Chicago White Sox: Rick Hahn

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."

White Sox looking to act fast this winter

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
7:33
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox hope that the signing of left-handed reliever Zach Duke on Tuesday is the beginning of a quick roster retooling this offseason.

While patience might be a virtue, executive vice president Kenny Williams believes there is a benefit to making offseason moves in a timely fashion, and he and general manager Rick Hahn are prepared to act fast if given a chance.

Zach Duke
Duke
“The only message we want to send at the end of the day is, when our roster is complete, that [fans] can dream again,” Williams said. “The difference is this time, because of how things have transpired the last couple of years, we’ve been able to build up from the bottom up a little bit and we’ve got a lot of youth -- and good, talented youth. If we can supplement the right guys, the right veterans and get some leadership in the mix, I think we can start to have some exciting baseball again on the South Side, but we have some work to do still.”

The addition of Duke, one of the top left-handed relievers on the market, is a step in the right direction for a team that struggled with its bullpen in 2014. Adding a hard-throwing right-hander with strikeout potential is another need, as is other assorted bullpen help, a right-handed starter and a left-handed power bat.

With some of the early moves that have happened in baseball already, from trades to free-agent signings, Williams is optimistic that things will start to move at a speed he and Hahn prefer. Baseball’s winter meetings are less than a month away in San Diego.

“I really cannot remember a time where so many good players have been discussed at the general managers’ meetings [last week] 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.”

It isn’t out of the question that the White Sox will be able to get multiple items scratched off their checklist before the winter meetings even begin.

“Some of the things Rick and I are talking about back there are exciting things, and some days they are more exciting than others,” Williams said. “You kind of go back and forth with the possibilities, thinking something is closer at one point in time, then it kind of backs off, then it gets a little closer. [Signing Duke] is a good first step, and hopefully we can supplement the roster and get back into competition mode.”

Would White Sox part with Alexei?

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
4:19
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- If teams are going to try and pry a core player away from the Chicago White Sox, it’s going to come at a steep price.

As trade rumors begin to swirl regarding White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez, general manager Rick Hahn neither confirmed nor denied those inquiries Tuesday, but did not sound as if he was shopping his All-Star infielder.

A USA Today report via Twitter on Tuesday said that the Los Angeles Dodgers were actively pursuing Ramirez.

“We are certainly open minded on all of our players,” Hahn said Tuesday, declining to talk about Ramirez specifically. “It’s our obligation to listen. At the same time we have what feel are some very valuable commodities in the game right now and we’re certainly not looking to move any of them without feeling very good that we are not only improving our competitiveness for 2015 but for ’16 and beyond as well.”

The Dodgers are in need of an everyday shortstop since they are not expected to re-sign free agent Hanley Ramirez, but if the White Sox move Alexei Ramirez, that would leave them in a similar shortstop bind. The White Sox do not have somebody waiting to take over at shortstop on an everyday basis, and their top prospect at the position, Tim Anderson, is two or three years away from arriving at the major league level.

The White Sox also have a team-friendly contract with their shortstop, who will make $10 million in 2015 and another $10 million in 2016 if a club option is activated. He made $9.5 million this past season.

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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.

Next wave of Sox rebuild set to begin

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
2:22
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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James ShieldsRick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsThe Sox's budget could include money for a top free agent pitcher like James Shields.


CHICAGO -- The end of the World Series sets the reset button for everybody, including the Chicago White Sox, who appear to be ready to do a little shopping this winter.

Free agents aren’t eligible to sign with new teams until Tuesday, and most won’t pick a club for another three to eight weeks, if not longer, but the White Sox’s front office has been putting together a roster plan even before the regular season ended.

Where the White Sox actually spend their money remains to be seen. Even if they get their No. 1 targets to listen to offers, there is no guarantee they will sign to play on the South Side. The club also knows that it won’t be feasible to afford everybody on its wish list anyway.

Then there are the trade targets the team has focused on as well.

“The board in my office has more than two names at each position, and that’s for a reason,” general manager Rick Hahn said at the end of the season. “Our intent is to convert on the No. 1 target at every spot and address every need with the ideal fit. 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, perhaps less notable targets who’ve 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.”

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Sox in '15: Who rights a left-leaning rotation?

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
11:46
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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It is no secret that the Chicago White Sox would like to get a little more balance in their starting rotation, which makes finding a right-handed starter one of the bigger priorities outside of rebuilding the bullpen.

