Chicago White Sox: 2013 Regular Season

No gold for rusty White Sox gloves

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
3:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox did not have a single Gold Glove Award nominee in 2013 and there isn’t a soul who thinks they got robbed.

After a 2012 season when they were one of the best defensive teams in baseball, the White Sox flipped the script in 2013 and were one of the worst. When three Gold Glove candidates were announced at each position Friday, the White Sox were nowhere near the list.

Even second baseman Gordon Beckham, who was making noise in 2012 as a potential Gold Glove winner down the road, finished with a .975 fielding percentage in 2013 that wasn’t even in the top 10 at his position in the American League.

The Houston Astros, who fielded a young and inexperienced roster this past season, had the most errors in the AL with 125 and were last in fielding percentage at .979. The more experienced White Sox had just four fewer errors than the Astros and were only one point better in fielding percentage, finishing second to last in both categories.

The White Sox are making a defense a priority with offseason moves.

In 2012, the White Sox not only had an AL-low 70 errors, their .988 fielding percentage was tied with the Seattle Mariners for best in the league. While such a drastic change could have been blamed n a turnover in personnel, the White Sox only made changes in two positions (third base and catcher), although they dealt with a number of injuries at nearly every position.

About the closest the White Sox got to a Gold Glove nominee this year was in the pitching category, where Mark Buehrle was nominated yet again, but this time as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Buehrle won a Gold Glove in each of his last three seasons with the White Sox and continued that trend in the National League last season when he moved to the Miami Marlins.

And the nominees are:

AL catcher: Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Salvador Perez.
AL first base: Chris Davis, James Loney, Eric Hosmer.
AL second base: Robinson Cano, Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia.
AL third base: Manny Machado, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre.
AL shortstop: Yunel Escobar, Alcides Escobar, J.J. Hardy.
AL left field: Yoenis Cespedes, Andy Dirks, Alex Gordon.
AL center field: Adam Jones, Lorenzo Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury.
AL right field: Nick Markakis, Josh Reddick, Shane Victorino.
AL pitcher: Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Doug Fister.

N, catcher: A.J. Ellis, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina.
NL first base: Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo.
NL second base: Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis, Brandon Phillips.
NL third base: Nolan Arenado, Juan Uribe, David Wright.
NL shortstop: Ian Desmond, Andrelton Simmons, Troy Tulowitzki.
NL left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Starling Marte, Eric Young Jr.
NL center field: Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen, Denard Span.
NL right field: Jay Bruce, Jason Heyward, Gerardo Parra.
NL pitcher: Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright.

The winners will be announced live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. CT Tuesday.

Konerko return would not be a surprise

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
5:53
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Paul KonerkoAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhPaul Konerko walks off the field after the White Sox's final game Sunday.


CHICAGO -- If Paul Konerko returns for another season, nobody who knows him well will really be shocked. The Chicago White Sox first baseman will make up his mind at some point over the next six weeks and then sit down with Sox officials to determine what role he might play in the team’s future.

Konerko has expressed an openness to a possible new chapter in his major league career, which began in 1997. Physical limitations have planted the seed in Konerko’s thought process that a part-time role might be the way to go.

If Konerko wants to take one more year before a career in carpooling his kids begins full-time, then mentoring teammates and playing a couple of times a week may be a sufficient way to end his baseball career.

The good news for Sox fans is that Konerko’s wife, Jen, has been totally supportive of Paul deciding when he wants to retire. That kind of hall pass from home is huge for an aging player with young children to raise. Konerko plans on taking his family on more road trips next season if he does decide to play. The role of player –coach does not appeal to him, yet some of his responsibilities would fall into that area if he returns as a supplemental player.

Whenever Konerko takes his final curtain call, which may have happened Sunday, he will be the last player to leave who played on the 2005 World Champion White Sox. Konerko is content with the knowledge that many great players never got to grab the brass ring like he and his teammates did eight seasons ago.

