30 Clubs in 30 Days: Chicago White Sox

There isn’t really a whole lot of news to talk about today so I’m going to spare you with the rambling intro I usually do at the start of these things. Today we’re going to take a look at the Chicago White Sox, whom I don’t expect much out of considering they’re all in on their rebuild. So without further ado, we’re in Day 7 of 30 Clubs in 30 Days with the Chicago White Sox.

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2017 Results:

Record: 67-95, 35 games behind Cleveland Indians, 18 games behind Minnesota Twins for second Wild Card spot

Notable Offseason Additions: SP Hector Santiago, RP Bruce Rondon, RP Joakim Soria, SP Miguel Gonzalez, C Welington Castillo, RP Luis Avilan

Notable Offseason Subtractions: SP Derek Holland, RP Jake Petricka, 2B Alen Hanson, RP Al Albuquerque, LF Cody Asche, SP Mike Pelfrey, RP Zach Putnam, C Geovany Soto

Best Offensive Player: 1B Jose Abreu

Best Pitcher: James Shields

Depth Chart:

C-Welington Castillo, Kevan Smith

1B-Jose Abreu

2B-Yoan Moncada

3B-Matt Davidson, Tyler Saladino (DH)

SS-Tim Anderson, Yolmer Sanchez

LF-Nicky Delmonico

CF-Adam Engel, Leury Garcia

RF-Avisail Garcia

SP-James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodon, Miguel Gonzalez, Carson Fulmer, Reynaldo Lopez, Hector Santiago

Bullpen-Joakim Soria (CP), Nate Jones, Juan Minaya, Danny Farquhar, Luis Avilan,  Gregory Infante, Aaron Bummer, Bruce Rondon

Coaching Staff:

Manager-Rick Renteria (2nd Season with White Sox)

Hitting Coach-Todd Steverson

Pitching Coach-Don Cooper

1st Base Coach-Daryl Boston

3rd Base Coach-Nick Capra

Bench Coach-Joe McEwing

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The White Sox may have arguably the thinnest Major League roster in the American League at the moment. Aside from Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia, there isn’t really anybody on the team that will keep opposing managers up at night and even in Garcia’s case, we’re not sure if his big 2017 season was a fluke or not. Here’s how the White Sox are projected to look in 2018.

1. Tim Anderson-SS

2. Yoan Moncada-2B

3. Jose Abreu-1B

4. Avisail Garcia-RF

5. Welington Castillo-C

6. Matt Davidson-3B

7. Nicky Delmonico-LF

8. Tyler Saladino-DH

9. Adam Engel-CF

The only guy in that lineup who really instills fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers is Abreu. Last season he was particularly dangerous as he hit .304 with 33 home runs, 102 RBI, 95 runs scored, slugged .552, and was worth 4.1 WAR. He’s driven in at least 100 runs in all 4 of his Major League seasons and is an imposing threat in the batter’s box at 6’3 255 pounds. Avisail Garcia had a breakout season in 2017, as he hit .330 with 18 home runs, 80 RBI, slugged .506, and was worth 4.2 WAR. However those numbers could be a bit fluky. Garcia hit .392 on balls in play which suggests that he got lucky at times because a number that high is unsustainable. Plus he had a very low walk rate of 5.9% suggesting that he may not see the plate as well as others or simply lacks the patience. Plus it was his first season where he was worth more than 1 WAR, as he had actually had a negative WAR in each of his first 3 seasons. Perhaps he has turned a corner, but I suspect Garcia may be in for a hefty decline in 2018. But the main story surrounding this White Sox team, like the Braves, is their extremely loaded prospect pool. Arguably the best member of that pool, Yoan Moncada, whom the White Sox acquired from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade, is expected to open as the everyday second baseman and Chicago is expecting big things out of him. He’s been compared to Robinson Cano and that’s quite a tall order for a guy who is a career .229 hitter in 62 games at the Major League level. There isn’t a whole lot of Major League experience with Moncada, however what we have seen is a second baseman with a good amount of pop, good speed, and a good stick when he manages to put the ball in play. Moncada had a .325 average on balls in play last season however he only hit .231 and a big reason for that is he struck out 32% of the time he came up to bat, which would have ranked 4th in the Majors had he had enough at bats to qualify. He struck out at an even higher rate than Aaron Judge and Mark Reynolds, who have gained reputations for being big power bats that strike out a lot. He NEEDS to bring that number way down if he hopes to maximize on his potential. A guy he might want to take a look at is Javy Baez of the Cubs, who came up in a similar fashion. He boasted tremendous power for a middle infielder but he struck out at an alarming rate. In his first taste of the Majors in 2014, Baez struck out 41% of the time. However since then, he has brought that number down every season until 2017 and his production has been better for it. He got his strikeout rate as low as 24% (which still isn’t great but it’s at least respectable) in 2016 and in that season, he hit .273 with 14 homers and 59 RBI en route to helping the Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years. So if Moncada can follow the improvements made by the other Chicago second baseman, he would become a huge asset for the White Sox.

