Chicago White Sox: Adam Eaton

White Sox make Cabrera signing official

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
9:56
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox officially announced their newest member of the outfield Tuesday as free agent Melky Cabrera has agreed to a three-year, $42 million deal.

The 30-year-old left fielder and No. 2 hitter will receive $13 million next season, $14 million in 2016 and $15 million in 2017.

Cabrera was a .301 hitter this past season for the Toronto Blue Jays in 568 at-bats, the second most at-bats in any one season behind the 658 he had in 2011, when he batted .305 for the Kansas City Royals. He posted a .351 on-base percentage in 2014 and has a .339 OBP over 1,211 career games.

“Melky provides us with a professional hitter, who reaches base on a consistent basis,” general manager Rick Hahn said in a release. "We think he slides into Robin's batting order perfectly and adds depth to a very versatile lineup. We are very excited about his addition to our roster.”

Robin, of course, is manager Robin Ventura, and in his fourth season at the helm of the club, he is expected to bat Cabrera right behind leadoff man Adam Eaton and right in front of rookie of the year Jose Abreu.

Cabrera reportedly turned down a four-year offer to sign the White Sox’s three-year pact and the opportunity to bat in front of a hitter like Abreu could have played into that decision.

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Melk Man helps pour out better lineup

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
9:20
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With a source confirming the Chicago White Sox's addition of Melky Cabrera to play left field and bat second, an impressive lineup has emerged with spring training just more than two months away.

A team that had Conor Gillaspie bating third on Opening Day in 2014 has its pieces in better alignment now, especially up top, where the first five hitters weren't even in the organization at the All-Star break in 2013.

How the 2015 Opening Day lineup now looks:

Adam Eaton, center field
Melky Cabrera, left field
Jose Abreu, first base
Adam LaRoche, designated hitter
Avisail Garcia, right field
Alexei Ramirez, shortstop
Conor Gillaspie, third base
Tyler Flowers, catcher
Micah Johnson/Carlos Sanchez, second base

Suddenly, manager Robin Ventura's refusal to ponder a potential lineup while being interviewed at the winter meetings earlier this week makes much more sense.

Of the 1,211 games Cabrera has played in his career, the biggest number has come in the No. 2 spot. He is batting .292 there with a .341 on-base percentage, and represents a much better fit in the second spot instead of Ramirez, who had his issues with situational hitting behind Eaton last season.

With Eaton and Cabrera in the first two spots, it also would give more RBI opportunities to rookie of the year Abreu, who still managed to drive in 107 runs in 2014.

White Sox No. 2 hitters had a combined .237 batting average last season, 26th in baseball, and a .279 on-base percentage, 29th in baseball. Cabrera had a .351 OBP last season with the Toronto Blue Jays in 139 games. He also has a career .339 on-base percentage over 10 major league seasons.

The Cabrera addition also provides better lineup balance with the left-handed hitting Eaton up top, followed by the switch-hitting Cabrera, the right-handed hitting Abreu and the left-handed hitting LaRoche and the right-handed hitting Garcia

Gillaspie and Ramirez are presumably interchangeable in the sixth and seventh spots, depending on the pitcher. Gillaspie's presence as a No. 7 hitter gives the lineup a left-handed line-drive hitter toward the bottom of the order for the first time since A.J. Pierzynski departed as a free agent following the 2012 season.

Gillaspie was batting .321 as late as July 31 and was among the league leaders in hitting most of the season. He faded late, though, batting .222 in August and just .208 over the final two months to finish with a .282 batting average and a .336 OBP to go along with a .416 slugging percentage.

The second base job is the only real spring training battle remaining among position players. Sanchez has a slight edge based on his 28 games of experience there in 2014, but Johnson has more upside, and his speed in the No. 9 spot, leading to Eaton in the leadoff spot, provides intrigue.

2015 lineup? Not so fast, Ventura says

December, 10, 2014
Dec 10
6:33
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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SAN DIEGO -- Hold on with those Chicago White Sox starting-lineup projections, even as it looks like the club is running out of money to spend on the free-agent market.

Manager Robin Ventura refused to play around with a lineup Wednesday, saying only that Chris Sale would be his Opening Day starter, with Jeff Samardzija pitching in the second game, followed by Jose Quintana.

At least the Kansas City Royals know what they are up against for the opening three-game series during the first week of April.