“The last-man-standing thing is not that big of a deal,” said Konerko. “When you look around and you see that team and that year you remember how fragile and how tough it is to get one of those things. You look around and not to just pick just his name, but you see Todd Helton. He is awesome -- great guy, great career, and he didn’t get one (World Series ring). He deserved one. I look at guys like that and realize that is the highlight. It is not the All-Star Games or this game or that game, it is not even close to winning a World Series.”

Konerko’s legacy has grown among the fan base after returning twice for less money. He had chances with Baltimore and Arizona to make more cash when free-agent opportunities were presented after the 2005 and 2010 seasons. He has always been “The Man” of the blue-collar White Sox fan base.

“I could have left a couple of times but I stayed,” he said on Sunday. “I will always take pride in that. There are numbers and statistics that everybody has, but for me, I was 2-for-2 on that.”

A good bet at this time is that Konerko and the Sox brass make it 3-for-3 as he approaches the next phase and final chapter of his stellar baseball career.

Konerko soaks in cheers, hints at return

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
5:32
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Nothing went as planned this year for Paul Konerko, so why should the final day of the season be any different?

After straining his back Saturday night, Konerko played just two innings Sunday in what could have been his White Sox farewell as his contract expired at the completion of the season.

The longtime team captain came to the plate in the first inning to a standing ovation from the crowd of 22,633 and fouled out, but even that was appreciated. Konerko received another modest ovation as he returned to the dugout.

In the second inning, Konerko took his position at first base, but was replaced by Conor Gillaspie before the first pitch. As he jogged off the field, he received yet another standing ovation, and then received a curtain call after getting back to the dugout.

“It always feels good,” Konerko said of the ovations. “The fans here have treated me great over the years. In a year like this, they treated me better than probably I deserved, really the whole team when you think about it. There were moments where they hung in with us where I knew they were antsy about what was going on (with the team).

“(Fan appreciation) always feels good. It certainly feels better when you're doing World Series parades but I don't take it for granted at all. It's always good, but this year was a little different circumstances.”

Now comes the waiting game. The White Sox are expected to be interested in re-signing Konerko, but their offer will likely come with a pay cut from the $13.5 million ($7 million deferred) he earned in 2013.

Konerko wants to take at least a month to decide if he even wants to play anymore, although at 37, he knows the itch will come with a vengeance soon.

General manager Rick Hahn already said that the team plans on having a face-to-face meeting with Konerko possibly in early November, if not earlier, and Konerko said he expects to have lunch with chairmain Jerry Reinsdorf in Arizona around that timeframe as well.

Because everything is in limbo, Konerko felt sheepish about getting so much attention from fans. He went through the same thing after his contract expired following the 2010 season and ended up returning.

“People treated me so well (in 2010) and it was such a big deal at the end, when I came back I felt like I kind of played with people's emotions even though that was nothing intentional,” Konerko said. “It was such a big deal at the end there and it was similar to that today where I didn't want to make a big spectacle out of it.

“There's no escaping it kind of at the end here when there is some unknown about what's going to happen. But I definitely had that in mind because I didn't want to be out there tipping my hat every time I moved a muscle and all that kind of stuff. I totally love it and the fact they're behind me, but I feel a little awkward not knowing.”

About the only thing Konerko does seem to know at this point is that if he does return in 2014, that will certainly be his final season.

If Konerko fans are able to find a silver lining from a miserable season it’s that struggles like this don’t necessarily inspire somebody to walk away.

“I feel probably like most of you people that have been around here and everybody I've talked to that this just doesn't seem right, the way this has gone down, so that lends itself to playing,” Konerko said. “But I also don't know about the team and all that kind of stuff so you still have to throw that in and say that's a possibility, that even if I want to that they don't want it.

“Nonetheless, they've given me more over the years and it’s not about this one day. Baseball's never summed up in one day. That's what great about baseball, it’s summed up over a whole season of games, a whole career of games. That’s how it is with me and the fans.”

