Chicago White Sox

BBQ: In need of relief? White Sox 'pen says no

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BBQ: In need of relief? White Sox 'pen says no

Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010
9:06 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. Talk this week turned to Chicago White Sox GM Ken Williams supposedly looking into acquiring Tampa Rays free agent closer Rafael Soriano, so its time to toss this rumor on the barbie for a reality check:

Why would a bullpen full of power arms need a 10 million per year closer?

Funny, Foxs Ken Rosenthal who reported that the White Sox are looking into signing Soriano didnt ask himself that. On a team with closer possibilities including Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks, Sergio Santos and Chris Sale and gaping holes at catcher, first base, and designated hitter, closer is the last thing Williams is kicking the tires on.

Wait a minute, bubJenks?

OK, OK, youre right. Rosenthal reported the White Sox interest in Soriano as further evidence that Jenks would be dealt or non-tendered, but the White Sox might well have batting practice pitcher Kevin Hickey as their top closer candidate and still wouldnt be planning on welcoming back Jenks.

How did Jenkss stock fall so fast?

Its been a gradual decline for the onetime wunderkind, but yeah, the door usually does hit you in the hiney after getting shoved out in the end. Mostly, the White Sox have some real questions about their closers motivation and dedication. Jenks has conditioning issues that would be easier to ignore if not contributing to an increasing amount of time injured and on the DL in his career.

Williams was generally sunny at least sunny from KWs hardscrabble perspective about all aspects of the White Sox in his final media address of 2010, with the exception of Jenks. You read it at CSNChicago.com first, and not long after his sweet swan song of a doubleheader save at the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 5: Jenks would not pitch for the White Sox again.

But Williams loves power arms, and Soriano was arguably the best closer in the majors last season, so wouldnt he be a fit?

Sure, and with a New York Yankees budget or even with merely the money they were burning across town at Wrigley over the past few years Williams would happily swap out Jenks for Soriano. But there are three additional, and monumental, reasons why Soriano is a bad fit for the White Sox, beyond the fact that there are an abundance of power arms in the Chicago bullpen:

1. Scott Boras is Sorianos agent.

2. The White Sox would be buying high on Soriano and Williams simply does not buy high on players, budget restrictions or no.

3. Soriano will probably sign north of five years and 50 million. Thats downright loco terms for a closer with less than two years of brilliance in his back pocket and one who will turn 31 next month.

We hear all the talk about the Chisoxs limited budget, but there is wiggle room to sign somebody, right?

Yes. But as much as Williams would like to make a big splash even simply in throwing seven figures at Konerko to re-sign him for the South Siders it could turn out that any player addition wont qualify as major. For example, reasonable inkings at catcher, first, outfield and the bullpen could greatly bolster the team (say A.J. Pierzynski, Derek Lee, Andruw Jones, and J.J. Putz) despite a decided absence of sexiness.

It could turn out that like the last offseason where the big moves were a salary - aided trade for Juan Pierre and the ill-fated Mark Teahen acquisition Williams work could be under the radar.

The Minnesota Twins are the defending AL Central champs, and the Detroit Tigers are talking about chasing not one but two major bats this offseason. Dont the White Sox have to spend to keep up?

Youd think so. But the one key advantage the White Sox have strength and depth in the starting rotation is crucial. Williams is counting on that as the team looks to 2011.

So then, whos the 2011 White Sox closer?

Of the four names listed up top, Putz wont close even if he comes back. Sale is ticketed for the rotation an arm like his cant be frittered away in the pen. That leaves Santos and Thornton, and it could well be that lefty-righty combination sharing setup and closing duties, matchup by matchup.

But you know what? Im not going to just nibble at the possibilities for the 2011 White Sox. On Monday, tune in for a look at my take on the ideal 2011 White Sox roster.