Reading between the lines with Ventura, the sense is that the White Sox will zero in on trade targets. Making a change in left field could be high on the team’s priority list.

“I don’t know necessarily if you are done doing anything; it’s premature to do that,” Ventura said. “I can tell you that I know, I’m very hopeful, I will start Chris on Opening Day and Jeff on Day 2 and Jose, Day 3. Other than that, we’ll see what happens. It’s premature, lineup-wise, [to say] what we are doing.”

The White Sox elected to tender a contract to the arbitration-eligible Dayan Viciedo, and as of now he would be the leading candidate to start in left field. The 25-year-old still has youth on his side, and general manager Rick Hahn has remarked how hard it is to find right-handed power these days.

But Viciedo is a defensive liability in the outfield -- and defense is the only one of the White Sox’s offseason needs they have not yet addressed.

If the season started today, the White Sox lineup would look something like: Adam Eaton CF, Alexei Ramirez SS, Jose Abreu 1B, Adam LaRoche DH, Avisail Garcia RF, Conor Gillaspie 3B, Viciedo LF, Tyler Flowers C and Micah Johnson/Carlos Sanchez 2B.

Just don’t write that down in ink.

“We have a lot of time left,” Hahn said about the window to make moves this offseason. “I meant it when I said there was no urgency to get anything done [at the winter meetings], and obviously we did get two major things done. We aren’t on any time frame, other than getting the best team on the field by Opening Day. If nothing happens until January, that’s fine. We know the areas we want to address.”

Rumor mill liking the White Sox

December, 8, 2014
Dec 8
7:51
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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SAN DIEGO – On the first day of baseball's annual winter meetings, it was the Chicago White Sox who stood tall among the juiciest rumors in the game.

Reports on Monday had the White Sox linked to both top free-agent closer David Robertson and starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, in a revival of a previous development. There was even a report from CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman that linked the White Sox with closer Francisco Rodriguez.

The White Sox also just missed on placing Billy Pierce, Dick Allen and Minnie Minoso in the Hall of Fame, while executive vice president Kenny Williams revealed he has no issue with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf denying his chance to interview with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Plenty has been made of the White Sox having money to spend after contracts such as those signed by Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn have come off the books in recent seasons. The question for general manager Rick Hahn and the rest of the front office is whether this is the best time to spend big -- or should the team start handing out big bucks when it has fewer roster holes to contend with?

“We’ve got a lot of conversations ongoing on multiple fronts right now,” Hahn said. “Some are frankly a little farther along than others, and we are in a couple of scenarios where we could get within a phone call or two of getting something done.

“That said, we’ve been in that position before and will be again where you get really close but it doesn’t quite come to fruition. I think it’s important we stay diligent and aggressive on numerous fronts until we get to the point that we’re able to convert on one of our higher-priority targets.”

[+] EnlargeDavid Robertson
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesDavid Robertson, the top closer on the free-agent market, is among the names linked to the White Sox.
The White Sox do need bullpen help, and Robertson would be the biggest fish in that pond, but does the front office want to venture into multiyear, high-dollar waters again when it was that kind of situation that coincided with the need to rebuild? Would it be smarter to wait to add those kind of players?

The White Sox have been targeting this offseason for a while knowing they would be free of a number of major financial commitments. The discussions about it have become familiar ones.

“Do we spend more for free agents? Do we try to acquire some high-priced talent via trade? And how is the best and most prudent way to put that club together?” Hahn said, ticking off the checklist the White Sox have been dealing with for some time now.

“When we make a large commitment, whether it’s a guy like [Jose] Abreu or [Chris] Sale or the next free agent we sign, it’s not with the eye that we’re going to necessarily have dead money on the back end of it. Does it happen? Yeah. It’s part of the cost of doing business, and none of us in this industry are smart enough to identify on the way in where it’s going to be. We sort of know, in our mind, that that’s going to happen, but as a result we don’t shy away from deals that have a reasonable chance to make us better for an extended period of time.”

As for the idea of trading for Samardzija, how much would the White Sox be willing to give up in a potential deal with the Oakland Athletics knowing the right-hander is determined to test free agency next offseason?

Hahn was asked about the chance of acquiring a right-hander, not necessarily Samardzija, via trade.

