Bizarre ideas for ideal 2011 Pale Hose roster

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Bizarre ideas for ideal 2011 Pale Hose roster

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010
4:39 PM
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Imagine if Trader Kenny strikes out and is unable to turn a starting pitching surplus into better roster flexibility, opts not to move Carlos Quentin or decides a 120 million budget works for the team. The White Sox can still get stronger just by shuffling what they already have. Heres how:

Modest Proposal No. 1: Outfield Shift

Juan Pierre is continually maligned as a left fielder because of his weak arm. However, he was the White Soxs strongest fielder last year not named Alexei Ramirez there simply wasnt a ball hit to left field that Pierre couldnt track down. His weak arm was mitigated by his position, and its clear that the speedster stole away more bases in making catches and filling gaps than he did by allowing base runners to sprint home without recourse. As great as Alex Rios was last season, hes not even on the short list of baseballs outstanding center fielders. And Carlos Quentin in right? Yeesh.

Presuming Andruw Jones doesnt return to take the reps in right field away from Quentin, theres a simple way to patch the hole: shift the outfield.

Pierre is a career center fielder who has proven he can chase anything down and what he lacks in strength he makes up for with accuracy. Rios in right field can take any ball in the gap, mitigating Pierres weaker arm. Both Pierre and Rios can shade toward left due to their outstanding speed. Quentin, whose fielding range and arm accuracy are shoddy, moves back to left field, where hes historically done less damage.

Of course, the best remedy in the outfield is to re-sign Jones, install him in right field and make Quentin the teams regular DH.

Modest Proposal No. 2: Six-Man Rotation

A squeeze for starts might never occur: Jake Peavy might not be healthy in spring training, for instance. However, the White Sox are traditionally the healthiest team in baseball and there could be more starting arms than the team knows what to do with. What if neither Peavy nor any of the other five White Sox starters (Mark Buehrle, Chris Sale, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson) miss significant time in 2011? Barring a trade, the White Sox have six outstanding arms for five rotation spots.

Pitching on five days rest isnt a legitimate option unless the White Sox opt to use a starters work day off in actual game competition, and thats not recommended. So given this bounty, its time to expand our minds.

As fans, were used to thinking about a fifth starters role as an inning-eater; Freddy Garcia in 2010 is a great example, as a guy who ate some innings, had some effective outings and made less headaches for manager Ozzie Guillen.

With the talent the White Sox have in the rotation, they can aim higher than that, with a true shutdown crew. If a hitter is slumping, he sits for a start or two, but what about a similar merit system for starters?

Say the White Sox enter the season with a six-man rotation of Buehrle, Peavy, Floyd, Danks, Jackson and Sale, and that the first starter to falter is Peavy, banged up in the seasons second game. That means Sale slips into Peavys spot, and Peavy is the next starting sub.

An additional bonus of a six-man rotation would be having the No. 6 (idle) starter work in a game instead of doing his side work only in the bullpen. Day two after a start is usually reserved for bullpen side work what if day three or four becomes an occasion where the idled starter can work in a real game for a couple of innings?

Using a benchmark of a poor start as a game score of less than 40 (with 50 considered a quality start), in 2010 Buehrle would have had 10 starts that would have bumped him from the rotation, Peavy six (of 17 starts), Floyd eight, Danks seven, Garcia seven, and Jackson just one.

Think that this is mere stat geek meddling? Well, consider that the White Sox had 39 total poor starts in 2010 and 20 of them happened consecutively for example, Peavy had a total of six poor starts, two in a row in April and three in a row in May. That would indicate two main slumps in his season, both of which were likely needs for additional work on mechanics or mental approach. In the case of Buehrle and Floyd, both of whom suffered poor streaks in September, perhaps slumps were born of sheer fatigue.

At any rate, this utilization of a six-man rotation could shorten or perhaps eliminate starters slumps entirely. In case of an injury, the White Sox would remain in a five-man rotation, with no sixth-man sub. But six healthy starters shouldnt necessarily force Jackson out of town or Sale into the bullpen or the minors. The White Sox have the opportunity to have their starting rotation carry them into the 2011 postseason, and by letting merit rule in a six-man rotation and would push the unit that much closer to doing so.

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

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.

But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.

“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens. 

“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”

The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.

In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.

"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."

[MORE: Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right]

Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.

"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."

His struggles continued when he got to The Show.

In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.

"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."

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Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.

"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.

"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.

Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who MLB.com has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again. 

"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."

The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.

The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.

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While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality. 

Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.

"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."

"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."

In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.

When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse. 

Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.