Chicago White Sox: Andruw jones
Look back at 2010: It was a mixed bag for White Sox reserves as Omar Vizquel delivered much more than what was expected and Mark Kotsay, no matter how hard he hit the ball, couldn’t give the team the production it needed. Brent Lillibridge was productive as a utility man earlier in the year but tailed off considerably toward the end of the season when at-bats were harder to come by. Ramon Castro proved to be a capable backup at catcher with eight home runs, which was one less than starter A.J. Pierzynski in 359 fewer at-bats. Castro also had 21 RBI in 115 at-bats, compared to Pierzynski’s 47 in 474 at-bats. Andruw Jones batted just .230 in a backup outfield role (in 278 at-bats), but he did hit 19 home runs with 48 RBI and scored 41 runs. Vizquel clearly made the biggest impact of this group and if any one person could be considered the focal point of the White Sox’s march back into contention in 2010 it would be him. Taking over for Mark Teahen at third base, Vizquel led the charge to an improved defensive effort from the entire team and it sparked the pitchers to improved results. At 43 Vizquel even delivered with his bat, posting a .276 batting average and a .341 on-base percentage over 108 games, a number that was considered unthinkable when the season began.
Look ahead to 2011: Vizquel is a free agent and his chances of returning next season aren’t so certain. He made $1.375 million in 2010 and could end up getting a raise off that price after what he did this past season, even at his advanced age. Not only that, but he could be looking for a two-year deal that would likely take him to the end of his career. Vizquel’s money will essentially be going to Teahen, who could end up being a super utility man (infield and outfield) if he doesn’t handily win the starting third base job during spring training. The problem is that he doesn’t play middle infield like Vizquel does. Teahen will be making $4.75 million in 2011. Lillibridge remains under team control, so he is cost effective and the White Sox won’t judge his entire season on his final week when he struck out nearly every time he came to the plate. Castro has set foot in the major leagues every year since 1999, but has received more than 200 at-bats just once, in 2005 when he got 209 with the Mets, so becoming a starter (if Pierzynski doesn’t return) seems to be a stretch at age 35. Jones isn’t expected to return and retirement rumors surround Kotsay.
Key stat: Vizquel’s unexpected busy schedule in 2010 did help im to reach a significant milestone. The Venezuelan-born player appeared in his 2,832nd career game on Sept. 6 at Detroit, giving him the most major league games played by a foreign-born player.
Quote: “Some people say that defense wins ballgames and I think we have been playing some pretty good defense. The pitchers are doing a pretty good job of keeping the ball down. I think that is the most important thing. When they make the right pitch, we can do our job. Things are happening, we’re turning double plays, we’re making the routine play and I think that is really important.” – Vizquel on July 20, when the White Sox had a 3 1/2-game lead in the division, their largest of the season.
One more position on the field to go before we start breaking down the bench, DH spot, coaching and front office in our daily look back and look ahead at the White Sox.
But considering that six of those home runs and 11 of the RBI came in a four-game stretch it shows that the former MVP candidate must have had some quiet stretches. There isn’t a part of his body Quentin didn’t seem to hurt in 2010, emerging from the trainers’ room after one midseason game at Minnesota with ice packs on his shoulder, lower back, thigh and both knees. Quentin’s injuries and his 23 starts in the DH spot allowed Andruw Jones to make 41 starts in right field. Jones had 19 home runs and 48 RBI this past season, but like Quentin, he didn’t hit for average. Jones had a .230 batting average, while Quentin’s finished at .243. In fact, the 146 combined hits from White Sox right fielders were second worst in the league to Tampa Bay’s 141. Seattle, thanks to Ichiro Suzuki, led the way at 213 hits.
Look ahead to 2011: Those who have grown tired of Quentin’s on-again, off-again act only need to know this: At $3.2 million in 2010, the return on the White Sox’s investment was a good one. That price tag is only going up, though, with Quentin heading into another arbitration-eligible offseason. (He will have one more in 2012 before he is eligible to become a free agent.) Clearly the White Sox aren’t about to sever ties with Quentin, despite his injuries. He has too much of an upside.
But do they continue to go year-by-year with Quentin only to risk seeing him potentially grow unaffordable by 2012? Maybe the White Sox look at the two-year $15.25 million deal the Dodgers gave to an arbitration-eligible Andre Ethier last offseason. Ethier was coming off a 106-RBI season and finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting in 2009, so perhaps Quentin could come a little cheaper, at perhaps two years and between $13 million and $14 million. There is considerable risk, though. Ethier got his big bucks, broke a pinky finger and ended up driving in 82 runs this past season.
