Steve Stone's Mailbag: Peavy's Struggles, Colvin

Steve Stone's Mailbag: Peavy's Struggles, Colvin

Thursday, April 29, 2010
9:02 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag to answer some of your questions about Carlos Zambrano in the bullpen, Jake Peavy's struggles and more!

Question from Joaquin - Houston, TX: What do you think of the Cubs moving Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen? How long do you think will he be there?

Steve Stone: I think Carlos will be in the bullpen until he goes completely crazy and then he will go have a meeting with Lou and either be taken out of the bullpen or taken out of town. I don't think you pay 18 million to a guy to be a setup man. I think his ego will only allow him to be there so long. I understand there are some rumblings at this point and I understand why they made the move. They want someone in the 8th inning that can strike the occasional hitter out. I think the Cubs know that when you are the opening day starter and you view yourself as the ace of the staff, moving to a setup man is a demotion. I remember a couple of political candidates putting lipstick on a pig and you can call that job anything you want to call it, and certainly is essential to the ball club. I think Carlos cares about what happens to him so don't be surprised to hear he is going back to the starting rotation or you hear a big explosion over Addison Street.

Question from David - Chicago, IL: Do you think Tyler Colvin will be a starting outfielder in the near future?

Stone: It will be very difficult for them to make him that though he has shown he has a lot of talent. But because Jim Hendry has signed Xavier Nady and they owe this year and next year to the tune of 28 million to Kosuke Fukudome. They also have another 4 years and 5 month obligation to their fine left fielder, Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd is a really solid center fielder who happens to be hitting the ball very well. So, unless Colvin can play second base, I don't see him playing everyday.
Question from Amie - Westmont, IL: I worry that the White Sox are relying on the home run too much, do you think that is an issue?

Stone: I don't think a team plans to just rely on a home run, in fact this is a team that has a lot more speed than recent White Sox teams. That being said, Gordon Beckham who can run hasn't been getting on and finally missed a ball game last night after going through a protracted slump. You have Juan Pierre hitting .115. If you aren't getting on base, you look like you are a team relying on home runs. Ozzie would love to use the running game but to use it, you have to have your runners get on base. That has not been the case for the Sox consistently to this point. If that doesn't turn around, they will have some problems. Though there are some guys who can hit home runs, I don't believe in the long haul, they can win or contend for the Wild Card simply with the long ball.

Question from Drake - West Chicago, IL: What's been going on with Jake Peavy? He doesn't seem like the pitcher we saw last fall in a Sox uniform.

Stone: One thing you have to understand, when Jake Peavy started his three games and won all three, he had rested almost the entire season and he was facing some guys who have played the entire season. The advantage went to him and he threw well. Spring training he did not start or finish well. In his five starts, it hasn't been pretty. One thing Jake did do that gives hope that after a disastrous first inning, he turned around and held that team into the 7th inning. Most pitchers would not have been capable of doing that. Do they need Jake to turn it on to become the Peavy of Old? Yes they do. Jake just has to make a couple of adjustments to his game. He has always been a fly ball pitcher and always in the National League. In the American League they probably have better hitters across the board and he is playing in the ball park where fly balls end up as souvenirs. The adjustment is going to have to be made by Jake. If he doesn't make that adjustment, it could be a long year for the Sox.

Question from Tommy - Glen Ellyn: Is Steven Strasburg the real deal? And when do you think we will see him in the majors?

Stone: Steven is indeed the real deal having watched him in the Fall League. There is no doubt he could start right now. Most teams are hesitant to bring a player up and start the clock running on arbitration and free agency. Look for about the middle of May which will allow Washington to control his rights for a year longer for arbitration and a year longer for free agency and miraculously he will have enough experience to come to the Majors. This is something most teams do, in fact you may remain Evan Longoria did not start his rookie season in the Majors for the Rays. It wasn't until toward the end of April when he signed his 7-year contract taking him out of his arbitration years and one free agent year where he burst on the scene becoming Rookie of the Year. They did not want to start the clock on his service time. It worked out pretty well for Tampa Bay as they have one of the most destructive 3rd basemen in the game, this year Longoria is hitting .325 and usually plays a golden glove caliber 3rd though this year he has made four errors. If the Rays wanted to give him away for those quick four errors, I'm sure the White Sox would take him but I don't think he is going anywhere soon.

