Chicago White Sox

Random News of the Day: I think I can, I think I can...

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Random News of the Day: I think I can, I think I can...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
1:21 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

It's amazing how words and phrases can become a part of our daily discourse:

"Staycation"

"At the end of the day..."

"Bromance"

"I know, right?"

You hear them all the time. They're like chewed up pieces of Bubblicious. They tend to stick around. And we're the shag carpeting that holds them for an eternity.

I was barhopping a few nights ago (I'm 31 and beyond all help) and took part in a few White Sox conversations. A lot of the talk started with something like this:

"So, you think the White Sox can win another 11 straight?"

"So you think the Sox can take the Central?"

"So you think the Sox can go all the way?"

For the record, I think they can win at least the Central. And quite frankly, they should. Granted, Minnesota will piranha their way near the top. They always do. Detroit has a potential Triple Crown candidate in Miguel Cabrera. They're not going away any time soon. But at the end of the day (there's that phrase again), I think the Sox pitching staff is just deep enough ... even without Jake Peavy. And if their hitting can stay fairly consistent, they're in. Of course, the trading deadline and the ensuing two months will have something to do with it, too. But you know that Kenny Williams will be lurking around July 31.

Another question that was tossed around: "So you think Kenny Williams will make a trade come July 31?" It depends on who you believe. The Sox GM was quoted last night as saying, "I don't see anything materializing." Some people might take that for face value. I see it as a smokescreen. You just know that he has something cooking. Right? If there's one person who loves these kind of cryptic soundbites, it would have to be Kenny Williams.

Random tangent: back to the words and phrases for a moment. I mentioned "So you think..." a few times. This phrase has become commonplace in our society. Heck, the Fox network has an amateur dance show built around the phrase itself. Somewhere in my quest for another round of drinks, I thought, "Hey ... shouldn't there be more shows built around the 'So You Think You Can...' craze?" I think so ... especially if you cater it to the sports mindset. I immediately thought of a slew of ideas. For instance:

So, You Think You Know Fantasy Football... Doesn't this guy just drive you nuts? Every stat. Every draft. Every trade. Every game. Every year. From August to January, he won't shut his mouth: "Haa ... Peyton Manning?!? He's going to have a bad year eventually! You're stupid for taking him!" Or, "My backup tight end could beat your team all by himself!" In this show, that guy has to put up 10,000 for that year's entry fee. The others put up 100. If he doesn't claim first prize, his money gets split evenly with the rest of the league. And he has to stand at the 50-yard line, without pads, and have an unblocked Julius Peppers light him up.

So, You Think You Can Parallel Park... Forget the Wal-Mart parking lot in Aurora. Or the Lowe's on the South Side. And don't even think about a vast train station lot that fades into the horizon. "So, You Think You Can Parallel Park..." places you near Chicago's Rush & Division on a Saturday night. You drive a '74 Buick Regal -- with jagged, rusty bumpers -- in and around pedestrians looking for rock star parking. The moment you hear a cabbie's horn, a curse word or mock laughter from someone in a bachelorette party, game over.

So, You Think You Can Play Company Softball... Ever have that Johnny Tough Guy type that walks around the diamond like he owns the place? Don't worry. In "So, You Think You Can Play Company Softball...", Johnny gets duped by a ringer on the other team. Eric Gagne guest stars as the guy throwing a 90-mph brushback pitch. And hey, what else is Gagne doing these days? He can start his comeback on a reality show. If Johnny can't catch up with the heat, he loses his upper-level management job and goes to the mail room. Done.

So You Think You Can Dance -- At Weddings... You've plowed through the vinaigrette salad, chicken Vesuvio, lemon sorbet, a painfully annoying best man speech and a mind-numbingly bad "From This Moment On" first dance. Now it's time for you to shine! Fire up Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock & Roll" or that bumper car stampede that is Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot". YOU have to be the only one left on the floor at the end of the night. All you need is your Sears tie knotted around your forehead, an untucked sweated-up dress shirt and a never-ending supply of determination. Act now and earn a permanent spot in the "Creepy Uncle" hall of fame!

But anyway...

When it comes to moves around the trading deadline, very few general managers in baseball can compare with Kenny Williams. Granted, a lot of his best moves have come 'off peak' -- Joe Borchard for Matt Thornton as an example (spring 2006). But he can also dominate beforeafter the trading deadline (see: Alex Rios). Pardon the reference that Homer Simpson once made, but Kenny Williams is like that guy in the background of ninja movie fighting sequences. He's quiet. You barely notice him. He has that sly grin on his face. And you just know he's going to do some damage when it's his turn. And you better look out when that time comes.