Key stat: Over his last 36 home games, Quentin batted .311 (38-for-122) and had 15 home runs and 37 RBI.
Quote: “I think a lot of people say he has to see somebody, a psychiatrist or psychologist. But those guys never play baseball. They never did. What is a doctor going to tell me? He says, ‘You are 0-for-4?’ Well, you finish 0-for-4 and see how you feel. … You have to get your own help. Make sure you enjoy the game and have some fun with it. No matter how bad you play right now, your salary is going to be higher next year so why are you worried about it? I talked to him about the situation and he agreed with me. He knows what he needs to do and I think he will do it.” – manager Ozzie Guillen, on getting Quentin to relax more.
Two more positions to go in our daily breakdown of the White Sox as we now get to the middle of the outfield.
Look ahead to 2011: The pressure is still on Rios (and Williams, for that matter), as the center fielder’s salary increases to $12.5 million. And unlike Juan Pierre, who will have $3.5 million of his salary paid for by the Dodgers, nobody is going to help foot the bill on Rios. Along with Konerko, Rios had one of the steadiest seasons on the team in 2010 and more of the same wouldn’t hurt. Along with Alexei Ramirez at shortstop and what figures to be an improved Gordon Beckham at second base, Rios helps solidify the team’s defense up the middle. Defense and pitching figure to be vital for the White Sox next season, especially if they lose Konerko’s production via free agency. Jones isn’t likely to return giving De Aza a chance to earn the role during spring training.
Key stat: Rios became the fourth player in White Sox history to record at least 20 home runs and 20 steals in the same season, joining Tommie Agee (1966), Ray Durham (2001) and Magglio Ordonez (2001).
Quote: “He’d be hitting .400 if he had any kind of luck.” Williams, on Rios, who was batting .307 on July 20.
From in-fighting to a slow start to an improbable comeback and then a slow fade back into obscurity, the White Sox went through plenty this season. Jake Peavy’s season-ending injury was a tough blow, Paul Konerko’s MVP push was a highlight and Chris Sale’s emergence was a revelation.
Bullpen injuries, a dreadful start in April and May and some scathing Twitter critiques (mostly from Guillen’s son Oney), kept the drama flowing. By the end of the season Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams had kissed and made up, Brent Morel emerged as a talent for the future and nine victories over the final 11 games removed at least a little bit of the sour taste from a wild ride in 2010.
Here is what went right, what went wrong, questions for the offseason and what to look for in 2011:
What went wrong: Pierre was brought aboard to spark the offense in Guillen’s small-ball vision, but a .260 on-base percentage and a .193 batting average in April was a major reason for the team’s slow start offensively. Sure Quentin had his red-hot run when the ballpark was playing small during the hottest part of the summer, but nagging injuries continued to cost him playing time, which ruined his consistency at the plate.
INFIELDWhat went right: Omar Vizquel. Omar Vizquel. Omar Vizquel. With all due respect to Konerko, Vizquel’s unexpected contributions, especially on defense, were what made the White Sox click on the infield this season. Vizquel’s steady hand at third base came when the starting pitchers made huge improvements, and it was no coincidence. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez showed Gold Glove ability, while second baseman Gordon Beckham fought through a sophomore slump to post an impressive second half (.310 after the break). Konerko put up MVP-type numbers in what could be his final season on the South Side: .312, 39 HRs, 111 RBIs.
ROTATIONWhat went right: Freddy Garcia’s 12 victories (a number that could have been as high as 16 with some help from the bullpen) gave the starting staff much-needed stability from the front end to the back. When Gavin Floyd was posting a 0.80 ERA in five July starts, he was pitching as well as anybody in baseball. John Danks might not garner any Cy Young votes, but he was a leader of the 2010 staff, going 15-11 with a 3.72 ERA. Mark Buehrle just keeps on churning out solid seasons, becoming the only active pitcher with 10-consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories, 30 starts and 200 innings. Edwin Jackson was an animal in his first four White Sox starts, posting a 0.96 ERA over 28 innings.
What went wrong: The starting pitchers can be forgiven for their slow start to the season, but when it was time to make up for it in September, they were nowhere to be found. With the season on the line, the White Sox’s staff set a dubious club record by not winning a game in 18 consecutive starts. The starters were 0-9 over that stretch with a 6.45 ERA. Sure Floyd was terrific in the middle of the season, but he has a career ERA of 6.30 in April, a 5.47 mark in May and a 4.44 mark in September. That trend continued once again this season.