With his two young sons waiting in the clubhouse while Konerko wrapped up his final interview of the season, he was asked if he just needs to get away from things for a while before deciding on the future.

“As soon as I walk out of here, regardless of what I want, it’s family time; I have to be a dad,” Konerko said. “Which reminds me, is anything on fire back there? I haven’t seen (my kids) in a while.”

If you had to get a read on Konerko on the final day of the season, the clues point to him wanting to return, with the White Sox his preferred destination.

“I have some trips planned, some things going on here, and (the downtime) does wear off,” he said. “That’s why I said the other day that there’s no doubt the next couple of weeks, month, the needle is going to move to wanting to get back here. That’s the nature of our habits as players. We were born to do this.”

White Sox consensus: It can't get worse

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
4:59
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- At least one Chicago White Sox decision for 2014 already has been made.

Manager Robin Ventura said the Opening Day starter next year will be Chris Sale. Outside of that, Ventura acknowledged that any and all changes could be made from a club that nearly lost 100 games for the first time in 43 years.

“There's a fair chance of anything,” Ventura said.

(Read full post)

Ventura ready to turn page on 2013

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
4:08
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- At the end of a lost season for his team, Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura seems pleased to be moving on from the second worst record in franchise history.

“As you move toward the end of the season you start making adjustments looking ahead,” Ventura said. “That all starts tomorrow.”

After losing 99 games, finding a silver lining is not an easy task for Ventura.

“Any time you go through a season like this it is not easy to keep pushing forward,” he said. “This is not fun, but you need the commitment of moving forward in order to get better. I am not sure I can point a finger as to what you really learn (from losing), you know for sure you don’t like going through anything like this.”

Ventura will return to his California home and wait to see what kind of moves the front office makes in response to this disappointing season.

“We have to make adjustments,” he said. “That will all depend on what happens personnel-wise. We have added some young players here at the end that we did not have last spring training. We hopefully will get some players in here to turn this thing around. We need the others who are still here to get better.”

Ventura, who now enters his last year under his original three-year contract, had a simple final message for his players.

“At first you should go home and enjoy your family,” he said. “When you do start to work out again, remember how this tastes. It isn’t a lot of fun, so you need to understand you don’t want to go through this again.”

Rapid Reaction: Royals 4, White Sox 1

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
3:46
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox closed out the season with one more defeat, falling 4-1 to the Kansas City Royals to finish the season with a 63-99 record.

How it happened: In what could be his final game with the White Sox, Paul Konerko started at first base and had one at-bat before he was removed. He received standing ovations when he came to the plate in the first inning and again when he left his position in the second inning. He fouled out in his only at-bat. Alexei Ramirez hit a home run for the White Sox, but the Royals were paced by two-run home runs from Salvador Perez and Brett Hayes. White Sox starter Jose Quintana gave up four runs in seven innings during his last outing of the season. The season ended when Marcus Semien struck out with the bases loaded.

What it means: The White Sox finished with 99 losses, tied for fourth most in franchise history with the 1934 team. The only White Sox teams that lost more games in a season were 1948 (101 losses), 1932 (102) and 1970 (106). The .389 winning percentage is the seventh worst in franchise history.

Outside the box: White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia headed into the offseason just how the team hopes he will start things in 2014. Garcia, who was acquired from the Tigers in the July three-team trade that sent Jake Peavy to the Red Sox, went 1-for-4 in the finale, but in the previous 10 games he batted .317 (13-for-41) with a triple, three home runs and eight RBIs.

Off beat: Semien apparently likes returning favors quickly as the rookie gave back what he received in the third inning. After reaching base when Perez had trouble tracking down his wind-blown popup, Semien was then doubled up when he rounded second base on an Alejandro De Aza fly ball and failed to re-touch second when returning to first base.

Up next: The White Sox are five months away from spring training with a lot of changes left to be made. Two of the most obvious changes are to hire a new hitting coach and to talk to free agent Konerko about a possible return. Konerko said he will take a month before deciding if he wants to play again, at which point he would evaluate any offers.

