SSHP Podcast 7 – Janice, Colleen, BB – 2020 – 01 – 02

In what can only be termed a rollicking Hit Pen podcast, Janice Scurio and Colleen Sullivan join Brett Ballantini in the Luis Robert extension aftermath to discuss La Pantera, the innovative “just writing some crap down” research technique, manifesting Yasiel Puig to the South Side with vision boarding and Puigpaganda, a Matt Albers comeback, and more.

Follow Janice on Twitter @BallerLibrarian, Colleen @ColleenSullivan, Brett @BrettBallantini and South Side Hit Pen @SouthSideHitPen.

SSHP Podcast 6 – James Fox & BB – 2020 – 01 – 02

James Fox, South Side Hit Pen managing editor who broke the Luis Robert extension story 10 days ago and confirmed the extension today, jumps on the podcast to talk Robert, the no-risk nature of the extension, and bullpen help going forward. No animals were harmed in the making of this podcast.

SSHP E5 – BB And Scott Reichard – 2019 – 12 – 29

On the first half of the podcast, Brett Ballantini and Scott Reichard assess the current state of the Sox, with five free agents on board and a few weaknesses left to patch. Does right field still need attention? How about the bullpen? And finally, Scott comes up with yet another freebie slogan for Brooks Boyer.

In the second half, Brett rolls the credits with big thank-yous to the site and staff. Here’s to a fantabulous 2020 season!

Now Dallas is in Chicago

Rotation, fortified: The White Sox added a solid No. 2, and a southpaw to boot, in Dallas Keuchel. (@KidKeuchy)

Per Jeff Passan and other sources, Dallas Keuchel and the Chicago White Sox have reached an agreement on a three-year, $55.5 million deal with a vesting fourth year option that could take the contract to $74 million.

Keuchel started 19 games with the Braves in 2019, going 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 112 ⅔ innings. Keuchel is a left-handed sinkerballer who gets tons of ground balls, which will serve him well in the homer-friendly G-Spot. DK should immediately step in to the No. 2 slot of the Sox rotation, and is a nice contrast to the rotation’s right-handed power pitchers Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Reynaldo López.

What the addition means for the 2020 White Sox

The Sox now have a couple things that they haven’t had on their pitching staff in a long time: depth and flexibility. Keuchel is steady if unspectacular at this point in his career. He’s not the Cy Young winner he was for the Astros in 2015, but he’s still good. He will keep you in games and eat innings for you, and that’s something the Sox sorely need.

Barring injury setbacks to some of the guys coming back from Tommy John, the Sox will have a good amount of depth and flexibility on their pitching staff. Maybe the Sox decide Michael Kopech or López would be best served pitching in the back end of their bullpen in 2020. Considering relief pitching market isn’t strong right now, those are the exact type of internal options a team with aspirations to compete would need. When the inevitable injury bug bites the Sox in 2020, and it will, they have actual major league pitching options to fill in. There shouldn’t be any more time for the Dylan Coveys, Odrisamer Despaignes, Ross Detwilers, or Hector Santiagos of the world.

Keuchel is the fourth big addition the White Sox have made, after Yasmani Grandal, Gio González and Nomar Mazara. If the Sox can add another right-handed bat (think Edwin Encarnacion, Marcell Ozuna, or Nicholas Castellanos), count on continued development from their young players, and add a bullpen piece or two, they can realistically compete for a playoff spot next year.

So sit back, relax, and strap it down: 2020 is going to be a wild ride!

Once again, Gio González is going to the White Sox

Look who’s back: Gio González returns to the White Sox, and it looks like he will finally make a major league appearance for them. (@Stadium)

This afternoon, the White Sox agreed to terms with left-handed starting pitcher Gio González. As a result, the 34-year-old veteran will join the organization for the third time in his career.

The White Sox have quite the history with González, even though the southpaw has not yet pitched a game in the majors for them. The White Sox drafted González in the first round (38th overall) in the 2004 draft. However, in the 2005-06 offseason, the White Sox traded González to the Phillies along with Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome. The following offseason, González rejoined the organization in another trade with Philadelphia. This time, Freddy Garcia went to the Phillies, while González and Gavin Floyd came to Chicago. In the 2007-08 offseason, for the third time in as many years, González was involved in a trade. This time, the White Sox sent him to Oakland in a deal for Nick Swisher.

Fast forward about 12 years, and here we are. González has had a successful major league career, and he appears to still have quite a few solid innings left in him. In 12 major league seasons, González has a 3.68 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 3.86 xFIP, and 32.3 fWAR. Last season, González posted a 3.50 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 4.45 xFIP, and 1.4 fWAR in 87 1/3 innings for the Brewers.

One caveat to González’s game is that he does not typically give bullpens a light day. In 17 starts last season, he averaged just under five innings per start. The good news is that the innings he did provide were usually strong. Of those 17 starts, González allowed more than three runs only three times, and he allowed more than two runs only five times. Sure, González benefited from being caught by Grandal, but the good news is that Grandal will catch him again.

Prior to this signing, if the White Sox had stood pat, they would have likely needed Dylan Covey and/or Carson Fulmer to start a few games at the beginning of the season. In the fourth year of a rebuild, that would have been unacceptable, and the front office deserves credit for ensuring that did not happen. González is a good addition to a rotation that was in desperate need of help. While the White Sox cannot afford to end their offseason acquisitions here, this is a step in the right direction. It is time to keep this momentum going and add another piece to the rotation. Ryu, I see you.

Mazara joins the White Sox for Walker, Texas Ranger

Bat dance: In a curious move, the White Sox dealt promising minor-league talent for a stalled major leaguer. (@NomarMzra26)

Late Tuesday night came word of the first White Sox trade of the Winter Meetings: Texas Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara to Chicago for High-A outfielder Steele Walker.

The move sends the fastest-rising outfield prospect in the system to Texas for a relatively expensive option to plug into right field (Mazara arguably could have found himself nontendered in the current climate).

But while it’s easy to lament the loss of Walker, the truth is the former Oklahoma Sooner is just a year younger than Mazara, already a veteran of four full big league seasons.

What’s more curious is that Mazara was acquired with several free agent, nontendered and trade prospects still on the board. A few days after being underwhelmed to learn the RF target for the White Sox was Marcell Ozuna, now White Sox fans are digesting an even more limited player in Mazara as their possible full-time RF in 2020.

If Mazara has his customary season in his White Sox debut, expect around 20 homers and a high-700s OPS, with no speed or defense to speak of. The left-handed Mazara has had considerably greater success against righthanders in his career, so in a platoon situation he could see his contact rate improve and OPS push higher than .800.

“At just 24 years old, Nomar provides us with a left-handed hitting right fielder who fits into our current team’s development arc and who still has untapped potential, said Rick Hahn in a team statement. “Nomar adds yet another young, exciting bat with upside to our lineup.”

Perhaps Hahn sees something many others do not. After all, Mazara had the longest home run (505 feet) in the majors last year, on June 21 vs. the White Sox, and hit two of the six longest homers in baseball in 2019.

Mazara won’t come cheap, as MLBTR estimates his arbitration settlement at $5.7 million in arbitration for 2020.

The White Sox lose Walker, their second round draft choice in 2018. The lefty is a good two years away from the big leagues, likely getting his feet wet for Texas in High-A after putting up just a .771 OPS at High-A Winston-Salem in the second half of 2019. Walker’s solid overall season, as many other top OF prospects slumped, put him in position to become the club’s top outfielder prospect with Luis Robert’s matriculation to the majors.

The trade pushes Chicago’s 40-man roster to 38.