Stone's Mailbag: Does Peavy Have What it Takes?

Stone's Mailbag: Does Peavy Have What it Takes?

Thursday, Apr. 15, 2010
10:05 A.M.

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag to answer some of your questions about Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, and Jake Peavy.

Question from Jake, Arlington Heights, Ill. Is Starlin Castro the next Hanley Ramirez, and where do you see him in the future a leadoff hitter or more a mid of the order hitter?

Steve Stone: Starlin is going to be a very good player but will not have the power. Hanley is one of these devastating players who came out of the Boston organization as a young man with a tremendous amount of promise. Castro needs some more minor league at bats, he has pretty good plate coverage, still swings at pitches he shouldnt but thats a product of youth and lack of experience as opposed to anything else. He will be a very good major leaguer. When you are talking about Hanley Ramirez, who is 63, 225, that is going to be bigger than Starlin Castrol. Ramirez hit .342 last year, drove in 106 runs and stole 27 bases. When you look at those numbers, adding 24 home runs into it, I think that you realize that a few of those numbers will be out of reach for Starlin. That being said, I think the Cubs are happy to have developed someone from their system who looks like he will be a big leaguer for a long time, especially a shortstop.

Question from Cole, Cedar Falls, Iowa How do you see the right field situation playing out for the Cubs? With Nady and Colvin on board are Fukudome's days numbered?
Steve Stone: When you are paying Fukudome 14 million and he has this year and next on his contract, as far as his days being numbered, it depends on which number mister Ricketts is going to allow Jim Hendry to eat if he indeed does want to trade. He had two somewhat disappointing seasons but when you sign back loaded contacts, the highest salaries in the last year make it more difficult to trade. I think it will be awfully hard for Lou to get the amount of bats that he is going to have to get a young player to enable to keep them sharp. Especially Tyler Colvin who has played just about every day wherever he has been, and now youre asking him to take a seat on a major league bench and we will try to fit you in when we can. I dont believe thats in the best interest of Colvin and in fact if they view him, and I believe they do, as their starting right fielder of the future, sitting on the bench watching, they will limit his bats. I think thats a big mistake the Cubs have made and Colvin has one at bat in two games. We know he will get more, this is a young man who probably needs 30-35 at bats a week and I dont think he will get anywhere close to that with a major league team.
Question from Alex, Oak Forest, Ill Does Jake Peavy have what it takes to win 20 games this season?

Steve Stone: I think Jake always has what it takes. We saw briefly last year in three games where he was 3-0 and dominating everyone. At his best he is good. One thing to bear in mind is and has been that the AL is just a tougher league than the NL. You dont have to look at All-Star games, which the AL has dominated for some time, but look at the results year after year after year of inner-league play and you will see the AL is a tougher league. Factor in that he wont be facing the pitcher but yet another hitter in what already is a very strong lineup, it makes it a lot more difficult for pitchers to throw in the American League than it does in the national. If the White Sox could be assured Jake would be healthy all year they would take that and allow his stuff, best in the game, to determine the outcome. Whether he will or wont be healthy remains to be seen.

Question from Josh, Morton, Ill. What do you think the chances are of Sergio Santos making an immediate impact with the Sox this season?

Steve Stone: First thing, he has to get into a game. Its hard to look good if you are warming up or on the bullpen bench. He is in a catch 22 in that in order to get Ozzies confidence, he has to get people out but in order to get people out, he needs Ozzie's confidence. I think Ozzie will put him in, in hand-picked sit in the 6th inning. If guys struggle, if Sergio is throwing well, he will move to the 7th. But lets see him get to the major league mound and then we can further evaluate how he will adapt. Everything you need, big strong, throws awfully hard, good change up and very good slider. Still asking a guy who played major league infield and was a number one pick in the draft by the Diamondbacks as a short stop to become a quality major league pitcher.

Question from Katie, Chicago, Ill. How will the Twins adjust to playing outdoors in their new stadium?
Steve Stone: I dont know how because they havent played outside in April in Minnesota in the lifetime of any roster players. They started their season in California playing the Los Angeles Angels, a tough team taking the first two of three which is of this writing, all theyve played. Look down that lineup, they are very impressive. One thing to worry about is replacing Joe Nathan but Jon Rauch is now 2-2 in saves though he did give up a run in two hits last night with the twins, beating the Angels 3-2. I look at the lineup that added Orlando Hudson this year and features Bernard Span at the top and three fairly devastating hitters in a row. You have to figure offensively in for another big year. The question for them is the starting rotation and the tail end of the bullpen.

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White Sox catcher Kevan Smith has a ball after drawing first career walk

White Sox catcher Kevan Smith has a ball after drawing first career walk

Rookie Kevan Smith wanted his first career walk in the worst possible way on Tuesday night.

The White Sox catcher was so intent upon ending a lengthy walk drought to start his career that he determined to lean in against one of the hardest throwers in the league.