“It’s absolutely possible,” he said. “There’s a fair amount of free agents still out there as well, so we’re not committed to either path just yet, still talking to other clubs as well as agents. We haven’t really ruled out any avenue on any lead just yet. If a couple of these free-agent names come off the board in the coming days, then yeah, we may have to refocus on trades.”

Hahn, of course, isn’t giving out any names, and the fact that Robertson, Samardzija and Rodriguez have been linked to the White Sox hasn’t made business any easier.

“Selfishly, it makes it real hard, real hard,” Hahn said. “When stuff gets out, you then are subject to other clubs potentially jumping in and bidding up a price on a free agent conceivably or accelerating their timetables, whether it be on that target or on backup targets, because they’re worried they’re going to lose that person. You could have other clubs jumping into trade talks.

“Over the years it has proven much more beneficial for us to keep things out of the light of day. I get why it happens. It’s part of the business, and if I weren’t wearing my White Sox hat I’d be following it all and excited just like everybody else.”

With so many holes to fill, though, and money available to spend, staying out of the rumor mill was going to be tough for the White Sox. But the front office thinks the team can contend sooner rather than later, so it is exploring all options to see if it can speed up the timetable.

“I would like to think that if Adam Eaton, Nate Jones, Avi Garcia -- I’m just mentioning a few of the guys who went down and went down early for us -- I would like to think if they all played together, there weren’t very many occasions where we had the top of our lineup playing together,” executive vice president Williams said. “From that standpoint alone, you could find some optimism.

“The starting staff, at the top of the rotation, I think we are as good as anybody. We could use another right-handed arm, and we are here to try to find one. We are here to try to find some bullpen help. So we’ll see. But yes, I am optimistic.”

Sox's optimism up as meetings near

December, 5, 2014
Dec 5
4:33
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With two roster moves already finalized and a bevy of groundwork conversations complete on potential trades and free-agent acquisitions, the Chicago White Sox appear headed to the annual winter meetings next week ready to do business.

General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that it is not a priority that the club makes moves at the yearly gathering of baseball executives, but this is where the White Sox made the move to acquire center fielder Adam Eaton last year, and all around baseball activity is picking up in earnest.

“There’s been a fairly steady level of dialogue probably going back to the GM meetings (in November) and soon thereafter,” Hahn said, not long after the New York Yankees acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-way deal that also involved the Detroit Tigers.

“I think you’re starting to see a few deals around the league, whether it’s via trade or free agency, starting to come to a head here. Whether that means there’s going to be more activity over the next few days or next week or next few weeks, it’s certainly understandable as things are starting to get moving. 'Tis the season.”

The White Sox head into the meetings at San Diego with a bevy of needs, the most glaring being additions for a bullpen that was among the worst in baseball last season.

“I'm not going to rate the positions of need simply because there isn't a strategic advantage for us relaying public what our targets may be,” Hahn said. “We've made no secret about our desire to become younger and more athletic. Including (Carlos) Rodon in the future, we have a fairly left-handed leaning rotation. We've made no secret that our bullpen needs to improve. (New addition) Zach Duke is a nice step in that direction but we're not finished addressing 2015 improvements either.”

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Projected lineup: LaRoche cleaning up

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
4:38
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With a few exceptions, Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura expects to use new left-handed hitting run producer Adam LaRoche as his cleanup hitter.

For now, the plan is to have the right-handed hitting Jose Abreu bat third, have the lefty swinging LaRoche in the No. 4 spot and the right-handed hitting Avisail Garcia batting fifth.

“Yeah, that’s how I see it,” Ventura said. “You’re able to split that up and it really balances out our lineup to have Conor (Gillaspie) in a more comfortable spot of just being a line-drive hitter just batting in the sixth hole.

“I would expect (LaRoche) to mostly be in the four-hole unless we somehow end up where Jose’s batting fourth and then (LaRoche) is probably fifth. As of right now, I have him batting right behind Jose in the four-hole.”

Gillaspie played 43 games last season in the No. 3 hole as Ventura tried to balance his lineup between right-handed and left-handed hitters. Gillaspie was even the surprise No. 3 hitter on Opening Day.

The upper two-thirds of the batting order seems to be set. Adam Eaton figures to be the leadoff hitter, followed by Alexei Ramirez, who has been in trade rumors but isn’t likely to be moved unless the White Sox get an impressive haul in return.