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Rick Hahn denies rift in White Sox front office, holds off on plans for 2017

Rick Hahn denies rift in White Sox front office, holds off on plans for 2017

Rick Hahn said Thursday he won’t divulge which direction the White Sox would head this offseason out of respect to his current players and staff.

But once the offseason begins, Hahn said it would quickly become evident what the White Sox front office has in mind. Roughly a month after his comments about being “mired in mediocrity,” the White Sox general manager said that he, executive vice president Kenny Williams and club chairman Jerry Reinsdorf are still mulling their options and open to all. Hahn also strongly denied recent reports that a divided front office prevented the start of a rebuild at the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, describing them as “tired.”

“The frustrating thing is it seems every few months we need to have this same conversation,” Hahn said. “The fact of the matter is I have no idea where an unnamed random report of any discord at the deadline came from. It’s simply untrue. There was no trade or direction of whatever it was described as vetoed, so to speak, at the deadline.

“We are of a similar mindset as to how best to proceed. We’ve had a number of conversations, both Kenny and I, as well as Kenny, Jerry and I, about the best way to approach the offseason and what we want to accomplish. And once the offseason rolls around we will start executing that plan.”

“It’s just, frankly, tired news and repetitive and there’s nothing there. None of us would be here doing what we do if we didn’t feel we were set up to have the potential for success.”

As for the most successful route to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008, Hahn wouldn’t yet commit to a plan. Hahn said the club would also address all questions about its roster and coaching staff after the season, which ends on Oct. 2.

With 36 games remaining after Thursday, the White Sox appear on pace for a fourth straight losing season.

[MORE: White Sox rule Austin Jackson, Matt Davidson out for season]

While the team has many of the top-tier pieces necessary to compete, its lack of depth continues to be a critical issue holding back the franchise. Injuries in the bullpen and outfield and the unexpected retirement of Adam LaRoche forced many part-time players or inexperienced pitchers into key roles. With a farm system still short on talent, the White Sox would likely need a serious cash infusion to fill in some of those holes in order to compete in 2017. Or, they could begin a rebuilding process and replenish their farm system by unloading some of their talented, affordable players.

Either way, Hahn isn’t ready to talk shop.

“We have a sense of what we want to do,” Hahn said. “Frankly, regardless of which direction it is — full rebuild or add on — we’re still in the middle of the season.

“If I were to say we’re going to do a full rebuild that’s disrespectful to what they’re trying to accomplish. To the other extreme, if I were to say we’re going to fight and go for it and plug the holes it begs the question, ‘Where are the holes?’ and that’s disrespectful to the guys in the clubhouse. It’s just not the time to be laying out offseason plans. We’re working on it, exploring a lot of angles internally trying to come up with priorities so we can hit the ground running when the time is appropriate.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

When he spoke about the team’s trade deadline plans July 21, Hahn said the White Sox had only ruled out short-term acquisitions, but remained open to all options. He said the idea of trading away Chris Sale or Jose Quintana seemed “extreme,” in part because competing teams wouldn’t deal players helping them in their playoff chases; that they’d have a better market in the offseason.

Hahn said Thursday the White Sox remain open-minded. When reminded that the White Sox have operated in an aggressive manner under Reinsdorf, Hahn agreed. But he also noted that the White Sox haven’t been happy with their recent performances and left the door open for a rebuild.

“OK, but there also comes a point where there is a level of frustration with the way things have played out over the last couple of years,” Hahn said. “There are different approaches and again, I’m not saying (a rebuild) is the route we’re going to go. But I assure you there is absolute openness from Jerry, Kenny, myself. Everyone in that front office is looking for the best path to get us on an extended period of success, even if that involves a short-term step-back.”

White Sox rule Austin Jackson, Matt Davidson out for season

White Sox rule Austin Jackson, Matt Davidson out for season

Austin Jackson and Matt Davidson are officially done for the season.

Meanwhile, the White Sox still remain hopeful that Brett Lawrie is on the mend after a second MRI.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday that Jackson, who had surgery June 10 to repair a medial meniscus tear in left knee, and Davidson, who had surgery after he fractured his right foot, won’t return this season.