What went wrong: Calf, back and forearm injuries left Jenks with 27 saves, the least in any of his five full seasons. Jenks wasn’t the only reliever whose injuries hampered the team. Thornton and Putz were on the disabled list at the same time during a key stretch during the second half. Other issues: Santos allowed 32.2 percent of inherited runners to score, while Tony Pena had a .341 batting average against vs. first batters.
What went wrong: From the day Guillen’s son Oney left his position with the team during spring training, the manager and Williams were on shaky ground, only repairing the relationship during the final week of the season. Williams took a chance on Teahen that didn’t work well in Year 1 of a three-year deal. Sure it was admirable that Williams took a chance to make the team better down the stretch, but Manny Ramirez didn’t come close to reviving his 2008 magic, and the White Sox were left holding a $4 million invoice.
If Konerko doesn’t return, then who plays first base? Could they use the Konerko money to convince Adam Dunn to come to Chicago? Who will close if Jenks isn’t brought back, as expected. Putz is a free agent and Thornton has a team option, leaving a number of decisions to make in the bullpen. If the team doesn’t want to commit to free agent A.J. Pierzynski for multiple years, would they be willing to bring him back for just 2011?
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2011
Konerko’s return is 50-50. The team is interested and so is Konerko, but the veteran said that even if the White Sox are the highest bidder, it won’t guarantee that he comes back. Sale is expected to be converted back into a starting pitcher and could be the No. 5 starter if Peavy isn’t ready to return from a shoulder muscle injury by Opening Day.
Starting Brent Morel at third base and Dayan Viciedo at first leaves too many offensive question marks, so if Konerko doesn’t re-sign look for the White Sox to make a push for a veteran first or third baseman. The same goes for catcher if Pierzynski isn’t re-signed: look for the White Sox to bring aboard a veteran backstop for one or two years. Expect the White Sox to quickly exercise Thornton’s $3 million option for 2011.
A day after Manny Ramirez was hit by pitches twice, Andruw Jones looked at a fifth-inning pitch from Jeremy Bonderman up near his head. An irate manager Ozzie Guillen was caught on camera raising his hands in anger/frustration and then checking the lineup on the dugout wall.
Pretty safe to assume Guillen was checking who the Tigers had coming to the plate in the next half inning.
The Tigers’ Ryan Raburn led off the bottom of the fifth, and against White Sox starter John Danks he watched a pitch buzz past his left shoulder. By not hitting Raburn, Danks failed to send the full message that White Sox pitchers are willing to protect their own hitters.
Home-plate umpire Brian Gorman then warned both benches anyway, a move that did not draw objection from either bench.
Raburn then stepped back into the batter’s box and doubled to left field.
They snapped Yankees starter CC Sabathia’s streak of 16 consecutive “quality starts,” where he gave up three runs or less over six innings. The White Sox had five runs after four innings, getting two on a Paul Konerko home run and two on a home run from Andruw Jones.
Sabathia’s streak was the longest in the storied history of the Yankees franchise. Ron Guidry had the previous longest streak, recording 15 consecutive quality starts to start the 1978 season. He won the Cy Young Award that year.
“He can’t help us tonight, I know that,” Konerko said. “That’s all I’m thinking about.”
It’s not to say that Konerko, or anybody on the White Sox, doesn’t care that the club now has exclusive negotiating rights to bring Ramirez to Chicago. (The deadline to make a deal is Tuesday.) The consensus in the White Sox clubhouse, even from players whose playing time would be affected, seems to be unanimous: Bring him on.
“When he walks in the clubhouse that’s when it’s time to talk about it,” Konerko said. “As far as him being a teammate, Manny can hit, everybody knows that. The guy is a Hall of Famer. He’s going to help any team he’s on at any time. The guy can drive in a tough run. He’s one of the best right-handed hitters to play this game ever. He’s going to help any team but (the deal’s) still not done.”
Andruw Jones must feel like he’s being chased by Ramirez at this point. His injuries and struggles with the Dodgers in 2008 were a big reason general manager Ned Colletti went out and got Ramirez from the Red Sox at the July 31 trade deadline in the first place.
But even Jones can’t complain about Ramirez coming to the White Sox, even if it means less playing time for him.