Abreu, LaRoche, Garcia and Gillaspie round out the top six spots. That would leave the left fielder -- whether it is Dayan Viciedo or somebody else -- aimed toward the seven-hole, with catcher Tyler Flowers the likely No. 8 hitter.

As of now, the lineup would appear to close with the second baseman. Candidates at second include Carlos Sanchez, Marcus Semien and the speedy Micah Johnson.

White Sox shun risk with proven additions

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
8:47
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Adam LaRoche Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsWith a track record as a run-producer, Adam LaRoche isn't quite the gamble Jose Abreu was.

CHICAGO – If last winter was about taking chances on unproven commodities such as Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, the Chicago White Sox have gone with proven options as their roster rebuild continues this offseason.

This week alone, the White Sox have added veterans in left-handed reliever Zach Duke and left-handed-hitting run-producer Adam LaRoche, with a number of other holes left to fill. Sources confirmed to ESPN.com on Friday that LaRoche has agreed to a two-year, $25 million deal.

It's clear the club must continue to address its bullpen situation. The White Sox also desire a right-handed starter and an outfielder who potentially could take over in left.

So far, general manager Rick Hahn has filled two major needs in solid fashion and hasn't broken the bank to do it. LaRoche will average $12.5 million over his two-year deal, and Duke will make $4.5 million in 2015, with slight raises in each of the following two seasons.

Not only does Hahn still have more money to spend, but trades remain a possibility to fill needs over the next four weeks, which is usually the prime time frame for making deals. Baseball's winter meetings are set for Dec. 8-11.

It was during last year's winter meetings that Hahn pulled off the trade for center fielder Eaton. The biggest piece the White Sox gave up in that deal was left-hander Hector Santiago, who was in and out of the Los Angeles Angels' rotation last season.

By this time in 2013, Hahn already had slugging first baseman Abreu in the fold. The six-year, $68 million deal to land the Cuban standout was considered risky at the time, but it's now looking like a steal after the disciplined power hitter was the first rookie in major league history to finish in the top five in all three Triple Crown categories.

With a farm system that had been much maligned in the recent past, Hahn now has the option of plugging some holes in next year's roster with highly regarded prospects. The second-base job could end up going to the speedy Micah Johnson, and first-round draft pick Carlos Rodon could end up helping the team out of the bullpen next year before he takes a spot in the rotation down the road.

While the White Sox are not believed to be shopping shortstop Alexei Ramirez to other teams, they have received inquiries on the 2014 All-Star. That kind of a deal doesn't figure to go down, though, unless the White Sox can receive, at bare minimum, a solid defensive shortstop to go along with either a late-inning reliever, a left fielder or a potential starter.

Trading Ramirez for top prospects seems less likely, since they have so many needs at the major-league level and the club has shown with the additions of Duke and LaRoche that it believes it can win sooner rather than later.

There remains a sense the White Sox can get at least one more key deal done before the winter meetings begin, if not more. Just this week club executive vice president Kenny Williams was sounding optimistic.

"I really cannot remember a time where so many good players have been discussed at the general managers' meetings leading up to the winter meetings," Williams said. "I think it's going to be awfully fun once the winter meetings kick off. You're going to have some scrambling going on and I like it like that.

"If it was left up to Rick and me, we'd have started in September and October filling out the roster, but agents and players don't seem to be on our timetable, they seem to be on their own timetable."

Steverson: Adjustments key for Abreu

November, 7, 2014
Nov 7
2:43
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Offensive recognition for both Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez as Silver Sluggers was not a surprise to hitting coach Todd Steverson, who actually thought at least one player would be more decorated this week.

“I wasn't surprised,” Steverson said via conference call Friday. “At the end of the season, after the last day, honesty I looked at it and thought that Alexei was going to win potentially the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove.

“With the season that Jose had, going up against a guy like Miguel Cabrera and the other good first basemen in the American League, he put together a solid season. It's nice to see everybody recognized him for that.”

The Silver Slugger Awards for the White Sox’s duo were announced Thursday. On Tuesday, Ramirez and Adam Eaton fell just short of earning Gold Glove Awards, although both finished in the top three of the voting.

As the awards season heads into next week, Abreu is expected to land the biggest honor of all when he is favored to win the American League rookie of the year award.

At 27-years old, Abreu had the advantage of more experience having played 10 seasons in Cuba. But he still needed to make the necessary adjustments while facing the best collection of pitching talent he had ever seen on a day-to-day basis.