So you think Kenny Williams will make a splash come July 31?

I think he can.

Or something like that.

Joe Collins is an assignment desk editor for Comcast SportsNet and contributor to CSNChicago.com.

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia's 'big head' isn't getting in the way of defensive improvements

Avisail Garcia's "big head" almost cost the White Sox on Friday night. At least, that's Reynaldo Lopez's humorous theory. 

With the game on the line and the Royals' tying run dashing for the plate, Garcia slipped a bit before making a clutch recovery to nail Whit Merrifield. The craziness continued after the tag as Narvaez caught Lorenzo Cain drifting off first base to seal a win. 

"I was watching the game on the TV here," Lopez said, "and then when I saw the hit from Cain, and I saw that Avi fell down because he has a big head, I was concerned but at the same time I saw that his throw, he has a good arm and he made a very good throw." 

Just your average 9-2-4-6 double play to end a game on the South Side, right? 

"Obviously, when he slipped we took a little gasp," Renteria said. "But we were talking about his body control to be able to maintain himself enough to get up and make the throw that he did. Unbelievable. It's a pretty exciting finish to a ballgame that kind of got a little ugly early on."

Ugly is an apt way to describe the first few innings. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada both made errors in the Royals' six-run third inning, and Lopez capped it off with a wild pitch that allowed Eric Hosmer to score. But it went from an eyesore loss to a solid rebuild win from there, and Garcia's defense -- of all things -- played a significant role. 

Garcia's outfield assist in the ninth was his second of the game. The first, an absolute strike to cut down Alex Gordon in the sixth, didn't involve a slip, though. 

And while much has been made of Garcia's breakout year with the bat, he believes his defense is hugely improved, too. 

"I think 100 percent," he said. "I just try to get better every day with hitting and defense. That’s baseball so get better in everything."

He has 12 outfield assists on the season, up from five a year ago. And despite his overall fielding percentage being down, his strong arm may give him a stronger defensive reputation. 

"Since last year, he's always had an excellent arm," Renteria said. "I think his accuracy is something to be pointed out too because as off balance as he was, he's made some throws to the plate that have been really spot on."

Renteria attributes Garcia's accuracy to the outfielder putting in extra time with Daryl Boston. 

"(Boston) has those guys throwing, and none of you guys are out there watching them work, but they'll throw quite a bit to the bases, especially second base," Renteria said. "They'll get deep and they'll work on doing that, so that's just a part of their routine."

The evolution of Avi carries on. 

Forget about it: Yoan Moncada's ability to play through mistakes

Forget about it: Yoan Moncada's ability to play through mistakes

Yoan Moncada could have mentally taken himself out of Friday’s game in the third inning.

The White Sox prized prospect booted a routine groundball in the frame, contributing to a long, damaging Royals rally. A few singles, a Tim Anderson error and five runs later, it seemed as if the inning would never end on the South Side.

Mercifully, the Sox were finally able to return to their dugout because Moncada refocused and refused to allow one physical error to compound. 

The skilled second baseman ranged up the middle to scoop a hard-hit Brandon Moss grounder, preventing any further damage. One inning later, he pummeled a two-run blast to center to give the White Sox the lead for good.

It’s that type of short-term memory that has impressed the Sox in his first major league showing with the club.

"I don't think he consumes himself too much in the mistake,” Rick Renteria said after the 7-6 win. “Maybe he's just thinking about what he's trying to do the next time."

Moncada’s quite polished for a 22-year-old infielder who hasn’t even played a full season in the majors. His athletic ability allows him to make the highlight-reel plays frequently, so now it's about continuing to work on his fundamentals. 

“He's really improved significantly since he's gotten here,” Renteria said. “Not trying to be too flashy. The great plays that he makes just take care of themselves. He's got tremendous ability.” 

Since being called up, Moncada has added value to what is the arguably the best second base fielding team in the MLB. Although no defensive metric is perfect, between Moncada, Tyler Saladino and Yolmer Sanchez, the White Sox second basemen lead the league with 19 defensive runs saved above average. The Pirates have the next highest amount of runs saved by second basemen with 10, according to Baseball-Reference. 

With the enormous range, though, comes the inexperience. In just 46 games, Moncada has tallied eight errors. 

"It happens to the best of them," Renteria said. "He's one of the young men, along with (Anderson) and even (Jose Abreu), who are looking to improve a particular skill, which is defending."

It serves as a reminder that the likely infield of the future still has a ways to go.