Chicago White Sox

Williams on criticism: 'Bring it on'

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Williams on criticism: 'Bring it on'

When Kenny Williams was introduced during the opening ceremonies of Sox Fest on Friday, he knew the boos were coming.

How big and how loud? He wasnt sure. But considering his past history with an unhappy White Sox public, he was actually looking forward to them.

I was booed in 2004 and 2007 and we went to the playoffs the next year, so bring it on. Hopefully well be three for three, Williams said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. The guys on stage were trying to determine a percentage, and the consensus was 10 percent. I thought it was more like 20.

The anger and venom that has been slung in Williams direction this off-season is a complete 180 from the reaction he received last year at Sox Fest after he signed Adam Dunn and brought back Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski.

A week before this date a year ago, I walked into Chicago Cut Restaurant, and I got a standing ovation from the entire dining room. People were happy. Were back on the map, were going to challenge for a championship, Williams said. I came here to Sox Fest and there were praises all around.

After seeing him get treated like a king for two straight days, Williams new girlfriend asked him if this happened all the time.

I said, You havent been through this. Let me explain to you how this is going to work. If these guys dont play well, if this team doesnt play well, those same people that were standing and cheering will want me on the next plane out of town. Probably not even a plane a bus. They probably wouldnt want me to be that comfortable.

After his All-in White Sox proceeded to go 79-83, many fans would have ordered a Greyhound to pick up Williams outside U-S Cellular Field, and bought him a one-way ticket.

Since the end of the season, Williams has been bombarded with criticism for not resigning Mark Buehrle, for trading Sergio Santos and Carlos Quentin for prospects, while hoping that Alex Rios, Jake Peavy, Gordon Beckham and Dunn have bounce back seasons.

Then theres the fallout of the Kenny-Ozzie feud, which is a chapter all its own. Its a story that seems to have no end.

Is the Kenny criticism justified? Yes. But has some of the abuse been unfair? Williams singled out two members of the media.

There are two people in particular who seemingly -- thats all they know how to write about, and evidently dont have the ability or the inclination to want to write about anything other than the dead subjects theyve already covered, Williams said. Thats their problem, not my problem. Where it becomes my problem is if people buy into it, and then dont show up as a result.

Sagging attendance has become a major problem for the White Sox, who have seen their attendance drop every season since 2006, when they averaged 36,511 a game. In 2011, that number was down to 24,705; their lowest since 2004.

Many of the fans who came out last year booed Adam Dunn, who had one of the worst hitting seasons of all-time. Does Williams expect him to have a comeback season?

Absolutely," Williams said. "This is a proud man and a very successful man. He didnt just happen upon the deal that we gave him. He earned it.

And Williams says he takes part of the blame for Dunns struggles at the plate.

In hindsight, if I can think of one thing we could have done differently, I would have given him more time after his appendix surgery at the beginning of the season, because he had a whole month, or six weeks almost of getting ready for the season. After week one, he goes down and now we bring him up into cold weather. Nobody is making any excuses. Hes not making excuses, but if I had to do something in hindsight, I would have left him out another week as opposed to throwing him right into the fire.

Now the White Sox have to deal with the heat of Prince Fielder, signed by the rival Tigers this week to a nine-year, 214 million contract.

What was Williams reaction when he got the news?

I cant tell you what my reaction was. Not without you bleeping it out. It is what it is. It must be nice. You have a guy go down, Victor Martinez, and to be able to say, Whos out there? Lets go get Prince.'"

It was starting to sound like Williams might be a bit envious of the Tigers, picked by many to run away with the AL-Central. However, the White Sox general manager says he looks at it a different way.

The Tigers are clearly the team to beat in our division. Weve been clearly the team to beat in our division a number of times, too. It didnt exactly work out well for us. Lets hope it doesnt work out well for them.

Extreme makeover: White Sox bullpen edition

Extreme makeover: White Sox bullpen edition

With the White Sox entering rebuild mode in 2017 and the relief pitcher trade market not all that hot, general manager Rick Hahn found a perfect storm to unload some of his arms for future prospects.

Hahn continued that pursuit on Thursday, dealing left-hander Dan Jennings to the Tampa Bay Rays for 24-year-old prospect Casey Gillaspie. With the trade, the White Sox not have just one of their seven relievers from Opening Day on the current roster.

Below are the seven Opening Day bullpen arms, and where they've gone from April 5 to now.