<> at Comerica Park on September 14, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan.

White Sox pitching is currently an absolute shit show right now. Their ace, James Shields, hasn’t been a quality pitcher since 2014 and hasn’t had an ERA under 5 since 2015. In 21 starts last season, Shields went 5-7 with a 5.23 ERA, a 5.83 FIP, 103 strikeouts, and was worth -0.2 WAR. That’s not even #5 starter numbers and this guy is the favorite to be the Opening Day starter. There was a time when Shields was an ace, his time with the Rays was very good, but those days are long gone and Shields is basically a batting practice pitcher at this point. In fact, had he pitched enough innings to qualify, Shields’ 2.08 Home Runs per 9 innings allowed would’ve topped all of baseball. Lucas Giolito is a guy the White Sox hope can reach his potential as well. Like Moncada, Giolito was at one point the #1 prospect in baseball on another team whom the White Sox acquired in a trade for one of their best players (OF Adam Eaton). He struggled mightily with the Nationals but his first stint with the White Sox showed a lot of promise. He only made 7 starts but in those starts he went 3-3 with a 2.38 ERA (though his FIP was 4.94, the largest differential I’ve ever seen). He didn’t strike out a ton of batters, as his Strikeouts per 9 was just 6.75, but he was helped by the fact that opponents only hit .189 on balls in play against him. If he can continue to show the promise he showed in his brief stint with the White Sox, they may have their future ace on their hands. Carson Fulmer’s another guy they hope will take the next step into ace status. As of right now, I am a bit ashamed to admit, but in the 2015 MLB Draft, I was upset the Red Sox took Andrew Benintendi with the 7th overall pick when Fulmer was still on the board, whom the White Sox snatched up with the very next pick. While Benintendi is a future stud for the Red Sox, Fulmer has yet to leave his mark with the White Sox. In his first stint in 2016, he made 8 relief appearances and pitched to an 8.49 ERA. His second stint in 2017 was much better (can’t do much worse) where he pitched to a 3.86 ERA in 7 appearances and 5 starts. His control has been a big problem in both stints, as he walks over 5 batters per 9 innings. There are a lot of issues currently in the White Sox pitching staff but if their young guys can step up, then things will go a lot more smoothly.

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The White Sox bullpen is one of the weaker units in the American League. Joakim Soria is slated to be their closer and along with Nate Jones, he’s probably the only one who is even remotely capable of holding the job. Last year in Kansas City, Soria pitched to a 3.70 ERA (though he had a FIP of 2.23) and struck out over 10 batters per 9 innings so he still has something left in the tank despite being 33 years old. Nate Jones is also a capable reliever, as he pitched to a 2.31 ERA last season and struck out over 11 batters per 9 innings. Should Soria struggle in the closer’s role, manager Rick Renteria ought to be more than confident in his next best option in Jones. After those two guys there really isn’t much to write home about.

Overall, I don’t expect the White Sox to sniff .500 at any point this season. Aside from Jose Abreu there aren’t any established Major League studs. The excitement for them, though, is in their prospect pool, which is arguably the best in baseball. To go along with young Major Leaguers Moncada, Giolito, and Fulmer, the White Sox have waiting in the wings guys like OF Eloy Jimenez (acquired in the Jose Quintana trade), OF Blake Rutherford (acquired in the Todd Frazier trade), P Michael Kopech (acquired in the Chris Sale trade), OF Luis Robert, P Alec Hansen, P Dylan Cease, and P Dane Dunning, all of whom rank amongst MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects. So the future is bright in the south side of Chicago, but the present leaves much to be desired.

