South Side Hit Pen Podcast No. 7: Jerry Reinsdorf can’t take it with him

The Cat comes back: But as relief pitcher or beer vendor? (Wikipedia)


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.

 

 

South Side Hit Pen Podcast No. 5: The Puig streak continues

 

Guess who? Puig to the Sox; Rick, make it so.


In 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?

Bonus: 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!

What’s next on the shopping list for the White Sox?

Next up? According to recent rumors, Edwin Encarnación (seen here with the Blue Jays) could be the next major free agent signing for the White Sox. (@encadwin) 


Thus far, the White Sox have enjoyed quite the productive offseason. They’ve inked a four-year deal with All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal, re-signed and extended All-Star José Abreu, signed Gio González for a fifth starter role, and just picked up former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel on a three-year deal with a fourth-year option.

While most of the heavy lifting has been done, there are still needs that the White Sox might address. Included among these are either one or two relievers, and either a platoon right fielder or DH. Below is a list of potential options in these areas that could still be added.   


Relief Pitchers

With the increase to 26-man rosters for the upcoming season, it’s expected that teams will go with 13-man pitching staffs. Assuming the five-man rotation will include Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo López, Dylan Cease and Gio González (with Carlos Rodón and Michael Kopech ready later in the season), the White Sox have six near-locks for the bullpen, barring injury: Alex Colomé, Aaron Bummer, Kelvin Herrera, Jimmy Cordero, Evan Marshall and Jace Fry. When considering these six guys, three are coming off career years (Bummer, Cordero and Marshall) while two suffered through a difficult 2019 (Herrera and Fry) The other two spots, as of now, will be a battle among the likes of Tayron Guerrero, José Ruiz, Carson Fulmer and Dylan Covey (all but Covey have no minor-league options remaining). Thus, with so much uncertainty, it would behoove the White Sox to pursue a reliever or two in this year’s free agent class. Here’s a list of this writer’s top relief choices still available:

Dellin Betances: If he had his prototypical All-Star season in 2019, he’d already be off the board. He basically missed the entire season due to non-elbow related injuries, but according to several reports, should be ready before spring training. Betances possesses wipeout stuff as illustrated by his career 14.6 K%. His career 2.36 ERA and 2.31 FIP are nearly identical. MLB Trade Rumors projected him to receive a one-year, $7 million deal, which seems a little on the light side. Betances would give the White Sox a four-time All Star and power arm who throws more far more strikes than the recently-acquired Guerrero. As an added bonus, as a former Yankee, he likely knows how to get Twins hitters out.

Daniel Hudson: Remember this guy? Hudson was the White Sox fifth rounder who was traded way back in 2010 with David Holmberg for the well-traveled Edwin Jackson. Hudson’s the prototypical six-teams-in-11-seasons reliever, but may have just finished his best season last year, for the world champs. His numbers indicated he pitched in some excellent luck last year (2.47 combined ERA but 3.97 FIP with Toronto and Washington), so Hudson could be in for some regression. His 8.8 K/9 ratio was solid, and it seems he’s only getting better. MLB Trade Rumors projected him for two years, $12 million. He’d be a good acquisition due to his experience in both low and high-leverage situations.    

Will Harris: At 35 Harris is the oldest player on this list, but actually enjoyed the best 2019. For the Astros, all he did was post a 1.50 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. He did pitch in some luck (3.15 FIP), but aside from the freakishly-low ERA, Harris’ numbers were similar to his eight-year career averages. And it’s not like his career ERA is bad (2.84). Despite his gaudy numbers, it’s likely Harris could be acquired for a two-year deal due to his age.

Collin McHugh: McHugh’s a bit of an outlier here, because he had a down year in 2019 with the Astros (4.70 ERA, 4.43 WHIP) although he did post some impressive strikeout numbers in his swingman role (9.9 K/9). He’s just four years removed from a 19-win season, and did provide a nifty 1.99 ERA in 58 relief outings in 2018. He would give the White Sox yet continued depth in the rotation while providing another strikeout-oriented hurler in the pen. 

