. There's still plenty to work on, but everything felt pretty solid last night. I felt like I repeated my delivery well, I executed more pitches. Especially when I'd fall behind in the count I'd execute quality pitches and you can get yourself out of bad situations doing that.”

The Knights made two roster moves on Friday -- Yoan Moncada was activated off the seven-day disabled list and Ryan Raburn was traded to the Washington Nationals for cash or a player to be named later.

James Shields throws again as White Sox place Dylan Covey on 10-day DL

James Shields throws again as White Sox place Dylan Covey on 10-day DL

Dylan Covey is already the sixth White Sox pitcher to be placed on the 10-day disabled list this season. The club announced Friday that Covey is headed to the DL just as one of the pitchers already there, James Shields, took another step forward in his rehab.

Shields threw his second bullpen in three days on Friday and hopes to begin a minor-league rehab assignment after he throws a three-inning, game-situation-like bullpen on Monday.

The White Sox promoted reliever Juan Minaya to take Covey’s spot on the 25-man roster. They also announced Tyler Danish would be the 26th man for Saturday’s doubleheader and manager Rick Renteria said Covey’s scheduled start Monday would be filled internally. Reliever David Holmberg could make the start.

“I’m full bore,” Shields said. “Everything is working really well and everything feels good. Ready to rock and roll.

“It’s been pretty tough for me. I’m pretty anxious. I want to be out there and help my team win. But at the end of the day I have to stick to the process. You know the team was really doing good up until this last road trip. Now we need to pick it back up. I’m looking forward to coming back and helping the squad out.”

Covey isn’t surprised he landed on the DL.

He missed much of the 2016 season with a left oblique strain and knew exactly what he was experiencing when he felt the tug on Tuesday. But Covey remembers the early portion of last year’s injury and thinks he’s in better shape now.

“Well, my first thought was, ‘Oh, no. I did it again,’” Covey said. “It’s kind of looking like it might not be nearly as bad as it was last year. So I’m staying optimistic and taking it day by day.”

“I think if I tried to push it another pitch like I did last year, it could have maybe worsened the situation. So I’m glad I was able to hold back a little bit.”

Minaya -- who pitched in 11 games for the 2016 White Sox -- missed roughly five weeks with an abdominal tear. Though he wanted to race back (he struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings this spring), Minaya knew he had to be practical about his rehab. Once healthy, Minaya pitched well at Triple-A Charlotte, where he posted a 1.23 ERA in 14 2/3 innings.

“I took a little while but we’re going through the process and we have to be patient and do everything they say to get healthy,” Minaya said. “We have to do the right thing to be healthy.”

“I feel very happy with myself because I’m working to get back here and I see the progress and I feel very happy.”

Minaya gives the White Sox nine relievers on their 13-man staff. That amount would make it much easier for the team to fill Covey’s first turn in the rotation with a bullpen game on Monday. A career starter who only began to pitch in relief this season, Holmberg could give the White Sox several innings to start. While Renteria won’t name any candidates for the series opener against the Boston Red Sox, he did suggest it would be an internal candidate.

“We’ll probably end up filling with one of our own guys,” Renteria said.