Sox Drawer: 'Trader Kenny' has returned

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Sox Drawer: 'Trader Kenny' has returned

Monday, June 28, 201011:59 AM

By Chuck GarfienCSNChicago.com
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Twins and Tigers, heres a message coming from the front office at U.S. Cellular Field:

"Trader Kenny" is back.

All it took was that incredible 11-game win streak which not only got the Sox back into contention at lightning speed, but allowed Kenny Williams -- one of the most vigorous GMs in baseball -- to do a complete 180.

Two weeks ago he was selling. Now, as Williams tells Comcast SportsNet, he is ready to buy. They are words every White Sox fan wants to hear around this time of year. And now, theyve got them.

"At this point now, obviously we have climbed back into it," Williams said. "Well go back to taking the aggressive stance that weve had previously and have conversations of how we can get better.

And how can they?

The two biggest names out there, in terms of stature, fit, availability and clothing size are left-handed power hitters Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder. Theres also switch-hitting first baseman Lance Berkman and, of course, Adrian Gonzalez.

Back in spring training, Williams admitted that he entered the season concerned about the Sox lack of thump from the left side of the plate. He still does. Is that something hed go after?

"I think its something you have to take a look at," Williams said.

But before you pencil in one of those burly bats between Alex Rios and Paul Konerko in the Sox lineup, Williams continues to support the wishes of Ozzie Guillen, who has told his boss that he can win with this team and doesnt feel the need for a full-time DH.

Just because you have a name player, for instance, who comes in, if the players and Ozzie dont believe in the fit, if that particular player needs to play every day to keep his timing and Ozzie has different plans for mixing and matching the way he has, and thats been successful, I think you have to defer to that, and I also think you have to consider all of the peripheral things that go into the equation.

So far the combination of Mark Kotsay (.213 batting average) and Andruw Jones (.203) have not equaled production at the platoon DH position. In fact, Jones has been M.I.A. for the last month. If their struggles at the plate continue, Williams may be compelled to make a move.

Last week White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said that if the team got back in contention, and the right deal came around, hed allow Williams to add salary. But despite the Sox hot streak, that didnt stop opposing general managers from calling Williams a few days ago to see if he was still considering selling.

I got a few phone calls as a matter of fact saying, You still thinking about doing something? I said, Ahhh, were going to sit tight for a minute, run this out and see what happens.

Despite rumors of imminent deals during the Sox struggles, Williams declares that he never got close to making any trades.

Simply because it takes two to tango, the Sox GM said. And you have a number of teams deciding if theyre in it or not in it. You can only begin the process. But the realities started slapping us in the face with the way we were playing. So I fully admit to you and the public that selling started being a consideration.

After sweeping the Braves in three games last week, veteran slugger Chipper Jones said the White Sox are the best team weve played all month. Meaningful words when you consider the Braves had faced the Twins, Rays, Phillies and Dodgers.

What does Williams think about Jones statement?

I wish hed communicate that to the Twins and Tigers so they could start believing that. But I suspect that they dont believe that, so I think were going to have to go out and prove it. And lets face it, we havent played as consistently as the other clubs, so we have to prove it to a greater degree.

So while every Chicago sports fan focuses this week on the Bulls and their quest for the greatest offseason 1-2 punch in the history of Chicago sports (Lebron James and Chris Bosh), rest assured that Williams will be deep inside his bunker, likely not coming out much until he has something to announce.

What will it be? Who and when?

Stay tuned.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.

But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.

“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens. 

“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”

The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.

In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.

"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."

[MORE: Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right]

Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.

"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."

His struggles continued when he got to The Show.

In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.

"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."

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Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.

"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.

"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.

Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who MLB.com has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again. 

"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."

The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.

The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.

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While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality. 

Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.

"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."

"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."

In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.

When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse. 

Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.