“When he got to the Dodgers he helped them and they had a young ball team and everybody was kind of all tied up and stuff like that,” said Jones, who played just one game with Ramirez in L.A. before an injury ended his season. “He made everybody relaxed and loose and got them to the playoffs. They just fell short (In the NLCS) but whatever team he's on, he's going to help the team when he's there.”
Mark Teahen is another player that could lose playing time because of a potential deal for Ramirez, and he isn’t worried about more bench time either, as long as it adds up to success on the field.
“It’s nice that we’re still trying to add pieces to make us that much better and get us over the hump,” Teahen said. “We’ll see what happens.”
As for adding a dynamic, attention-getting personality to a tight-knit clubhouse, Konerko isn’t worried. It isn’t like Ramirez could top manager Ozzie Guillen for most animated member of the clubhouse.
“It’s already kind of a circus that’s the way it is,” Konerko said with a chuckle. “When you’re a White Sox player you know what you have to deal with. It’s not going to change much if you’re worried about bringing in another personality. We have enough to go around if you look at everybody around here. Manny can hit and if he comes here he’ll hit and wherever he is he’s going to hit. That’s just what he does. But I wouldn’t worry about the chemistry.”
Besides, Konerko has done his homework on Ramirez and the news has come back positive.
“Talking to Jim [Thome] a lot [Ramirez] is a lot different to teammates on the inside than what people get on the outside,” Konerko said about his former teammate who played with Ramirez in Cleveland and in Los Angeles. “ He’s a very hard worker and takes pride in his game more than people think, so I don’t think that will be a concern. Five months in, this team is pretty bonded together and nothing’s going to probably change that.”
CHICAGO – Andruw Jones was a late scratch Wednesday leading to some speculation in the press box that he might have been released.
Jones was going to play right field while Carlos Quentin moved to designated hitter for the night, but it was a sore back that will force him to sit. Quentin will now play right field.
The move forced another lineup change. Instead of playing at third base, Dayan Viciedo was moved to the DH spot, the first time he has been at the DH spot all season. Omar Vizquel was inserted into the lineup at third base, batting eighth.
Instead of simply moving to the DH spot to replace the vacancy there, Vizquel will move to the field so the White Sox can utilize his defense. So much for a night of rest.
Carlos Delgado, who reportedly was of interest to the White Sox as they seek a left-handed power bat, signed with the Boston Red Sox.
Guillen has been saying all along that he likes the makeup of his own roster even if that left-handed hitter never arrives. But of course he is going to stand behind his guys.
If the White Sox really want to get better, Guillen had a plan of a different kind.
“The trade we are going to make [is to get] better results from [Mark] Kotsay and Andruw Jones,” Guillen said. “We need them to get more production.”
Since Delgado hasn’t played in over a year, if he joined the White Sox, he would have had to work on his swing and his timing in the minor leagues.
“I never wanted Delgado; we don’t need Delgado,” Guillen said. “You know why, and nothing against him, if we need help, we need help quick. We aren’t going to wait for the guy. It seems like whoever signs Delgado, they have their own program. We can’t.”
Besides, Guillen just nixed a player in the same exact mold as Delgado.
“I would rather have Jim Thome,” Guillen said. “We know what Jim Thome can do. Delgado can only DH and play a little bit of first base. We have two good first basemen.”
If Guillen gets his bat, fine. If not, Kotsay and Jones will be on the spot.
“Those two guys for the next two months bring what they are supposed to bring, I don’t see why we don’t have a good hitting team,” he said.
CHICAGO – From the moment general manager Ken Williams announced he was unable to make a blockbuster acquisition at the non-waiver trade deadline, something seemed off Saturday.
It continued into Saturday night’s game when John Danks was roughed up, the offense was held down by Oakland’s Dallas Braden and the White Sox saw their 12-game home win streak come to an end in a 6-2 defeat.
“I didn’t expect to come here and win every game from now on,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We’re going to be up and down and hopefully we erased that (Saturday) and we can come back and hopefully we can put together another winning streak at home. We have a lot of baseball left, and we have to take it one day at a time.”
Closing in on back-to-back perfect homestands, it was perfection of a different kind that came out ahead Saturday. Braden, the author of a May 9 perfecto against the Tampa Bay Rays, has now defeated the White Sox in consecutive outings. They are his only two victories since the perfect game.
The White Sox finished July with 18 victories and were 12-1 at home during the month. And what is the common denominator among the team’s 11-game win streak from June 15-26, their nine-game win streak from July 4-15 and their 12-game home win streak this month? Danks took the loss to end all three of them.