Konerko gets final day to avoid confusion

September, 28, 2013
9/28/13
10:56
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – Here we go again, as Paul Konerko gets set to embark on what could be his final game in a Chicago White Sox uniform.

The White Sox will close out a dismal season Sunday at home against the Kansas City Royals, but instead of the brutal won-loss record, fans can focus all their attention on Konerko instead.

This has happened before, of course. The White Sox’s World Series-clinching victory in 2005 could have been Konerko’s last hurrah, but the first baseman signed a new five-year deal, turning down a more lucrative offer from the Los Angeles Angels.

Again, at the end of the 2010 season, White Sox fans poured their heart out in support of Konerko, who somewhat surprisingly signed a new three-year deal, even after Adam Dunn was signed presumably as his middle-of-the-order replacement.

Now Konerko stands at another crossroads. The 17-year veteran will play, he will likely get a video tribute and at some point be will be removed from the game so he can walk across the field and soak in the admiration from White Sox fans all over again.

In 2010, Konerko said that nobody really deserves to be treated that well once, much less multiple times. Well then, call Sunday a bonus admiration day that might make him cringe a little.

After Sunday, things will get complicated for Konerko, who said he will take a month to decide whether he wants to retire or wait for offers. The White Sox would be his preferred destination to return, and he says it is the only team for which he will consider for a part-time reserve role.

Ultimately, a season when he failed to meet his own personal expectation, as well as team expectations, will weigh heavily on him.

“That’s huge; it’s maybe the biggest thing,” Konerko said. “You only get to go through these kinds of things once, a career once, so you try to rely on advice from other people. You try to talk to the people who have been through it. The majority of them are always, ‘If you can play, play, do it the way you want to do it. Go back to the drawing board. Go get ‘em.’ And I get all of that.

“The other side of it is, this is how careers are supposed to end. Not everybody gets to do it exactly how they want to do it. It’s supposed to kind of be not the best because that’s what closes you out, when you say, ‘OK, I’ve had enough of that, and they’ve had enough of me.’ So I can see it both directions. I can tell you more of me is the first one. And the advice I get is more the first scenario, but that doesn’t mean it’s right either.”

If he sounds confused, it’s because he is. Konerko even admitted as much.

Sunday shouldn’t be as confusing. Konerko will play and the fans will finally have something to cheer in a season that has gone all wrong.

Konerko will one day have his number retired by the White Sox and a statue is sure to be placed somewhere on the concourse. That’s what you get when you are a fan favorite whose offensive numbers are only eclipsed by an offensive machine like Frank Thomas.

When the day is over, it will all get confusing again, especially for Konerko.

“I don’t really have answers, I just know what’s happening,” Konerko said. “I think taking a month off, a month away from this, which I know if I do that, the more you don’t play, the needle will always move toward wanting to play. That’s what I feel would happen, that’s what people tell me. I just have to make sure I know what’s real and what isn’t.

“I could go fish out 20 guys in that clubhouse that don’t feel like playing a baseball game right now, and I’m probably right there with them. But how much of that is real, because I guarantee you as November clicks in, December, they’re going to want to play again and so will I. But I’m in a different situation. I have to figure out of it’s really real, if that’s something I want to do. I don’t know that answer right now.”

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 6, Royals 5

September, 28, 2013
9/28/13
9:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The White Sox snapped a four-game losing streak with a 6-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the next-to-last game of the season.


How it happened: The White Sox flexed their muscles Saturday to get the jump on the Royals. Marcus Semien and Jordan Danks hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning and Adam Dunn hit a two-run shot in the third. The Royals rallied for three runs off White Sox rookie pitcher Erik Johnson, but the power returned in the seventh inning when Conor Gillaspie hit a two-run shot. Addison Reed recorded his 40th save, tying Bobby Jenks for fourth place on the White Sox's single-season list.