Ahead 3-0 in the count with one out in the ninth inning against New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, Smith inched closer to the plate. The four-pitch walk Smith drew in career plate appearance No. 130 not only ended the second longest walk-less streak to start a career since 1990, it also jumpstarted a game-winning White Sox rally. Smith was afforded plenty of time to enjoy the moment, too, as manager Rick Renteria immediately pulled him for a pinch runner.

“Oh yeah (I knew),” Smith said. “One hundred percent. I got way on the plate and was like, ‘You’re either going to hit me or walk me’ because I’m not letting this one slide. I’ve been to a few 3-0 counts, but finally got the first one out of the way. Everybody was laughing at me.

“It was a celebratory thing. I got to come off the field on my first one.”

Smith’s moment was worthy of a celebration.

Whereas Tim Anderson’s base on balls-free stretch to start his career got a ton of notoriety in 2016, Smith’s received almost none despite the fact that he soared past Anderson. A highly touted rookie known for his aggressive approach at the plate, people kept close tabs on Anderson’s stretch when he went 85 plate appearances without a walk to start his career. But Smith eclipsed that mark with a strikeout in his lone trip to the plate on June 9. It wasn’t until 44 plate appearances later that Smith could walk the walk.

Since 1990, only Jeff Francouer had gone longer among all major leaguers when he didn’t draw a free pass until his 131 plate appearance in 2005. Smith tied the Yankees’ Oscar Azocar (who walked in his 130th trip in 1990) when he ended the seventh inning with a strikeout against New York starting pitcher Luis Severino.

Other notable White Sox players with lengthy walk-less streaks to start their careers include: Jeff Abbott (84, 1997-98), Dayan Viciedo (83, 2010) and Josh Phegley (83, 2013).

“Dang,” Anderson said with a smile. “Nobody made a big deal about his though.”

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Similar to Anderson, Smith has always been fairly aggressive at the plate. His career walk-rate in the minor leagues is 8.7 percent (195 in 2,229 plate appearances). But that aggression hasn’t prevented Smith from finding offensive success during his third stint in the majors. After going 5-for-42 to start his career, Smith has heated up, hitting .313/.322/.422 with six doubles, one home run and eight RBIs in his last 87 plate appearances.

“The more at-bats he gets up here it's natural to start getting a little more comfortable,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He's certainly showing that he's able to do a few things at the plate. He's handling at-bats more a little more calmly.”

The calmer demeanor has helped Smith stick to an approach in which he has confidence. In seven minor league seasons, Smith carried a .285/.361/.449 slash line. He believes staying with what works will be the key to whether or not he can continue to perform.

“I think what makes guys successful up here is they stick to their approach,” Smith said. “I always use (Joe) Mauer as an example. He stays so true to his approach and looks for what he wants to hit that it’s almost frustrating as a catcher and a pitcher. But there’s a reason he’s been around for so long and I’m envious of what he does in the box. I’m just going to keep trying to get as comfortable as I can and strive for that approach each game and each at-bat.”

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

The White Sox said all along they were confident Jose Quintana would rebound and now that he has no seems the least bit surprised.

Quintana provided yet another round of proof that he’s far removed from those May woes when he silenced the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. While the left-hander earned a no decision, he was rewarded when the White Sox rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field. Quintana finished June with a 1.78 ERA.

“We have a very good relationship, very good communication,” teammate Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “When (Quintana) was passing through that, the first two months, I let him know, just keep your confidence, don’t hesitate, do your job, keep working hard because we have confidence in you. Now he’s just showing us what he’s capable of doing and doing what he’s been doing his whole career. We’re glad he’s the same Jose Quintana he’s been the last couple of years.”

Quintana has gone from a period where many of his mistakes got hit to a spot where he’s been borderline untouchable. He limited the second-best offense in the American League to two hits and four walks in 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday. With good fastball command and a sharp curve, Quintana had New York hitters out of whack.

This is a much different pitcher than the one who was tagged by the Boston Red Sox on May 30, an outing after which he said he was embarrassed. Since losing to Boston, Quintana has lowered his ERA from 5.30 to 4.37. In that span, Quintana has allowed 21 hits and six earned runs with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.

“Sometime bad games are going to happen,” Quintana said. “But when it happens, I go check the video to see if I’m doing something wrong and try to make adjustments. But I feel pretty good and I have my confidence high and for me I turn the page and focus on the next one.”

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The 2016 All-Star thrived in the few instances when he got into trouble on Tuesday.

He struck out Tyler Austin with two men in scoring position to end the fourth inning and erased a leadoff walk in the fifth with an Austin Romine double play. After Quintana surrendered a two-out double to Judge in the sixth inning, he got Sanchez to pop out to strand the tying run.

Quintana only threw strikes on 55 of 101 pitches on Tuesday. But, of those 55, 10 were swings and misses.

“It's just been him commanding the zone, attacking,” manager Rick Renteria said. “A lot more strikes. He still had some at-bats today where he got to 3-2, but then he'd execute, he'd finish and make a pitch that induced a very weak fly ball or groundballs. That's who he is, I mean you all have seen him like this before. For us it's just seeing him get back to who he's always been.”