Chicago White Sox

BBQ: Beckham on the block?

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BBQ: Beckham on the block?

Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010
4:16 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

With rumors, whispers, and team sources ever swirling through the offseason, turn to the BBQ to provide a bit of a reality check. Hey, have you heard the one where Chicago White Sox GM Ken Williams will consider putting second sacker Gordon Beckham on the trading block? Yeah, its a good one. Lets cut through the fat:

So let me get this straight, Williams wouldnt consider dealing Beckham at last years deadline for Adam Dunn, but now hes hanging a sign around the kids neck, inviting all interested to kick the tires?

Yeah at least according to Yahoos Tim Brown, who wrote that opposing clubs expect the White Sox to take offers for second baseman Gordon Beckham in his hot stove piece on Wednesday.
Who are these opposing teams, and what is wrong with their brains?

Thats an excellent question. But on an obviously slow hot stove day, MLB Trade Rumors listed 19 teams who would have interest in Beckham including, fatuously, the intradivisional Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals and the crosstown Chicago Cubs. So, in other words, Williams is not only expected to proffer up the position player with the most upside on his team, but to division and crosstown rivals to boot.

That would seem to completely contradict everything hes ever said about the importance of Beckham, right?

In addition to being a remarkably efficient unit, the White Sox brain trust shoots straight. Williams has made no bones about Beckham being an untouchable on his team he was direct on that at the 2010 trading deadline and is direct about that today. Natch, that always comes with a disclaimer that says that every player on the White Sox roster is available in the right trade. But Hawk Harrelson would sooner take over as GM than Williams would trade Beckham.

Didnt Bacon have a pretty rough sophomore season?

Absolutely. Changing positions again (from third base to second) and getting banged up at seasons end didnt help, but Beckham would be the first to tell you those arent excuses for his subpar play. Defensively at second he was adequate and showed great development on turning double plays as the season went on. Offensively, Beckham lost his gap power stroke (68 percent of his 2010 hits were singles compared to 58 percent in 2009, while his slugging percentage dropped 82 points to .378 in 2010) and failed to get on base sufficiently (an on-base percentage drop of 30 points, to .317), with an overall tumble in walks-per-strikeout (.63 in 2009 down to .40).

Yeesh, is Beckham still a good fit for the White Sox?

Certainly Beckhams third major league season will be huge. His step forward into at least minor stardom must happen in 2011. In the rarest of Chisox circumstances, the teams position player strength is up the middle Alex Rios in center field, Alexei Ramirez at short, and Beckham at second. Williams is well aware that Ramirez-Beckham could be a keystone combination fiercer than any the White Sox have fielded for 50 years, since the Luis Aparicio-Nellie Fox days.
So, no chance Beckham leaves town?

The only way Williams will involve Beckham in trade talks is in order to set up another prank on White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, his staff and Beckham, as he did at the trading deadline.

Yeah, that was hilarious really now, Beckham is in the Opening Day lineup for the White Sox?

Undoubtedly. Beckham is a foundation piece of the White Sox. Even with his atrocious season offensively, he ranked No. 7 on my list of most essential White Sox (and third among position players). He comes at a bargain-basement price and is among the teams hardest workers, the latter making him a consummate grinder, adored by Williams and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

So you predict a big bounce-back season from Bacon?

Sure do. But dont take my word for it how about the 2011 projections by Bill James, an analyst immutably sharper than me, and a bearded one to boot. James foresees an offensive eruption from Beckham in his third year: career highs in doubles (41), homers (15), runs (81) and RBI (77). For perspective, those projections are generally superior to the numbers Ramirez put up in his 2010 Silver Slugger season.

BBQ Verdict: Blech

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

By the numbers: Lucas Giolito showed impressive control in White Sox debut

By the numbers: Lucas Giolito showed impressive control in White Sox debut

Lucas Giolito didn't pick up a win in his White Sox debut, but there were plenty of encouraging signs. 

At the top of that list has to be his control, which was an issue that plagued the Sox No. 6 prospect in the past

Here's a closer look at his precision last night against the Twins: 

0 - Maybe the most important number of all. Giolito did not walk a single batter. 

- Giolito hit one Twin. It was Brian Dozier on the first at-bat of the game. First-game nerves? We'll chalk it up to that. 