- Zach Putnam (April 25) Putnam was the first of the bullpen arms to go, heading to the 10-day DL with right elbow inflammation. He did some throwing in early May but failed to make much progress. In late June Rick Hahn confirmed that Putnam had underwent Tommy John surgery. He finished with a 1.04 ERA in 8.2 innings.

- Nate Jones (April 28) Jones entered 2017 as one of the White Sox most important bullpen pieces. But the right elbow neuritis he dealt with never fully healed, and he needed nerve repositioning surgery on July 13 that ended his season. The former Tommy John surgery recipient finished 2017 with a 2.31 ERA, striking out 15 batters in just 11.2 innings.

- Michael Ynoa (July 8) After a stellar rookie campaign, Ynoa struggled in 2017, compiling a 5.90 ERA in 29 innings. He walked 22 and struck out just 23, and he allowed seven runs and recorded just four outs in his final two outings before the White Sox designated him for assignment. He's currently on the DL at AAA Charlotte.

- David Robertson (July 18) Rick Hahn gave up his closer right after the trade deadline, sending Robertson to the Yankees in a seven-player trade. Robertson had plenty of value, sporting a 2.70 ERA while going 13-for-14 in save opportunities. In four games with the Yankees he's allowed just one earned run - a homer - while striking out six.

- Anthony Swarzak (July 25) A surprise on the Opening Day 25-man roster, the 31-year-old Swarzak dominated in his time with the White Sox. He sported a 2.23 ERA and struck out 52 batters in 48.1 innings. He did some of his best work just before the trade, too: he had scoreless outings in 13 of his final 14 appearances with the Sox, good for a sparkling 0.56 ERA with 22 strikeouts and five walks in 16.0 innings. In return the White Sox received 25-year-old outfield prospect Ryan Cordell.

- Dan Jennings (July 27) The sixth bullpen arm to depart, Jennings was sent to the Rays for 24-year-old switch-hitting prospect Casey Gillaspie. The left-hander finished his White Sox season with a 3.45 ERA. Left-handed batters hit just .169 with a .497 OPS against him.

- Jake Petricka (still on team) It'll be tough to swing a deal for Petricka, who had a 10.24 ERA in June after returning from a DL stint. He hasn't yet pitched in July.

That's not including Tommy Kahnle, who joined the 25-man roster just a few days into the season. Kahnle was part of the deal that sent Robertson to the Yankees.

Now, here's the current bullpen: Jake Petricka, David Holmberg, Gregory Infante, Chris Beck, Juan Minaya, Tyler Clippard, Brad Goldberg, Aaron Bummer

White Sox continue dealing, trade Dan Jennings to Rays for prospect

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White Sox continue dealing, trade Dan Jennings to Rays for prospect

The White Sox continued their run of trades on Thursday morning, dealing relief pitcher Dan Jennings to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Casey Gillaspie.

Gillaspie, 24, was rated by MLB.com as the No. 10 prospect in the Rays organization. The switch-hitting first baseman batted .227 with nine homers, 44 RBIs and 45 runs scored in 95 games for AAA Durham.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound left-hander began the year ranked as the No. 74 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and was a Southern League All-Star in 2016.  The first-round pick in 2014 was a New York-Penn League All-Star that year and a Midwest League All-Star in 2015.

“Casey is a recent first-round pick who has shown a quality approach at the plate with some power throughout his minor-league career,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He gives us yet another highly touted hitter who has stood out at every level in the Rays system and increases our organizational depth as we continue to add prospects to the system.”

Casey is the young brother of Conor Gillaspie, who spent three seasons with the White Sox from 2013 to 2015.

Jennings went 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA in 48 appearances for the White Sox this season, his 48 appearances are tied for second in the American League.

Jennings tweeted a farewell to the White Sox following the trade.

It's the fourth trade the White Sox have made in July. They began by dealing starter Jose Quintana to the crosstown rival Cubs for four prospects, including 20-year old phenom Eloy Jimenez.

Hahn and the White Sox bundled David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees for a prospect package that included 2016 first-round pick Blake Rutherford.

The White Sox also dealt reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Brewers and received 25-year-old Ryan Cordell in return.

In a corresponding roster move to replace Jennings on the 25-man roster, the White Sox are calling up left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer.

Bummer, 23, was selected  by the White Sox in 19th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. In 28 appearances across three levels in 2017, Bummer has a 3.31 ERA and a 1.306 WHIP.

The White Sox now have just one reliever on their current roster who was also on the Opening Day roster is Jake Petricka.