What it means: The victory guarantees the White Sox won’t lose 100 games this season. Manager Robin Ventura at least sounded indifferent about avoiding the century mark. “Nobody wants that, 100 losses,” he said. “It doesn’t feel good. But it’s not going to make me feel any better to have 99 instead of 100 going into next year.”

Outside the box:
The sample size is extremely small, but Johnson continues to show reasons to be optimistic about him heading into next season. He held the Royals hitless Saturday until Mike Moustakas hit a fifth-inning home run. He was eventually knocked from the game an inning later. Saturday’s outing comes on the heels of his start last weekend at Detroit, when he gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings. One outing before that he pitched a scoreless six innings against the Twins.

Off beat: Avoiding a 100-loss season might not have made Ventura feel good, but it certainly seemed to affect his decision-making Saturday. Ventura went to six different relievers to back up Johnson, managing like his team was in contention instead of just playing out the string.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Jose Quintana (9-6, 3.45 ERA) to the mound in the final game of the season. The Royals will counter with left-hander Bruce Chen (8-4, 3.31) in the 1:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Robin Ventura hopes for no staff changes

September, 28, 2013
9/28/13
7:02
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- For the second consecutive day, Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura said that if any changes to his coaching staff are to occur after the season, it won’t be because he wants them.

Speculation continued Saturday that at least one White Sox coach will be let go at the end of the season. Adding substance to the speculation was general manager Rick Hahn’s state-of-the-White-Sox address Friday, when he said Ventura would return in 2014 despite the team’s struggles but that the coaching staff still needed to be evaluated.

“We’re talking about [the coaching staff]; it’s going on today,” Ventura said Saturday. “I’m happy with the effort that was put in there. So I’m hoping there’s nothing done. But again, there are people above me.”

Hahn was asked Friday if everybody on the coaching staff will return next year.

“We still have three games left in the year, so we'll address all of that after the season's over,” Hahn responded. “I don't think it's fair for anyone in uniform for me to single out individual coaches or individual players at this time, while we're still playing, and say, 'This guy fits going forward,' or 'That guy doesn't fit going forward’ or 'We're looking to trade this guy.' I would never do that. I don't think that's professional.”

Most of the speculation has hitting coach Jeff Manto being replaced after this season. The White Sox are last in the American League in runs scored, are tied for last in slugging percentage and are second-to-last in on-base percentage and extra-base hits in a power-friendly ballpark.

Bench coach Mark Parent, pitching coach Don Cooper and third-base coach Joe McEwing all are expected to return next season.

There is no clear-cut replacement in the White Sox organization if Manto is relieved of his hitting-coach duties. Tim Laker is the organization’s minor league hitting instructor, while Brandon Moore is the hitting coach at Triple-A Charlotte. Former White Sox hitting coach Gary Ward now handles the same duties at Double-A Birmingham.

Ventura said that he hopes the coaching staff knows its fate before everybody leaves following Sunday's season finale. The White Sox, though, could wait until Monday before announcing any changes.

Sale moved into elite class in 2013

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
10:37
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox’s staff ace finished the season with a losing record, not that anybody will hold that against him.

Chris Sale showed across-the-board improvement in 2013, and even if his final start of the season Friday was far from his best effort, manager Robin Ventura wasn’t going to change his opinion about his best pitcher.

[+] EnlargeChris Sale
Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsIn 2013, Chris Sale earned personal bests in innings (214 1/3) and strikeouts (226),
“His starts put him up there with the elite pitchers in the game and we realize what we have and how young he is,” Ventura said. “We’re fortunate to have him and you want to make sure he stays healthy and continues to get better.”

Sale won’t make too much out of his final outing, in which he gave up four runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Kansas City Royals. Likewise, he doesn’t want to make too much of some impressive numbers this year that included personal bests in innings (214 1/3) and strikeouts (226), while walking just 46.

“Those are all things to build off of, I guess you can say, and to strive for in the future,” Sale said. “Not only to reach that, but to surpass those [numbers] as well. You can strike out as many people as you want, but you have to win some games. That’s something else I’m waiting for next year.”

