White Sox can live without World Series heroes

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White Sox can live without World Series heroes

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2010
4:00 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

As the coals in the hot stove are just beginning to get stoked up, its time to rank the current Chicago White Sox, in order of importance for 2011 and beyond. Its not intended to be a strict list of merely the best players, or best values, on the White Sox. Rather, it takes into account team depth, the free agent market, or answering the question of which player would hurt the most not being on the team?

This is meant as a precursor to longer, individual profiles that will appear on CSNChicago.com between now and the end of the year. Thus the list could take different shape over the coming weeks, due to current players being cut loose or new ones acquired.

The second installment of the White Sox Top 30 features many of the stalwarts fans have come to rely on over the years, including free agents Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, J.J. Putz and Andruw Jones. But leading things off is the potential staff ace who could nevertheless enter spring training at No. 6 on the rotational depth chart.

11. Edwin Jackson, SP

Jacksons salary doubles in 2011 to 8.4 million, so the promise he showed under pitching coach Don Coopers tutelage in the second half of 2010 had better hold. However, Jacksons average game score (essentially a more detailed version of quality starts) was the highest of any White Sox pitcher in 2010 (57, six points better than the league average). Jackson could be looked at as anything from staff ace to No. 6 starter this offseason, thus its almost impossible to think that with Chris Sale waiting in the wings, the eight-year vet isnt on the trading block once more.
12. Juan Pierre, LF

Another player who is easy to take for granted is Pierre, but the left-fielder was a miraculous find for the White Sox in 2010. Pierre almost completely offset his arm in the field by getting to every ball hit his way, compiling a UZR of 13.4, ninth-best in baseball, sixth among outfielders and third among left fielders. Pierre was also one of the best pressure hitters in baseball, with a 1.15 Clutch rating that was tied for eighth among all players. Pierre brought 9 million in value to the White Sox, who paid him just 3 million for the season. Williams and Guillen so gush over what Pierre brings to the field that it would not surprise if the soft-spoken speedster ascends to the role of team captain if both Konerko and Pierzynski fail to return.

13. Paul Konerko, 1B

Yes, Konerko is woefully undervalued here, and his importance to the team in 2010 cannot be overstated. However, Konerko will never again reach his 2010 levels age and sheer luck conspire against him. Even in the late prime of his career, Konerko failed to outperform his 60 million deal over the past five seasons, so a future commitment even something as innocuous as 20 million over two seasons comes with massive risk and almost certain disappointment. Konerko is in so many ways the heart of the team, but as an average first baseman destined to see more time at DH, hes more replaceable than you might think. For a tight-budgeted team, there are smarter buys out there.

14. J.J. Putz, RP

Putz appears to be a kinder, gentler and less expensive version of Bobby Jenks looking toward 2011, with one caveat: Putz cannot close. While it was Jenkss stretch of blown saves that opened some cracks in the hull, Putzs BSs soon thereafter started letting the water in. Unfortunately for Jenks, he was overpaid for his work and Putz underpaid, finishing tied for 19th in WAR among relievers (1.5) and providing double the value of his 3 million contract. For all the talk that in a thin relief market, Putz is sure to jump to a team that offers a closer job (not to mention big bucks), dont be so sure; he is terribly tight with Matt Thornton, appreciates the lessened travel burden that comes with playing out of Chicago and could be well pleased with a modest raise and continued setup duties.

15. Dayan Viciedo, IF

If not for Konerkos free agency, Viciedo would be fall father down this list. But if Capn Paul doesnt return and Williams is unable to broker a big fish at first, Viciedo steps in as the first-sacker.

16. A.J. Pierzynski, C

The free agent Pierzynski will be looking for a raise, one that, as in the case of Konerko, cannot possibly pay off for the White Sox. The catcher and first base markets are pretty fluid this offseason, so its not inconceivable that both players leave Chicago and if so, the leadership void for the White Sox could be a bigger loss than any from the production standpoint.

17. Andruw Jones, OF

The White Sox took a flier on Jones in 2010 and he paid off handsomely (a 7.4 million value on 500,000 contract), to the point of rendering right fielder Carlos Quentin disposable. Jones no longer brings a Gold Glove to the outfield, but his defense is not a liability, unlike Quentin. Jones could be re-signed at a friendlier price than CQ, even if again reduced to a fourth outfielderDH role in 2011.

18. Brent Morel, 3B

Morel impressed White Sox brass with his readiness during a relatively late September call-up, especially in the field. With another spring of seasoning, it appears the third-base job is Morels to lose, even with higher-priced veterans like Mark Teahen and Omar Vizquel on the club.

19. Carlos Quentin, RF

As a DH-only, Quentin might rank as a more important cog in the machine for the Chisox, in that it gets his glove out of right field and probably buys him close to a full season of games with him no longer lumbering through the outfield. The White Sox love Quentins intensity, but that wont keep them from shopping 2008s near-MVP in an effort to increase roster efficiency and flexibility.

20. Bobby Jenks, RP

How Bad Bobby has fallen. While Jenkss 2010 wasnt outright bad (tying for 19th among relievers with a 1.5 WAR and 6.2 million value), the closer was paid 7.5 million and continued to struggle with his conditioning. Short of Jenks shocking the White Sox by asking for, say, 10 million over three years, the Jenks era is over in Chicago.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.

But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.

“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens. 

“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”

The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.

In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.

"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."

[MORE: Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right]

Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.

"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."

His struggles continued when he got to The Show.

In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.

"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."

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Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.

"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.

"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.

Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who MLB.com has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again. 

"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."

The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.

The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.

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While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality. 

Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.

"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."

"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."

In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.

When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse. 

Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.