Floyd, Sox try to avoid series sweep on CSN

451275.jpg

Floyd, Sox try to avoid series sweep on CSN

Thursday, April 21, 2011Posted: 11:20 AM

Associated Press

A loss to the Chicago White Sox earlier this month dropped the defending AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays to 0-6 for the first time in franchise history.

Another victory over the White Sox can put the Rays over .500 for the first time this season.

Tampa Bay goes for its first four-game sweep of Chicago on Thursday night when the visiting White Sox try to avoid their eighth straight defeat.

Since a 5-1 loss at Chicago (7-11) on April 7, the Rays (9-9) have won nine of 12 to join the 1991 Seattle Mariners as the only teams since 1900 to reach .500 in April after opening the season with six losses.

"The fact that we're back to that level is great, but our goal is well above .500," manager Joe Maddon said following Wednesday's 4-1 victory.

While Tampa Bay is batting .297 and scoring 5.0 runs per game during its 8-1 stretch - up from .163 and 2.2 during its first nine games - the team's starters are 6-1 with a 2.22 ERA during this recent run, a vast improvement from their 5.26 ERA through nine games.

Jeff Niemann (0-2, 6.32 ERA), who starts the series finale, also pitched better in his last start. After allowing 10 runs in his first two outings, the right-hander struck out a season-high six in Saturday's 4-3 win over Minnesota, giving up three runs and eight hits in seven innings.

"I was more comfortable in what I was seeing," Maddon told the Rays' official website.

That wasn't the case in a 6-1 loss in Chicago on April 10 when Niemann lasted just 2 2-3 innings, yielding five runs and five hits.

He had been 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his previous two starts against the White Sox.

Niemann faces a Chicago team that has scored 13 runs during its seven-game skid, including just two in the first three games of this series. Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Adam Dunn are hitting a combined .129 (13 for 101) during the slide.

"We had better at-bats (Wednesday)," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's all you can do. Go and fight for your at-bats, and see what happens."

While the White Sox's bullpen has received plenty of blame with a major league-high six blown saves, the starting rotation is also struggling, posting a 5.57 ERA in the last five games after Phil Humber surrendered four runs in 5 1-3 innings Wednesday.

Gavin Floyd (1-1, 4.29) will try to help Chicago avoid its first eight-game skid since Sept. 14-21 and split the eight-game season series with Tampa Bay. The right-hander improved to 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA against the Rays after striking out eight and allowing one unearned run in eight innings April 10.

Floyd, though, gave up season highs with six runs and eight hits in Saturday's 7-2 loss against the Los Angeles Angels. He also threw three wild pitches in six innings.

Floyd probably wouldn't mind if Rays left fielder Johnny Damon misses a fourth straight game with an injured left ring finger. Damon is 11 for 19 with a homer off Floyd.

White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin, 1 for 9 off Niemann, is batting .438 (14 for 32) on the road after homering Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria 'surprised' Melky Cabrera hasn't been traded

White Sox manager Rick Renteria 'surprised' Melky Cabrera hasn't been traded

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The White Sox have offloaded more pieces in the past eight months than that furniture store that always seems to be going out of business.

Everything. Must. Go.

Even so, the team hasn’t found any takers for veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera, who finished with four hits in Saturday night’s 7-2 White Sox loss to the Kansas City Royals. Cabrera finished a triple shy of the cycle and drove in two runs. That Cabrera still resides on the South Side is a surprise to White Sox manager Rick Renteria.

“Honestly yeah, to be honest,” Renteria said. “To me he’s a premier Major League baseball player who has been playing outstanding defense. And he has been for us one of the two or three guys who has been timing his hitting in terms of driving in runs when we need them, putting together really good at-bats when we need them. Just playing the game. Yeah, kind of surprised.”

Despite making their intentions known that everyone short of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon are available, Cabrera’s name has barely registered a blip on the radar when it comes to trade rumors.

Several factors have probably prevented Cabrera from being dealt, the biggest being his salary. Cabrera is still owed roughly $6.3 million of his $15 million salary, which makes him an expensive option.

Defensive metrics also don’t have much love for Cabrera despite his eight outfield assists. Cabrera’s lack of range has produced minus-6 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-4.7 Ultimate Zone Rating.

Those figures likely would like have teams lean toward making Cabrera a designated hitter. While he’s been one of the team’s most consistent and prominent offensive performers, Cabrera’s .786 ranks only about 38th in the American League.