Projected Record: 70-92, 4th in AL Central

That’s going to do it for this edition of 30 Clubs in 30 Days. Join me tomorrow when I preview the Cincinnati Reds, who will try and escape the cellar of the NL Central for the first time since 2014. Let me know what you think of the White Sox’ chances this season in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

General Sports: February 13

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-Esteban Loaiza, the second winningest Mexican-born pitcher in Major League history, was arrested on charges of possession of cocaine and possibly heroin (the substances are still being tested), 20 kilos to be more precise, worth approximately $500K. The substances were found in a rental home of his in southern California.  Bail was set at $200K. Not great. Loaiza, who was the starter for the American League in the 2003 All Star Game with the White Sox, had a pretty successful career over his 14 seasons but pretty much all of that is going to be erased in our memory of him even if he’s found innocent. Being linked to an incident such as this is pretty destructive towards one’s image. With that many drugs in one place, it’s pretty apparent that there was intent to distribute and that carries a much stiffer penalty than if he had it all to snort for himself. I’m not sure what the exact penalty is going to be if he’s found guilty, but it’s safe to say it’d be several years before he saw the outside world again. Especially when you take into account this whole thing started because he was stopped crossing the border under suspicion he was transferring drugs over the border, leading to the search warrant for his rental home. You know for a sports blog, I really do talk about cocaine quite a bit it seems…

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-It seems that every time that former closer Goose Gossage has appeared in the media since being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, he’s dropping f-bomb after f-bomb. It was reported that after several years of being present to assist in Spring Training practices with the Yankees, GM Brian Cashman informed Gossage that he was not going to be coaching this year. Gossage said to the New York Daily News in reference to Cashman that “with that kind of power, that’s what happens to you, you turn into a fucking asshole.” He then went on to say that Cashman “would have been fired 10 years ago if George (Steinbrenner) was still around. He’d have been gone when he jumped out of that fucking airplane. Do you think he’s a good fucking baseball guy, really? He doesn’t believe in fucking coaching.” This isn’t the first time that Gossage has gone on these kinds of tirades. Most guys would be honored to be compared to Mariano Rivera, however Gossage took it as an insult, saying that he would pitch several innings for his saves while Rivera would only pitch 1. He also called Jose Bautista a “fucking disgrace” for his infamous bat flip in the 2015 ALDS against the Rangers. He then went after stat-favoring executives calling them a “bunch of fucking nerds running the game.” Normally I’d be rolling my eyes at this guy who is trying to stay relevant as nobody would know who he was if he weren’t being outlandish in the media. However I actually find it kind of endearing to see him go on his tirades. He’s a miserable asshole and there really aren’t enough of these guys in the world of sports right now. Or if there are, they’re keeping quiet. Too many guys nowadays are afraid to show any kind of emotion so that the media can’t use it against them, but Gossage clearly doesn’t fucking care, as he would put it. And I kind of respect that. Keep doing you, Goose.

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-Here’s a cool story. So Giancarlo Stanton and AJ Ramos were friends and teammates on the Miami Marlins before each departed this offseason. Ramos was traded to the New York Mets during last season’s trade deadline and Stanton was traded to the New York Yankees during the offseason. Taking advantage of this opportunity to remain close, both men will be rooming together in an apartment in New York despite the fact they’ll be playing for different teams. Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are only 7 miles apart so if their games got out at roughly the same time then they’d both make it home in time to talk to each other about their day. Then Ramos could have breakfast waiting for Stanton in the morning as they peck each other on the cheek before going off to work. It’s really quite beautiful. I also feel like this could be interesting to make into a reality show or some other interesting segment when the Yankees and Mets play each other from June 8-10 and July 20-22. I just gave you a freebie, sports TV networks, run with it.

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-The Boston Police Department chose a very interesting way to honor Black History Month. In a tweet that has since been deleted, they honored legendary Celtics head coach Red Auerbach for being the first coach to draft a black man and starting the first all-black starting 5 in NBA history. Celebrating a white guy for Black History Month seems a bit controversial, no? This seems like an easy call to make but I guess the BPD didn’t see it that way. I get what they were going for, as Auerbach’s contributions to integrating the NBA were crucial particularly in a city that historically hasn’t had a great run with the black community, but why not just celebrate Earl Lloyd for being the first black man ever drafted into the NBA? That seems like a no-brainer.

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-Johnny Manziel opened up not only on Good Morning America, but on Pardon My Take about the lifestyle changes he’s made since he last appeared in the NFL. I won’t go through every bit of each, as you can probably find this stuff anywhere on the web, but a quick summary is that Manziel is now sober and I got the sense that he really regrets a lot of the decisions he made in the past and desperately misses football and is willing to do what it takes to get that opportunity again. He seemed to be very self-aware and I’m really hoping that he’s able to get another opportunity somewhere, whether that be in the NFL, the CFL, or even the XFL (though if Vince McMahon’s no criminal record policy is strictly enforced, that won’t be possible since Manziel has a DUI on his record).

That’s going to do it for this edition of general sports. Sorry for doing one of these on back-to-back days, but there hasn’t been any stories worthy of dedicating an entire blog to of late but a bunch of little ones. This may be a common theme over the summer, though. Goddamn, it’s only been a week and I already miss the Hell out of football. Let me know what you think of these stories in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.