Peavy's flexibility allowed for return to White Sox

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Peavy's flexibility allowed for return to White Sox

The White Sox always wanted to retain Jake Peavy and it only made more sense as the market for free agent pitchers began to take shape. When Peavy showed a strong desire to return, a potential pact became more logical.

Compared with the extended, lucrative deals needed to land Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse this offseason, the two-year, 29 million contract Peavy signed on Tuesday afternoon, just days before he became a free agent, falls directly in line with what the White Sox wanted.

While the club paid a premium price for Peavys next two seasons -- hell make 14.5 million in each and could receive 15 million in 2015 -- they didnt have to overpay to bring in a quality pitcher.

Less than two years after he had potentially career-ending surgery, Peavy showed the White Sox he has plenty left in 2012. The right-hander was 11-12 with a 3.37 ERA in a team-high 219 innings over 32 starts last season and struck out 194 batters.

The length was absolutely key for us, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on a conference call on Tuesday night. Being able to insulate ourselves against having a long-term deal and the risk involved in any long-term deal, much less with a pitcher, being able to do something on a shorter-term basis had a greater appeal to us. You will see a fairly robust (pitchers market) this offseason -- deals beyond comfortable where we were interested in going. We made a deal and were able to do it on terms we found palatable.

The White Sox can thank Peavy and agent Jeff Barry for their willingness.

Even though Peavy likely would have received a bigger payday on the open market when he became a free agent on Friday, his desire was to return to the White Sox. Therefore, Peavy, who also won the first Rawlings Gold Glove of his career on Tuesday night, did what he could to ensure a return.

I never wanted any games, Peavy said. I was open and upfront about (returning). I certainly did all in my power to return to where Im the happiest.

Hahn and Peavy said contract talks started strong and then cooled off to the point Peavy was concerned he might not return to a club, which acquired him from the San Diego Padres for four pitchers on July 31, 2009.

But talks between the sides gained traction quickly over the last 72 hours, Hahn said.

Part of it was the concession Peavy made to allow the White Sox to pay the 4 million buyout on his 2013 club option from 2016-19. Another aspect is that Peavys 2015 player option kicks in only if he stays healthy and passes certain statistical thresholds, figures Hahn declined to reveal.

(Flexibility) played a huge roll, Hahn said. We got creative.

Peavy said he didnt want the White Sox to hurt their ability to acquire other quality players in order to ensure his return. The team also exercised its 9.5 million option on pitcher Gavin Floyd on Tuesday to bolster its 2013 rotation.

It has to fit for everybody, Peavy said. There has to be give and take from everybody, flexibility. We both gave a little bit on what we both wanted to do. You want to come back on a deal that doesnt hamstring the team.

The final piece to the puzzle is the timing, Hahn noted. Had Peavy gone on the open market, theres no telling what other teams would have offered. The Los Angeles Dodgers, for instance, have a big checkbook a might have opened it to attract the 2007 National League Cy Young winner. With free agency only 72 hours away, Hahn knew the White Sox had to make their move.

Our chances would likely take a serious hit once he got out there, Hahn said. We were aggressive, otherwise we wouldnt have got something done. He knew where he wanted to be and knew it was a fair deal and he was motivated to get something done.

As MLB addresses long game times, why Mark Buehrle’s zippy pace is worth highlighting

As MLB addresses long game times, why Mark Buehrle’s zippy pace is worth highlighting

Sometime in the future, near or far, Major League Baseball will probably begin using a pitch clock to penalize sluggish hitters and pitchers.

The sport without a clock will, someday, have a clock. ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian offered that as one of his predictions for what baseball could look like 20 years from now, which would be one of Rob Manfred’s signature reforms as commissioner. 

This kind of change wouldn’t be necessary, though, if more pitchers were like Mark Buehrle. 

“Buehrle was hyper,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “He wanted to go, go, go.”

