Houston Astros: The "new wave" gets a full season
The Astros have "graduated" a number of their top prospects this season, including George Springer, Jon Singleton, Mike Foltynewicz and Domingo Santana from their own system, and Jake Marisnick from the Miami Marlins. These players have had rough patches to be sure, but they all have flashed their potential.
CHICAGO -- The end of the Adam Dunn era might have been an easy one for fans to digest, but it left a void in a stunned Chicago White Sox clubhouse Sunday.
It’s not like the team couldn't see Dunn's departure coming. While fans might wonder how the White Sox were able to come away with a player in return, much less find a team in the Oakland Athletics to pick up half of what he is still owed this season, the team's players and staff knew the guy nicknamed "Big Donkey" still had some value.
"He showed up every day," said captain Paul Konerko, well aware that many in the fan base might actually see that as a negative. "I think there was the time he missed [in 2011] when he had his appendix taken out, but when he missed games it was a serious thing, and there wasn't too many of them. From a teammate standpoint, that's really all I cared about and what most guys cared about. That's what we feel about it.
"I don't care if he goes out there and strikes out four times. We all do it. We all have bad games. It’s not an easy game. The fact that he never backed down and played every time he could play, really, at the end of the day, that’s all that matters to us in a lot of ways."
His high point in a White Sox uniform was in 2012 as he powered the offense into a playoff-contending run that ultimately failed. His revival was almost a shock after he hit just 11 home runs with 42 RBIs and batted .159 in 2011, his first season after signing a four-year, $56 million contract.
That 2011 season was also the year when Dunn dealt with his appendix issue, going in for emergency surgery during the first road trip of the season. He forced his way back into the lineup too soon and his struggles were predictable. He also dealt with serious health issues within his own close-knit family that he elected to not talk about.
He remained approachable during his entire time with the White Sox, never backing down from questions about why he wasn't able to deliver the kind of offense that was expected of him.
"Yeah, I mean, I'm not going to beat around the bush and say the four years here was great, because it was, um just bad," Dunn said outside the White Sox clubhouse Sunday while his now-former team was taking on the Detroit Tigers. "I did it completely to myself. I don't blame anyone; I blame myself. But I met a lot of great people here. I wish things would've worked out better, but it didn't."
Ultimately, fans don't buy tickets to see people who get along best with players on their favorite team. As Dunn's strikeouts mounted and the boos grew louder, he never expressed frustration at how he was treated, always saying it was what he deserved.
His ability to never take it personally and withdraw allowed him to be lighthearted and fun-loving in the clubhouse, something White Sox players appreciated. Looking for a theme to this season, he had a toy chimpanzee the size of a small child at his locker dressed in a kid's White Sox jersey.
CHICAGO -- Jose Quintana allowed two runs over seven innings to earn his first win in more than a month, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2 after trading Adam Dunn on Sunday afternoon.
The White Sox sent Dunn to Oakland before the game, ending a disappointing four-year run in Chicago for the veteran slugger.
Then, they took advantage of a season-high four errors by the Tigers to salvage a four-game split.
Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 12 games, and the White Sox won after dropping 10 of 12.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox earned a 6-2 victory Sunday over the Detroit Tigers, ending the four-game series in a split.
How it happened: Adam Eaton, Carlos Sanchez, Avisail Garcia and Tyler Flowers each had two hits as the White Sox toppled the Tigers, who committed four errors. Tigers starter Rick Porcello wasn’t horrible, but he did give up 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings while dealing with all the extra outs he had to get. Of the six runs Porcello gave up, only three were earned. White Sox starter Jose Quintana gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings.
What it means: The trade of Adam Dunn early Sunday gave Andy Wilkins the chance to make his debut at first base. The MVP candidate in the International League, after hitting 30 home runs with 85 RBIs in 127 games at Charlotte, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his debut. On defense, he failed to handle a throw in the dirt from shortstop Leury Garcia, resulting in an infield single. Wilkins, who bats left-handed, is expected to take over the Dunn role over the final month of the season.
