Sox Drawer: Kenny Downplays Matsui Rumors

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Sox Drawer: Kenny Downplays Matsui Rumors

Wednesday, December 9th

5:07 pm

If the White Sox are unable to sign free agent reliever (and Matt Thornton buddy) J.J. Putz, I guess you can put the blame on Sun-Times Sox beat writer Joe Cowley. Joe reported yesterday that the Sox had asked Thornton to place a call into Putz about coming to the Sox. Once the story spread across the World Wide Web, Williams sensed a change in talks, and now feels like a deal won't happen.

"We thought we had something going on," Williams said. "But as I've told you guys many times before when things become public to a large degree the entire game changes and most times or not, you're not going to get a deal. So something we thought we might be a little closer on becomes public. Now it's not so close."

3:26 pm

Don't buy those White Sox Hideki Matsui jerseys just yet.

Kenny Williams used his media session today to downplay reports that the Sox are close to a deal with the longtime New York Yankees outfielder.

"All I've said is he's a great player," Williams said.

Actually Kenny called Matsui a "good" player yesterday, so reading between the lines, it means...ummmm...nothing. Sorry.

He continued, "I never said that we were pursuing him. I'm not going to say that we're not because I don't know how the rest of the off-season is going to develop. But certainly in recent times I haven't had any discussions with regards to him. More interest has been written and spoken about than we've pursued recently."

One of the hurdles for Matsui might be his desire to return to the Yankees. However, with the Bombers getting Curtis Granderson and with Johnny Damon also a free agent, there are some serious question marks about what New York plans to do with its outfield.
Matsui might wait until he hears definitively from the Yankees about their plans before listening to other offers.

Still, Williams is up to something. If not Matsui, there could be another deal in the picture.

"I can do something within the next 5 minutes, or it could be nothing. I don't know," Williams said.

Minutes later, he then lowered expectations of a move when asked about the amount of money he has to play with. "We're tight. We're really tight. I don't know that we'll do anything. I don't anticipate it."

So there you go.

One of the most interesting comments from Williams came when he was asked about the Cubs Milton Bradley, who as I write this, is still Cubs property.

"The funny thing is, I've had the pleasure of talking to Milton in the past, and it saddens me to a great extent actually some of the things he's been put in or put himself in. I'd like to see this guy go out there without all the distractions and everything and do what he can do, because this guy can play."

Well, the White Sox can use a left-handed bat (or switch hitter in Milton's case) who plays the outfield, can DH, and has a high on-base percentage. Would the Sox dare enter the Bradley sweepstakes?

"I don't know that I see a fit for us," Williams said. "And I probably shouldn't even be talking about him because he's not our player, but Milton Bradley can play. And it's just too bad because he's a more thoughtful person and a better person than I think he has been portrayed or he's shown or however it has manifested itself. It's too bad."

Williams ended his Bradley comments with "I'm staying out of Cubs business."

But after his session with Chicago media, Kenny had other business to attend to, like the massive Japanese media contingency that was anxiously waiting outside the door, ready to pepper the Sox GM about Japanese icon, Matsui.

It was quite a scene. We'll have it for you tonight on SportsNite at 6:30 and 10pm.

Williams repeated his Matsui stance saying, "We haven't had enough substantial conversations with his representatives or himself to even think there could be a real possibility right now."

Whether the Sox get Matsui or anyone for that matter, Williams made one thing very clear.

"I will not disrespect anyone by calling them or making contact until I'm serious. And then when I'm serious about something, things move very quickly. We're either in or we're out."

10:16 am

Not sure if you've noticed, but a seismic dose of economic reality has hit the American League Central, and it has taken a thunderous whack at the White Sox main competition. In fact, the Sox should be theoretically better because their rivals are on the road to getting worse.

Let's take a look at the recent damage:

The Twins lost Johan Santana. They couldn't afford him. The Indians traded away C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Ditto and ditto. And now comes the latest exodus: The Tigers have waved bon voyage to Curtis Granderson, their center fielder, their leadoff hitter (tough to find, ask the Sox), not to mention their charismatic face of the franchise.

The Tigers did trade for and sign Miguel Cabrera to that monster eight-year, 156 million contract in 2008. Something tells me he'll be the next to go. Maybe not this year, but eventually.

So where did all of these former Central All-Stars end up?

Santana to the Mets. Sabathia to the Yankees (via Milwaukee). Lee to the Phillies. And now Granderson joins Sabathia in the Bronx.

See a pattern?

And what did the Sox rivals get in return? We'll probably know in a couple of years. But in the Twins case, the verdict is about to be read:

The Twins, guilty on all counts for not spending enough money.

