Fabian talks scouting, sabermetrics and more

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Fabian talks scouting, sabermetrics and more

On Tuesday, White Sox director of baseball operations Dan Fabian chatted with a few bloggers about a wide array of topics ranging from the relationship between sabermetrics and scouting to trade rumors. U-God at South Side Sox transcribed the entire conference call, which is well worth a read. Below are a few highlights.

Fabian passed on answering a question from Jim Margalus (also of South Side Sox) asking about the feelings of the "previous regime" -- Ozzie Guillen, Joey Cora, etc. -- toward sabermetrics. "I just want to look forward to 2012," Fabian said. "We're going forward and we're happy with where things are set up right now."

That doesn't mean Fabian was unhappy with the way things were set up in terms of stats under Guillen, although it was apparent he and his coaching staff weren't too in to the idea of statistical analysis. It was, at the least, an interesting non-answer.

Fabian was much more open to discussing Kenny Williams' strategy in balancing scouting and numbers, though.

"Kenny's very straightforward that he's going to look at the scouting report first, but at the same time I know that he'll also look at the statistical information," Fabian explained. "We have discussions about various profiles we like to see, things that have evolved over the years.

"There are always two sides to the coin and I think we've always been more in the middle and there seems to have been more of a correction in the industry towards the middle at this point. It got very stat-heavy for a while there and I think everybody's realized you need both pieces there."

The stats vs. scouting debate that was brought about by Moneyball (a decade ago with the book) seems to have ended with both sides finding a middle ground, although you'll still find some stuck-in-their-ways person arguing for one side or the other. Fact is, Kenny Williams is like most other general managers in baseball -- he looks at both sides.

He has more of a scouting background, so naturally he uses numbers to back up scouting reports. That's fine, just as using scouting reports to back up numbers is fine. The White Sox, as an organization, use advanced stats. Like Rick Hahn said at SoxFest, "Yeah, it's like we don't like puppy dogs, chocolate and Christmas. Everybody likes those things."

Finally, Fabian mentioned how, before the trade deadline, he and his staff will put together a list of players for the Sox to target. I followed that question up by asking him if those rough lists ever get leaked out and create the rampant trade rumors we see during the midseason and offseason.

"I wouldn't think any of them come out of our information" Fabian said. "We're very tight-lipped and closed with what we have, so I think that very rarely do we see players that we're discussing come out. Honestly, things do come out from trades, but we keep it in a pretty small group and we feel pretty good when we do things and there wasn't a lot of feelings out in the world that this is what we were doing. We don't want to get things ruined by having information get out before it's ready."

This pretty much fits the bill with the Williams era in Chicago -- the White Sox rarely follow through on rumored deals. Most everything the team has done has seemingly come out of thin air, from the Sergio Santos trade to the Jim Thome deal five years ago.

But perhaps other teams allow names from those preliminary lists to leak, thus creating some of the bevy of trade rumors that rarely come to fruition. Just a thought.

Adam Engel making the most of his opportunity with White Sox

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USA TODAY

Adam Engel making the most of his opportunity with White Sox

Adam Engel is making the most of his second opportunity with the White Sox.

Engel had his best game of the season in Thursday’s finale against the Minnesota Twins, where he went 4-for-5 with three singles, a double, and two RBIs in the White Sox 9-0 win. He became the first White Sox outfielder with a four-hit game within their first 11 career MLB games since Harold Baines (10th game) on April 20, 1980, according to CSN stats guru Chris Kamka.

"Some days you hit it, some days you don’t," Engel said. "Yesterday was the day that I hit it.”

After nearly a five-hour rain delay, the White Sox came out hot right from the get-go on Thursday. In fact, by the time Engel was ready to bat for the first time, the White Sox were already leading 4-0 and Twins starter Nik Turley had been yanked from the game.

“It was awesome,” Engel. “(The) team is winning, getting some hits. It’s a great feeling. Obviously the goal is to try and help the team win.”

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Engel made his major league debut on May 27 and then was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte on June 9. His wife Jaime had a child on June 12, and almost a week later, he was recalled again by the White Sox to replace an injured Leury Garcia.

Engel, who's hitting .344/.382/.406 entering Friday's game, will look to keep his hot streak going with his wife and newborn in attendance.

Mark Buehrle relishing life after baseball, and his new softball position

Mark Buehrle relishing life after baseball, and his new softball position

Mark Buehrle was known for plenty of things in his 16-year career, whether it was winning 214 games, being a five-time All-Star, throwing a perfect game and a no-hitter, winning a World Series and throwing 200 or more innings in 14 consecutive seasons. 

Now, the 38-year-old is relishing life as a dad and husband. Oh, and as the first baseman and cleanup hitter for his beer league softball team. 

Hey, Buehrle’s probably the only one on the team to hit a home run in the major leagues, in addition to that whole other list of pitching accomplishments. But socking softball dingers hasn’t given Buehrle the itch to get back into baseball, at least not yet. 

“I honestly thought I'd miss it more, the first year at home sitting on the couch and watching games and thinking, 'Man, what am I doing? I probably should still be playing,’” Buehrle said. “But the little ones have kept me busy and the wife's honey do list is not getting any shorter. But no, I enjoy being home and running the kids around and doing all the stuff we're doing. I haven't really missed it at all.”

Buehrle led the American League in complete games in 2015 and finished that year with a 15-8 record and 3.81 ERA, though he fell 1 1/3 innings shy of making it 15 consecutive seasons with 200 or more innings pitched. But he was isolated in Toronto, with his family still in St. Louis, and knew that even though he probably had more left in the tank, he didn’t want to continue playing. 

So Buehrle didn’t have a retirement tour, reportedly turned down some one-year offers and bought an RV after the 2015 season. 

“I was sitting in my apartment too much saying, ‘I’m a family guy, I’m a dad. I’m not a single college student,’” Buehrle said. “That’s what I felt like. I knew I was done that whole year leading up to it. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. I wanted to go off in the sunset kind of quiet. I didn’t want all the attention.”

Someday, Buehrle expects he’ll want to get back into the game in some capacity. His kids are eight and nine (going on 10) years old, though, so it probably won’t be anytime soon. Unless you count getting back in the game as playing some beer league softball. 

“Right now we are so busy at home and enjoying that, I wouldn’t want to have to keep leaving again,” Buehrle said. “Eventually I would like to do something to stay involved.”