Chicago White Sox

Steve Stone's mailbag: Manny with Sox next season?

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Steve Stone's mailbag: Manny with Sox next season?

Monday, Sept. 20, 2010
11:38 AM
Steve Stone dives into his mailbag toanswer your questions about Manny Ramirez, Paul Konerko's AL MVP chances, Tyler Colvin's possible move to first base and more!

Scott - Chicago, IL: Do you think Manny Ramirez will be with the White Sox next season?

Steve Stone: As of this writing, Manny Ramirez has 1 RBI and 1 home run. I appreciate the fact that he needs to go through a bit of a spring training. That being said, its a shame he had to go through spring training when we were fighting for our lives in a division race. Now, I personally would not have him on the team, if nothing else, to get rid of his hair.

Robert - Lake Zurich, Illinois: Would Paul Konerko get your vote for AL MVP?

Stone: No. The White Sox are going to finish multiple games back of Minnesota and they will finish multiple back of the Wild Card. Normally when a team that doesn't win it produces an MVP, it means there was a number of other people who didn't have a great year. My MVP vote in the AL would go to Josh Hamilton even though Texas stayed afloat, he has been hitting in the .360 range, and in the top of almost every category. Texas is a somewhat surprise winner in the west and Hamilton would get my vote.

Rene - Chicago, IL: Do you think the Cubs shouldwill move Tyler Colvin to first base next season?

Stone: I think it all depends on the type of power they think he can produce and what happens to Fukudome. I think it is time for Fukudome to move elsewhere and they have to make a decision on what they want to do with their baseball team, which direction they are going in and essentially, how much will they spend to get then. Then and only then I'd consider him playing first base. I'm not sure if he can play it and that becomes problematic. You want to do things to help your defense and not hurt it. There is a long way to go to make him an asset defensively. Too many questions to be answered to be definite.
Kevin - Los Angeles, CA: What is the future of Jeff Samardzija? Do you think he will end up in the Cubs starting rotation soon? Or is he best suited to be in the bullpen?

Stone: I think Jeff will most likely end up in the Cubs bullpen. I think he needs help on his secondary pitches. The CUbs spent a ridiculous amount of money on him but that being said, it's already spent and he could help. Bear in mind, look what happened last year with four youngsters in the bullpen which was disastrous - I don't think they can afford the same thing this year.

Richard - Wheaton, IL: Who wins the AL East? Will the Yankees be able to hold on or will the Rays take it this year?

Stone: If the Wild Card comes out of the East, they can't run into each other as they head into post season play which means that the division winner is going to get Texas, most likely. The Wild Card team is going to get Minnesota most likely. From the Twins standpoint, I don't think they want to play the Yankees. They are hoping for the Yankees to win it - then having the best record between themselves and Texas, they would get Tampa Bay int he first round. All four teams that are going to get in are fully capable of winning a series if they don't have home field advantage.

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

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USA TODAY

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

Put the shift on against Nicky Delmonico and he’s going to drop down a bunt to beat you.

The White Sox rookie has tried his solution for shift-happy defenses already three times this season and it’s worked in each instance.

And while its undoubtedly the long ball -- he’s hit five home runs -- that has caught everyone’s attention during the White Sox rookie’s unbelievable start, don’t overlook the little things, especially Delmonico’s ability to bunt for a hit and the impact it’s had on opposing defenses.

Whenever opponents try to employ a shift, and they’ve done it more often this season, Delmonico has shown no fear in trying to beat them with a bunt down the third-base line.

He bunted for a single in Sunday’s win when he reached base three times to bring his on-base percentage to .451 through 71 plate appearances. There’s no question that forcing defenses to play him straight up is partly responsible for Delmonico reaching base safely in 15 of 17 games to start his major league career.

“It opens up a hole,” Delmonico said. “There’s been a lot of times in Charlotte where you hit a hard ground ball through the four hole and think it’s a hit, but then there’s a guy deep in right field. You want those (to be hits). Any time you can take advantage of bunting and show you can bunt they’ll move out of the shift.”

Take a look at Delmonico’s spray chart and it’ll tell you he’s pull-happy. He’s pulled 47.9 percent of all balls put in play since reaching the majors, according to Fangraphs.com. Were he to be qualified for a batting title, Delmonico would currently be 15th in pull percentage in baseball, easily within range of leader Salvador Perez’s 54.6 percent.