“Austin is progressing, but it unfortunately it’s been a slow pace,” Hahn said. “He has not taken baseball activities. I wouldn’t expect him back this season.”

Jackson hit .254/.318/.343 with 18 RBIs in 203 plate appearances before he suffered the injury.

At the time of Jackson’s injury, Hahn didn’t think it would end his season. But, Hahn did say it would take at least six weeks before they could re-evaluate Jackson’s knee post-surgery and get a better determination of when he might return. Jackson’s re-evaluation was pushed back a few days from the six-week mark and the White Sox made it clear they weren’t optimistic about him returning.

Davidson went 1-for-2 with an RBI before he broke his foot running the bases in his first game of the season.

“(I) would not expect (Davidson) either. It was a pretty bad fracture. It’s progressing and he’s hitting the early milestones. There just isn’t enough time for either of those two.”

Lawrie, who has been on the disabled list since July 22, had a second MRI earlier this week and is being treated, Hahn said.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Manager Robin Ventura has been adamant all along that Lawrie’s injury was tricky to diagnose. What began as a strained hamstring and later was thought to be a quad injury has been reclassified as a knee and calf issue. Hahn said the MRI showed the area is structurally sound.

“He received some medicine in the joint there,” Hahn said. “We’re let that work for a couple of days and we’ll ramp up the activity and see how it goes. No specific time frame.”

Miguel Gonzalez will participate in one more bullpen — possibly a simulated game — before he starts a rehab assignment, Ventura said. Gonzalez is on the DL with a strained right groin.

James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields allowed his fewest runs in a month on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a loss.

Shields yielded two more home runs in six innings and his offense couldn’t keep pace as the White Sox lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in front of 15,630 at U.S. Cellular Field. Shields gave up four earned runs and seven hits. Dioner Navarro homered in the loss, which snapped a three-game White Sox winning streak.

“We’ve seen better,” manager Robin Ventura said. “(Shields) got to two strikes, two outs and gave up a couple there and that’s tough. The homer to left, that’s just one you get in this ballpark. The biggest one, for him, mistake-wise was the homer to Joseph. I think that’s the one that he wants back. But as far as going out there and getting us to a point, he’s still got room to improve on. But he got through it.”

The six innings pitched marks the most by Shields since July 26.

In between, Shields allowed 28 runs (27 earned) and 33 hits in 14 innings over four turns, good for a 17.36 ERA.

He fell behind 3-0 by the third inning before he settled in and retired nine of 11 batters. The Phillies pieced together a two-out rally in the second inning to go up two runs as Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis doubled with an Aaron Altherr singled sandwiched in between.

Cesar Hernandez opened the third inning with a solo homer just inside the left-field foul pole.

Joseph also homered with two outs in the sixth inning to put Philadelphia ahead 4-0.

Shields has allowed 31 homers in 143 innings this season, including 22 in 75.2 innings for the White Sox. Eleven of those have come in his last four starts.

He walked none and struck out six.

“I think the only pitch I made a mistake on was that last one, the home run in the sixth inning there,” Shields said. “The ball kind of slipped out of my hand a little bit and kind of left it over the plate. Other than that I felt good with my location tonight. I was hitting my spots consistently. They were getting hits here and there. That’s part of it. One of the positives things, I didn’t walk anyone and I was getting some swings and misses. But we have to move on and move forward and build off that.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox didn’t have much success against Phillies starting pitcher Jerod Eickhoff, who retired the first nine batters he faced. Avisail Garcia led off the sixth inning with a single and Navarro belted a two-run homer to right to make it a 4-2 game.

Eickhoff limited the White Sox to two runs and four hits in six innings.

Garcia kept the White Sox alive with a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning. But Jeanmar Gomez retired Navarro with runners on the corners to end the threat.

“Until Dio hit the homer there wasn’t much going for us,” Ventura said. “We got one --- I think Adam was the one that breaks it up and gets it going. But (Eickoff) was tough on us. A great curveball. That’s the biggest thing that sticks out. When he got in trouble, that curveball was the pitch for us. After that, it just wasn’t a good night offensively. I don’t think we swung it that well.”