Chicago White Sox

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.

Why Yoan Moncada's slow start with White Sox could soon be a thing of the past

Why Yoan Moncada's slow start with White Sox could soon be a thing of the past

Yoan Moncada wrapped up his first Crosstown Series — in front of the closest thing to a playoff atmosphere he’ll experience in, likely, a while — with an 0-4 showing in the White Sox 6-3 loss to the Cubs on Thursday. 

The 22-year-old had mixed results facing the defending World Series champions, striking out four times in five at-bats on Monday and hitting his first career home run off Jake Arrieta on Wednesday. His final numbers for these four Crosstown games: 17 plate appearances, two hits, two walks, two runs, eight strikeouts and one hit by pitch. 

Moncada is off to a slow start in his second stint in the majors, but he’s drawing plenty of walks (12.5 percent) and probably has been victimized by some bad luck (a .118 batting average on balls in play which, to say the least, is exceedingly low). 

Manager Rick Renteria, though, likes Moncada’s even-keeled demeanor and his ability to handle the ups and downs of the day-to-day grind of the regular season. 

“What he’s going to be able to do is minimize how much he gets wrapped up in frustration, as opposed to taking the at-bat, the last at-bat, going through pitch by pitch and trying to figure out what it was he wrapped in his approach,” Renteria said. “Younger players usually get very, very frustrated and lose that moment to gain some knowledge. Failure is not in and of itself a bad thing. It’s actually something that can produce a lot of positives. The thing is to try to get them to understand as quickly as possible so they can take those moments and gain information. 

“That’s why his even-keeled approach and even-keeled attitude (will help). He’s got fire. It’s not that he doesn’t care. That’s where people — for a lot of players who are calm or even-keeled, they have fire, they have desire, but they know how to compartmentalize and separate those things and try to gain something from every moment, positive or negative.”

Moncada already took that clear-eyed approach to self-evaluation in the minor leagues, and said that hasn’t changed now that he’s at baseball’s highest level. 

“I’m just keeping the same routine that I was using in the minors,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “And the whole year, I’m just keeping with the things that have been giving me results.”

There’s not much of a common thread between Moncada’s brief call-up with the Boston Red Sox last September and his first few games with the White Sox. Moncada was overmatched in his 2016 debut, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances and only drawing one walk. He had four hits, though, so his way-too-small-sample-size BABIP was .571. 

Moncada looks like a different player this year, carrying over his strong Triple-A walk rate (13.6 percent) to his nascent tenure with the White Sox. Eventually, the hits are likely to start falling as long as he doesn’t get out of the approach that got him here — and made him baseball’s biggest prospect in the process. 

“He’s been doing all the work that he has to do to adjust to this level,” first baseman Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “He’s been doing his same routine from Triple-A and I think that’s something good because you have to stick with the things that are giving you good results.” 

Anthony Rizzo: More than talent needed for successful rebuild

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USA TODAY

Anthony Rizzo: More than talent needed for successful rebuild

Nearly eight months into their rebuild, the White Sox have accrued an eye-popping amount of young talent. The franchise continues to receive kudos even in trading a pair of relievers this week to add depth to what might be the best farm system in baseball.

But having the best farm system -- the White Sox have eight of MLBPipeline.com’s top 100 prospects -- won’t mean much until it’s realized.

Well versed on the subject having experienced it on his own, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo acknowledged before Thursday’s 6-3 win over the White Sox just how uncertain the rebuilding process can be. In Rizzo’s eyes, it wasn’t just talent that got the Cubs over the hump, it was timing, too.

“It happened fast, but it could have went the other way, too,” Rizzo said. “We’re lucky with how everything turned out. Plus, a lot of hard work has gone into it.”

[MORE: Aaron Bummer on what it's like to get called up to the majors]

Similar to Yoan Moncada’s arrival last week, Rizzo was the first [hyped prospect to be promoted] after Theo Epstein’s plan went into place. Acquired the previous winter from San Diego, Rizzo reached the majors midway through the 2012 season with the Cubs only a few months into their rebuild. The three-time All-Star didn’t know it at the time, but he was the first new face the Cubs would introduce to their audience. While Rizzo often [was aware of skepticism of Epstein’s plan], he said he never felt the same pressure from fans. Rizzo also said he can understand why not all the Cubs faithful were on board.

“I think I was naïve and happy to be back in the big leagues,” Rizzo said. “You’ve just got to focus on playing baseball and not worry about everything else that you can’t control.

“I didn’t feel (pressure) at all. I know people were calling for the upper front office’s jobs. But they had a plan and they had a vision and they preached it the entire time.”

“As a fan I can understand why you get upset because you want to win. As a fan of football or whatever sport, if my team doesn’t win, I get mad. But obviously they knew what they were doing.”

So far the White Sox fan base has been mostly supportive of Rick Hahn’s efforts and embraced the idea of building through the farm system. But not everyone is on board with a 25-man roster teardown that appears to have the club hurtling toward its first 100-loss season since 1970.

This week’s Crosstown series is a reminder there are tough times ahead for the White Sox.

The Cubs lost a combined 197 games in 2012 and 2013 and 89 games in 2014. The second half of the 2017 season could be extremely difficult for a White Sox club that has traded Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak and Dan Jennings all since December.

Rizzo thinks the way the Cubs handled those difficulties played into their success in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s life,” Rizzo said. “There are tough times in anything. There are going to be good times and bad times so it’s all about how you approach it and how you handle it.

“We always knew the potential we had, it was just a matter of going out and doing it. Ball’s bouncing your way, calls going your way and staying together.”