Sale closed the season with an 11-14 record, but his 3.07 ERA was more indicative of what kind of a season it was. His internal numbers are impressive enough for him to even get some Cy Young recognition among American League voters, although he isn’t expected to win the award.

With questions at the start of the season as to whether or not Sale could back up his impressive debut as a starter in 2012, his year solidified him as the player around whom the White Sox are comfortable remodeling the roster.

“Last year velocity was way down toward the end of the year and this year he has learned how to go through a season,” Ventura said. “He was better at that. He’s going to get better as a pitcher and mature and do all those things. But once you go through a full season and mature, this year I think he learned that.”

Sale said that indeed, he was more successful at maintaining his strength over 30 starts. He made 29 starts (30 appearances) last season.

“Yeah, I mean I felt strong throughout the whole year,” he said. “I don’t know how many starts I had. I don’t know if I made as many or more than last year but I was happy to be able to be out there and not have to be quite as on a leash as I was last year. Just go out there and be another pitcher.”

If there is an area where improvement is needed, it could be handling his frustration. In the heart of the season when the offense was unable to support Sale with runs, the slightest mistake would make the lefty visibly frustrated. His outings tended to suffer as a result.

“We weren’t scoring runs for him and he felt like if he gave up one run I think sometimes, his mannerisms, he felt like he had already lost the game,” Ventura said. “At times I don’t blame him for that either because that’s what happened. You have to guard against overthrowing and feeling like you have to strike everybody out to win the game.”

Perhaps the real frustration stemmed from the fact that Sale knew the true goal was slipping away at a very early stage.

“You play this game for one reason, and that’s to win a championship,” he said. “No matter what you do individually, you still strive for that championship and not being able to get there is tough. But you always have next year.”

Rapid Reaction: Royals 6, White Sox 1

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
9:48
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox fell 6-1 to the Kansas City Royals on Friday, their 22nd loss in their past 28 games.

How it happened: The Royals scored three runs in the first inning off White Sox ace Chris Sale and never looked back. The White Sox scored their lone run in the sixth inning on a solo home run from Gordon Beckham, his fifth. Sale gave up four runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings.

What it means: The White Sox still need to win one of the past two games against the Royals to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1970. The defeat guarantees the White Sox will lose at least 98 games, assuring them the fifth-most losses in franchise history. One more defeat and the White Sox will tie the 1934 team with 99 losses. The 1948 team lost 101 games, the 1932 team lost 102 and the 1970 club dropped 106.

Outside the box: Sale finished the best season of his young career with a 3.07 ERA after starting the night with a 2.97 mark. His 11-14 record was nowhere indicative of how well he pitched. The left-hander went 214 1/3 innings this season with 226 strikeouts and 46 walks. His strikeouts total improved by 34 over last season, while he walked five fewer batters. He ended 2012 with a 3.05 ERA.

Offbeat: Perhaps the White Sox had some extra fireworks to explode before the end of the season, because they put on a display in the sixth inning. Alexei Ramirez hit a drive to deep left field that sent Royals outfielder Alex Gordon climbing the outfield fence. Realizing the ball wouldn’t travel that far, Gordon dropped from the fence while catching the ball. It all looked so deceiving that the home run fireworks show started, with Ramirez making it almost to third base in his home run trot before realizing what happened.

Up next: The White Sox will send right-hander Erik Johnson (2-2, 2,82) to the mound on Saturday for his last outing of the season. The Royals will counter with right-hander Yordano Ventura (0-0, 1.59) in the 6:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Fixes ahead as Hahn takes blame

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
8:14
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO –- There was no sugar-coating things Friday as Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn addressed the disappointing 2013 season in advance of Sunday’s final game.

The White Sox headed into play Friday still needing one more victory to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1970, and Hahn took the blame for the mess the season has become.