Steve Cishek: Yet another guy who could likely be acquired for no more than two years due to his age (33), Cishek posted a 2.95 ERA for the Cubs despite an unsightly 4.54 FIP. The sidearmer has a 2.52 ERA over the past four seasons, second only to Kenley Jansen during that time. Cishek’s strikeout and walk rates have been moving in the wrong direction, but he’s a high spin rate guy whose success comes from weak contact. He ranks in the 99th percentile in terms of opponent exit velocity and hard-hit percentage, as in 2019 Cishek’s average exit velocity of 84.5 mph ranked fourth in all of MLB.

Brandon Kintzler: Kintzler is another Cubs free agent who’s long in the tooth (35). He’s been consistently good throughout his career, as his 10-year totals suggest (3.37 ERA and 1.25 WHIP). For 2019, he posted a 2.68 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. While this veteran wouldn’t be a bad choice, all of the above options would be better fits.     


Right Field/DH Options

As of this moment, Nomar Mazara seems penciled in as the team’s right fielder, or at least as the lefty platoon at that position paired with with Leury García or Adam Engel. Zack Collins is the favorite right now as the lefty part of a DH platoon, with fellow catcher James McCann as his counterpart. Last year, the White Sox had among the worst all-time stats at both positions, and while Mazara/García and Collins/McCann platoons wouldn’t help but improve upon last year’s ugly numbers, there are still multiple options that could really add terrific finishing touches to this offseason. 

Edwin Encarnación: Obviously a 1B/DH option at this point of his career, Encarnacion can still rake. Combined with Cleveland and the Yankees last year, he slashed .244/.344/.531 with 34 homers and 86 RBIs in just 109 games. Despite missing time due to injuries, he still posted an impressive 2.5 fWAR and 129 wRC+. With Encarnación turning 37 in June, it’s likely he’ll accept a one-year deal for less than $10 million. As a result, this signing won’t impede Andrew Vaughn from potentially making the 2021 roster. This deal would likely relegate McCann to a backup catcher role and send Collins back to Charlotte.     

Yasiel Puig: Puig’s significantly younger than Encarnación (29), but may be willing to accept a one-year deal on a contending club. He likely won’t do so, however, if assuming a role as a platoon player. If the White Sox added him, it would likely be insert him as the full-time right fielder (thereby creating a potential Mazara/McCann platoon at DH). Puig posted a 1.2 fWAR and 102 wRC+, which pale in comparison to Encarnación’s. His offensive numbers in 2019, though, weren’t bad: .267/.327/.458 in 149 games with 30 doubles, 24 homers, 76 RBIs, 19 stolen bases. As a Cuban, he’d join fellow natives Abreu, Luis Robert, Yoán Moncada and Yasmani Grandal. However, the biggest concern for Puig is that his “exuberance” could create friction in the clubhouse, and this in part leads to why he could accept a one-year deal in the right situation. 

Eric Thames: Thames likely isn’t good enough defensively to supplant Mazara in right field, but he could make spot starts there, along with playing first base. In 2019 for the Brewers, the switch-hitter slashed .247/.346/.505 with 23 doubles, 25 homers, 67 RBIs, 1.9 fWAR and a wRC+ of 116. He likely would be the lefty platoon DH on the White Sox, splitting time primarily with McCann.  

Yoenis Cespedes: Cespedes could be available via trade with the New York Mets, and could be had for a relatively minor prospect. Thanks in part to a injury grievance settlement, he’ll only be paid $11 million this year. When healthy, Cespedes has produced big numbers. As recently as 2017, when he played in only 81 games, he posted an outstanding 131 wRC+ with 17 homers and 46 RBIs. With his foot injuries, Cespedes would be best suited for a DH. This would be quite the risk for a one-year deal compared to surer propositions like Encarnación and Puig, but it wasn’t that long ago (2016) that Cespedes posted a 3.7 fWAR and 136 wRC+ by swatting by slashing .280/.354/.530 with 31 homers. He also happens to be a Cuban native.

Hunter Pence: Pence enjoyed something of a renaissance with the Rangers last year, as he slashed .297/.358/.552 with 17 doubles, 18 homers, 53 RBIs, 1.8 fWAR and 128 wRC+ in just 83 games. He fared even better against southpaws: .327/.378/.636. It’s unclear how much the 36-year-old has left in the tank, as he appeared done with the Giants as recently as 2018. However, for a right-handed platoon option at either right field or DH, Pence could be worth a look for an affordable one-year deal.    

