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.

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If Carlos Rodon starts on the disabled list as expected, the White Sox won't turn to any of their vaunted top prospects in the interim.

The news on Rodon has been encouraging so far as no structural damage has been discovered. Still, the White Sox won't clear Rodon until after he receives a second opinion on Monday. While the length of Rodon's absence won't be determined for several days, the White Sox are certain of one route they won't take — they don't want to disrupt the development of their young starting pitchers. Were a DL trip for Rodon necessary, the White Sox would likely select either Saturday's starter, Dylan Covey, or minor leaguer David Holmberg over their top prospects. Covey made a strong impression on Saturday afternoon with 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched and the White Sox rallied for a 10-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

"When you have an opportunity to stabilize action or movement for players it serves them better," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "They get a little more comfortable where they're at. They get comfortable with the staffs they're working with and the information they're gathering, being in a routine. It is a little disruptive going from team to team to team. It happens, but it's not the most conducive (to learning)."

The White Sox are all about development this season. Therefore, they have no plans to call upon Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer or Michael Kopech unless they're A) ready and B) throwing every fifth day in Chicago. Renteria's comments Saturday reiterated Rick Hahn's earlier message, saying the club doesn't want to disrupt the development path.

That puts Covey, a Rule 5 draft pick in December, with a decent opportunity to make the club out of camp. Covey commanded the strike zone on Saturday only hours after Renteria said he hoped to see the young right-hander replicate an Arizona Fall League performance that initially warmed the White Sox up to him.

Aside from a two-out walk in his final inning, Covey was sharp the whole way. He allowed three hits and struck out three.

"My last couple of outings I was definitely feeling the stress," Covey said. "I was kind of pitching a little passive, pitching to not make a mistake instead of just going right after guys. So today and yesterday I just thought I'm just going to throw every pitch with conviction and see what happens. I got a lot of weak contact today and some swings and misses, so I felt good."

Covey threw 44 pitches, 27 for strikes. He potentially could stay in Arizona on Thursday and make an additional minor league start to build arm strength, which would get him to roughly 60 pitches before the regular seasons started.

The White Sox don't officially need a fifth starter until April 9 and they're off the following day. That break could allow the White Sox to start Covey as part of a bullpen day. Covey said he recently changed his mindset after lackluster results in relief this spring. The right-hander has a 6.94 ERA this spring in 11 2/3 innings.

"Obviously my last two outings out of the pen I wasn't getting crushed, but I just wasn't commanding the ball or commanding the count as much as I would like to be," Covey said. "The mistakes get hit a little harder when you're falling behind in the count. Today I wanted to have the mindset of attacking hitters, throwing everything down in the zone and going right after them, and it worked out."

The White Sox blasted six home runs in the contest, including a majestic, go-ahead grand slam by first baseman Danny Hayes in the top of the ninth inning. Hayes is hitting .351/.400/.595 with two homers and is tied for the team lead with 13 RBIs this spring. Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico, Cody Asche, Everth Cabrera and Jacob May also homered for the White Sox. 

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While he still has a second opinion ahead and is likely to start 2017 on the disabled list, a clean MRI has Carlos Rodon feeling relieved after a bizarre Thursday.

The White Sox pitcher described Saturday the strange experience he’s had the past few days dealing with soreness in his left bicep.

In the span of 48 hours, Rodon -- who will receive a second opinion on Monday -- went from feeling good enough after a midweek bullpen session to request that his first start be moved up to likely landing on the DL. As he prepares to navigate the rehab process, Rodon is more at ease after an MRI on Friday showed no structural damage.

“(Thursday) was a weird day for me,” Rodon said. “I wasn’t very happy with it. I got that checked out, trying to figure it out.

“I feel better. It’s reassuring.”

“(Your arm is) your tool. It’s concerning. But that’s why you go get those things checked out and make sure everything is ok. That’s what we did.”

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Rodon, who went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 165 innings in 2016, has one more checkup before he’s all clear. He travels to Los Angeles on Monday for an appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that a second opinion is “protocol.”

Though he has already been reassured -- the club’s diagnosis was he had no structural issues after a physical exam and then the clean MRI -- Rodon wouldn’t mind more confirmation. The left-hander said he hadn’t experienced the kind of tightness he suddenly felt in his biceps tendon before Thursday. He could lift his arm above his head, but Rodon said his stuff wasn’t the same. After he informed them, the White Sox determined to be cautious.

“It’s pretty tight up there,” Rodon said. “I’ve never really been that tight. I couldn’t really step on some balls I wanted to throw to get that arm going. So, I had to get it checked out. It didn’t feel too good.”

The White Sox already had Rodon on a delayed schedule where he needed to hit every mark to be ready for the regular season. They did so in hopes of helping him avoid the fatigue he experienced last summer and also reaching the 200-inning mark this season. Now it appears Rodon will begin the season on the DL, according to Hahn.

Though he’d like to start the season on schedule, Rodon wants to make sure he’s physically good to go.

“Just trying to be healthy man,” Rodon said. “You don’t want to go the start of the season and be behind the best guys. You are a tick down from the best guys in the world. It’s not fun pitching when you are not feeling too good. I want to be 100 percent when I’m out there. That gives our team the best chance of winning.”