Playing With Numbers

Monday, January 7, 2008

Friday Recap

A group of us from the front office attended the funeral service for devoted White Sox fan and Tribune sports/celebrity columnist Terry Armour on Friday morning.  Turnout was overwhelming.

Terry’s mom, Elaine, was the cause of his lifetime Sox fandom.

"He loved his White Sox," she said.  "Did you know that when they won the World Series, he cried.  He actually cried."

And she added with a chuckle that she wanted one flower arrangement to read, "Now that you’re up there, put in a good word for us to win another."

1959ers

I was saddened this weekend to learn of the passing of pitcher Gerry Staley, one of the bullpen stars from the 1959 pennant-winning White Sox team.

You can read the article from his local newspaper here

by clicking on this link.

Sculpture

I also took a trip up to Highwood on Friday to check out the latest work on the art piece that will be installed in the middle of our Gate 4 brick plaza in early April. 

The bronze and black granite piece is really going to look great.

SoxFest

Weekend passes to SoxFest go on sale tomorrow at $70 each.  In the past, we offered single-day passes, but we felt fans who did not have weekend-long passes would prefer to have two-day passes rather than single day.  And we’re able to offer a few more this year, so we actually will take care of more fans.  Visit whitesox.com for the info.

A Tale of Two Players

Let’s see if you can figure out who the following two players are (these are their averages over the past three years in the majors):

Player A

146 G

85 R

130 H

31 2B

26 HR

82 RBI

84 BB

.361 OBP

.466 SLG

.827 OPS

.251 BA

Player B

142 G

80 R

150 H

33 2B

17 HR

68 RBI

32 BB

.344 OBP

.453 SLG

.797 OPS

.283 BA

Lists

Here is a list of minor-league pitchers traded by the White Sox since October 2000 (let me know if we missed any):

2000

Mark Roberts

Brian Schmack

Aaron Myette

2001

Gary Majewski

Mike Williams

Orlando Rodriguez

Andre Simpson

Matt Dewitt

Derek Hasselhoff

Daniel Mozingo

Josh Fogg

2002

Matt Guerrier

Joe Valentine

2003

Eddi Candelario

Jason Aspito

Delvis Lantigua

Edwin Almonte

Royce Ring

Frankie Francisco

Josh Rupe

Tim Bittner

Scott Dunn

Jake Meyer

2005

Ryan Meaux

Daniel Haigwood

Gio Gonzalez

2006

Jeff Bajenaru

Javier Lopez

B.J. LaMura

Daniel Cortes

Tyler Lumsden

2007

Dwayne Pollock

2008

Gio Gonzalez

Fautino De Los Santos

I guess my point is this.  I don’t think many White Sox fans have lost sleep over trading the pitchers on this list.  Off the top of my head, I remember gnashing of teeth when we traded Myette, Fogg, Guerrier, Valentine, Meyer and Lumsden.  Josh Fogg has been the most successful ex-Sox minor-league pitcher, but even Josh has moved on from Pittsburgh to Colorado since originally being dealt.

Fans and critics are concerned about trading away prospects.  From what I have experienced, reality seems to consistently fall short of promise when it comes to actualizing potential. 

The best Sox minor-league-pitcher-to-successful-big-league-pitcher in my time here is Mark Buehrle.  And it’s safe to say he was "below the radar" for almost all of his career.

18 Comments

A= Swisher
B= Rowand

Yes Swishers offensive numbers are better, but he can not cover the ground in the outfield that Rowand does. I really hope Kenny is considering Swisher for left and Owens in center.

With Swisher in center and if Fields ends up in left (if Crede or Konerko is not moved) there will be lots of balls hit between them.

This is just another example of our frustration. KW makes a move for a good corner outfielder and he is intending to play him in center.

This is semi-rebuilding mode. Crede will be gone, Swisher in left, Owens in center, and Fields at third. Crede for some kind of pitching help, bull pen or 5th starter.

I appreciate Scott posting that list as well as his comments. I agree completely with him in this area.