Ideally, the White Sox can find a No. 2-type starter who pitches from the right slide so they can slide him between staff ace Chris Sale and consistent performer Jose Quintana.

[+] EnlargeJose Quintana
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhCould Jose Quintana be traded for a right-handed starter?
But a pitcher of that caliber won't come easily. The White Sox would have to spend considerably on the free-agent market to get a pitcher worthy of a No. 2 tag. And it won't be as simple as meeting an asking price since that free agent also needs to see the White Sox as a good fit.

Luring a pitcher into the American League and into a ballpark that plays small like U.S. Cellular Field won't be an easy task.

If it's a matter of going after the best possible option, then the Detroit Tigers Max Scherzer is the right-handed starter who would be at the top of anybody's wish list. Right behind him is the Kansas City Royals' James Shields.

But would the White Sox be ready to spend what it takes -- and commit to the years -- to land either pitcher at this point of their rebuild?

A notch down from those right-handers in the free-agent pool is the Atlanta Braves' Ervin Santana and the Oakland Athletics' Jason Hammel, among others.

Trades also remain a possibility, although landing a proven starter will take a significant package of young talent.

Another question is whether the White Sox would be willing to trade Quintana for his right-handed equivalent. The White Sox most definitely wouldn't consider dealing Sale, it will be next to impossible to find somebody willing to pick up John Danks' money in a possible deal, and there figures to be no way they would deal top pitching prospect Carlos Rodon, yet another left-hander.

A Quintana trade would be a huge risk and would only go down if the White Sox would be able to find another team in a similar predicament of needing left-handed balance with a young right-hander they are willing to deal. In that light, the odds of a Quintana trade appear extremely slim.

While right-handers like Hector Noesi, Scott Carroll, Eric Johnson and Chris Bassitt have all shown promise at some point recently, none of them are ready to break up the lefty logjam at the top of the White Sox's rotation.

Sure general manager Rick Hahn would like to land all of the top players on the team's wish list, but he also said that short-term fixes could fill holes as well. It isn't out of the question that a short-term fix could come with a right-handed starter.

Potential targets at all positions have already been compiled.

"The board in my office has more than two names at each position, and that's for a reason," Hahn said. "Our intent is to convert on the No. 1 target at every spot and address every need with the ideal fit. 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, perhaps less notable targets who've been able to develop into integral parts of championship clubs here. So the list is long."

Sox in '15: Team created financial flexibility

October, 6, 2014
Oct 6
10:50
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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It is no accident the Chicago White Sox will have a significant amount of money to spend this offseason.

The White Sox started clearing the books back in July 2013 when Jake Peavy was traded to the Boston Red Sox. As big as it was to get back Avisail Garcia in the three-way deal that also included the Detroit Tigers, a major part of that transaction was the fact that the Red Sox assumed Peavy's salary moving forward.

Similar moves followed suit. Alex Rios' contract commitments were sent to the Texas Rangers in August 2013, with Leury Garcia coming back in return. Gordon Beckham, who could make as much as $6 million in arbitration for next season, was sent to the Los Angeles Angels this August, while the move that sent Adam Dunn to the Oakland Athletics saved the club about $1 million.

When the 2013 season started, the White Sox had committed about $120 million to the roster. This season, when the White Sox's overall record was 10 games better than it was one year earlier, they committed about $90 million to payroll, and that was before Beckham and Dunn were moved.

The front office is working on a spending plan for 2015, and while it likely will rise north of $90 million, it isn't expected to reach the $120 million heights just yet. One legitimate budget restrictor, whether White Sox fans want to hear it or not, is declining attendance.

The total head count at U.S. Cellular Field (1.65 million this season) was down for the eighth consecutive season. That's well below the club-record 2.96 million that showed up in 2006, the year after the White Sox won the World Series.

It's a classic chicken/egg scenario, of course. Fans don't want to come out and see a team that struggles, while management can't fill holes with its No. 1 option until more people come to the park.

So while payroll could rise in 2015, expect it to be closer to that $90 million starting point than $120 million. That still leaves plenty to dish out, though.

The White Sox have only about $41 million committed to the roster next season, or $46 million when adding what still is owed to Jeff Keppinger and Scott Downs, both of whom were released in 2014. Add another $10 million to $11 million for arbitration-eligible players and players who are under team contract control.