Outside the box: Jose Abreu recorded his 99th RBI, moving him one short of becoming the fourth White Sox rookie to hit the 100-mark in that category. Ron Kittle was the last, collecting 100 RBIs in 1983. With 32 doubles and 33 home runs already this season, Abreu is looking to become just the fourth rookie in major league history with 30 doubles, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in his rookie season. The others were Hal Trosky (1934), Ted Williams (1939) and Albert Pujols (2001).
Off beat: It was the White Sox who had an unfamiliar defense of Wilkins at first base, Sanchez at second and Leury Garcia at shortstop, but it was the Tigers with all the fielding issues. Three of Detroit's season-high four errors were made in the first two innings, and it should have been four errors in the first two innings after left fielder J.D. Martinez dropped Adam Eaton's first-inning fly ball in left. It was scored a double. The Tigers aren’t one of the best fielding teams anyway, sitting 23rd in baseball with 87 errors at the start of the day.
Up next: The White Sox have an off day Monday and will open a brief two-game series at Minnesota on Tuesday when White Sox right-hander hector Noesi (8-9, 4.75 ERA) faces Twins left-hander Tommy Milone (6-4, 4.08), in a 7:10 p.m. CST start from Target Field.
The White Sox announced Sunday that they have outrighted minor-league pitcher Nestor Molina to Double-A Birmingham, putting their 40-man at 39 players. All players called up to the major leagues in September when rosters expand must be on the 40-man roster.
Rodon was the No. 3 overall selection in this past June’s draft and the first player in the draft class to advance to the Triple-A level. In three starts at Triple-A Charlotte, the left-hander has given up four runs on nine hits over 12 innings, good for a 3.00 ERA.
His most recent start came Saturday so he wouldn’t be available to pitch again for a few days if he was called up. It is suspected that the White Sox would use Rodon in relief if he has called up, but they have not confirmed that plan.
Although it obviously would be a fast trip through the minor leagues for Rodon, Chris Sale was also fast-tracked through the system. He was drafted in 2010 and was a member of the White Sox’s bullpen later that year, making 21 appearances.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has already said that long term, Rodon projects as a starter.
CHICAGO -- Adam Dunn's first opportunity at a playoff appearance will also be his swan song as the slugger announced Sunday he plans to retire at the conclusion of the season on the same day the Oakland Athletics acquired him in a trade with the White Sox.
"This is probably going to be it," said Dunn, who doesn't think he can be talked out of his retirement plan. "I've been playing a long time and haven't got this opportunity, so I'm going to try to make the most of it."
The White Sox received minor league pitcher Nolan Sanburn in exchange for Dunn and unspecified cash considerations.
Oakland will pay approximately half of the remaining $2.5 million owed to Dunn this season, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.
"It really feels like Opening Day," Dunn said. "It's a really good shot in the arm, for me especially. It's pretty easy waking up this morning and knowing you're going to be somewhere tomorrow that has a legitimate chance to do something that you've worked your entire career to do. Now I'm getting a chance."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Dunn will be missed in the clubhouse.
"Well, I mean, great teammate. Those are the things, for me, that are really important things that people don't see, is him inside the clubhouse, just kind of how to act, how to go about your business and be accountable," Ventura said. "I think he's one of the best I've ever been around for that, so I'm happy that he gets to go somewhere and get a chance to make it to the playoffs. But he's a guy that came in and I know that for all three years, he's been a leader."
The 34-year-old Dunn, who has 460 career home runs, is in the last year of a four-year, $56 million deal. He is batting .220 with 20 homers, 54 RBIs and a .340 on-base percentage this season.
"Yeah, I mean, I'm not going to beat around the bush and say the four years here was great, because it was, um ... it was just bad," Dunn said. "I did it completely to myself. I don't blame anyone, I blame myself. But I met a lot of great people here. I wish things would've worked out better, but it didn't."