Corey Dickerson: In an injury-riddled season split between two teams this year, Dickerson slashed .304/.341/.565 with 28 doubles, 12 homers, 1.0 fWAR and 127 wRC+ in just 79 games. His best year was arguably in 2017 with Tampa Bay, when he slashed .282/.325/.490 with 27 homers and 84 RBIs. His defensive metrics haven’t been that great aside from 2018, but he’s easily better than Mazara though Dickerson has played more frequently in left. His acquisition would shift Mazara to the left-handed DH role.

Kole Calhoun: Often discussed as a potential free agent pick due to his power numbers and left-handedness, Calhoun still could be had for a one-year deal. While not Gold Glove-caliber anymore, the 32-year-old is still better defensively than Mazara. He posted a 108 wRC+ and 2.5 fWAR in 2019, thanks in part to 29 doubles and 32 homers. However, he did hit for a low average (.232) and fanned over 160 times.

Nicholas Castellanos: Castellanos enjoyed an outstanding 2019 offensively by slashing .289/.337/.525 with 58 doubles, 27 homers, and 100 RBIs. Despite his rough defensive analytics which have been well-publicized and warranted, Castellanos still posted a solid 2.8 fWAR and 121 wRC+. Most projections have him getting up to a four-year deal somewhere around $65 million, which may put him out of range for the White Sox. He’d be an impressive offensive force and would truly be best served as a DH, possibly playing right field against southpaws so that McCann or Grandal could DH in those instances. The White Sox seem committed to Vaughn and Abreu at DH and first base beginning in 2021, so it’s not likely the team will want to saddle Robert with Jiménez and Castellanos defensivelym either.

J.D. Martinez: Martinez, with $62.5 million and three years left in his current deal with the Red Sox, presents a similar situation to Castellanos, with two exceptions. The White Sox would have to trade for Martinez (although they likely wouldn’t have to part with much, as Boston desperately wants to reduce its overall salary) and he has an additional option year after the 2020 season. Martinez is a professional hitter and defensive liability, and even in an off-year, he posted an outstanding 3.2 fWAR and 139 wRC+, slashing .304/.383/.557 with 33 doubles, 36 homers, 105 RBIs and 72 walks. The White Sox could really use that bat, but would the team acquire him knowing that Vaughn may be just a year or two away?

Marcell Ozuna: Unlike Castellanos and Martinez, Ozuna could make a case for being a full-time right fielder despite playing most of his games in left. Though he’s not above-average in the outfield anymore, he’s likely adequate enough to play there while shifting Mazara to the DH spot. In slashing .243/.330/.474 for the Cardinals this year with 29 homers and 89 RBIs, Ozuna posted a 2.6 fWAR and 110 wRC+. It likely would take a three- or four-year commitment to ink him to a deal, but would the White Sox be willing to lose a second-round pick and international bonus pool money to do so? Now that the team’s already acquired Mazara, it doesn’t seem likely.


Summary

Edwin Encarnación on a one-year contract, with a second-year option in case neither Andrew Vaughn nor Gavin Sheets appear ready to begin 2021, is the best option for the White Sox.This would mean Zack Collins would begin the 2020 season in Charlotte, but he should be ready for backup catcher duties in 2021. As for the bullpen, Dellin Betances and Collin McHugh are the smartest picks.

With that said, any one of the players mentioned could only benefit the White Sox for the next year. Imagine the following 26-man roster, once Robert and Madrigal are on the team:

Starters: Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Reynaldo López, Dylan Cease, Gio González

Relievers: Alex Colomé, Aaron Bummer, Dellin Betances, Kelvin Herrera, Jimmy Cordero, Jace Fry, Evan Marshall, Collin McHugh

Catchers: Yasmani Grandal, James McCann

Infielders: José Abreu, Nick Madrigal, Tim Anderson, Yoán Moncada, Edwin Encarnación, Danny Mendick

Outfielders: Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Nomar Mazara, Adam Engel, Leury García

Injured List: Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodón

Several players will be off the books after the 2020 season (Colomé, Herrera, McCann, García and possibly González, Betances, McHugh and Mazara depending if options are accepted and/or arbitration is tendered. Many of these guys could be replaced cheaply in 2021 by in-house prospects like Zack Burdi, Ian Hamilton, Zack Collins, Codi Heuer, Tyler Johnson and Dane Dunning, to name just a few. Thus, even with extending some of our key players, the White Sox should have plenty of money to splurge on premier outfielders (Mookie Betts and George Springer immediately come to mind) if the need should arise.