That doesn't account for Ronald Belisario, who made $3 million and is expected to be non-tendered, making him a free agent. Then the White Sox need to make a decision on Dayan Viciedo, who made $2.8 million this past season and also is arbitration eligible.

In any event, the White Sox still have a considerable amount of money to spend. The next question: how to spend it.

Expect the White Sox to explore options with a left fielder, catcher and right-handed starter. But the main additions in free agency could come in the bullpen, if the White Sox don't answer that issue first with trades.

Rodon gives White Sox options in 2015

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
1:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Unlike last year, the Chicago White Sox seem open to heading into a new season with four left-handed starters.

General manager Rick Hahn confirmed that while not the ideal scenario, the team is open to having prospect Carlos Rodon compete for a rotation spot in the spring to join a starting staff that already includes lefties Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Rodon
Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesWhite Sox general manager Rick Hahn isn't concerned that adding Carlos Rodon would give them four lefties in the rotation in 2015.
A year ago, the White Sox took a different route, breaking up a potential lefty foursome by including Hector Santiago in a three-team trade that landed leadoff man Adam Eaton. So far, that trade couldn't have worked out better for the White Sox.

The team's willingness to go the four-lefty route this time has more to do with the ability of Rodon, the No. 3 overall selection in this past summer's first-year player draft and widely regarded to be the player who would most likely reach the major leagues the fastest.

In fact, the White Sox considered adding Rodon to the major league club when rosters expanded in September. But after advancing the North Carolina State product to the Triple-A level, the White Sox felt it would be best to have the 21-year old call it a season. He turns 22 on Dec. 10.

"He's had, obviously, a busy professional season and professional debut, where we had him at numerous stops, so right now he's just resting," Hahn said. "In the not-too-distant future he's going to connect with (pitching coach) Don Cooper, and (minor-league pitching coordinator) Curt Hassler and some of our pitching coaches and come up with a specific program of what we'd like to see him work on this offseason.

"So, it was a tremendous debut for this kid. I think he's going to be an important part of what we've got going on here for the next several years."

It isn't out of the question that Rodon could return to the minor leagues or open next season in the White Sox's bullpen, but he will be pointed toward the starting rotation first, even if it means lefty overload.

"I'm more hung up on taking the five best guys that give you a chance to win on any given day," Hahn said. "Certainly, if we had four righties and one lefty, no one would say, 'You've got too many righties.' Perhaps you want a little more balance, but nobody goes out of his way to get rid of a quality righty to bring in a less or inferior option just because he throws from the left side. We're not going to do that from the left side given our situation.

"Is it ideally how you would draw it up? No. But at the same time, if Carlos is capable of filling his potential ..."

For now, the options with Rodon are wide open.

"It's conceivable he could be a member of the bullpen in 2015 at some point," Hahn said. "I do believe, much like when we had Chris Sale in a similar situation, that his long-term future is at the front end of a rotation, but we are not necessarily committed that it has to be on Day 1 as part of a rotation in order to get to that spot."

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.”

White Sox found treasure in scrap heap

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
5:46
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Hector Noesi won’t scare an opponent like Chris Sale might, and he doesn’t have the upside of guys like Jose Quintana and John Danks, but the unlikeliest starter in the Chicago White Sox rotation this season continues to show that he has a future with the club.

[+] EnlargeHector Noesi
AP Photo/Paul BeatyHector Noesi will be arbitration-eligible this winter but has proven to be a valuable -- and affordable -- member of the pitching staff.
Noesi had already shown the ability to pitch out of the bullpen and has taken that a step further this year to prove he can be a productive starter, which means the White Sox will in all likelihood bring him back next season even though his major league experience means he is no longer under club contract control.

Noesi will be arbitration-eligible this winter, which still doesn’t figure to scare off the White Sox, not after the right-hander has gone 8-8 with a 4.32 ERA over 24 starts while sucking up 146 innings. And that innings total does not include any starts in April, with as many as three more remaining this season.

His career path will continue to make him a question mark, but if Noesi is going to show an ability to pile up between 180-190 innings at a relatively low price tag, there is no doubt the White Sox will be willing to take a chance on that going into 2015.

“Obviously players who are pre-(arbitration) and have (minor-league) options remaining, neither of which apply to him, are a little easier to handle in terms of roster planning going forward,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “But in terms of Hector, if in fact he got into the arbitration process, in all probability his price tag is not so onerous to force your hand on a decision.”