As Baseball America released a few years ago, they did a study that examined all of the players in the minor leagues over a past period of time. According to the story, if memory serves, only 1 PER CENT of all minor league players ever spend ONE DAY in the big leagues.

The minor league players should be used as trade fodder to get established, genuine major league players who have a track record of production.

As Kenny would say, ‘it is what it is,’ and the Sox being in a major market should be one of those clubs who ‘pick the bones’ off garbage teams like the Royals, Pirates, Devil Rays and so forth for talent.

That’s the way the big boys play the game.

I love reading Phil Rogers and think he is one of the finest baseball writers around, but his ‘obsession’ with prospects, specifically involving the White Sox seems bizarre to me.

The Sox farm system has been poor for years ESPECIALLY in pitching (Do the names of Scott Ruffcorn and Rodney Bolton ring a bell? LOL). Why he worries about pitchers being traded who more then likely will never do a thing in the big leagues, is strange to me.

Mark Liptak

thats what i’ve been saying all week. i dont understand why people are worried about gonzalez and delos santos. one was a single A pitcher and one was 9-7 in double A. I am not all that impressed with either of them. nick swisher is a **** of a bat and a ball of energy at a cheap price and will be around til 2012! i think its a wonderful deal even the other guys are solid major leaguers in 3 years. its worth the gamble.

they updated the soxfest attendees, looks like a good group of current players though id still like to see nick swisher added. as for the former players i hope there is more added. nothing against horlen, squires and bart johnson but i think lance johnson, rudy law, scott fletcher, ken berry, alex fernandez, james baldwin, warren newson should be invited :) just my opinion

Swisher said on Chicago Tribune Live! yesterday that he’d be at Sox Fest and personally I hope the Sox have more guys from the 60’s invited.

Bring em’ all in…Peters, Horlen, John, Wood, Locker, Berry, Buford, Ward, McCraw, Martin, Herrmann…the whole gang!

Younger fans simply don’t understand how good the teams from that era were, in particular the 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1967 clubs.

Mark Liptak

Slight correction, I think Jason Aspito wasn’t a pitcher for the Sox, he was OF/3B. Let me know if I’m wrong on that.

So I went through the list of Sox pitchers who have been traded and I think I’m going to have to take the role of the annoying guy who can’t be happy with the situation. But before I say anything, I want to say that I completely understand Scott’s argument and it is very valid to this point, prospects are prospects, not MLB all-stars, very few become what people hope for.

Now on for my disagreement. About 75% of those pitchers were relief pitchers on the Sox when they were traded, a much lesser and much different breed than our precious starting pitchers.

Of all the pitchers on that list only 1 of them really seemed like he would be good but wound up being a dud, 2004 comp pick, Daniel Haigwood (Thome trade).

If there was another I guess you could say Tyler Lumsden (MacDougal’s trade) also appeared like he was going to be decent and a possible MLB player one day, but he had a lousy season in his first stint in Omaha during ’07. I think he’ll still be a 4/5 starter for the Royals by ’09, so I wouldn’t call him a dud, he has future.

Those are the only two starting pitchers who seemed as though they could have been capable of at least a 4th MLB starter when they were in our minor league system, however neither of those two are even close to either Gio or DLS.

Gio at age 21 had the most strikeouts of any pitcher in ALL of the minors for ’07 while he dominated AA Birmingham with a

3.18ERA

1.15WHIP

11.10K/9 (185 SO)

over 150 IP.

(Yes he did have a 9-7 record, win-loss records do not ever measure how good a pitcher is at any time, not in the majors and especially not in the minors. Players don’t play baseball in the minor leagues to win, they simply do what they are told to do by their coaches/player development in order to get better.)

Gio has a good fastball with good command. It comes in around 93 with movement. He has a huge curveball as his outpitch. He has been working on his changeup, hense the fact he has not been brought up to the majors yet. Barons pitching coach Rich Dotson taught him a new one in May this year which he was trying to incorporate.

Gio’s issue is simple, he needs to get that change up down and he’ll be ready to go to the big leagues. It is not that he has bad control of his other pitches or needs to find more movement or velocity, they are ready, he just won’t exceed with only 2. He needs that third. Once he gains that, which shouldn’t be long, he will be ready.