 

 

South Side Hit Pen Podcast 4: The Stove is running Hot

 

Just Like Heaven: Santa Hahn packed the stocking with both Keuchel and Gio González this week. (Tom Borowski/South Side Hit Pen)


This week, Brett Ballantini and Joe Resis discuss a scorching Hot Stove for the White Sox, with the free agent signings of Dallas Keuchel and Gio González. Is the rotation finally Covey-proofed? Will White Sox Twitter chill? Have the White Sox really not been meaningfully in first place since 2012?

Deep Dive: Free agent right fielders

Better late than never: Nicholas Castellanos leads this list of right fielders who could still be available to the White Sox via free agency. (@NickCastellano6) 


[Ed note: After exhaustively detailing 212 prospects, the Deep Dive series comes to an end today. Wow. Tomorrow, we begin our countdown of Top 100 White Sox prospects.]

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position


With the acquisition of Nomar Mazara, the need for someone in right field isn’t quite so glaring for the White Sox. This doesn’t mean that the White Sox will totally abandon this list. Nicholas Castellanos, for example, could be the regular DH and perhaps move over to right field when the team faces southpaws. Kole Calhoun could be a better right field solution defensively, shifting Mazara to a platoon situation at DH. A couple of other bats are intriguing as well, like Yasiel Puig and former Sox outfielder Avi García. Unfortunately, there’s no solid platoon bat to team with Mazara for right field on this free agent list. If interested in other guys who can play right field and/or DH, please review the left field, center field and first base/DH Deep Dives published earlier.     

(age as of April 1, 2020)


Nicholas Castellanos
Chicago Cubs
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 2.7
Stats: .289/.337/.525, 615 AB, 58 2B, 27 HR, 73 RBI, 2 SB, 41 BB, 143 K
Other positions played: Left field
Age: 28

Kole Calhoun
B/T: L/L

2019 bWAR: 2.3
Stats: .232/.325/.467, 552 AB, 29 2B, 33 HR, 74 RBI, 4 SB, 70 BB, 162 K
Other positions played: Center field
Age: 32 

Avisaíl García
Tampa Bay Rays
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 2.0
Stats: .282/.332/.464, 489 AB, 25 2B, 20 HR, 72 RBI, 10 SB, 31 BB, 125 K
Age: 28

Cameron Maybin
New York Yankees
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 1.5
Stats: .285/.364/.494, 316 AB, 17 2B, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 9 SB, 30 BB, 72 K
Other positions played: Left field, Center field
Age: 32

Yasiel Puig
Cleveland Indians
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 1.3
Stats: .267/.327/.458, 555 AB, 30 2B, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 19 SB, 44 BB, 133 K
Age: 29

Matt Joyce
Atlanta Braves
B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: 0.9
Stats: .295/.408/.450, 200 AB, 10 2B, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB, 38 BB, 45 K
Other positions played: Left field
Age: 35

Steven Souza Jr.
Arizona Diamondbacks

B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 0.0
Stats: Injured and didn’t play in 2019
Age: 30

Lonnie Chisenhall
Pittsburgh Pirates

B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: 0.0
Stats: Didn’t play in 2019
Age: 31

Jon Jay
Chicago White Sox
B/T: L/L
2019 bWAR: -0.8
Stats: .267/.311/.315, 165 AB, 8 2B, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 8 BB, 30 K
Other positions played: Left field

Age: 35

Melky Cabrera
Pittsburgh Pirates

B/T: S/R
2019 bWAR: -1.2
Stats: .280/.313/.399, 378 AB, 22 2B, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 2 SB, 17 BB, 41 K
Other positions played: Left field

Age: 35


 

Filling the South Side’s crater in right field

Running down a dream: The White Sox begin their second year of serious Joc pursuit this offseason. (Wikipedia)


Paltry production has been prevalent in the outfield at Guaranteed Rate Field in general over the past few years, but the crater  in right field specifically has become a larger issue. The White Sox were 29th in baseball in right field production last season, according to FanGraphs. The hodgepodge of Leury García, Charlie Tilson, Ryan Cordell, Jon Jay and Daniel Palka combined for a total of -1.3 fWAR in 2019. The only positive contributor was García, with an fWAR of 1.3, and he posted a putrid wRC+ of 83 in more than 600 plate appearances.