Because of a no-trade clause, Dunn had to approve the move to Oakland, a team with great need right now.
The Athletics lead the majors in runs scored, but rank only 20th in runs in August, following the trade of Yoenis Cespedes
The 34-year-old Dunn, who has 460 career home runs, is in the last year of a four-year, $56 million deal with the White Sox. He is batting .220 with 20 homers, 54 RBIs and a .340 on-base percentage this season.
Because of a no-trade clause, Dunn has the power to pick which team he wants to finish this season with, and clearly, Oakland is a team with great need right now.
The White Sox also had conversations Sunday with the Los Angeles Dodgers about Dunn, according to sources.
Dunn could be a designated hitter for Oakland but would be more limited in his role with the Dodgers.
CHICAGO – A sluggish August for the Chicago White Sox has been a reminder that more roster tweaks are needed, even with activity already underway.
Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of a day/night doubleheader was mostly significant for the White Sox because of who wasn’t available. Alejandro De Aza was held out of the starting lineup with a trade in the works and before the fifth inning was complete, he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles.
The De Aza deal, combined with one that sent Gordon Beckham to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 21, was not unlike rearranging the living room to create space for a potential new piece of furniture.
The second-base spot is first being handed to Carlos Sanchez, and perhaps Marcus Semien as well, over the final month. Micah Johnson will then have a say in second-base matters next spring.
As far as left field, it remains to be seen who the White Sox plant there first, but Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell could see time as potential September call-ups. Perhaps Semien plays in left, too. The White Sox can then decide if they like what they see in one of those options, elect to stay with Dayan Viciedo or go another route.
“There's opportunity there,” Hahn said about the left-field job. “There's opportunity for someone to step up and seize that job, and if not, it's something we'll be looking to explore filling in the offseason.”
By moving Beckham and De Aza before the season was complete, the White Sox also save short of $1 million on each, but combined that isn’t an insignificant amount of money. It makes even more financial sense when considering both were probably going to be cut loose as arbitration-eligible players who might not have been tendered contracts.
Both Beckham and De Aza were headed toward raises over the $4 million-plus each was making. Going off what those salaries are this season, the White Sox have another $8.4 million to work with. Then consider Adam Dunn's $15 million, Matt Lindstrom's $4 million and Paul Konerko's $2.5 million all come off the books for 2015. Ronald Belisario ($3 million) could be a non-tender candidate.
Money to spend is for the offseason, though. This next week is about young players getting their chance to audition for a roster that will have even more reinforcements soon.
“You are going to have some guys up here for those are positions that now have opportunities,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You are going to see some guys in there that are different than what we’ve had for the last couple of years. They are going to get a chance.”
Another player whose audition began Saturday night was right-hander Chris Bassitt, who gave up five runs on seven hits with four walks in 6⅓ innings. Bassitt will remain with the team through the rest of the season and could even get some starts over the final month.
“For a first time up here, I’m sure he’s real nervous, but besides the couple of innings there, he settled down and really kind of gathered it back together,” Ventura said. “It was nice to see -- he had a real live arm. For his first time, it’s intriguing. It’s one of those where you like what you see. He’s pretty young, so he’ll be up here in September, and we’ll see what we do.”
Bassitt not only got his first chance to pitch in the major leagues, but he also saw a major league teammate get traded for the first time, and it wasn’t lost on him that changes are happening, with multiple opportunities available.
“Yeah, I mean definitely,” Bassitt said. “You look at it as pretty much 'go out there and prove your worth from here on out' and just pretty much just try to go out there and compete as much as you can, just to show them that, ‘Hey, I can compete at this level.’ Not only that but, you deserve to be here. You have a little space for them to go and say: ‘Hey, this guy can make us win in the future.’”
Playoff rosters for contenders aren’t due to the league office until Sunday, so the White Sox still have time to make deals. Dunn could even get moved to a contender that needs some left-handed power.