64 - Giolito hurled 64 strikes out of 99 pitches, resulting in a strike percentage above league average

[MORE: Lucas Giolito's White Sox debut drew rave reviews

A fair number of those strikes the 23-year-old threw were hit hard, though. CSN's Dan Hayes noted the exit velocities against Giolito in the first inning: 

Although he got out of that inning unscathed, Minnesota did get to the right-hander: 

- The number of dingers slammed off Giolitio. 

The exit velocities on those, according to MLB Exit Velocity

98.9 - Jorge Polanco's fourth inning homer.

105.5 - Kennys Vargas' fifth inning homer.

104.3 - Eddie Rosario's sixth inning homer. 

All of the homers hit were on fastballs, which was his go-to pitch according to Hayes. Here's a look at his pitch selection: 

69 - Fastballs

16 - Changeups

12 - Curveballs

The bottom line: 

4 - Earned runs Giolito gave up. 

Lucas Giolito's White Sox debut drew rave reviews

Lucas Giolito's White Sox debut drew rave reviews

Lucas Giolito’s first outing may not have netted the outcome the White Sox hoped for, but the look and feel was most definitely there.

The team’s sixth-ranked prospect showed just how much progress he’s made the over the entire season and in particular the last six weeks in his White Sox debut on Tuesday night.

Giolito was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte early Tuesday and looked poised and confident for six innings despite a heavy reliance on the fastball because his curve wasn’t where he wanted. While he yielded three home runs in a 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins, Giolito and the White Sox liked what they saw.

“Excellent,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I thought it was a very positive outing.

“Lucas I thought threw the ball very, very well. Fastball was very good. He was using his breaking ball. He threw some that were a little short. But all and all, I thought his mound presence, his attack of the strike zone -- I don’t think he walked anybody, he threw a lot of strikes -- he looked very, very good to me. Very pleased.”

Once the top pitching prospect in baseball, Giolito had lost a little bit of the shine even by the time he was traded to the White Sox last December in the Adam Eaton deal. He struggled at times during a nomadic 2016 campaign with the Nationals -- he was moved seven times in all -- and saw a dip in fastball velocity as his mechanics got out of whack.

Though excited by the trade to the White Sox, Giolito admitted in spring training he wasn’t quite where he yet wanted to be. He struggled early this season at Triple-A Charlotte, posting a 5.40 ERA in his first 16 starts and often failed to pitch deep into games.

But along the way Giolito found his confidence, rediscovered his curveball and began to pitch more consistently. That was the pitcher the White Sox saw on Tuesday night, the one who despite not having his entire arsenal didn’t panic.

Working almost entirely with his fastball -- 69 of his 99 pitchers were four-seamers -- Giolito pitched at a quick pace and got into a rhythm. Giolito got 10 swings and misses, including eight with the fastball, and didn’t walk anyone.

“I felt relaxed,” Giolito said. “I felt confident the whole time.

“I feel like tonight I was able to control the game a lot better. Last year my time in the big leagues the game would speed up on me a lot. I’d walk a guy, give up a couple of base hits and start to kind of get out of control. Tonight, I felt under control, I was able to trust my stuff, it was just those mistakes.”

Giolito’s outing wasn’t perfect. He tried to go inside with fastballs three times and left them over the middle. Jorge Polanco blasted a game-tying solo homer off Giolito in the fourth, Kennys Vargas hit one off him in the fifth and Eddie Rosario hit a two-run, opposite-field shot in the sixth.

[MORE: White Sox may have discovered 'diamond in the rough' in Juan Minaya

But that he was effective enough to keep the White Sox in the game in spite of his offense, which blew bases-loaded opportunities in the second and third innings, and minus all of his pitches wasn’t lost on Omar Narvaez. Narvaez liked how Giolito competed and the way he spotted his fastball in and out, up and down.

“I think he’s going to be one of our best pitchers,” Narvaez said. “His fastball is kind of sneaky and he has a great changeup. He uses it whenever he wants to and he has a really, really good curveball.

“He made a lot of good pitches (with the fastball). Every time we worked behind he just came back with the fastball.”

Giolito threw his curveball 12 times and used the changeup 16. While he induced a few groundballs with his curve, Giolito wasn’t as effective in two-strike situations, spiking the pitch in front of the plate. Even so, Giolito felt good about what he accomplished and that’s great for the White Sox.

“I feel like I belong,” Giolito said. “I feel like my stuff plays. I’m happy I didn’t walk anyone tonight. I was able to command the fastball pretty well, but fastball-changeup was pretty much all I had. I wasn’t throwing the curveball as well as I would have liked, but I’m going to work on that for the next start and hopefully be able to command that pitch a little better.”