Buehrle battered; 3 homers not enough for Sox

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Buehrle battered; 3 homers not enough for Sox

Friday, April 22, 2011
Posted: 8:54 p.m. Updated: 10:13 p.m.

By Brett BallantiniCSNChicago.com

DETROIT A Good Friday for the Chicago White Sox? Nope.

Blame it on a misty, murky brew falling from the Detroit skies.

Blame it on Justin Verlander, whos been roughed up by the White Sox in his career but was a wicked little critta Friday night in mowing down the Hose.

Blame it on overzealous celebration after snapping a seven-game losing streak with a laugher in Tampa Thursday night.

About the only thing you cant blame Fridays flaccid, 9-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers on is Carlos Quentin, whose Triple Crown push hasnt slipped off its stride for a second this season.

Quentin hit two mammoth solo shotssome 800 feet of round-tripper goodness into the teeth of a Siberian Express wind, exemplifying his disdain for all pitchers, opponents, and acts of foul weather. The titanic blasts pushed Qs slugging percentage for the season to an outrageous .707.

But that was the beginning and end of the highlights for the White Sox, who spent much of the game fielding an uneasy-9 who appeared as if they couldnt get out of the drizzly chill fast enough.

To his credit, manager Ozzie Guillen saw fight in his team, right from leadoff hitter Juan Pierres initial, nine-pitch at-bat. Of course, that at-bat ended in a strikeout (the first of a rare daily double for the speedster).

Were fighting, man, were fighting, Guillen said. Everyone in the lineup went out and got after Verlander in every at-bat. Theyre fighting with every pitch, but the guy they were fighting against was pretty good.

Guillen the soother has yet to transform into Guillen the soothsayer with his band of brothers that has fairly well wheezed along ever since the second of April. While the jefe might not see it, primary among the underachievers was ineffective Chisox starter Mark Buehrle, who started sharp but ended flatulent. The lefty lasted just 5 23 innings and surrendered six earned runs on eight hits.

The first four innings I felt like I could throw a perfect game or no-hitter, location-wise. Ill take that every start. They were hitting good pitches, Buehrle said. In the fifth and sixth I fell behind in the count. Its a frustrating game when stuff like that happens The way the ball carried surprised me, big time.

Carry or no, Buehrle has been the worst of the White Sox starters this season, with four subpar efforts unable to offset a gem vs. the Oakland As spun some 11 days ago. His average game score is just 43.6, significantly below a quality start level (pitchers begin the game with a game score of 50, so the White Sox have been worse off with Buehrle than without him).

Contrast that with Verlander, who is slowly turning around his fortunes vs. Chicago (he entered the game with a 4.55 career ERA against the White Sox).

Verlander did a good job, Paul Konerko said. He got some runs early, and does what he does: Run with it. He gave up a couple homers in the seventh, but thats what you do when youre doing your job and have a big leadyou come at people, you dont walk people. Hes a handful. Hes got four above-average pitches and above-average command on top of it. Hes as good as it gets. He got some runs to work with and didnt look back.

The Bengals ace threw 117 pitches through seven innings, with eight Ks (including his 1,000th career punch out, after which he stared down his victim, A.J. Pierzynski) against zero walks. Verlander was touched for three earned runs, but he allowed them wisely with three solo shots (Qs two and one from Konerko).

The back-to-back jacks were the first such clouts of the season for Chicago. The multi-homer effort was the 11th of Quentins career. Q boats a bloaty 1.107 OPS, with 70 percent of the right fielders hits so far this season falling for extra bases.

But the story of the game was Detroits ace sucking the life out the Pale Hose.

You put that combination of weather and Verlander, its pretty tough, Guillen said. Verlander continues to throw the ball really well. You don't see too many guys in this league pounding 97, 98, 99 mph and his changeup is 84. Hes a very tough guy to face.

Break on through

Konerko is sensitive to fan panic and the "All-In" pressure lumped on his club back in December. But respond to such pressures? Thats a different story.

Never, because a sense of urgency makes you play worse, he said. Youre playing with urgency, that means tension and tension will never lead to good things. So of course we want to play better and have better results, but you just have to know youre going about it right.

"In baseball, everyone has their own way go playing the game and going about it. Everyone has a different temperament. You have to know yourself. If youre going about it the right way, then keep doing itit will happen or it wont happen but at least you know youre doing it the right way. But playing with urgency and that kind of stuff, I just laugh at it. You go out with a purpose and play hard, playing with urgency means you care what other people think. And you just cant do that as a player.

While acknowledging his part in the slow start, veteran hurler Buehrle agrees.

We have plenty of time: 20 games in is way too early to be worrying, he said. We have faced quality pitching and we havent hit too good and pitched very well at certain times. Everything clicked those first couple of games, but when score 14 its hard to lose.
Paul Konerko shakes hands with Adam Dunn after hitting his fifth home run of the season Friday, one he admits came as a surprise. Meanwhile, the White Sox captain says he isn't feeling a sense of urgency despite the White Sox recent struggles. (AP)
Were fine. If we get to the All-Star break and are struggling, I might think about worrying.

Fisked

Konerkos seventh-inning clout wasnt just the 370th of his career, pushing him past Ralph Kiner and into a tie with Gil Hodges for 68th all-time. It was one of the strangest dingers of the veterans career.