As FanRag’s Jon Heyman noted earlier Saturday, to trade Cabrera the White Sox would likely have to eat most of the outfielder’s remaining salary.

Royals think White Sox have done 'phenomenal job' acquiring young talent

Royals think White Sox have done 'phenomenal job' acquiring young talent

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Only six years after they had the “best farm system of all time,” the Kansas City Royals see a bright future ahead for the upstart White Sox.

Several current Kansas City players who graduated from that farm system and led the Royals to a 2015 World Series title and manager Ned Yost all said they’re intrigued by how quickly the White Sox have built up their minor league talent.

Through four major trades and the signing of international free agent Luis Robert, the White Sox boast a system that features 10 top-10 prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com. Baseball America ranks eight White Sox prospects in their top 100. While the system isn’t yet ready to compete with the 2011 Royals for the unofficial title of best ever, it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.

“Have you seen what they’ve gotten back from tearing it down?” Yost said. “MLB ranks the top 100 prospects. Most teams have one or two. I don’t think we have any. They have 10. They’ve done a phenomenal job of restocking their system with incredibly talented young players.”

Not everything is identical between how these organizations built their farms.

The Royals headed into 2011 with nine top-100 prospects and five in the top 20 alone (Eric Hosmer 8, Mike Moustakas 9, Wil Myers 10, John Lamb 18, Mike Montgomery 19). The Kansas City Star in 2016 reviewed the best-ranked systems of all-time and determined by a point value system (100 points for the No. 1 prospect and one point for the No. 100 prospect) that the 2011 club was better than all others with 574 points.

But that group was the byproduct of a painstaking stretch in which the Royals averaged 96 losses from 2004-12. The slower path taken by Kansas City allowed its young core to develop and learn how to play together in the minors. As pitcher Danny Duffy noted, “we went to the playoffs every year.”

They won at Rookie-Burlington, Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha took home three titles. Working together was a big key to the team’s success at the major league level, said catcher Salvador Perez.

“We didn’t come from different teams,” Perez said. “We all came from here. We had a young team together. We learned how to win and win in the big leagues.

“We learned how to win together, play together and play for the team. It was really important.”

The only time the Royals didn’t win was at Advance-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, Duffy said.

“You learn how success feels and how some failure feels,” Duff said. “We lost in Wilmington and you would have thought the world was coming to an end.”

According to the Star, the Royals haven’t had much recent competition for the best system. Until now.

The 2006 Diamondbacks accrued 541 points and the 2000 Florida Marlins had 472. The 2015 Cubs scored 450 points.

After the addition of Blake Rutherford on Tuesday (the No. 36 prospect on BA’s current top 100 list), the White Sox have 483 points. But the 2017 Atlanta Braves are even better with 532 points, the third-highest total of all-time.

The White Sox farm system has created excitement among the fan base that had wavered in recent years. Not everyone is on board, but the majority seems to be and that can create hysteria.

“We had people at the games who were super excited about the wave of prospects,” Duffy said. “Obviously they have a stacked system over there, very similar to what we had coming up. There was a lot of excitement. It was crazy.”

But excitement didn’t immediately translate into victories. Though a fair amount of the 2011 class graduated to the majors by later that season, the Royals didn’t get on track in the big leagues for a few years.

It wasn’t until the second half of 2013 that the Royals got going. The 2014 club ended a 29-year playoff drought with a wild-card berth that led to an American League pennant. They followed that up with a World Series title in 2015. Had it not been for a Herculean effort by Madison Bumgarner, Kansas City might have had consecutive titles.

Still, getting there takes time.

“The first thing you had to do was get them here,” Yost said. “Experience has taught me that it’s generally 2 1/2 years before they can get to a point where they can compete. They just have to gain that experience at the major league level because it’s definitely a much more difficult style of play up here. The talent is just so incredibly good that it takes a while for talent or players to adjust to where they’re productive. It just takes time then being able to go out and play every single day.”

Even though that means the White Sox will experience difficult times the next few years, Duffy and Co. think it’s worth the wait. While Duffy imagines losing Jose Quintana and David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle and Todd Frazier isn’t fun, he has a good sense what is headed this direction.

“Losing Quintana stings, but they got a king’s ransom back,” Duffy said. “It’s the way of the game. But they’re going to have a really good time in the next few years.”