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.

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

The White Sox continue their series against the Seattle Mariners, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (10-9, 2.84 ERA) vs. Ariel Miranda (1-0, 5.49 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

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Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Felix Hernandez has proven for years that he doesn’t need much help.

But the White Sox provided him with three free outs on the bases anyway on Friday night.

Those mistakes allowed Hernandez to hold the White Sox in check as they wasted a 14-strikeout performance from Chris Sale in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 25,651 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale retired 16 in a row to end it, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox dropped back to five games below .500.

“We didn’t run the bases very well tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That ends up costing you. You’re getting something going against them, and it just takes the wind out of your sails. Both guys pitched great.

“They just executed better than we did when they got the chance. Both guys were going strong. The way we ran the bases, we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Sale (15-7) deserved much better than to lose for the fifth time in his last six decisions.

[MORE: White Sox trade catcher Dioner Navarro to Blue Jays]

Though he allowed a run in the second, third and fourth innings, Sale got on a roll late.

After Adam Lind’s two-out RBI double in the fourth, Sale found an extra gear and retired the last 16 Mariners to hit, including 10 strikeouts. He struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings and afforded his teammates a chance to rally.

“Thank God we did it early because as everybody saw, when he gets on a roll it’s like lights out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s obviously one of the best pitchers in the league for a reason. We had no chance, really, after the fourth and fifth inning. He got into a groove and got all his pitches working.”

Two of Seattle’s three runs off Sale came on opposite-field drives as Lind doubled to left in the fourth and Franklin Gutierrez homered to right in the second inning. Sale walked none and only allowed five hits and three runs in nine innings. He threw strikes on 88 of 120 pitches.

It was the 13th complete game of Sale’s career and his fifth this season.

“I wanted to find a groove and I felt like after the fourth inning I got into a pretty good groove, that cruising speed I was talking about,” Sale said. “I just tried to lengthen it as much as I could, just fill up as many innings as I could. Just give us a chance to win, keep us in the game.”

While Sale kept his team in the game, they repeatedly took themselves out of it.

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The White Sox had plenty of chances against Hernandez, none better than the bottom of the eighth inning. Trailing by two runs, Avisail Garcia and Tyler Saladino singled on both sides of a J.B. Shuck fielder’s choice. Adam Eaton’s one-out walk knocked Hernandez out of the game after 104 pitches.

But closer Edwin Diaz got Tim Anderson to hit into a fielder’s choice as third baseman Shawn O’Malley made a perfect throw home on the slow roller for a force out. Jose Abreu then fouled out to leave the bases loaded. Diaz retired the side in order in the ninth for his 11th save.

Todd Frazier homered in the seventh inning of Hernandez for the team’s only run, but they should have had more. The White Sox had the leadoff man reach base in five of eight innings started by Hernandez, who allowed a run and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. Hernandez erased two of those five as he picked off Frazier and Shuck in the second and third innings. He also got out of a first-and-third jam in the fifth inning when Shuck lined into a double play and Omar Narvaez was caught leaning.

“That’s the frustrating part,” Ventura said. “You know you’re not really going to have too many opportunities (against Hernandez). You might be able to hit and run or all of a sudden you’re first and third. But if you just take it out of your own hands, that’s where you scratch your head.”

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

The way he dominated the Pioneer League had to boost to Alec Hansen’s confidence. It also prompted his promotion.

When the White Sox sent their second-round pick to Great Falls last month it was in the hope he could rebound from a rough junior season at Oklahoma that caused his draft stock to fall. Once thought to be the potential first overall pick of the 2016 draft, Hansen was selected 49th after he posted a 5.40 ERA and walked 39 batters in 51.2 innings. But Hansen — who made his first start at Single-A Kannapolis on Friday — looked every bit the first-rounder at Great Falls with a 1.23 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.

“We wanted to put him in a position where there was a little less pressure to start off the season,” White Sox player development director Nick Capra said. “There's always pressure, but it's a little less magnified in the Pioneer League. We wanted to get him on the right road. We did a couple things with him mechanically and he took off with it.”

“We kind of held him hostage in Great Falls a little bit too long. He’s been really good. He’s double-digit strikeouts every night. He’s not walking people.”

Hansen is expected to make two starts at Kannapolis before the team’s season ends. He earned a no decision after he allowed three earned runs and five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Columbia Fireflies on Friday.

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Capra described the mechanical changes the White Sox made with Hansen as minor. Essentially, they want Hansen to take advantage of his 6-foot-8 frame and stay taller and release the ball more quickly. They believe it will help him better command his pitches.

Through 11 minor-league starts, Hansen has walked 18 batters in 49 innings (he also pitched seven innings in Arizona). That’s compared with the 96 batters he walked in 145 innings in college.

“Our player development guys deserve so much credit for the way they've handled it,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “There was a little bit of concern about the confidence part of it, just him taking the ball every fifth day and knowing that we believe in him. Our pitching guys and PD guys deserve a huge amount of credit for just the time they put into it. They really, really know how to make these guys excel and succeed. Been a pretty fun ride to watch and I hope it continues.”