BBQ Verdict on the Soriano Rumor: Propane Fumes

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

The White Sox made sure Rob Brantly's father celebrated retirement from Air Force in style

The White Sox made sure Rob Brantly's father celebrated retirement from Air Force in style

The surprise that Master Sergeant Robert Brantly received on his final day of work is one he’ll never forget.

The father of White Sox catcher Rob Brantly, the elder Brantly was honored on the field on Monday night as the team’s Hero of the Game and joined by his son, who presented him with an autographed bat. The 37-year Air Force veteran, who also celebrated his 56th birthday, wasn’t informed he would be recognized by the White Sox on the field with his son until late Sunday.

“When I saw my son there and gave him a big hug and he told me I was his hero, it meant the world,” the elder Brantly said. “I can’t express it any other way than just gratitude for this organization, this team and my family putting up with me being away for so many different occasions with the military.

“I will never forget coming here to Chicago.”

The White Sox backstop said he informed the club that his father, an Angels fan, would be in town on his final day of employment in the Air Force. Brantly’s first day as a civilian is Tuesday.

“It’s a pretty emotional moment for me just knowing that my dad in the service he put into this country for almost 40 years fighting for our freedom, but also fighting to give me, his son, every opportunity in the world to succeed and he gave me this opportunity to be here and to be able to play Major League Baseball not only as a service man but as a father teaching me everything to know about baseball and the passion that comes along with the game,” the younger Brantly said.

“He would tell me he puts on that uniform every day so I don’t have to. It carries a lot of weight. To be able to do something like that for him and to finish off his career, his first day of retirement, tipping his cap to a Major League Baseball crowd giving him a standing ovation, it was a special moment for him and our family. I was glad I was able to be there to share that with him.”

Will James Shields stick with 'different' look in 2018?

Will James Shields stick with 'different' look in 2018?

Ever since James Shields dropped down his arm angle, the strikeouts have increased considerably.

The White Sox pitcher struck out eight more batters in Monday night’s 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Shields, who pitched seven innings to earn a victory, has averaged nearly a strikeout per inning since he began to throw from a three-quarters angle in the middle of an Aug. 5 loss at Boston. While Shields still hasn’t perfected the new look -- he’s not even sure he’ll bring it back in 2018 -- it has caught the attention of opposing hitters.

“That was definitely a different Shields,” Angels outfielder Mike Trout said. “He was moving the ball around tonight.”  

Shields might consider sticking with the lowered angle. The veteran often insists the adjustment is a work in a progress, though his results have continued to improve (he’s got a 3.51 ERA in his past four starts).

Overall, since Shields made the switch he has a 4.33 ERA in 60 1/3 innings, nearly two points below the 6.19 ERA he produced in his first 56 2/3 frames. Shields has also seen a reduction in home runs allowed per nine innings from 2.38 to 1.79.

But the most drastic change has been in strikeouts. Shields has increased his strikeout-rate to 23.5 percent, up from 16.6 percent. He’s whiffed 59 batters since making the adjustment after only 44 prior.

“He already curls, he closes off,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He's got a cross-angle delivery, so you see his back a lot. But I think the variance in velocities, the breaking ball, he'll run the fastball, sink it. He's doing a lot with it, there's a lot of action going on so it's going to both sides of the plate. But the variance of velocity, especially with the breaking ball, sometimes it pops up there as an eephus or something. He's doing a real nice job.”

Shields has one season left on his current deal and seems likely to return to anchor a young White Sox rotation in 2018. Whether or not he’ll stay with the current setup remains to be seen.

“We’ll see,” Shields said “I’ll make some assessments in the offseason, and see how that works out, see how my body is feeling. Over the last month and a half, it seems to be working out. we’ll see how it goes.

“I’m revamping every year man. This being my 12th season, you’re always trying to refine your game every year, no matter what, whether it’s a pitch or mechanical adjustment. The league makes adjustments on you. I’ve faced a lot of these hitters so many times. I think Robbie Cano I’ve had almost 100 at-bats in my career against. But at the end of the day, you always have to make adjustments.”