Granted, they still made the playoffs in 2009, and were a Blackout game from getting there in 2008, but if they were able to keep Santana, arguably the best pitcher in the game, they could have gone much further.

But instead, the Twins traded him to the Mets before he became a free agent, and hoped the deal would give them a bright and cheaper future.

The trade hasn't been. Bright that is.

The key player for the Twins in the Santana trade was Carlos Gomez. Two years later, where's Carlos? Sent to the Brewers this offseason for J.J. Hardy. As for the three other players the Twins received, Kevin Mulvey was dealt to Arizona in September as the player to be named later in a deal for pitcher Jon Rauch. Philip Humber pitched nine innings for the Twins last season, giving up eight runs and nine walks. Deolis Guerra went 6-3 with 5.17 ERA in Double-A.

Advantage: Mets.

The Twins are hoping to see an added revenue stream in their new outdoor ballpark. But I'm not sure how many people want to eat frozen hot dogs come April and September. Maybe they can serve them on a stick.

What will Kenny Williams be serving when he meets with the media later this afternoon? Matsui on a platter? Putz a la king? Coco Crisp for dessert?

As the Sox GM said Tuesday, "We might as well do something. Jerry Reinsdorf is paying a lot of money for the rooms."

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

Crain's Chicago Business released its latest 40 under 40 project and White Sox announcer Jason Benetti made this year's list.

The 33-year-old just finished his first season with the White Sox as play-by-play announcer, working the home games at U.S. Cellular Field (before it was renamed Guaranteed Rate Field last month) alongside Steve Stone as longtime broadcaster Hawk Harrelson saw his workload reduced to mostly road games.

Benetti quickly became a fan favorite among Chicagoans on CSN and other networks in 2016 and his cerebral palsy became more of a backstory, with his work alongside Stone and his affable sense of humor taking center stage instead.

Among other topics, Benetti discussed how he approaches his job of broadcasting for the team he grew up rooting for:

Law school taught me that there are always two sides of the argument. I see it from the Sox prism, but I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that, if the Sox lose, the world’s over anymore. That first game, I was like, “All right, it’s just a game.” And then Avi Garcia hits a homer late in the game against the Indians and I call it like I would call it with a little more. And as the ball cleared the fence, when it was rolling around, I got a slight tear in my eye. And I was like, “What’s that?”

Check out the entire interview with Benetti and the full list at ChicagoBusiness.com.

White Sox reportedly asking for No. 1 prospect plus more in trade return for Chris Sale

White Sox reportedly asking for No. 1 prospect plus more in trade return for Chris Sale

The White Sox could be open for business when the Winter Meetings begin on Sunday in Maryland, with ace left-hander Chris Sale likely to draw the most interest at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. 

The price for the five-time All-Star, of course, will be steep. ESPN’s Jayson Stark offered this as to just how steep it’ll be: To acquire Sale, a team will have to part with its No. 1 prospect plus at least two more players. 

The starting point for the White Sox, according to Stark, will be last offseason’s Shelby Miller trade in which the Arizona Diamondbacks sent former No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson to the Atlanta Braves to acquire the 26-year-old right-hander. 

Miller was coming off a strong season in 2015, in which he crossed the 200-inning threshold for the first time and posted a career best 3.02 ERA. But Miller hadn’t come close to establishing the success Sale has at the time of the trade, spending just three seasons in the starting rotations of the Braves and St. Louis Cardinals without eye-popping peripherals (he had a 4.54 FIP in 2014, for example). And the Braves still managed to swipe Swanson away from a Diamondbacks team that went all in for the 2016 season (and crashed to a 69-93 record with Miller having a 6.15 ERA). 

Only three pitchers — Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and David Price — have racked up more WAR than Sale (26.2) since the start of the 2012 season, and Sale is one of seven starters to have 1,000 or more strikeouts over the last five seasons, too. Durability hasn’t been an issue for Sale, either, as he’s tied for second in baseball with 14 complete games since 2012 (only behind Kershaw) and has thrown the 12th-most innings of any pitcher in the last five years, too. 

That’s the Cliff’s Notes version of why Sale will command such a high price. So that’s why, on MLB Network on Friday, Jon Heyman threw out the following names that could be discussed: Washington Nationals infielder/outfielder Trea Turner, Houston Astros infielder Alex Bregman, Boston Red Sox outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. and Red Sox infielder Yoan Moncada. 

Not only are those guys top prospects, but every one them outside of Moncada has had more than a cup of coffee in the major leagues. Whether or not the White Sox could pry one of those players, or someone of their caliber, away from a team in a Sale trade remains to be seen. 

The price may come down, as Stark reported, but the starting point in the Sale sweepstakes certainly appears to be high.