“The deadline's 11 [p.m. CT Sunday], so we're going to have to keep working and exploring some opportunities,” Hahn said.
Another season of change has arrived in earnest.
CHICAGO -- Kyle Ryan pitched six scoreless innings in his major league debut, and the Detroit Tigers salvaged a split of Saturday's doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox with a potentially costly 8-4 victory.
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera pulled up lame while running out a grounder in the fourth inning, forcing him from the game. The All-Star has been dealing with a sore right ankle.
How it happened: In a battle of first-time major league starters, the Tigers’ Kyle Ryan got the better of the White Sox’s Chris Bassitt. Ryan didn’t give up a run on five hits over six innings, while Bassitt gave up five runs on seven hits over 6⅓ innings. Dayan Viciedo's three-run home run in the eighth inning closed the gap, but not enough for the White Sox. Jose Abreu managed to extend his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning single.
What it means: Bassitt stayed with the team after the game as Eric Surkamp was sent down. The right-hander wasn’t hit hard by any means, but his four walks did not help matters. Of the Tigers’ seven hits against Bassitt, only one went for extra bases. The White Sox will now decide if he gets more chances to start in September or if he works out of the bullpen.
Outside the box: The White Sox have won just once in three tries so far this weekend against the Tigers, but Abreu is doing his part. Despite a sore left leg, with discomfort below his hip, the rookie has managed to reach base in 10 of his 12 at-bats against Detroit in three games.
Off beat: Alejandro De Aza started the first game of the doubleheader in left field, but before the second game was completed he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles. He was dealt for minor league right-handed pitchers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas. De Aza was not in the lineup for Game 2 and was notified of the trade in the fifth inning by general manager Rick Hahn.
Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.48 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the series finale. The Tigers will counter with right-hander Rick Porcello (15-8, 3.06) in the 1:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.
Right-handers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas are headed to the White Sox in the deal, which was made just a day before the Orioles must submit their projected playoff roster. Baltimore is in first place in the American League East.
By dealing De Aza when they did, the White Sox open a spot on the 40-man roster to add players who will be called up for the start of September. The White Sox could be interested in moving left-hander Carlos Rodon and infielder/designated hitter Andy Wilkins to the roster next week, and neither has a 40-man spot.
De Aza was hitting .243 with 19 doubles, five triples, five home runs and 31 RBIs in 122 games for the White Sox this season.
Blackmar, 22, is 10-1 with a 3.18 ERA and a .299 opponents’ batting average in 26 games (18 starts) with Single-A Fredrick of the Carolina League. He was a 16th-round draft pick by the Orioles in 2011.
Chalas, 22, is a combined 3-4 with a 4.48 ERA in 30 relief appearances with both Single-A Fredrick and Triple-A Norfolk. He was signed as a free agent by the Orioles in 2010.
BALTIMORE -- The AL East-leading Orioles acquired outfielder Alejandro De Aza and infielder Kelly Johnson in a pair of trades Saturday night, bolstering their bench in the wake of a couple of injuries to key players.
Baltimore sent two minor league right-handers to Chicago for De Aza, who hit .243 with five homers, 31 RBIs and 15 steals in 122 games with the White Sox this year. He made his major league debut with the Marlins in 2007 and is a .268 career hitter with 35 homers and 179 RBIs in seven seasons.
Baltimore also completed the moves before Sunday's deadline for postseason eligibility. Players must be with an organization by Aug. 31 to be eligible for the postseason with that team.
The 32-year-old Johnson hit .212 with six homers and 23 RBIs in a combined 87 games for the Yankees and Red Sox. He has played first, second and third base this season, along with left and right field.
Almanzar, 23, was a Rule 5 pick by the Orioles prior to the season.
Weeks, 27, batted .278 in 62 games for Triple-A Norfolk. De Jesus, 27, hit .282 in 113 games for the Tide.