Saturday, July 31, 2010
Spent several hours of my life today (hours I won’t get back), sitting in the baseball conference room (with many others, including the MLB Network crew) waiting for something to happen. Nothing did.
Disappointing for all the work the baseball ops guys put into preparation and research. I’m not sure I am disappointed in the end result. I like our team. I like our chances. And I think we are better than we were a few days ago in terms of winning the 2010 division title.
Some critics have offered that adding Edwin Jackson only makes you marginally better, but in a division that has gone to a 163rd game the last two seasons, marginally might be all you need.
We shall see.
GM Kenny Williams’ comments to the media after the trade deadline:
“It was very quiet this morning and all of the things that had been reported were mostly false.
“The players that we were interested was a small, targeted group. The players we were interested in we had zero dialogue with today. Our offers had been out there for quite some time and we just never really engaged, not for lack of effort on our part.
“I wasn’t trading Gordon Beckham in any of these deals and pretty much the conversations started and stopped with that and never got any further.
Are you satisfied with the way things are right now?
“Well, you know, I feel fortunate that we’re in the position we’re in. We had a nice run, and we’re starting to play some consistent baseball, so absolutely. I feel good about where we are and where we’re headed. The deal that we made the other day, I’ve heard described as marginally better. I think that no matter what your business industry occupation is, if you become marginally better, that can result in success to a greater degree. We got marginally better in ’08 and ’05 and it helped us win championships – one division and one World Series. We’ll look to continue to see what the possibilities are over the waiver wire and we’ll go from there.”
Anything come down to the wire today?
“No. I wasn’t even in the room after 2:30. That’s how active it was. I came down here to talk to the coaching staff and hang out with them.”
The Joke’s On You
Once in the clubhouse, Williams decided to have some fun with Gordon Beckham and manager Ozzie Guillen.
“I wanted to have some fun with Gordon, and I knew he had been worried about some things even though I had talked with him previously about it. He was eating in the lunch room and I was sitting there and I called him over.”
What Williams did not know was that Paul Konerko has just been giving Beckham a hard time, saying, “This is about the time when Kenny gets ansy and decided to just throw Beckham into the deal to get it done.”
So Beckham heads off with Williams. The duo walks into Guillen’s office and closes the door. Guillen is shocked.
“First off, when you walk in on the trading deadline every player is looking at you out of the corner of their eye,” said Williams. “So I walked in and called him over, and he had this look like, ‘No, really?’ And I called him into Ozzie’s office and Ozzie didn’t know anything about it but he saw Gordon walk in and then he saw me walk in and close the door behind Beckham and he went ‘No!’ and the other coaches went ‘No!.’
“Ozzie closed the door, and I sat Gordon down on the chair and I said ‘Well, I really would like to say one thing to you before I get into the nuts and bolts of this stuff.’ I said ‘That at-bat you had last night, where you pushed across that run, was one of the best at-bats you’ve had all year and I just want to say nice job.’ And I shook his hand and he said, ‘Is that it?.’
“‘That’s it,’ I said.
“He had a sigh of relief. Ozzie had a sigh of relief and started cursing at me, and then I walked back into the lunchroom and Konerko says “You won’t believe this but about one minute before you walked in, I told Gordon that this is about the time in the show when Kenny Williams says ‘To hell with it, I’ll give you Gordon Beckham.’” So when I walked in there and called him out, it was perfect timing. We had a little fun with it.”
Some commented that we seemed to offer a little rough love to last night’s starter and winner Lucas Harrell by optioning him out immediately after the game.
Lucas had a big day yesterday. He woke up in Louisville expecting to pitch that night for Charlotte. Was told he was coming to the big leagues, hopped on a plane, flew here, made his major league debut, pitched, won the game, got doused with beer during a postgame interview on the field and still managed to call out hello to his mom and dad. Pretty cool.
Truth be told, Lucas was informed before he pitched that he would be sent down again afterward, so we hopefully didn’t rain on his parade last night too much.
Now, there is a game to won here tonight.