Gio’s curveball, the fact that he is lefthander, the fact that he is the minor league strikeout leader at age 21 and did so in AA makes me think that he is going to be more than a AAAA starter. He is a future solid number 3 MLB starter. (#3 Starter according to MLB scouting bureau: One plus pitch, two average pitches, average command, average makeup)

This year I have also heard that Gio is a great person. When we were drafting him there were a lot of rumors that he supposedly had a bad attitude and got into a fight with high HS coach, but in reality I guess that story was incorrect, it was his mother who was causing problems, and it turned out that Gio was a great guy. The type that always is willing sign autographs with a smile with a great attitude making your kids feeling special.

____________________________

Most people have always ranked Gio as the best pitcher in the Sox system until the end of this season when they started to take notice in Fautino De Los Santos.

DLS has one flaw right off the bat, his age. He wasn’t drafted out of high school like Gio, he was found in the Dominican Republic. If we had this guy at age 18 like Gio Baseball America would go insane with pee-in-your-pants excitment. At age 20 DLS started playing for the Sox’ dominican team, a very very low level. One year later he advanced all the way up through low A Kannapolis to high A ball in Winston Salem, where he was still having success at the end of his season despite the promotion. If he had been in Bristol or Great Falls (rookie ball) in ’06 this would be a less impressive step, but skipped the rookieball level altogether because of his dominance in the Domincan summer league where he put down a 1.86 ERA over 10 starts with 61Ks over 48.1 IP. Normally when a player in the minor leagues can make the step into the advance A within his 2nd year with the organization it is because he either played collegeball or is very good. The fact that DLS did this means he has more than “good” stuff. He is very nasty. His lines show it:

When he started the year in low A, he put down

2.40 ERA

.87 WHIP

People could not hit him, he had a 4.52hits/9IP ratio. That is a disgustingly good number. If his average game went 6 innings he gave up only 3 hits on average. To do that every now and again is good, but that was his average game, astonishing.

DLS is also a strikeout machine.

Over his 97.2 IP in Kannapolis he had 121 strikeouts. That’s 11.15K/9

In August he was promoted to high A where he improved that number to 11.68K/9 while maintaining a 3.65 ERA over his last 5 starts. By the time the end of the season drew near DLS was starting to have been declared as having a higher ceiling than Gio.

DLS has 2 main pitches fastball slider (I’ve heard it described as a slurve before). He is also working on a change up.

His FB sinks a lot and is normally in the 91-94 range, and he hit 96 when he was in the future’s game where he struck out this weirdo named Jacoby Ellsbury (who was 3 ML levels above him at the time.)

So, DLS has pitched primarily against just low ball hitters (except the future’s game), but so far he has shown absolute dominance all in his first American season. I think by next season he will be one of the top 3 pitching prospects in all of baseball and see him being a very solid future number 2 pitcher, an ace only if he can not only develop that changeup, but find an much much much better sense of command.

Sweeney’s not too bad, I’m too tired to say anything about him. So all in all, we gave up a prospect package that would be more fitting for a A- player when we got more of a B to B+ player. However, if Swisher is what we need to win the WS, then who cares if we even just traded two future Johan Santanas, I’d rather have championships than great players on a mediocre team. I think we will wish we had these guys in the future, and in the long run this was a horrible trade for us, but if it gets us to where we want to be right now and that’s back in October, then its all worth it.

Agreed … I combed my brain and my files and could only come up with THREE young pitchers the White Sox unloaded who went on to have GREAT careers: DENNY McLAIN, BOB WICKMAN and DOUG DRABEK.

THIS DATE IN WHITE SOX HISTORY: JANUARY 8TH

PROPS FOR LUKE

1941: The White Sox Luke Appling was named the shortstop on the Baseball Writers Association of America All-Star team for 1940, which was released on this date in The Sporting News. Appling earned the honor by hitting .348 with 197 hits (13 of which were triples) in a season where he was named to the mid-season American League All-Star team.