Rick Hahn has discussed the outfield vacancy ad nauseum and it’s a near-certainty that someone else will be on display for the fine folks in Section 108 next year. Luis Robert is a Top 5 prospect in the sport and profiles in center field. He should spend the majority of the 2020 baseball season in Chicago. Besides him, though, the once-promising group of outfield depth in the White Sox’s minors have suffered from setbacks and poor performance.

Micker Adolfo, Luis Basabe and Blake Rutherford are all on the 40-man roster but aren’t ready to play games in Chicago. Luis González and Steele Walker are other options, but not on the 40-man. Adam Engel could carry his steady glove back into a reserve role on the South Side and Eloy Jiménez will be a fixture in left.

The rest of the outfield is an empty canvas screaming to be colored.


Dollars to spend

Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna are the top names available on the open market, and the White Sox could have some level of interest in both players. The market for Ozuna has been quiet in the early going, and his derby is a bit of an unknown at this point. The 29-year-old received a qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals after posting a 110 wRC+ in 2019. He provides above-average power after launching 29 balls over the fence last year and 148 total over the course of his young career.

But the White Sox need to fill their hole in right field, and one potential issue with Ozuna is the fact that he hasn’t played the position recently. With the Cardinals, he’s been strictly in left as we recently surmised. One thing that the Dominican does have going for him is his history with new hitting coach Frank Menechino. The White Sox’s recently appointed swing master oversaw Ozuna’s 5.0 fWAR season in Miami, when he posted a 143 wRc+.

Interest in Castellanos was reported back at the start of November. Jon Morosi of MLB Network chimed in and echoed similar sentiments, in addition to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The White Sox would prefer to add lineup balance in the form of a left-handed hitter, but it’s imperative to not be slaves to handedness in this regard. The 27-year-old former first-rounder can really hit. Castellanos is also quite familiar with the AL Central after spending the majority of his career in Detroit with the Tigers.

The 6´4´´, 200-pounder was a different player after a deadline trade to the Cubs, and the performance may have caused some value inflation. Castellanos is regarded as a subpar defender in an outfield corner and he’s also a client of superagent Scott Boras. After hitting 27 homers in 2019, Castellanos has racked up 120 in his career. He was death to southpaws last year, posting a wRC+ of 190, and has destroyed lefties in general during his career. In 2019, Castellanos slugged .525 with a 121 wRc+ and .357 wOBA. His .236 ISO was stellar after posting a 130 wRC+ with a .363 wOBA in 2018.

Yasiel Puig, Kole Calhoun and Corey Dickerson are tertiary options on the market who are readily available as well. Puig is cantankerous at times and full of shenanigans, but he’s Cuban and really fun. The 28-year-old hit 24 home runs in 2019 but was a league average offensive player (101 wRC+) for the Reds and Cleveland. He posted a 123 wRC+ in 2018. He’d likely be a backup plan at best for the 2020 White Sox.

Calhoun and Dickerson are both lefties with some power, and would offer lineup balance for the Sox. Calhoun is 32 years old, plays above-average defense and hit 33 homers in 2019. He also struck out a ton, selling out for his most productive power season to date. The former Halo posted a 108 wRC+ with a staggering .236 ISO and performed admirably vs. right-handed pitching. Dickerson is 30 years old and only hit 12 homers in 2019, but posted a 127 wRC+. He reached base a ton, with a .367 wOBA and smashed righties to the tune of a 136 wRC+.

Dickerson and Calhoun are solid players, but the White Sox are likely looking for more.


Trade winds are blowing

The elephant in the room this offseason is Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts. The Carmines are in a tough spot with their budget, and new president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom may be obligated to trade his star player. The 27-year-old outfielder is one of the very best players in the sport and he’s looking to cash in on a free agent contract in excess of $300 million next off-season. Betts has accumulated 37.2 fWAR in six big league seasons while compiling 17 fWAR over his last two years. It would be a surprise to see the White Sox meet the perceived asking price for him at this juncture.

Another former All-Star on the trade market is Starling Marte of the Pittsburgh Pirates. With Ben Cherington looking to put his stamp on the organization, it’s highly likely that Marte moves to a new organization at some point. The 31-year-old center fielder has two years left on his contract and has an arm strong enough to play in a corner. Starling put up 3.0 fWAR with a 119 wRC+ and 23 homers in 2019. He doesn’t walk a lot and he hits from the right side. He doesn’t solve the White Sox’s left-handed problem, but he’d be a solid acquisition nonetheless.

