Tagged: John Danks

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Glendale, AZ—The uncertainty I’m feeling about the 2012 White Sox remains after having witnessed five spring training contests. As has been the pattern since the Sox left Sarasota for Arizona, the record is below .500–2-6 as of this morning. While that in itself is not serious cause for concern, all things considered a win is always better than a loss.

A few observations that contribute to the continuing uncertainty:

* Adam Dunn (knock on wood) looks much, much better. He’s making contact and looked his old powerful self with a three-run shot and a solid double against the Rangers last week.

* Alex Rios really hasn’t made an impression one way or another. A bit disappointing for those of us hoping for his revival.

* John Danks is struggling with his command. He doesn’t seem concerned since it’s happening so early in the spring, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

* Nestor Molina, who was acquired for Sergio Santos, got lit up in his first appearance, but seemed to be much more relaxed in a good outing the next time he took the mound. Simon Castro, who came to the Sox in the Carlos Quentin deal, had an appearance he’d like to forget. Entering the game in the top of the ninth with a 6-5 lead, he imploded with a walk, a wild pitch, a hit batsmen and then surrendered a grand slam home run, sending the Sox into defeat. Neither one will make the opening day roster, but much will be expected of both as early as this summer so it’s worth watching.

* I like what I’ve seen of Brent Morel. I think he’ll just get better and better. His infield mate Gordon Beckham, in somewhat of a do or die situation, has also been a positive. Defensively, they will combine with Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez to give the Sox a stellar infield presence.

* Matt Thornton is the leader in the clubhouse for the closer role, but youngster Addison Reed is lurking. Seems like the call won’t be made until the end of the spring.

* Tyler Flowers, the backup backstop, has struck out a lot, but has shown power. Those who have watched him see his potential at the plate, but he’s yet to show it on a consistent basis.

* One reserve position player will likely be selected from Eduardo Escobar, Ozzie Martinez, Dan JohnsonDallas McPherson and Jim Gallagher. I would say Johnson is the guy right now.

It’s just been that kind of a spring.

Here we go…

It’s going to be a spring like no other in recent years. As opposed to the past few seasons when the conventional wisdom was that the White Sox were bonafide contenders, there is virtually no one on the outside that is predicting success for the Sox in 2012.

It all starts tomorrow as pitchers and catchers officially report with a group of position players who want to get a head start.

The good news is that there are surprise teams each year that fool the so-called experts. As I’ve stated in this space before, I have no idea how the Sox are going to fare, but they very well could have the makings of one of the teams that will fool the baseball world. If…

* Robin Ventura takes to this managing thing.

* Adam Dunn is the Adam Dunn of old.

* Gordon Beckham reverts to the success of his rookie season.

* Alex Rios plays like he did in 2010.

* Matt Thornton, Addison Reed or someone else becomes a competent closer

* Jake Peavy is close to his previous Cy Young form and he and his fellow starters–John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Phil Humber and newly-appointed rotation member Chris Sale–make up for the innings lost with Mark Buehrle‘s departure.

We’ll have to wait on these and other issues, but my gut tells me things aren’t going to be as dark as everyone is saying.

10 Days to Pitchers and Catchers

Scott Merkin whets our White Sox appetite today on whitesox.com with some facts, figures and projections to chew on:

* Pitchers and catchers report on February 23

* Full squad reports on February 28

* First Spring Training game, March 5, vs. the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch

* Opening Day, April 6, at Texas

Merkin’s Projected Batting Order:

Alejandro DeAza CF, Gordon Beckham 2B, Paul Konerko 1B, Adam Dunn DH, Alex Rios LF, A.J. Pierzynski C, Alexei Ramirez SS, Dayan Viciedo RF, Brent Morel 3B

Projected Rotation:

John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, Philip Humber

Projected Bullpen:

Matt Thornton Closer, Jesse Crain RH setup man, Will Ohman LH setup man (with all other spots up for grabs). Key bullpen prospect to watch is Addison Reed, who very well might be the closer (my two cents, not Merkin’s).

New Guys:

Nestor Molina RHP, Dan Johnson 1B, Ozzie Martinez IF and, of course, the skipper Robin Ventura

Key Losses:

Ozzie Guillen, Mark Buehrle, Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin, Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel, Ramon Castro, Jason Frasor

The White Sox in 2012: Nobody Knows for Sure

In a few weeks the White Sox will be firmly embedded in spring training mode trying to assemble a team that’s ready to contend in the A.L. Central.

Conventional wisdom says it’s going to be a difficult task with the Tigers showing no signs of fading and the Royals and Indians seemingly poised to reach the next level.

You really can’t blame the skeptics. As names like Pujols, Fielder, Buehrle, DarvishWilson and others have been the talk of the hot stove period, the White Sox made “headlines” with the acquisition of minor league pitchers Nestor Molina, Simon Castro, Pedro Hernandez, Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb while losing known quantities Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor in the process. The only major news was the signing of John Danks, who we all thought was destined to be traded.

It’s really easy to look at all this and come to the conclusion that bad things are in store for the 2012 club. But we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.  With myriad questions, the truth is that we just don’t know how the season will manifest.

How will the Ozzie-less Sox be with Robin Ventura at the helm?

Will the Sox survive without Buehrle?