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Ramirez, Eaton miss out on Gold Glove

November, 4, 2014
Nov 4
7:05
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- While the Chicago White Sox’s defense was somewhat improved in 2014, it wasn’t quite good enough to land an American League Gold Glove Award.

Shortstop Alexei Ramirez and center fielder Adam Eaton each were finalists for the defensive award, but neither landed hardware during Tuesday's announcement. Ramirez and Eaton both were bested by Baltimore Orioles players, as J.J. Hardy won the AL shortstop honor and Adam Jones won in center field.

The takeaway for the White Sox, though, is that Ramirez and Eaton both play up the middle and provide a solid base for the White Sox to build an improved defense around.

Ramirez’s play in the field fell flat in 2013, but it was much improved this past season. His range was impressive and his .978 fielding percentage was tied with Hardy, while getting over 100 more chances in the field.

Eaton gave the White Sox a huge boost in his first season in the American League. Taking over in center field for a shaky Alejandro De Aza, Eaton also showed impressive range with the fifth-best fielding percentage at his position.

The complete list of American League Gold Glove winners: Dallas Keuchel (Astros) pitcher, Salvador Perez (Royals) catcher; Eric Hosmer (Royals) first base; Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox) second base; Hardy (Orioles) shortstop; Kyle Saeger (Mariners) third base; Alex Gordon (Royals) left field; Jones (Orioles) center field; Nick Markakis (Orioles) right field.

White Sox coaching staff looks set for 2015

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
3:30
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- While Chicago White Sox roster decisions are still to come, the coaching staff appears set for 2015.

General manager Rick Hahn confirmed that, saying the club "expects" all the coaches to return. Next season will be Robin Ventura’s fourth as manager.

The club went through the 2014 season with Mark Parent as bench coach, Todd Steverson as hitting coach, Don Cooper as pitching coach, Joe McEwing as third-base coach, Daryl Boston as first-base coach, Harold Baines as assistant hitting coach and Bobby Thigpen as bullpen coach.

At the end of the season, Hahn left the coaching staff’s return unconfirmed saying, “We might lose some to these potential (manager) openings.”

McEwing was an early candidate for the Arizona Diamondbacks' manager opening, but the National League West club eventually hired Chip Hale as their new field boss. While the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays have manager vacancies, no White Sox personnel are being viewed as a strong candidate for those jobs.

The White Sox could still be in the market for a base stealing/base running coach. While not a member of the major league staff, a new base-running coach could be a roving instructor within the organization.

Leadoff man Adam Eaton excelled in many areas this past season with a .362 on-base percentage and a nomination as a Gold Glove Award finalist, but base stealing appears to be an area where he could greatly improve. In addition, speedy second baseman Micah Johnson is close to making a breakthrough to the major league level.

Hahn did not confirm if the White Sox are in pursuit of a base-running coach.

Eaton, Ramirez named Gold Glove finalists

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
4:54
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – A Chicago White Sox team that had its issues on defense at times in 2014 still had two players named Thursday as finalists for an American League Gold Glove Award.

Center fielder Adam Eaton and shortstop Alexei Ramirez each were named finalists at their respective positions, with the winners to be announced Nov. 4 live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. CST.

Neither Eaton nor Ramirez has won a Gold Glove, although Ramirez was considered to be a potential Gold Glove winner early in his career. After a mediocre season in multiple areas of his game last year, Ramirez rebounded with a standout 2014 season, including on defense.

Ramirez not only had the most chances of all AL shortstops with 696, he helped turn the most double plays with 119. He was second in fielding percentage at .978 to Erick Aybar of the Los Angeles Angels, who was at .982. Ramirez’s range factor was calculated at an AL-best 4.45.

Also nominated for an AL Gold Glove at shortstop were Alcides Escobar of the Kansas City Royals and J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles. Hardy has won the award each of the past two seasons.

Eaton’s arrival this past season helped improve an outfield defense that struggled in 2013, especially in center field. His defense strength were speed and a strong throwing arm that helped lead to nine outfield assists, third-best among all full-time AL center fielders.

Eaton was nominated for the award with fellow AL center fielders Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox and Adam Jones of the Orioles. Jones has won the award each of the past two seasons.

White Sox set to undergo more rebuilding

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
5:42
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Headed in a positive direction now, the Chicago White Sox still finished with a losing record in 2014, and the bar is set extremely high for general manager Rick Hahn as the offseason begins.