Charlie Blackmon and Shin Soo-Choo are two more veteran names on the trade market. The White Sox have been linked to Blackmon in the past. His contract is abhorrent, but some of it could be paid down by Colorado. The 33-year-old has declining defensive ability, and his splits away from Coors Field are quite troubling. The Rockies outfielder hit .314/.364/.576 with 32 home runs. Blackmon posted a 2.0 fWAR with a 125 wRC+ and .387 wOBA. Choo is a platoon player at this stage, but a very good one. The 37-year-old posted a 127 wRC+ vs righties last year.

Two young lefties who might be growing out of favor with their current clubs could be available as well. Gregory Polanco hasn’t lived up to the hype in Pittsburgh, and the new management team could look to move the 28-year-old right fielder. Polanco slumped through 167 plate appearances last year but he posted a 123 wRC+ in 2018. He has struggled against lefties throughout his career, though, and selling low may not be the best idea for the Pirates at this time. Texas Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara is another player who has been linked to the White Sox in the past. The 24-year-old hits from the left side and has three years of contract control remaining. Mazara’s overall 2019 numbers aren’t promising, but he did post a 110 wRC+ vs righties.


Likely outcomes

The decision-makers for the Chicago White Sox will embark to San Diego this weekend for next week’s Winter Meetings. Pitching will likely remain a priority for the Pale Hose after narrowly missing on preferred target Zack Wheeler. The market is moving a little quicker this year, though, and the outfield hole could be filled at any time. Nick Castellanos has an uncertain market right now, but he could be an option to sign next week. Trade talks will likely continue as well.

Jerry DiPoto has begun his annual reshaping of the Seattle Mariners, and outfielder Mitch Haniger could be a White Sox target after being bandied in trade proposals in recent seasons. DiPoto has downplayed the rumors in regards to Haniger and is reportedly reluctant to sell low on the 28-year-old. The outfielder missed most of last season with a ruptured testicle and related back issues following the procedure. He did display mostly league average offensive production with 15 bombs last year in 63 games, however.

In limited time in 2019, Haniger’s .244 ISO was stellar and he possesses big raw power. The 6´2´´, 215-pounder posted a 137 wRC+ with a .367 wOBA in 2018. He compiled 4.5 fWAR after hitting 26 home runs while displaying a 10% walk rate. The Mariners have a collection of young outfielders who are approaching the majors and something will have to give soon enough. DiPoto loves making deals, and Haniger could be on the move next week.

According to Nightengale, the White Sox have again inquired with the Los Angeles Dodgers on the availability of outfielder Joc Pederson. The 27-year-old outfielder was a trade target last year as well before talks were halted due to twitter and Joc remained in La La Land. Pederson would be a great fit for the White Sox’s roster. He’s a solid defender in right field and he possesses immense power potential from the left side.

The 6´2´´, 220-pounder is in his final year of arbitration and he hit .249/.339/.538 with the Dodgers last season. Pederson murders righties to the tune of a 137 wRC+ and would be a force in the middle of the Chicago lineup. He posted a 127 wRC+ with a .362 wOBA and accumulated 3.0 fWAR in 2019 as well. It’s unknown how serious the talks have become, or what Andrew Friedman and his staff would even be looking for in return for the slugger at this point.


The White Sox will have a new right fielder in 2020. The bigger questions are where that player comes from and how much it costs to acquire him. The front office could rub elbows with Boras and keep Castellanos in the Second City. They could make a trade for one of the readily-available bats on the market. They could even go off the board entirely and break that story on the team’s official twitter.

The good thing for the organization, though, is that a plethora of solid options exist and anything will likely be an upgrade.

Follow James on twitter.

 

South Side Hit Pen Podcast: Episode 1


Hey now people, the South Side Hit Pen podcast is on the air! 

It’s truly an Episode 0, giving hosts Clinton Cole and Brett Ballantini a little bit of time to explore the full studio space. (Conclusion: More cowbell!)

Anyhow, with this episode recorded on Sunday and finally getting the go-ahead to publish from our new Soundcloud account today, try not to shed a tiny tear as we talk about “No. 1 free agent target” Zack Wheeler. We also pump up the volume on Yasiel Puig, take a victory lap with Yasmani Grandal, and work the mailbag.