KEEPING THE JUICE

1984: With a helping hand from broadcaster Ken Harrelson, the White Sox re-signed second baseman Julio Cruz. In the final year of his contract, Cruz was acquired from Seattle the previous June. “The Juice” played a key role in the Sox surge to the A.L. West Division championship but his return for 1984 looked to be in peril as the off-season wore on. The long-term deal was finally hammered out after Harrelson intervened. Unfortunately, Cruz never flashed his 1983 form for the Sox again. He struggled with injuries throughout the next three seasons. His disappointing tenure with the Sox came to an end when he was released on March 23, 1987.

FISK IN THE FOLD

1986: The White Sox signed Carlton Fisk, who had filed for free agency the previous Nov. 12, to a two-year contract. This was the second of five contracts the future Hall of Famer would sign with the Sox. … Also on this date, former White Sox players Ken Boyer, Minnie Minoso, Ron Santo, **** Allen, Don Larsen and Wilbur Wood all received votes in balloting for Hall of Fame induction conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America. None came close to reaching the 75 percent needed for induction. Willie McCovey was the only player who received enough votes for induction.

BRINGING BACK BAINES

2001: The White Sox inked Harold Baines to what would be his last contract. The minor league deal was for one year and included a non-roster invitation to spring training. Baines entered the year 145 hits shy of 3,000 but managed just 11 in 32 games in an injury-riddled 2001 season, which proved to be the final one in 22-year career.

On the Swisher trade, past stats mean little, because each person is a different situation not a stat. But Swisher has great attitude, energy and upside also. What is strange to me is we trade pitching to the Angels because we have pitching prospects , then we trade the prospects. I still like the trade because we need the energy on swisher the team was dead last yr. Still it has been a strange mix of trades.

On another note, seems to me Paulie will be traded, why. Because KW said carlos quinton was the one guy that he had targeted specificly that one person. so KW said. then if that is true he must play. If swisher is not a true center fielder that leave konerko as not needed , fields or swisher can play first. Paulie would be a big chip and we would not miss him on the field , great a guy as he is.

Congrats to Goose Gossage on his great honor this afternoon!

He had some very fine seasons with the White Sox and this honor is long overdue. (Fireman of the Year Award and two All Star appearances if memory serves…)

After things settle down a bit, I’ll call him next week to personally offer the congratulations of Sox fans everywhere.

This afternoon and tonight, I’ll be curious to see if either Comcast or WGN has footage of Goose in his red pinstriped days on the South Side. (Although he did spend one year in baggy pants as I called them!)

I have some footage of him, not a lot, but something.

Mark Liptak

R.I.P. Terry. You will be missed.

The link is to an article I penned for my local paper on the relationship between Rich Gossage and the late great Ray Berres, a pitching coach for the Sox during the Go Go Era. Berres was Gossage’s first pro pitching coach. This article was published shortly after Berres’ death last Februrary.

http://www.ksn.kenoshanews.com/view_article.php?articleNum=969698347

Do you know whom we received in return in the McLain, Drabek and Wickman trades?

Yes … McLain had to be put on the waivers because under the rules of the day teams could only keep so many bonus babies (paraphrasing). The Sox opted to keep fellow minor leaguer Bruce Howard instead of McLain … Drabek was traded to the Yankees with LHP Kevin Hickey to the Yankees in the Roy Smalley trade … Wickman was traded following the 1991 season to the Yankees with Melido Perez and Domingo Jean for Steve Sax.

We got hosed in those trades.

Thanks for the info. I was curious to see if we did get hosed in those trades.

April 8, 1963 – One of the biggest ‘what if’ in franchise history takes place.

As per the rules at the time, the White Sox had to choose between two pitchers signed to ‘bonus baby’ contracts. The rules stated that only one player signed to a deal for over a certain amount could remain in the organization. The other would have to be waived.

With that in mind rookies Bruce Howard and Denny McLain squared off in an intersquad game to see who was released and who got promoted to Double A Lynchburg, Virginia. Howard won 2 – 1. McLain got his walking papers and was claimed by Detroit. (Sox broadcaster Milo Hamilton remembered McLain and his character and talked about him in his interview with White Sox Interactive.)

Mark Liptak

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