The additions of Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton last winter have the offense in better shape than it was a year ago. But those additions also are a tough act to follow for Hahn, as the fan base yearns for more improvement and a better 2015.

Is Hahn challenging himself to match and possibly exceed last year’s roster maneuvering?

[+] EnlargeJose Abreu
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhThe addition of Jose Abreu was huge for the offense this season, but what do the White Sox have in store for next season?
“Absolutely, and there’s sort of, I suppose, two categories of moves: Some that are sort of more short-term fixes that are going to improve the club and slightly move the chains, and then there’s sort of the longer-term fits, such as Abreu or (Avisail Garcia) or Eaton or some of the other guys that we feel we have coming,” Hahn said.

“The addition of (left-handed pitcher) Carlos Rodon in the last draft is another example, and we’re never going to move our eye from those long-term targets being a priority. At the same time, we may be in a position where some shorter-term deals with some veteran-type players might make some sense in order to get this team closer to where we want to be.”

While making some long-term roster additions in order to get better for the long run, the White Sox also have been creating financial flexibility. Payroll was down some $30 million from last year, and with big-money players like Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko all gone now, Hahn said he expects to have some freedom to spend a little more to shore up roster spots.

“The flexibility helps a lot,” Hahn said. “Having some important players signed long term, you have that cost certainty about what your obligations are going to be going forward, and we’re in a position now where we’ve managed to create some economic flexibility going into the offseason. We can deploy that via free agency or via trade and really not be precluded from any opportunities right now due to economic reasons.”

The White Sox still might not be ready to push past the $110 million mark in player salaries, but overall talent still could be younger and better than it has been the past two seasons. Just don’t expect the White Sox to spend like the deep-pocket Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

“Our intent is to convert on the No.1 target at every spot and address every need with the ideal fit,” Hahn said. “Realistically there are 29 other clubs, some of which have similar needs to ours and similar resources, whether it be from a player to trade standpoint or an economic standpoint. So, we’re realistic and know that we’re not going to be able to necessarily convert on every top guy.

“At the same time, our scouts and our analytics people are fairly well versed and skilled at being able to target, perhaps, I don’t want to say second-tier, but perhaps less notable targets who have been able to develop into integral parts of championship clubs here. So, the list is long. It continues to be vetted. It’ll continue to be vetted over the next few weeks.”

Yet for all the positives, there is no getting around the fact that the White Sox finished with just 73 victories this season, a mark that was 15 games under .500. That is not a positive no matter how many long-term impact players have been added since the July 2013 trade deadline.

“If you're asking me for a pass-fail grade on the 2014 season, it's a failure,” Hahn said. “The goal is to win a championship. The goal is always to win a championship, and we're not going to do that.”

That’s the black-and-white summary of the season. The gray area offers intrigue.

“'From the standpoint of putting ourselves in position to win multiple championships, there are some successes that we can feel happy about,” Hahn said. “Obviously, last offseason we were able to acquire the rookie of the year (Abreu). It would be nice to do that again this offseason and continue that process.

“Adam Eaton is going to be the mainstay at the top of our order for a long time. Obviously, Chris Sale took another step forward, as did Jose Quintana. Avi Garcia has shown flashes. It would have been nice if he had been healthy the whole year to continue that development, but at the same time, he continues to be a very integral part of our plan going forward.”

As for there the fixes that need to be made, a right-handed starter is a priority and a decision on a left fielder will be key. But one other area will have much of the emphasis.

“When you look at our bullpen, you wish that was better,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You don’t know if it’s going to be guys that are improving or different people. That’s just the way the game goes. You look at what you’re weak at and try to figure out a way to improve it. There are quite a few things.

“When you end up 15 games back in your division, you look back at a lot of games you lost; see how you lost them, why you lost them. I think defensively for us, there’s ways to improve. Offensively there’s ways to improve. There are a lot of different things to it. We’ll definitely go over that. We’ve been going over that as we move along and kind of start focusing on what we want to see this offseason.”

While questions have been raised this season about Ventura’s job stability, Hahn said he has no issues with his manager moving through the current roster rebuild.

“Robin continues to do an excellent job at the helm of the club,” Hahn said. “Obviously, when you evaluate managers, you have to take into account the personnel that they're given. I don't think it's fair to expect them to have every player on the roster consistently overachieve or achieve at perhaps a level beyond the player's capabilities.

