Sox Drawer: What rhymes with MVP? Paulie!

248899.jpg

Sox Drawer: What rhymes with MVP? Paulie!

Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010
6:33 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Somewhere in the state of Ohio lies a baseball tuckered out after traveling a far distance. It started the day buried anonymously in a sack with a dozen other balls, all set to be used, all with different fates.

Some would stay fair. Others would go foul. But this one had another destination in mind: Lake Erie.

Unfortunately, it didnt make it that far. A few fans got in the way. But if the man who tried to put it there keeps it up, the ball might end up representing something bigger.

The start of an MVP campaign.

For the last few weeks, Paul Konerkos name has casually been mentioned as a candidate for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, up there with Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera. But lets be honest, he was a country mile away from getting enough votes to actually win it.

Not anymore.

With the national media tuned in to watch Manny Ramirez make his White Sox debut on Wednesday, there was Konerko doing what hes done all season, blasting a massive three-run bomb in the eighth inning, giving the Sox a thrilling come-from-behind, 6-4 win over the Indians.

Its a captain whos been driving a car with his clutch stuck on clutch all season, and its time the rest of the country knew about it.

Youre excused if you happened to ignore Paulies red-hot April, when he quietly belted 11 home runs to lead the majors. At 34 years old, and in the twilight of his career, who actually thought he was on the verge of an MVP season?

I didnt.You didnt. Konerko probably didnt either.

But game-after-game, week-after-week, the prolonged slumps that have traditionally dogged Konerko in his career have yet to arrive. He just keeps raking, and considering hes in a contract year, hell soon be raking in something else. Tons and tons of dough. But thats a subject for another day.

This is about a mans quest for an MVP award, and here are some numbers to back it up.

Lets start with his home runs which are starting to reach Roy Hobbs Hollywood-type proportions. Of his 33 homers, which is currently second in the American League, 12 have been hit in the eighth inning or later. Three have tied the game. NINE have given the White Sox the lead. Konerko has also helped the Sox breathe a little easier, as four of his home runs have occurred with his team ahead by one.

But its not just when Konerko has been hitting, its who hes been hitting against. Here are the top teams on the White Sox schedule. Has Konerko been there for his team? You bet.

vs. the Twins .390 4 HRs 12 RBIs
vs. the Yankees .400 3 HRs 10 RBIs
vs. the Rangers .344 4 HRs 11 RBIs
vs. the Rays .308 1 HR 3 RBIs
vs. the Braves .417 1 HR 3 RBIs

Throw in the Crosstown Series against the Cubs, which is a playoff-type atmosphere no matter how bad one of the teams might be, Konerko batted .333 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs.

Have you heard about the dog days of August in baseball? Konerko hasnt this year. He just completed the month batting .387. Thats number-one in the major leagues.

And how did he start September? See the top of this very page.

A couple weeks ago, Konerkos season numbers paled in comparison to his toughest competitors, but hes quickly closing the gap:

Konerko .319 33 HR 98 RBI
Hamilton .361 31 HR 97 RBI
Cabrera .340 33 HR 107 RBI
Cano .325 26 HR 90 RBI

In the end, itll come down to those in contention at the end. So you can take Cabreras name off the list. The Tigers are going nowhere. Robinson Cano has had a great season with the Yankees, but lets see if someone from New York can build a case for him thats stronger than Konerkos. You can try, but you'll inevitably fail.

That leaves Hamilton, who has put the Texas Rangers on his back and has kept them in first for weeks. Hes currently in the lead. But if this was a golf tournament, he and Konerko still have a few holes to play. A lot can happen, and watching Paulie all season, you can bet that something will.

My job is a sportscaster. I write with my ABCs. Konerko plays baseball. He's my MVP.

CSN's Dan Hayes meets the White Sox Dan Hayes

CSN's Dan Hayes meets the White Sox Dan Hayes

Is the White Sox clubhouse big enough for two Dan Hayeses?

We're about to find out this spring training as CSN White Sox Insider Dan Hayes covers the team, which includes first base prospect Danny Hayes.

The Sox prospect Hayes battled .250 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 55 games for Charlotte last season.

The big-league hopeful and White Sox beat reporter spoke with CSN's Chuck Garfien about the similarities the two (don't) have.

No word yet on whether they'll battle the two Rougned Odors and Geovani/Geovany Sotos to an Anchoman-style duel.

Check it all out in the hilarious video above.

Yoan Moncada working to learn White Sox culture

Yoan Moncada working to learn White Sox culture

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yoan Moncada is still trying to familiarize himself with the White Sox but his new club probably don’t feel all that unfamiliar.

At the very least, the rookie second baseman has a strong support group in his first week of spring training. Whether is a seat next to Jose Abreu in the clubhouse, chats with Jose Quintana on the field, or the comfort provided with a manager who speaks the same language, the White Sox clearly want their prized prospect to adapt to his new team. Already in town for the past few days, Moncada participated in the club’s first full-squad workout on Saturday at Camelback Ranch.

“I’m just trying to get to know the culture here, the guys, the staff, the players, how they like to work,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “And so far I’ve been good. Also, the change of the city and state, especially in spring training, I’m getting to know that a little bit better right now.”

Moncada’s comfort is only likely to grow now that Abreu is also in town. The veteran first baseman reported to camp around noon on Saturday (his flight was delayed by weather) and took his physical. Abreu and Moncada played together in 2012 for Cienfuegos and they spent much of the weekend at SoxFest together having fun. Abreu has spoke glowingly about Moncada, who came over from Boston in the Chris Sale trade, and is interested in helping him get comfortable at the big league level. Moncada, who debuted last season, likes having Abreu around.

“That’s a good advantage for me,” Moncada said. “I know him. He knows me. We played together in Cuba. We haven’t yet had the opportunity to practice together. Today was our first day and he wasn’t here, but that’s something that is going to be very good for me.”

So too is the addition of manager Rick Renteria, who is bilingual and addressed his clubhouse in both languages on Saturday. While he’s only getting to know his new teammates and coaches, Moncada is comfortable with the knowledge he can clearly communicate with the man in charge. All those elements should pave the way for Moncada to maximize his development in camp rather than worry about things off the field.

“He’s an excellent manager,” Moncada said. “He can speak both languages, especially Spanish for me, I can communicate with him. That’s a huge advantage for me and I like that. I think that we are going to have a very good season and we are just waiting for the season to start.”