Ballantini: Six-man savings sputter out

Ballantini: Six-man savings sputter out

Friday, Sept. 16, 2011Posted: 8:48 p.m. Updated: 9:10 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
The Chicago White Sox ran out a six-man rotation as of Jake Peavys return on May 11 and have flirted with it for the balance of the season since then, most recently returning to it by choice (strong starts from Phil Humber and Zach Stewart) and necessity (two doubleheaders in the span of 15 days).

The wisdom of sticking with the unorthodox approach wasnt only driven by starters merit but the thought that few starts at midseason could pay off with stronger finishes in the dog days.

Coincidence, bad luck, or failed wisdom, the six-man rotation did not pay such stretch-run dividends.

For the season, White Sox starters have averaged a 51.5 game score, 4.12 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 19.0 outs per start. But if the season is cut off after games of Aug. 29, those marks improve to 52.7 game score, 3.88 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 19.2 outs per start.

In the stretch from August 30 to September 15, the rotation has averaged a 42.4 game score, 4.64 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 16.9 outs per start. Trim the recent slump more narrowly, to the last nine starts of the season (Sept. 7-15), and the other peripherals hover around the same but the game score average drops to a paltry 39.9.

We did everything for them, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said before Fridays game. We shuffled one to another to make sure those guys feeling strong. I dont think Coop, or myself can be blamed, that we didnt do the right thing for them to finish strong, because we did. We had many meetings about that situation because in the past Mark Buehrle kind of tended to lay down a little bit, Gavin Floyd struggled, Peavy was injured, Humber never threw that many innings in the big leagues. We did the right thing for them to finish strong. Right now theyre scuffling, but we put those guys in the best situation. We thought we were going to be in pennant race all the way to the end and thought it would help them.

Humber did not appear to be helping matters, with five runs (four earned) in the first four innings of Fridays game vs. the Kansas City Royals, lining up a game score of 32 to that point.

Ozzie twitterpates dangerously late

In eerie foreshadowing, Ozzie Guillen Jr., oldest son of Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, remarked to media gathering in the managers office before Thursday nights game: Dont tweet after 10 p.m.

The son cited an adage that is akin to not picking up the phone for make a call and drunk dialing, referring to the concept of having less clarity in what you write as day turns to night.

Jr.s warning came into play on Thursday night, when his father got back to the team hotel and saw New York Mets manager being attacked by Harold Reynolds on the MLB Network for postgame comments that were critical of his players.

Reacting to Reynolds calling for Collins to be fired, Guillen let loose on Twitter, saying Thas all job is easy to judge manager from the studio, and U dont know what happen. His third tweet on the subject, as Guillen Jr. tried to ease him away from his tweeting phone, said, I know I play the game.

I dont know Terry Collins, a great baseball man, but I dont know him personally, Guillen said before Fridays game, explaining his tweets. But when you hear those comments he should get fired because hes not a players manager and you ask for a guys head?

Guillen thought Collins comments were childs play compared to what he typically says after a disappointing loss.

I stayed up till 1 oclock in the morning to see what Collins said because I think it will be fun, like, Wow, I might learn something from this, Guillen said. I didnt see anything. He just said the players arent playing good. They got swept and left so many people on base. What does the manager have to say? Why cant we get mad? Why cant we say whats on our minds? Why do people say, Well, the players arent going to play hard for him. Theyre going to hate him. Well, at the end of the day, if the players dont play hard for you, youre going to get fired I see the comment Collins made, and thats in diapers compared to the comments that I make. I know analysts are getting paid to criticize people, but when you call for somebodys head, thats different.

Among Guillens final comments directed at the MLB Network was a gem and probably a truthful one at that, given how in demand his services are for postseason analysis is whenever the White Sox arent involved.

Is if my english was better I be doing what u doing lol but you guys cant do what I doing or terry lol lol.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

Bobby Howry wasn't aware of the fact he was part of one of the more infamous transactions in White Sox history until a few years after it happened. 