[+] EnlargeAlexei Ramirez
David Banks/USA TODAY SportsAlexei Ramirez and the White Sox need one win to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1970.
“At the end of the day, I feel personally responsible,” Hahn said. “There's no two ways about it. I'm not in uniform. I'm not hitting the ball or throwing the ball, but I'm the one heavily involved in deciding who's out there and in what role. And this is my responsibility to maximize the number of victories this club can have, albeit over an extended period of time and not just in one season. But the way I see it, it's been a very disappointing season in which we've underachieved.”

It’s hardly that simple, of course. Changes will be made from a roster that underachieved in a number of areas, making this season’s woes more of a player production. But in his first season, Hahn’s roster, which had little to no margin for error, actually failed in more ways than anybody could have imagined.

The White Sox failed to score runs, they struggled in the on-base-percentage department, they were one of the worst teams in baseball defensively and they had issues running the bases. The White Sox were 10-15 after the opening month, and things would only get worse.

Asked if there is a problem area the White Sox will look to address above all others, Hahn avoided getting specific.

“Obviously, the run scoring going from fourth in the league to the bottom, and the on-base percentage plummeting, and the extra-base hitting also going to the bottom, is a real issue and a big one and one that we intend to address here in the coming weeks and months,” Hahn said.

“The defense, we obviously slipped considerably defensively. I did see the other day we've committed the most errors since 2000. ... But the offensive performance, the defensive consistency, as well as our ability to run the bases smarter are all real issues of concern, and the caliber of play that we've gotten in each of those areas this year is unacceptable and it's a priority for all of us to improve upon.”

Hahn did say that he expects manager Robin Ventura to return next season, and Ventura said himself that he is up for the challenge of trying to improve the team in the final year of his three-year contract. Beyond that, there seem to be no guarantees, although building the roster around staff ace Chris Sale seems obvious.

“"We have to get better, and we have to get better quickly,” Hahn said. “I feel like we're in a very good position from a pitching standpoint. Given the starting pitching that we already have under control, whatever turnaround or restoration or whatever you want to call it that needs to take place here, we hope to minimize the amount of time that takes.”

If there is one benefit to the disappointing season, it is that the front office has already gotten started on revamping the roster. Avisail Garcia was added in late June to help on the offensive side. Possible upgrades at catcher and/or third base could be coming as well.

When balancing fixed costs with revenue, Hahn said it is “conceivable” the White Sox could target an impact free agent with all of the salary savings the team afforded itself with trades in July and August. If Paul Konerko doesn’t return, or is re-signed for significantly less, there is even more money to work with.

“Is it possible that there will be enough ... to be a player in free agency? Absolutely,” Hahn said. “But we're going to shy away from any short-term fix. It's going to be getting this thing right so that on an annual basis, we're in a position to contend for the postseason. If a free agent this year fits -- a big name, high-priced free agent -- it's going to be with a vision for the next several years thereafter as well.”

This year, though, it was a lost baseball summer in Chicago, with extreme struggles on both sides of town.

“It's really unfortunate,” Hahn said. “I can't speak to anything going on on the other side of town. I simply focus on our own performance. Look, part of the reason I wanted this job was because summertime in Chicago and baseball in summertime in Chicago is important.

“Perhaps I have too lofty of a view of its importance in this town, but I look back at this past summer and see it a bit as a wasted summer, because there was an opportunity, in our opinion, to perform better than we have and we failed to meet that.”

Rapid Reaction: Royals 3, White Sox 2

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
9:57
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Here is a quick look at the Chicago White Sox's 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field:

How it happened: Catcher Bryan Anderson threw away a bunt allowing the Royals to score what proved to be the winning run in the seventh inning. Kansas City's other runs came on David Hough's two-run homer in the fourth. The Sox scored their runs on solo home runs by Paul Konerko in the second and Adam Dunn in the sixth. Dunn's homer was his 33rd of the season and was estimated to travel 442 feet.