 

 

Know Your Enemy: Cleveland

(@Indians)


When we last saw Cleveland, we took three of four at home in late May/early June, putting both teams in a tie for second place in the AL Central with 29-30 records.

Since then, a lot has improved for Cleveland, and not much has gone right for the White Sox.

The Wahoos improved from a league-worst bullpen to a league leading 3.43 ERA, coming in at 101 fewer runs allowed than the AL average of 283, with a meager 182. Shortstop Francisco Lindor Is hitting .297 post All-Star Break, and is destroying right-handed pitching. Second baseman and Northbrook native Jason Kipnis has raised his batting average by about 50 points since we last saw him, and the two of them have .980 and .989 fielding percentages, respectively. (By contrast, Tim Anderson’s fielding percentage this season is .944, lowest by a position player in the majors). 

The White Sox had a rather forgettable June, going 11-13 and not really doing anything important other than claiming Jimmy Cordero off waivers. Jimmy Biceps has been my favorite bullpen pitcher this second half, and other than DFA-ing Yonder Alonso, it was perhaps the best decision the White Sox made during the month. We also lost Anderson to an ankle sprain, and we hobbled into July to play arguably the worst month of baseball in recent memory. The White Sox went 7-17, including a seven-game skid immediately following the All Star Break. Other than Dylan Cease’s debut, July pretty much sucked. We had the failed A.J. Reed experiment, lots of Dylan Covey, and lots of trade speculation. We didn’t do much at the deadline, sending Nate Jones and a pile of The Money Will Be Spent™ cash to the Texas Rangers in exchange for two minor league pitchers.

The Indians received two-sport athlete Yasiel Puig (check out his soccer skills below) and his red mohawk from the Reds in a trade that sent resident lunatic Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati, and he claims he doesn’t miss Cleveland.

So far this season, the White Sox are 7-5 against the Indians, with a 3-3 record at Progressive Field. The South Siders are in an interesting position for the remainder of this season, as Cleveland currently sits 5.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins, and currently half a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the top wild card spot, with the Oakland A’s one half-game behind. The next closest hopeful, the Boston Red Sox, are five games back. If we can take at least two of these games and the others in the wild-card chase play well, there is a chance we can play spoilsport to Cleveland’s postseason hopes.

Cleveland is pretty easy to hate, even without Chief Wahoo. We all know how Joakim Noah feels about the former Land of LeBron:

To quote our very own Mike Gasick, “I’ll never forgive this stupid team for blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series. Worst day of my life.”

Probable starters are:

Monday, September 2:  Ross Detwiler vs. Aaron Civale (6:10 pm, NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) With Detwiler pitching in Saturday’s circus show, this matchup is likely to change. Civale has been impressive in his rookie season, and I expect him to be in the Cleveland rotation next season. He’s got a nasty sinker, averages five strikeouts per game and his WHIP is 0.90. We’re going to need some good luck and possibly an exorcism before we face this guy.

Tuesday, September 3: Dylan Cease vs. Mike Clevinger (6:10 pm, WGN/WGN-AM 720) If Cease can limit the first-inning damage, this could be a fun one. If Dylan gets rocked early, Clevinger could wipe the floor with us.

Wednesday, September 4: Iván Nova vs. Shane Bieber (6:10 pm NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) Shane Bieber has gone 0-2 in his last three starts, including a no-decision to the Kansas City Royals, sandwiched by losses to the New York Mets and Rays. He’s got a good fastball, so expect a lot of South Side strikeouts.

Thursday, September 5: Reynaldo López vs. Zach Plesac (12:10 pm NBCSN/WGN-AM 720) With ReyLo chased out of the game without making it through a single inning on Saturday, this will be his chance for redemption. Plesac, a rookie, is a good pitcher but also is hittable, so if ReyLo gets some run support, he’s got a good shot at taking this one.

With September callups always a possibility, we might be seeing some new faces in the dugout by the end of this series. But for now, we’ve got Manny Bañuelos and Carson Fulmer swelling our bench to 27.

If you can make it through all four games, I promise to give you a special treat in Thursday’s game recap. Until then, let’s try to make it harder for Cleveland to make the wild card playoff game.

Chief Wahoo became Chief WaChew in my house.
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