The home run was surprising, Konerko reflected. I certainly wasnt watching. I knew it would be out of play, over the fence and foul, most likely. When you hit a ball thats foul and has a hook on it, it never comes back. But the wind pushed it back. Its definitely luck, and I got some on that one.

Konerko stood at the plate and didnt move until his shot clanged halfway up the foul pole in left. Natch, the mere attention paid to his who-me homer drew out the sensitive side of the slugger.

It certainly wasnt me trying to watch a home run and show off, Konerko said. I thought it was a foul ball, and I hope no one took offense to it.

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

White Sox revamp would mean fewer 'stopgaps' and 'half-measures'

White Sox revamp would mean fewer 'stopgaps' and 'half-measures'

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Seems like every hour another juicy rumor surfaces in which the White Sox are considering the unthinkable: a trade for five-time All-Star Chris Sale.

With baseball’s Winter Meetings starting on Monday, those reports have begun to arrive at a furious pace. Team A has shown interest in Sale and plans to make a push at the four-day conference. Team B doesn’t think it can meet the White Sox reported asking price. Teams C and D have made their top prospects untouchable in a potential deal for Sale.

While the White Sox won’t reveal their direction until they make their first few major moves, the tone of most reports has made it clear they’re at least entertaining a trade for Sale, who has finished in the top six in the American League Cy Young Award vote in each of his five seasons as a starting pitcher.

In the past, trading Sale has been an afterthought as the White Sox have envisioned the lanky left-hander leading them back to the postseason. But those days appear to be numbered. To understand how they’ve reached this point, where Rick Hahn isn’t just humoring his fellow general managers by picking up the phone but is actively listening on Sale, you only need to look at the White Sox roster over the past five seasons.

While the White Sox have an extremely competitive top half of the roster, one that could seemingly compete on an annual basis in the AL Central, much of the rest has been comprised of what Hahn himself referred to as “stop-gaps” and “half measures.” Since the start of the 2012 season, more than 30 players who have appeared for the White Sox made their final major league appearances on the South Side. Several others made brief stopovers but have spent the rest of their time in the minors, another country or retired. Were they to begin a rebuild and bolster the farm system, Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams could better position themselves to avoid the use of short-term players and quick fixes to supplement the roster for a team that hasn’t reached the postseason since 2008.

“I think we’re veering away from the standpoint of looking for stopgaps,” Hahn said last month at the GM meetings in Phoenix. “A lot of what we did in the last few years had been trying to enhance the short-term potential of the club to put ourselves in a position to win immediately. I feel the approach at this point is focusing on longer-term benefits. It doesn’t mean we won’t necessarily be in a good position in 2017. It means that our targets and whatever we’re hoping to accomplish have a little more longer term fits in nature.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Whereas they were taking a step back in 2014, the White Sox at least went into four of the last five seasons with hopes of reaching the postseason.

But those aspirations were dashed in part because of a thin farm system. Whether depleted by an international program that was dormant for five seasons, trades of prospects to fill holes or previous draft misses, the White Sox have had few internal answers to cover for injuries or underperformance. That lack of depth has led to a number of short-term signings or bargain trades in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.

Last season, the White Sox signed Jimmy Rollins, Mat Latos and Austin Jackson in February and March in hopes of providing depth at shortstop, in the rotation and in center field. Those moves are typical of the way the club has hoped to plug holes the past few years.

Rollins and Latos were released in June while Jackson suffered a season-ending injury. Jackson is a hopeful free agent this offseason and should find a home, but Rollins didn’t find a new team after the White Sox released him and Latos made six appearances with Washington, compiling a 6.52 ERA.

From the 2015 roster, Adam LaRoche retired and Mike Olt and Hector Noesi haven’t resurfaced in the majors since departing the White Sox. Kyle Drabek appeared in one game for Arizona before he was released last July.

One-time 2014 closer Ronald Belisario played six games for Tampa Bay in 2015 and sat out last season. Moises Sierra has spent time in the minors with Kansas City and Miami. Adrian Nieto played 37 games with Miami’s Triple-A squad in 2016, Felipe Paulino and Dayan Viciedo finished the season in Japan, Maikel Cleto split the year between Mexico and Atlanta’s farm system and Frank Francisco hasn’t played since winter ball in 2015.

Michael Taylor and Matt Lindstrom retired, Jordan Danks didn’t play in 2016 and Taylor Thompson, Scott Snodgress and Charlie Leesman all played independent ball.

Jeff Keppinger hasn’t returned to the big leagues since he was released in early 2014. The same goes for Hector Gimenez, Dewayne Wise, Tyler Greene, Blake Tekotte, Ramon Troncoso, David Purcey, Brian Omogrosso and Deunte Heath from the 2013 club.

Casper Wells briefly played with Philadelphia after he was waived in 2013 while Kevin Youkilis only played 28 games that season, a year after the White Sox acquired him on the cheap from Boston. Orlando Hudson, Kosuke Fukudome, Ray Olmedo, Jose Lopez, Will Ohman, Brian Bruney and Leyson Septimo never appeared in the majors after 2012.

Starting with Hahn’s declaration in July that the White Sox were mired in mediocrity, the club has made its frustrations very clear. Whereas the Sale rumors once seemed far-fetched, they might not be this time as the White Sox look to replenish an organization short on talent past the very top portion.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve had our conversations internally with Jerry and Kenny and the coaches and our staff and our scouts where we realize putting ourselves in a better position for the long term is the more prudent path,” Hahn said.

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.