Will Danks pick up where Buehrle left off?

Will an effective closer be found to replace Santos?

Will Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham rebound?

Will Alejandro De Aza be a competent major league leadoff hitter?

Will Paul Konerko be Paul Konerko?

Will Jake Peavy be the Cy Young Peavy?

Will Dayan Viciedo live up to the hype and make us forget Quentin?

Will Chris Sale make a successful switch to the starting rotation?

Will Kenny Williams make any more significant deals to upgrade the big league roster?

More than any other year I can remember, it’s hard to predict what’s in store for all of us this season.  We’re just going to have to wait and see.

I Miss Him Already

I’m going to miss Our Ozzie.

I’ll miss his bewildering stream of conciousness, his fall-down-laughing humor, his solid managing and his debunking of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Most of all, though, I’ll miss that we had “one of us” at the helm of the White Sox who no longer will be the face of the franchise.

Having said all that as a fan of Ozzie since he put on the Sox uniform in 1985 and one who saw him guide the Sox to a World Series title, it’s time for the skipper, and for us, to move on. Nothing lasts forever and it became obvious when Ozzie began campaigning for a contract extension. Sorry, Oz, but that was bad timing if you really wanted to stay in Chicago. A contract extension after presiding over one of the most disappointing seasons in the teams’s history? There was no way that was going to fly with the Chairman.

So, what now? I think it would be an exercise in futility to try and find someone as colorful and fits as perfectly as Ozzie did in the context of his Sox bloodline. That person doesn’t exist. That’s not to say we won’t hire an outstanding manager with the potential of getting better results–even someone with a high profile who will help bring the fans back into the fold. But there’s only one Ozzie and we shouldn’t look for a clone.

The names of candidates are out there, though Kenny Williams hasn’t tipped his hand. Tony LaRussa is a longshot at best. There’s Dave Martinez, Sandy Alomar, Jr., up and coming AAA manager Joe McEwing, former manager and Sox player development director Buddy Bell, among them. Williams has said that because of Ozzie’s “warning” the Sox already have been focusing on a possible replacement and the decision could come sooner than later.

Last offseason, the Sox were “All In” for 2011. This offseason there undoubtedly will be substantial changes. A new manager, certainly new coaches and a belt-tightening that might see more familiar names–like Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Matt Thornton  and Carlos  Quentin–leaving as well.

It’s a time of change on the South Side. While I’ll miss Ozzie and some of the others, an overhaul is the right thing to do. We need to move on.

 

The Rubber Meets the Road in Motown

 

It’s never a good thing when your starting pitcher gives up six runs–highlighted by two homers and three doubles–in the first inning. But the White Sox, despite Jake Peavy‘s early meltdown, gave it a shot this afternoon and came up one run short in the 7-6 loss to the Twins. Adam Dunn and Alex Rios both had their chances to be heroes in the ninth, but didn’t deliver. Sound familiar?

So, the five game winning streak is history and we sink to six games behind the Tigers, who staged a late-inning rally for a come-from-behind triumph over the Royals.

Now the fun begins as we head to Detroit for a three-game series after tomorrow’s off-day.  The pitching matchups:

Friday night: John Danks vs. Justin Verlander, he of the 20 wins–already.

Saturday afternoon: Gavin Floyd vs. Brad Penny

Sunday night: Mark Buehrle vs. Matt Scherzer

Look at the bright side, it’s the end of August and we’re still alive.

One Fine Day

Quite a day on the South Side. Here are some of the highlights:

–The 2-1 victory over the Tigers, giving the Sox their second straight series win over Detroit and enabling them to move within 3 1/2 games of the division leaders.

Alejandro De Aza (above), just up from Charlotte, hit his first major league home run, which proved to be the difference in today’s triumph.

–De Aza’s promotion has moved Alex Rios to the bench, a smart move considering the latter’s disastrous season both at the plate and in the field.

John Danks was outstanding today, giving up only a run and six hits in six innings along with 10 strikeouts. Most impressive was the fact he got out of jam after jam against the tough Tiger lineup.

–The Trade: Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to the Jays for reliever Jason Frasor and minor league pitcher Zach Stewart. The fact that Jackson will be a free agent at the end of the season made his departure an obvious move. Teahen is addition by subtraction. And Frasor, a Chicagoan who has always been tough on his hometown/new team, will be a big help in the pen.

For the record, Jackson was quickly dealt  from the Jays to the Cardinals for centerfielder Colby Rasmus, who was rumored to coveted by the Sox. Counting Toronto, who Jackson never played for, St. Louis is Jackson’s seventh team–Dodgers, Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Blue Jays, Cardinals–in his nine big league campaigns.

–Extra! Extra! Adam Dunn didn’t strike out today and had a hit and three walks. A cause for celebration.

–The bullpen has been extraordinary most of the season. This afternoon was no exception as Chris Sale and Sergio Santos (21st save) preserved the Danks win, coming in for three frames of perfect relief. Sale did most of the heavy lifting in his 2 2/3 innings of work as Santos retired one batter–Brennan Boesch, who made the final out.

Sox Note of Note: Apart from the Jackson deal, rumors are flying that other moves are on the way as the Sox try to cut some payroll. Could Matt ThorntonJuan PierreCarlos Quentin or even Danks and Gavin Floyd be next?