Had a chance to say hello to Edwin Jackson in the clubhouse before the game as he got situated. We’ve heard nothing but great comments from the PR staffs of the Tigers and Dbacks about Edwin and how great he is to work with.
Ozzie stopped by and told Edwin not to put too much pressure on himself.
“I talked to him for a few seconds,” Guillen said. “I already explained to him about what we need from him. He’s not the savior. He’s not the guy that has to come here and be THE GUY.
“Every five days, he just needs to go out there and help us win. We’ve got 25 guys on our roster. It’s not about one guy.”
Is beginning a rehab assignment with Class AAA Charlotte tonight.
See episodes 3-4 tomorrow night at 8 pm CT on MLB Network. Today was their last day of shooting with us, and a crew spent the entire week in the war room, filming scouting conversations and all of today’s non-action.
Not sure how those hours will do in conveying a behind the scenes look but they were with us every step of the way.
Now it’s up to the editors to make it sing.
You’ll see today’s footage in episodes 5-6, set to air next Sunday as The Club’s run ends.
Friday, July 30, 2010
I am sure you all heard by now, but the White Sox acquired RHP Edwin Jackson — he of the 2010 no-hitter and a 2009 All-Star with the Tigers — in exchange for RHP Daniel Hudson and minor league pitcher David Holmberg. Hudson was a great guy and we wish him well, but I do believe our chances to win the division in 2010 are better today than they were yesterday with this move.
As for anything else, the next day and a half (deadline is 3 pm CT tomorrow) will be filled with rumors, misdirection and speculation. Stay tuned for the ride.
To be pretty quiet this week, but I have been sitting in meetings with the baseball operations staff, our scouts and the MLB Network as Kenny has discussed options heading up to the deadline. Not sure how the MLBN is going to turn hours of footage into The Club, but it will be interesting to see how the editors work.
As a result of today’s trade, RHP Lucas Harrell will make his Major League debut tonight on the mound. Lucas is a sinker/slider type pitcher who has shown that he can get ground balls and GIDPs when needed. It will be fun to see how he does tonight in his debut.
Lots of good stuff available when you have won 11 straight at home, including:
Sox are a major-league best 33-11 since 6/9 … with a win tonight, Sox could be a season-high 14 games over .500, best since end of 2008 … Sox are 18-1 in their last 19 home games … Paul Konerko has homered in four straight games, one short of the team record (held by Luzinski, Kittle, Thomas and CLee) … the last Sox pitcher to win his debut was Kip Wells, way back in 1999 … J.J. Putz had his club record streak of 27 straight scoreless outings end last night … the Sox have hit 48 home runs in their last 25 games at home.
The Chicago Sun-Times did a terrific job covering the Frank Thomas announcement earlier this week. A great cover and a very nice “letter” from Frank to White Sox fans ran inside the paper. It did remind me of an incident from long ago, probably in the mid to late 1990s.
This was when the Sun-Times, and others, had taken to mocking Frank from time to time by calling him, “The Big Skirt.”
We were at Wrigley Field and the team was stretching before BP. There were fans — some loud, some calling for autographs. Suddenly, there was a loud group of men, two maybe three, and my memory is they were wearing skirts or kilts and carrying signs of some kind. They were yelling at Frank, taunting him with the “skirt” reference.
A reporter from the Sun-Times walked over to me.
“I’m embarrassed,” the person said. “See those guys, they work for the Sun-Times sports department.”
I wonder if they still do.
If so, thanks for doing such a nice job with the Frank coverage this week.
Friday, July 30, 2010
WHITE SOX ACQUIRE EDWIN JACKSON FROM ARIZONA IN EXCHANGE FOR PITCHERS DANIEL HUDSON AND DAVID HOLMBERG
CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox have acquired veteran right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for right-hander Daniel Hudson and lefty David Holmberg.
Jackson, 26, is 6-10 with a 5.16 ERA (77 ER/134.1 IP) and 104 strikeouts in 21 starts this season, his first with Arizona. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder threw the second no-hitter in Diamondbacks history on June 25 at Tampa Bay, walking six batters and striking out eight. Jackson has thrown 7.0 IP or more nine times this season and struck out a career-high 12 batters on May 17 at Florida.