Hahn stressed that the White Sox won’t be in bargain-basement mode this winter, but a good buy is a good buy, especially when the club can decide first whether it wants to act on it or not.

“One thing we have been able to put ourselves in a position for heading into the offseason is having a fair amount of economic flexibility,” Hahn said. “We’ll be able to, whether it’s on our own guys or players with other clubs, either via free agency or via trade, make some moves and have enough flexibility that arbitration eligibility isn’t really going to be a factor in terms of deciding whether a guy fits or not.”

What it means is that the White Sox are expected to keep Noesi in the fold this winter while also exploring other pitching options. The fact that Noesi can pitch as a starter and as a reliever gives him added value to the White Sox.

“He’s a versatile guy who’s obviously responded a great deal to the work he has done with (pitching coach Don Cooper) and the opportunity that was given to him,” Hahn said. “I think we’re very pleased with where he has come in the last 3 months, four months since we’ve gotten him and he’s a very interesting guy for us heading into the offseason.”

Of the 94 pitches Noesi threw Monday, it was the two he threw in succession during the fifth inning that caused him his most trouble in an otherwise solid outing. After giving up a two-run home run Oakland’s Josh Reddick, he then gave up a solo shot to Jed Lowrie on the very next pitch.

Otherwise he kept things in check yet again. In seven starts since the beginning of August, Noesi has given up three runs or less in five of them. Going back to July 6, he has given up three runs or less in eight of his last 12 starts.

And Cooper’s evidence on his body of work has been obvious. Over Noesi's last 19 starts before Monday, the White Sox were 12-7. Over his previous 17 starts, his teams were 4-13.

“He throws free and easy, so that's another part of watching him pitch is it doesn't look max effort,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He's pretty fluid when he throws it, he's got some zip on it and he's been able to really get better at the secondary pitches, which he didn't really have when we first got him.”

The day the White Sox acquired Noesi, they hoped he could return to being a starter one day. Nobody ever imagined it would work out like this.

“He came in as the long guy, I think the first time he went out it was about four innings, or you were hoping for four innings,” Ventura said. “Now, you really see him advancing and just the kinds of strides that he's made since we got him, he's made quite an impact. He's placed himself in a spot you didn't foresee him being in.”

Rapid Reaction: Tigers 8, White Sox 4

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
9:34
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox fell 8-4 to the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of a day/night doubleheader as the teams were left with a split of the twin bill.

How it happened: In a battle of first-time major league starters, the Tigers’ Kyle Ryan got the better of the White Sox’s Chris Bassitt. Ryan didn’t give up a run on five hits over six innings, while Bassitt gave up five runs on seven hits over 6⅓ innings. Dayan Viciedo's three-run home run in the eighth inning closed the gap, but not enough for the White Sox. Jose Abreu managed to extend his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning single.

What it means: Bassitt stayed with the team after the game as Eric Surkamp was sent down. The right-hander wasn’t hit hard by any means, but his four walks did not help matters. Of the Tigers’ seven hits against Bassitt, only one went for extra bases. The White Sox will now decide if he gets more chances to start in September or if he works out of the bullpen.

Outside the box: The White Sox have won just once in three tries so far this weekend against the Tigers, but Abreu is doing his part. Despite a sore left leg, with discomfort below his hip, the rookie has managed to reach base in 10 of his 12 at-bats against Detroit in three games.

Off beat: Alejandro De Aza started the first game of the doubleheader in left field, but before the second game was completed he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles. He was dealt for minor league right-handed pitchers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas. De Aza was not in the lineup for Game 2 and was notified of the trade in the fifth inning by general manager Rick Hahn.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.48 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the series finale. The Tigers will counter with right-hander Rick Porcello (15-8, 3.06) in the 1:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Predicting the Sox's expanded roster

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
2:32
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox have not confirmed what players will be called up when rosters expand next week, but at least three have been mentioned in one form or another.

General manager Rick Hahn said earlier this month that the team’s typical number of five to eight players called up would be applicable.

It is also possible that the players could arrive in waves since Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham both finish their seasons on the first day of September. Neither team is headed to the postseason.