“So we judge it from the prism of what was he given and what did he get out of them. His communication continues to be outstanding, his ability to keep all the players involved, and keeps them on point to prioritize the things that we feel are important and respond to inevitable challenges.”

Series preview: White Sox at Rays

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
3:39
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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With 10 games remaining in the season, it's all about the Paul Konerko watch at this point.

Konerko is back in the lineup Friday night in the series opener at Tampa Bay after fracturing a bone in his left hand on Sept. 2, giving him six final road games to get in some swings in advance of his final four home games Sept. 25-28 against the Kansas City Royals.

Konerko said he would like to see some pitches in advance of that final home series to dial in his swing before playing in front of White Sox fans for the last time.

How many games he gets in advance of that final series likely will be determined by how his left hand reacts from Friday's game against the Rays. Just two weeks ago, Konerko couldn't even grip a bat, so there isn't a ton of expectation that he will be productive.

But with the White Sox long out of playoff contention, sending Konerko off into the sunset in style is about as good as it gets for the next week and a half. And that isn't a bad thing, considering that Konerko is the White Sox's all-time leader in total bases (4,008) and is second in home runs (432), RBIs (1,383) and extra-base hits (846).

The six-time All-Star has a White Sox record of 13 seasons with 20 or more home runs.

The White Sox plan to honor their team captain with Paul Konerko Night on Saturday, Sept. 27.

HEAD TO HEAD



The White Sox's Alexei Ramirez is 3-for-9 (.333) against Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, while Moises Sierra is 3-for-7 (.429) with a home run. ... White Sox hitters Adam Eaton, Tyler Flowers and Ramirez all are 2-for-4 (.500) against Rays right-hander Chris Archer, while Jose Abreu is 2-for-3 (.667). ... Rays starter Nathan Karns has made four career starts (three with the Washington Nationals) and has never faced the White Sox. ... Rays hitters are a combined 4-for-17 (.235) against White Sox starter Jose Quintana with one RBI. ... The Rays' Matt Joyce is 4-for-7 (.571) against White Sox starter Hector Noesi, while David DeJesus is 4-for-5 (.800). ... The Rays' Yunel Escobar is 6-for-12 (.500) against White Sox starter John Danks, while Sean Rodriguez is 6-for-14 (.429).

NOTES



Abreu needs one home run to set a White Sox rookie record. He is tied for the mark at 35 with Ron Kittle. ... Quintana, who starts Friday night, is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 23 strikeouts over his last three starts, all quality. ... The White Sox are just 2-10 over their last 12 road games and have been outscored 59-35 in that stretch. ... If the White Sox can win four more times in the last 10 games they will avoid consecutive 90-plus loss seasons for the first time since 1988-89. ... White Sox starters have a 3.20 ERA over the last 13 games, with nine of those quality starts. ... The White Sox are tied for second in the American League with a .261 batting average since the all-star break. ... The White Sox and Rays haven't met since April, when the White Sox took three games in a four-game series at U.S. Cellular Field. ... Hellickson, who starts for the Rays on Friday, hasn't won at home since July of last year ... when he faced the White Sox.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (8-10, 3.30 ERA) vs. Rays RH Jeremy Hellickson (1-3, 3.63), 6:10 p.m. CST
Saturday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (8-10, 4.77) vs. Rays RH Chris Archer (9-8., 3.54), 6:10 p.m. CST
Sunday: White Sox LH John Danks (9-11, 4.88) vs. Rays RH Nathan Karns (1-0, 0.00), 12:40 p.m. CST

Could Adam Eaton benefit from a SB guru?

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
1:26
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
By all accounts, Adam Eaton's first season with the Chicago White Sox has been a rousing success with his ability to get on base, hit for average and his single-handed improvement of outfield defense with speed and an ability to get reads on fly balls.

There remains an area where significant improvement can be shown, though, as the base-stealing side of his game remains undeveloped.

[+] EnlargeAdam Eaton
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty ImagesAdam Eaton has 14 steals this season but has been thrown out nine times.
Eaton might not possess the raw speed of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Dee Gordon or the Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton, but he is faster than his 14 steals would indicate. Considering that he has been caught stealing nine times, Eaton is more of a liability than an asset when it comes to stealing bases.