In 1997, with the White Sox only 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians, general manager Ron Schueler pulled the trigger on a massive trade that left many around Chicago — including some in the White Sox clubhouse — scratching their heads. Heading to the San Francisco Giants was the team's best starting pitcher (left-hander Wilson Alvarez), a reliable rotation piece (Doug Drabek) and a closer coming off a 1996 All-Star appearance (Roberto Hernandez). In return, the White Sox acquired six minor leaguers: right-handers Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Keith Foulke, left-hander Ken Vining, shortstop Mike Caruso and outfielder Brian Manning. Only Foulke had major league experience, and it wasn't exactly good (an 8.26 ERA in 44 2/3 innings). 

Howry was largely oblivious to the shocking nature of the trade that brought him from the Giants to White Sox until, before the 1999 season, he was featured in a commercial that referenced the "White Flag trade."

"I don't even know if I knew it was called that before then," Howry recalled last weekend at the Sheraton Grand Chicago at Cubs Convention. 

The trade was a stark signal that youth would be emphasized on 35th and Shields. Both Alvarez and Hernandez were set to become free agents after the 1997 season, and the 40-year-old Darwin wasn't a long-term piece, either. With youngsters like Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee rising through the farm system, the move was made with an eye on the future and maximizing the return on players who weren't going to be long-term pieces. 

Sound familiar? 

It's hardly a perfect comparison, but when the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in December for four minor leaguers — headlined by top-100 prospects in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech — it was the first rebuilding blockbuster trade the organization had made since the 1997 White Flag deal. Shortly after trading their staff ace at the 2016 Winter Meetings, the White Sox shipped Adam Eaton — their best position player — to the Washington Nationals for a package of prospects featuring two more highly-regarded youngsters in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. 

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And there still could be more moves on the horizon, too, for Rick Hahn's White Sox (Jose Quintana has been the subject of persistent rumors since the Winter Meetings). But for those looking for an optimistic outlook of the White Sox rebuilding plans, it's worth noting that the club's last youth movement, to an extent, was successful.

Only Howry (3.74 ERA over 294 games) and Foulke (2.87 ERA, 100 saves over 346 games) became significant long-term pieces for the White Sox from those six players brought over in 1997. And it wasn't like Schueler dealt away any of the franchise's cornerstones — like Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Robin Ventura — but with future starters in Lee, Ordonez and Chris Singleton on their way the White Sox were able to go young. A swap of promising youthful players (Mike Cameron for Paul Konerko) proved to be successful a year and a half later. 

And with a couple of shrewd moves — namely, dealing Jamie Navarro and John Snyder to the Milwaukee Brewers for Cal Eldred and Jose Valentin — the "Kids Can Play" White Sox stormed to an American League Central title in 2000. 

"It was great," Howry said of developing with so many young players in the late 1999's and 2000. "You come in and you feel a lot more comfortable when you got a lot of young guys and you're all coming up together and building together. It's not like you're walking into a primarily veteran clubhouse where you're kind of having to duck and hide all the time. We had a great group of guys and we built together over a couple of years, and putting that together was a lot of fun."

What sparked things in 2000, Howry said, was that ferocious brawl with the Detroit Tigers on April 22 in which 11 players were ejected (the fight left Foulke needing five stitches and former Tigers catcher/first baseman Robert Fick doused in beer). 

"About the time we had that fight with Detroit, that big brawl, all of a sudden after then we just seemed to kind of come together and everything started to click and it took off," Howry said. 

The White Sox went 80-81 in 1998 and slipped to 75-86 in 1999, but their 95-67 record in 2000 was the best in the league — though it only amounted to a three-game sweep at the hands of the wild-card winning Seattle Mariners. 

Still, the White Flag trade had a happy ending two and a half years later. While with the White Sox, Howry didn't feel pressure to perform under the circumstances with which he arrived, which probably helped those young players grow together into eventual division champions. 

"I was 23 years old," Howry said. "At 23 years old, I didn't really — I was just like, okay, I'm still playing, I got a place to play. I didn't really put a whole lot of thought into three veteran guys for six minor leaguers." 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox 2016 first round pick Zack Collins joins the podcast to talk about his future with the White Sox, when he hopes to make the big leagues and the doubters who question whether he can be a major league catcher.   He discusses comparisons with Kyle Schwarber, his impressions of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, why his dad took him to a Linkin Park concert when he was 6 years old and much more.