Either way, Delmonico’s spray chart is the type that often leads defenses to load up three gloves on the right side of the infield no matter the count (teams tend to shift to a hitter’s pull side most often with two strikes).

But Delmonico has made them think twice --- at least early in the count.

“Any time I see them all over that’s when it’s the best time to lay one down,” Delmonico said. “You’ve just got to get it past the pitcher and fair.”

You also have to catch the attention of advance scouts. Based on the way he’s been defended so far, hitting coach Todd Steverson thinks opponents have taken notice of Delmonico’s skills.

“It’s got to be in their notes,” Steverson said. “It’s got to be in their data: “This guy will bunt.” Even just the words “he will bunt” keeps somebody close for a minute before they move to another spot. If you have none, then they don’t have to do nothing.

“They want to play him in the full shift. That’s what they did to him from the get-go. He dropped two bunts down on them and said ‘Ok.’ ”

Delmonico said he’s seen an increased number of shifts since reached Triple-A two years ago.

“But it was all different kinds of shifts,” Delmonico said. “Very rarely I would see them all over until two strikes.”

Delmonico works on bunting the same as anyone else. There’s the round he takes each day at the start of batting practice each day. And every few weeks or so, Charlotte brought out the pitching machine.

But what may make him standout are his confidence and conviction. While Delmonico realizes he may be taking the potential for extra bases out of his hands for one at-bat, he’s knows he’s still giving himself a chance to jumpstart a rally and he’s creating a world of opportunities for the rest of his trips to the plate.

“I feel like they’re pretty good,” Delmonico said. “I’ve worked a lot on it the last two years because I know eventually they will shift and to get that hole open you’ve got to prove to them that you will bunt.

“Overall it helps you out and two, it gives you a chance to get on base and get going. That’s the biggest thing for me.”

White Sox Road Ahead: Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer set for first White Sox starts

White Sox Road Ahead: Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer set for first White Sox starts

On this week's Honda Road Ahead, sponsored by Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Honda dealers, Bill Melton and Chuck Garfien talk about the upcoming starts for young pitchers Carson Fulmer and Lucas Giolito.

With the White Sox rebuild sucking up all the attention from fans of the team this year, Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer have been names in any conversation about the future of the team.

Fulmer, the first-round pick of the White Sox in 2015, made his big league debut with the White Sox last year, but it was as a reliever. This time Fulmer will get the start in the second game of Monday's doubleheader against the Twins.

In eight relief appearances with the White Sox last season, he walked seven in 11 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and an 8.49 ERA. This season Fulmer has returned to starting with Triple-A Charlotte and has a 5.61 ERA with 95 strikeouts and 63 walks in 122 innings.

"I'd like to see Carson Fulmer throw more strikes," Melton said. "Maybe that's all I want to see because I remember when he was here last year he had a tough time coming out of the pen because he was a starter and he wasn't throwing a lot of strikes. So I think the key for me to watch him is, just forget about guys getting hits or hitting balls out of the park, I want to see if he's getting it over the plate, how many times he's ahead of the hitters."

Giolito will make his White Sox debut on Tuesday. Like Fulmer, the 23-year-old has some major league experience. Giolito pitched 21 1/3 innings in four starts and two relief appearances last year with the Nationals. He posted a 6.75 ERA with 11 strikeouts and 12 walks.

The White Sox acquired Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade in the offseason and he hasn't had the smoothest of seasons as a teammate of Fulmer's in Charlotte. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has a 4.48 ERA with 134 strikeouts and 59 walks in 128 2/3 innings for the Knights.

Those numbers aren't going to excite fans, but he has been pitching better lately. In his last five starts, Giolito has a 1.71 ERA (six earned runs in 31 2/3 innings) with 28 strikeouts and 11 walks.

"This is a tall guy, he's a velocity guy, he's a strikeout guy so I'm going to be watching that," Melton said. "And again, nerves. There's nothing wrong with that. First time in front of a Chicago fan base and stuff like that. But a guy that big, I'm more interested in seeing how his breaking ball is. If he starts bouncing it in the dirt, a little nervous. He's got such a good one. I want to see him get ahead of the hitters and see how he puts them away."

Watch the video above to see Garfien and Melton talk about the two White Sox pitching prospects.