Here are the call-up predictions:

DEFINITE
INF Marcus Semien, RHP Chris Bassitt, RHP Scott Carroll
When Gordon Beckham was traded to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 21, general manager Rick Hahn said Semien would get the call in September. When Chris Bassitt got the call to pitch in Saturday’s doubleheader, manager Robin Ventura said the righty would come off the roster after the twinbill, but go right back on it when it is expanded. Carroll wasn’t originally projected here, but after getting sent down to allow the White Sox to add a reliever in Eric Surkamp, Ventura said he would be back and likely stay in the rotation.

PROBABLE
C Josh Phegley, 1B/DH Andy Wilkins
Teams almost always add a catcher when rosters are expanded, but Phegley is deserving here even if that wasn’t the case with 23 home runs, 75 RBIs and a .535 slugging percentage at Charlotte. Making this a no-brainer is that he is also on the 40-man roster. Wilkins’ addition is a little more complicated since the White Sox need to find a 40-man spot for him. Even with the White Sox’s crowded 1B/DH landscape, Wilkins is deserving with 30 home runs, 85 RBIs and a .558 slugging percentage at Charlotte.

LIKELY
LHP Carlos Rodon, OF Jared Mitchell
Another player who needs a 40-man spot to open, the White Sox have made it clear that they would like to see Rodon in the major leagues, even though he was only drafted this June. The No. 3 overall selection was moved quickly through the system from the Arizona Rookie League to Single-A and now Triple-A. If the White Sox weren’t thinking about bringing him up, they could have just let him get in his innings and experience at Single-A until the season ended. Mitchell has largely been an underachiever in the minor leagues, but he has been hitting the ball well of late at Charlotte and he is on the 40-man. It’s time to see what he can do at the level, even if it’s only for a month.

PROBABLY NOT
3B Matt Davidson, RHP Andre Rienzo
When the season started, it figured that if Davidson wasn’t up already then September would be his time. It no longer seems that way as he hit 20 home runs with 55 RBIs at Charlotte, but has struggled to the tune of a .201 batting average and .368 slugging percentage, not to mention 160 strikeouts compared to 94 hits in 467 at-bats. Rienzo has major league experience, but the combined nine earned runs he gave up in his last three innings of relief with the White Sox in August will weigh large in this decision.

Defensive shortcomings to be addressed

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
11:11
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Team defense will be addressed in the offseason, which means the Chicago White Sox could be looking for a new left fielder come 2015.

[+] EnlargeAlejandro De Aza, Adam Eaton
David Banks/Getty ImagesLeft fielder Alejandro De Aza made this catch against the Indians despite colliding with Adam Eaton, but overall has been a defensive liability all season.
Just one batter into Thursday’s eventual 3-2 defeat to the Cleveland Indians, Alejandro De Aza misplayed a ball along the left-field stands into a triple. It led to a quick 1-0 Indians lead and the White Sox were left to play catch-up much of the night.

That it was a low-scoring affair Thursday only highlighted the impact one misplay can have.

De Aza and Dayan Viciedo have been defensive liabilities all season and whether either returns next season remains to be seen. The White Sox are set to go with Adam Eaton in center field and Avisail Garcia in right field next year.

Defense isn’t the only area where they White Sox need to make fundamental improvements, but it is an area that continues to hurt them often.

“Being fundamentally sound in every aspect of the game is a priority for us,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “We have made some improvements in certain areas, but we are not where we need to be. We know that, whether it's an element of personnel or instruction, it's something that we look to fairly regularly during the season and then more intensely early in the offseason, when we try to address some of those needs.”

(Read full post)

Konerko: Regulars can't complain in Sept.

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
7:37
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- According to retiring captain Paul Konerko, any Chicago White Sox regular who complains about reduced playing time when rosters expand in September only needs to look in the mirror.

“If we didn’t want it to get to a situation in September where they were going to be calling up young guys, putting guys in, sitting down older guys, then we should be better in the standings,” Konerko said. “We should have earned that right and we haven’t done that. I don’t think anybody can take exception that. It’s kind of the way of the baseball world.”

It remains unclear who the White Sox will call up when rosters expand next week, although general manager Rick Hahn already has made it clear that Marcus Semien will be one of a handful of players.

As the White Sox entered play Wednesday on a seven-game losing streak, the late-season play is starting to resemble last season when a stagnant White Sox team finished with 99 losses. Konerko returned for one more year to get the taste of last year out of his mouth, and despite the team struggles again this year, he has been able to get some personal closure.