“I've been pretty good at that,” Danks said with a shrug.
The White Sox are still feeling pretty good about themselves, but the Minnesota Twins are doing their best to make things uncomfortable. Minnesota won its seventh consecutive game Saturday to cut the White Sox’s division lead to a half game. The Twins also have won nine of their past 10.
Guillen admitted to doing a little scoreboard watching.
“I’ll be honest with you guys, I watch the scoreboard because how big that thing is here,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it. [Am] I’m worried? I’m not worried, because I think it’s still too early. I don’t worry because it’s not a surprise those guys are right behind us.
“I don’t worry about the scoreboard. I look up there to see how’s the game, who’s pitching. When you’re sitting where I sit, sometimes the game gets boring and you have to look up there. I have too much time to kill.”
The White Sox will find out soon enough if there is something to be worried about. After a road trip to Detroit and Baltimore, the Twins come to U.S. Cellular Field on Aug. 10 to start a three-game series.
“We know who we are,” Danks said. “We're playing good right now; we're playing to our capabilities. It's fun and even [Saturday] we didn't feel like we were out of the game. It makes a lot of fun always feeling you know you're going to win every game. Unfortunately, I dug us too deep of a hole.”
Danks not only saw his four-game win streak come to an end, he gave up his first home run since June 27 when Kevin Kouzmanoff went deep in the third inning. His homerless streak spanned 41 1/3 innings.
Despite a two-run home run from Andruw Jones, three hits from Juan Pierre and two from Dayan Viciedo, the offense couldn’t put enough scoring chances together against Braden.
As for that left-handed bat that Williams couldn’t get at the trade deadline, get ready for the club to claim it could be on the way. Mark Teahen had three hits and two RBIs in his first minor-league rehab game Saturday and could be back in the major leagues by next week.
BY THE NUMBERS
2: Extra days of rest for Freddy Garcia before he makes his next start Thursday at Detroit. Garcia, whose 110 1/3 innings already are his most since 2006, last pitched Thursday at home. Mark Buehrle will pitch in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Detroit, with a Game 2 starter not yet decided. Edwin Jackson will make his White Sox debut Wednesday. Danks will pitch against the Tigers on Thursday.
“If we traded for Manny, I don’t know what we are going to do with [his long] hair. That Mannywood doesn’t [expletive] go here. Sorry. … I don’t know if he would tuck it in his hat or tuck it under his uniform, but that hair is not going to go with the White Sox. The only hair here is mine. And I’m ready to cut it.” -- Guillen, on the rumors that Manny Ramirez was a trade target of Williams’.
Gavin Floyd (6-8, 3.66) will head to the mound in Sunday’s afternoon finale of a three-game series against the A’s as one of baseball’s hottest pitchers since the start of June. The right-hander is 4-2 with a 1.04 ERA since June 8. The ERA is the lowest in baseball over that stretch. He is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA lifetime against the A’s, and a .216 batting average against.
Floyd will be opposed by former White Sox prospect Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.64), who has never pitched at U.S. Cellular Field. The left-hander is 5-0 in day games this season with a 1.99 ERA, the second lowest day ERA of any starter in baseball. He has a 14.05 ERA in two previous starts against the White Sox.
The White Sox will most likely recall right-handed pitcher Daniel Hudson from Triple-A Charlotte to start in place of Jake Peavy on Sunday, if he goes on the DL.
Andruw Jones' 399th career homer on Tuesday snapped an 0-for-17 streak. It was his first round-tripper since June 3 against Texas.
Alex Rios snapped an 0-for-13 hitless streak with his 14th home run of the season in the 6th inning.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was not happy about having to play outfielder Carlos Quentin on Wednesday.
Originally, Quentin was slated to be benched for some R & R. He struggled at the plate Tuesday night, striking out three times. Following that showing, Guillen decided it was time for Quentin to have a few days off.
That plan changed when Andruw Jones reported to Guillen that he had a stiff neck and was unavailable for Wednesday’s game.
Guillen scrambled to change the lineup an hour before game time, reinserting the struggling Quentin. The results for Quentin weren’t any better than Tuesday; the rightfielder was 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Guillen was asked if Jones will play on Friday.
“No,” he said. “I don’t know how his neck is feeling. He won’t play Friday. We’ll see how he is feeling Saturday.”
During his tenure as manager, Guillen’s rule of thumb is to keep a player out of the lineup one extra day if he pulls himself out with an injury.