What's next for Gavin Floyd?

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What's next for Gavin Floyd?

I'm a big fan of FIP. In most cases, it's an accurate predictor of future performance, a much better evaluative tool than ERA. It factors in three things pitchers can directly control: walks, strikeouts and home runs -- thus, Fielding Independent Pitching.

FIP is why I was concerned about Gavin Floyd going in to 2009. His results were fantastic in 2008, and his 3.84 ERA still stands as a career high. But his FIP was a full-season high of 4.77, which seemed to be a harbinger of doom for the next season.

An odd thing happened after late May of 2009, though. Floyd went from being a pitcher who seemingly pitched above his ability to one who pitches below his ability. Basically, Floyd's walk rate and home run rates went down while his strikeout rate went up. And so did his ERA.

Floyd has thrown 574 innings from 2009-2011 with a 4.17 ERA. So just as his 2008 FIP predicted, his ERA did go up -- but the weird thing is that FIP went down. Basically, Floyd has done better at the things he can control while seeing worse results.

In theory, Floyd should be primed for a breakout. A lot of sabermetrically-oriented analysts value him as the guy with a good FIP, and thus value him highly.

But three straight years of a sub-3.85 FIP and above-4.00 ERA are probably a trend. Throw Floyd's win-loss record out the window -- that he's 33-37 in the last three years isn't important.

A side note, though: As you'll see in the sidebar video, Floyd is concentrating on getting himself -- and, of course, his team -- wins. Pitcher wins (not above replacement) are not a good stat for writers to use in evaluation, since they're so incredibly influenced by factors out of a pitcher's control.

But for a pitcher? It's great that Floyd wants to win games. For Floyd, if he gets the W, that means the White Sox won. Of course, if he is shouldered with a loss, it may not be his fault, and no pitcher should ever "pitch to the score" (i.e. be content with allowing five if the offense scores six). But since pitchers aren't analysts, executives, etc., wanting to win games is a good thing.

Anyways, back to meaningful stuff Floyd can actually control. This isn't a comparison looking at Floyd's mentality, more in terms of results: Floyd has become Javier Vazquez lite. In two of his three years with the Sox, Vazquez' ERA was nearly a full run higher than his FIP, save 2007 when he had a 3.74 ERA and 3.80 FIP.

Vazquez did a lot of things right, posting good strikeout and walk rates. But his command was often an issue, leading to the righty throwing quite a few hittable pitches and, thus, the high ERAs. The big inning was always an issue for Vazquez while with the White Sox; he'd cruise along for four innings then unravel in the fifth.

But if Floyd is Vazquez lite, that's actually not a bad thing. He's had better ERAs than in Vazquez' worst years, and remember, Vazquez put together a fantastic year in 2007. If the ERAs are neutral, it's much better to have a lower-FIP guy like Floyd than a higher-FIP guy, since the lower FIP pitcher is much more likely to have "big" season -- just as Vazquez did five years ago.

Maybe this is the year Floyd finally breaks the trend of the last three seasons. But even if he doesn't, he'll be a valuable asset to the White Sox as a solid mid-rotation pitcher.

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As he surveyed the landscape this offseason, Peter Bourjos thought he and the White Sox would make for a good fit.

Adam Eaton had been traded and Austin Jackson departed via free agency, leaving the White Sox with Melky Cabrera and several young players to man a thin outfield. Bourjos, who lived in Chicago until second grade, pursued the White Sox and last month agreed to terms on a minor-league deal in hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Bourjos, who was born in Chicago, hit .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 383 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I always liked playing in Chicago,” Bourjos said. “It was a good fit and then spring training is here. I have two young kids. So packing them up and going to Florida wasn’t something I wanted to do either.

“We definitely look at all those options on paper. Evaluate what might be the best chance of making a team and this is definitely one of them. It seems like a good fit on paper.”

If he’s healthy enough, Charlie Tilson will get the first crack at the everyday job in center field. Tilson, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring, is currently sidelined for 10 days with foot problems. Beyond Tilson, the White Sox have prospects Adam Engel and Jacob May with Cabrera slated to start in left field and Avisail Garcia pegged for right. Leury Garcia is also in the mix.

But there still appears to be a good shot for Bourjos to make the club and manager Rick Renteria likes his veteran presence for the young group. Bourjos has accrued six seasons of service time between the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

“Bourjy has been around,” Renteria said. “He knows what it takes. He understands the little nuances of major-league camp and how we have so many players and we want to give them all a look. We want to see Bourjos, we want to see him out there.”

Bourjos, who turns 30 in March, has an idea what he wants to do with his chance. A slick defensive outfielder, Bourjos wants to prove he’s a better hitter than his .243/.300/.382 slash line would suggest. He said it’s all about being relaxed.

“Offensively just slow everything down and not try to do too much,” Bourjos said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it hasn’t translated. I think last year I got in a spot where I just tried to relax in the batter’s box and let everything go and what happened happened. I had success with that.

“I now realize what that feels like and it doesn’t work. Just take a deep breath and be relaxed in the box and good things are going to happen.”

Gio, Geo and Gio: White Sox spring training has its own version of 'Who's on First?'

Gio, Geo and Gio: White Sox spring training has its own version of 'Who's on First?'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Giovanni Soto pitched to Geovany Soto at White Sox camp on Monday morning, and the Internet loved it.

The veteran catcher and rookie pitcher, who share similar names and have been friends for two years, worked together during live batting practice. The unrelated pair, who both hail from Puerto Rico, said they’ve been confused for each other several times since reporting to camp last week. Each has also heard the other’s name being called out and thought it was for them, which has led to more confusion. But those mix-ups haven’t limited their enjoyment of the situation, either.

“It’s kind of surreal that he has the same name, last name,” Geovany Soto said. “It’s kind of weird calling him Gio and he’s calling me Geo. It’s kind of weird.

“With the physicals, doctors, the people for the drug testing, we’ve been confused in all three of those. I’m expecting that to happen. Hopefully I can get a big check on his name and cash it.”

The social media world isn’t alone in its enjoyment of the topic as both players smiled while discussing it on Monday.

Giovanni Soto said the players met two seasons ago when he pitched for the Cleveland Indians and the catcher was in his first stint with the White Sox. They grew up about 20 minutes apart from each other in Puerto Rico and now spend time together in the offseason. But what has made the scenario even more confusing is that White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito is seated only a few stalls away from Giovanni Soto in the clubhouse.

“It’s kind of weird, especially in the clubhouse and on the field because when someone says Geo, we turn around to see if it’s for him or for me,” Giovanni Soto said. “And we also have Giolito, and people call him Gio. It’s weird, but it’s funny too.”

Both Sotos could make the team’s Opening Day roster.

Geovany Soto, who signed a minor league contract in January, is the most experienced catcher in camp and is favored to win a job. Giovanni Soto, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs in November, is one of several relievers competing for a spot and could make the club if the White Sox decide to carry two left-handers in the bullpen. And while Giolito is expected to start the season at Triple-A, he could reach the majors at some point causing more pandemonium.

“There’s a lot of Geo going on with Giolito, Giovanni and then me,” Geovany Soto said. “And can get pretty hectic. But yeah, it’s fun for us.”