“I think so,” Konerko said. “I’ve never had the thought all year of, ‘Why did I do this?’ So that means to me that it was right. I think I would have probably had that thought that had I not come back.

“To me, the six-month season is where it’s at, so the closure will be when I wrap it up right and walk away from it knowing that not only the whole career but this year, I came, I showed up from spring training on, I worked the whole 7 months and gave it my all, and combined those with the other years, I walk away from it. I definitely have no regrets about coming back.”

The White Sox plan to honor Konerko during each of the 11 home games in September, even creating a Konerko seating section in the left-field stands. And with the White Sox out of playoff contention, Konerko’s bench role will be expanded so he gets more at-bats.

“We’ll see some lefties in there (in September) but I’m sure he’ll get a few more at-bats just for everybody’s sake,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s important to us to have him play quite a bit in that last weekend that we’re home if he can do it. If he can pull it off. I know a few of the days in a row that he has played (he’s been sore). I don’t know if we’ll get all four out of him, but we can get a few.”

The White Sox end the season with a four-game home series against the Kansas City Royals Sept. 25-28.

Konerko joked that four in a row might be pushing it.

“If they play me too much, I might demand a trade,” Konerko said with a smile. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. It would take me a while to get in shape again. I play like two games in a row and I’m sore now.”

All kidding aside, Konerko knows that he has the rest of his days in retirement to recover from any excess soreness and is willing to play as much as Ventura requests.

“I caught probably as good of a manager as you could in this situation like mine,” Konerko said. “He’s a guy who played for a long time and had a career that was similar. He was a good guy to play underneath because I think he understands everything that I had to go through this year and I’m still going through.

He’s made it real easy for me. There’s not one thing he could do to me or not do for me. He’s good in my book forever. He definitely made this year a lot more fun for me and a lot better for me because he was the manager. Whatever he wants, I’ll do whatever he needs.”

Once the season ends, the first thing on Konerko’s docket is coaching … just not on the minor or major league level. He said he already has an assignment to coach his 6-year-old son’s youth fall league.

“Yeah, it’s all going to be about family and my kids and stuff,” Konerko said. “Baseball, come a month from now, will take a back seat to everything. If there is something inside me down the road that says ‘Hey, do you want to get involved in this?’ then maybe I’ll do it, but I can tell you, as I sit here today there is nothing inside me that says I will do anything (with coaching).”

Relievers need to make case for themselves

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
6:49
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – After nearly five months of a trying ordeal, things might only be getting tougher for the Chicago White Sox’s bullpen.

The group is toward the bottom of the American League in ERA (4.45) and batting average against (.259), and manager Robin Ventura said Wednesday that anybody who wants to be considered for a relief role next season had better step up now.

“You’re always making a case for yourself if you’re on the field and the bullpen is no different,” Ventura said, when asked if relievers still have time to prove themselves, or if the club knows all it needs to know about individual pitchers.

“We’ve gone over the bullpen, when a guy comes in, it’s pass or fail when you go out there. It’s very much of a focal point. When guys go out there you can either do the job and get cheered or don’t do the job and probably got booed. It’s a ruthless position out there.”

Already expected to be a tough season for a bullpen that didn’t have a clear-cut closer when Addison Reed was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for third baseman Matt Davidson, injuries to guys like Matt Lindstrom and Nate Jones helped lead to one nightmare after another.

The White Sox’s 19 blown saves are second only the Houston Astros’ 22 and their save percentage of 59 percent is also second worst to the Astros’ 50-percent mark.

There have been bright spots, like the emergence of Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam, but otherwise things have been a struggle. The White Sox took a $3 million gamble on Ronald Belisario that hasn’t paid off, and they have already cut loose Scott Downs, who made $4 million when adding in the $250,000 buyout of his 2015 club option.

Jones not only opened the season on the disabled list with a back issue, but then blew out his elbow while on the comeback trail and likely won’t be back at the start of the 2015 season. The White Sox have even operated most of the last month without a left-handed reliever.

“For those guys, you need to continue to get situations and experiences to grow,” Ventura said. “We are young out there and you have to be able to learn from those and keep going.”

General manager Rick Hahn has already targeted the bullpen as a key area to improve this offseason.

“The fact of the matter is, we didn't get everything done last offseason as we wanted to do,” Hahn said Tuesday. “We look forward to the chance coming up in the coming weeks, where we're able to get a little more aggressive in pursuing some answers out there.”

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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