What it means: The Royals' 84 wins are the most by the franchise since 1993. Regardless of the outcome of the next three games, the White Sox will finish under.500 at home for only the fourth time since they began playing at U.S Cellular field in 1991. The other sub-.500 years were 1999, 2007 and 2011.

Outside the box: The Sox have made 51 more errors this season than they did in 2012. Konerko will hold a news conference to take questions about his future on Friday afternoon. A source said Monday that Konerko would not make up his mind about whether to retire or keep playing until November. General manager Rick Hahn will also give his state of the team address Friday.

Up next: Kansas City sends James Shields (12-9, 3.21 ERA) to the mound to face the White Sox's Chris Sale (11-13, 2.97 ERA) in Friday's 7:10 p.m. CT start.

Ventura learns from lost season

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
8:17
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Coming into 2013, White Sox manager Robin Ventura was riding the wave of an 85-win season in 2012 and accolades from industry experts on his success as a rookie manager.

The reactions to the Sox's last-place finish in the AL Central have been a different learning curve for Ventura. Pitching coach Don Cooper told reporters Wednesday that he was embarrassed by the team's performance in 2013.

[+] EnlargeRobin Ventura
AP Photo/Tony DejakRobin Ventura says he and GM Rick Hahn have already spent time making plans for the offseason to improve the Sox heading into 2014.
"Sure there have been times I have felt that way," said Ventura as the team prepared to play its last series of the season. "Any time you have a year like this, that is part of it. Frustration, anger, all of those things."

Ventura has found enough passion in a lost season to know he wants to stay on the job despite all of the losing.

"That is just the frustration of right now. After that, it will be behind us," he said. "At that point you move forward and make adjustments and find a way to get better."

The franchise will have its hands full moving up in a division that has been dominated by the Detroit Tigers, who have won the past three division titles. There also are two up-and-coming teams in the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals. Both have young talent that is being complemented by an influx of free agents and veterans acquired in trades.

Sox general manager Rick Hahn and Ventura are on the same page moving forward and have spent a good deal of time making plans for the 2013 offseason and 2014.

"The object is for us to go and win games," Ventura said. "We don't think what we have done is OK. We are going to try and make some moves. You are planning to be better and that is our focus. We are not going to the playoffs, so you must figure out a way to construct a team and build on that beginning in spring training."

(Read full post)

Danks retires 16 straight in loss

September, 18, 2013
9/18/13
5:25
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- John Danks' outing on Wednesday seemed like a microcosm of his entire season.

The Chicago White Sox starter pitched well enough after giving up four runs in the first two innings, but the end result was his 14th loss in a frustrating year. After having season-ending shoulder surgery in 2012, Danks’ comeback has been laborious at times.

“He was down in the zone later in the game,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said after his team’s 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins. “I think early on he didn’t have a feel for it. He was up in the zone and they made him pay for it.”

The most difficult issue for the 28-year-old pitcher has been his command issues. Danks’ velocity has come back three or four miles per hour in a given start. The rest of the equation is solving the location on a variety of pitches.

“We are not in instructional league here,” Danks said. “We are judged on our success. Wins and losses are all that matter here. I would not have come back when I did if I didn’t think I could help this club win ball games. Certainly it has not been fun. I will continue to work hard and get things straightened out.”

Danks retired 16 straight hitters Wednesday, pitching seven innings in the loss after a three-run second inning. He has allowed four or more runs in each of his last four starts, going 0-4 with a 8.02 ERA. Danks’ record of 4-14 is the lowest winning percentage by a Sox starting pitcher since 1978.

An offseason of work should pay added dividends going toward next season. Danks plans on spending some time with pitching coach Don Cooper in Nashville this winter.

“I will take a little bit off time off,” Danks said. “I will continue to play catch and spend some time with Coop. That will be good.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
John Danks
WINS ERA SO IP
8 3.99 83 119
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .292
HRJ. Abreu 29
RBIJ. Abreu 73
RJ. Abreu 49
OPSJ. Abreu .972
ERAJ. Quintana 3.24
SOJ. Quintana 107