Eaton has admitted it's an area that needs work as he adapts to becoming an everyday major league player. He may never be a top-flight base stealer, but even the slightest improvement in that department over successive seasons can turn him into an even more dynamic player.

Manager Robin Ventura said during the most recent homestand that he is pleased with his coaching staff, but that the front office will conclude its assessment of the group before the season ends. One area to consider is adding a coach who excels in the base-stealing department, although that coach could come at the expense of one already on the staff.

One proponent of a base-stealing guru is the Dodgers' Gordon, who admitted he was nothing more than a run-and-hope base stealer before Davey Lopes joined the Dodgers' coaching staff in advance of the 2011 season, which just happens to be the year Gordon broke into the major leagues.

"I thought I knew it all," Gordon said. "I stole like 70 bags, 80 bags, 60 bags (in the minor leagues). I was, 'Yeah, I'll be alright.' But I didn't know what I thought I knew."

Officially, Gordon's best season stealing bases was in 2009 at Single-A Great Lakes when he swiped 73. By comparison, Eaton's best was 44 in 2012 when he was mostly in Triple-A, but spent a handful of games on the Double-A level.

Eaton's numbers show that he won't ever be Gordon, but he can be better than he's shown. Getting a coach to get it out of him figures to be key.

"It takes time and you're still going to get thrown out, but the one thing they say, if you're getting thrown out it means you're on base," Gordon said. "You don't want to get thrown out a lot, but you're going to have to sometimes."

It's that "getting thrown" out part that has been tricky when it comes to Eaton's base stealing. If he gets to second base, it can give a guy like Jose Abreu an easier RBI opportunity. But Abreu can often drive in runners from first base too, meaning that the White Sox might not like their risk-reward ratio when it comes to stealing in front of their big slugger.

With Eaton, the White Sox would be best working on his stolen-base percentage before focusing on a larger number of steals.

Gordon won't specify his recipe for success, saying only: "Just the little keys that me and Davey have figured out. That's about it." He will say that Lopes has been instrumental on his major league-leading 63 steals this season.

"It was amazing," Gordon said of Lopes' arrival. "I'm extremely happy that he came over, and I have been able to get help."

Stock Watch: Abreu powers up again

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
4:19
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
AbreuAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhJose Abreu ended his home run drought with two long balls over the weekend.

RISING

Streaking
Jose Abreu, DH/1B: After finally ending his home run drought Saturday, Abreu hit another Sunday giving him home runs in back to back games for the fourth time this season and first time since early June. He has a hit in 22 of the last 23 games and is batting .427 over that stretch with 12 RBIs and 11 multi-hit games.

Starting pitching: Scott Carroll and Hector Noesi might have ended the starting staff's run of consecutive quality starts at eight, but the current run from the rotation continues to be impressive. Even with the five earned runs Noesi gave up Sunday, White Sox starters still have a 2.81 ERA over the last 10 games since Sept. 5, and eight of those outings have been quality.

Jake Petricka, RP: Not only did the right-hander pick up his first victory of the season in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, he has delivered six consecutive scoreless innings over his last six appearances. He has converted five consecutive save opportunities since Aug. 17 and he has a 1.65 ERA in his 16 save opportunities this season. Oh, and he also welcomed the birth of his daughter last week.

FALLING

Slumping
Alexei Ramirez, SS: His season offensively is as good as any shortstop in the American League, but Ramirez has been scuffling at the plate of late. He is batting just .122 (5-for-41) in September and .198 (22-for-111) over his last 28 games. He still leads AL shortstops in home runs (15), slugging percentage (.414) and extra-base hits (49). He also leads with a .983 fielding percentage.

Paul Konerko, DH/1B: This was supposed to be a month-long celebration of Konerko's career, but a fracture of a small bone in his left hand has put that on hold. Konerko will try to give the hand a go on the upcoming nine-game road trip with the idea that he could be in sync offensively by the time returns for the final home series of the season, Sept. 25-28 against the Kansas City Royals.

Adam Eaton, CF: There haven't been too many dry spells from the high-energy leadoff man, but the just-concluded homestand wasn't his best. Eaton went 4-for-23 (.174) in the games against the A's and Twins. In September, Eaton is 6-for-42 (.143) after going 48-for-113 (.425) over his previous 29 games.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
.317 36 107 80
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
WC. Sale 12
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208