No pitcher since 2007 — when Pitch F/X began calculating “pace” — worked faster than Buehrle, who averaged 16.7 seconds between pitches. Only 56 qualified pitchers since 2007 can be considered to work “fast,” i.e. with an average time between pitches of 20 seconds or fewer (it’s a list that includes fellow former White Sox left-handers John Danks and Chris Sale). And that’s only 12 percent of the 473 qualified pitchers in the last decade.

Buehrle’s 99-minute complete game against the Seattle Mariners in 2005 still is the only nine-inning contest to be completed in fewer than 100 minutes since 1984. There was that memorable 1:53 duel with Mark Mulder and the Oakland A’s in 2003, and both Buehrle’s perfect game and no hitter lasted 2:03. 

Of course, Buehrle didn’t just work quick, he pitched well while zipping through innings. Buehrle finished his career with a 3.81 ERA, made four All-Star teams and threw at least 200 innings every year from 2001-2014. He had a .572 career winning percentage, too, so Cooper knew about Buehrle would give the White Sox a chance to win in about six out of every 10 starts.

“But you also know it’s going to be about two hours and 10 minutes, too,” Cooper added. 

A given game’s length isn’t all about the pace of the pitcher, of course. Batters can slow things down by stepping out of the box and calling for time, and games can feel like a slog with replay delays and mid-inning pitching changes. 

Still, how quickly a pitcher works usually dictates the pace of a game and how long it takes to be completed. Cooper wondered why hitters didn’t step out more against Buehrle to disrupt his rhythm, but perhaps the answer is that everyone on the field gets caught up in the quick pace set by the pitcher. 

“Everybody tells me they were so happy when I pitched for a quick game, but every time I was on the bench in between my starts, it was a 3, 3 1/2 hour game and it wasn't very much fun,” Buehrle said. “I think some of these games do get too long. Pitchers take their time, hitters get out of the box. I don't get all that but that's just the way I worked. I just grabbed the ball and went.”

Maybe adding a pitch clock with penalties affecting the count will force pitchers and hitters to find a quicker rhythm. That was one of the hallmarks of Buehrle’s career, and those snappy starts are one of the reasons why No. 56 was such a popular player on 35th and Shields. 

Former manager Ozzie Guillen, in summing up Buehrle's mentality, also offered some free advice for fixing baseball's pace-of-play problem: “Just throw the ball, get people out and have fun.” 

Carlos Rodon to make season debut for White Sox this week

Carlos Rodon to make season debut for White Sox this week

Carlos Rodon’s next start will be with the White Sox.

The 24-year-old southpaw will make his season debut this week, though manager Rick Renteria didn’t give a definitive answer on when it’d be. But he’s likely lined up to pitch Wednesday or Thursday against the New York Yankees.

“I haven’t played here all year,” Rodon said. “I’m going to be a little geeked up and ready to go. Plus I get to face the Yankees, a good team, good swinging bats there.”

Rodon, who has been on the DL with bursitis in his left shoulder since the start of the season, has been sorely missed for a White Sox rotation that’s struggled mightily over the last month. White Sox starters have a 5.32 ERA in their last 30 games with only six quality starts.

Renteria said he’s hoping Rodon can bring some stability.

“We’re glad he’s healthy, we’re glad he’s back,” Renteria said. “We’re hoping he could kind of calm the waters a little bit in the rotation a little bit once he gets to his spot. He’s been down a while so hopefully he can settle into his role quickly, be effective and help us our moving forward.”

His numbers in three rehab starts in Triple-A Charlotte weren’t all that great, but in his final one on Friday, he struck out seven batters and threw 91 pitches. Rodon said that he felt comfortable with his pitches and that his slider was back with an increased velocity.

The only thing that’s left to do is go out and pitch.

“A lot of these guys, once they get back up to where they should be I think they feel a little bit more comfortable up here,” Renteria said. “They’re adrenaline is gonna be a little high. Hopefully it works to his advantage.”