Jackson was acquired by Arizona from Detroit as part of a three-team trade on December 9, 2009. He is 44-49 with a 4.74 ERA (424 ER/804.1 IP) and 576 strikeouts in 160 career games (131 starts) with the Dodgers (2003-05), Tampa Bay (2006-08), Detroit (2009) and Arizona.
His best season came in 2009 with the Tigers when he went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA (86 ER/214.0 IP) and 161 strikeouts in 33 starts and was named to the American League All-Star Team. Jackson won a career-high 14 games with the Rays in 2008.
Hudson, 23, went 1-1 with a 6.32 ERA (11 ER/15.2 IP) in three starts with the White Sox in 2010. He began the season with Class AAA Charlotte, going 11-4 with a 3.47 ERA (36 ER/93.1 IP) and 108 strikeouts in 17 starts before his promotion on July 11.
Hudson, who entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 3 Prospect in the White Sox organization, is 30-13 with a 2.90 ERA (100 ER/310.1 IP) and 362 strikeouts in 57 minor-league starts since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Holmberg, 19, was 1-1 with a 4.46 ERA (20 ER/40.1 IP) in eight starts with Advanced Rookie Great Falls in 2010. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound left-hander went 2-2 with a 4.72 ERA (21 ER/40.0 IP) in 14 games (seven starts) with Rookie Bristol in his first professional season in 2009. Holmberg was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Comments From Frank Thomas on Becoming a White Sox Team Ambassador
“I played in between these lines with everything I had,” said Frank Thomas, “and it’s a great, great honor to be out on that wall with these guys.
“I had more ups than I had downs. That’s part of having a long, successful career. I’m proud of it, wouldn’t change it. This is a great day today to be named a team ambassador. I really care about this team.”
“This is a great moment and I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to help the team in any way I can and whatever they need to throw on me, I’ll be there.”
“This is the team I follow day-in and day-out. I put into too many countless hours. I know these guys, I know the coaches, I played with the coaches. We’re still family, we’ve always been family.”
“I spent 16 long years here and unfortunately, departures are never nice. But eventually I figured I would be back here in some capacity, it just takes time. Things have worked out.”
“I’m just happy to be a part of this because in my heart, I feel like I’ve earned this.”
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Odds & Ends
Big victory last night over King Felix … Mark Kotsay hits more line drives at people than anyone in baseball, I swear … one big difference for me over the past seven weeks: most nights we have three shortstops on the infield and we can put two center fielders in the outfield. Makes for pretty good team defense.
Great news that Frank Thomas has re-joined the organization as a team ambassador, making appearances at the ballpark during the season, at SoxFest and in the community.
White Sox Bowling
Instead of our annual charity golf outing, we are trying something different this year by hosting a White sox celebrity bowling night on August 23. For details, click here or go to www.whitesox.com/community.
Hero of the Game
Frequent readers know I am a softee for stories like these.
White Sox Wives
Kudos to Jamie Buehrle and Megan Thomas on their recent trip to the gulf with MLB Wives to help raise awareness about the devastation to the region. To watch, click here.
News & Notes
Friday, July 23, 2010
Is nearing a sellout, so act quickly if you plan to attend (pregame on August 1). To purchase tickets, click here. Passcode is: BLOG (since we are so tricky).
MLB announced yesterday that it would initiative blood testing for HGH at the minor league level. I hope all would agree this is a great step forward for baseball.
Gate 5 Beer Garden
We also are going to open a beer garden, named TBD (for now, obviously), at Gate 5 on Monday. The area, which is open to both ticketed and non-game ticket customers, features bar service and light snacks. Stop by the next time you come out to the ballpark.
Next Episode of: The Club
Episode 2 of “The Club” airs Sunday night at 8 pm CT on MLB Network. You can also see it on Comcast VOD or on replay throughout the week. This episode focuses on the June draft, as well as the team as it starts to turn around a poor start to the season …
Kitty and Comedy
Ron Kittle’s performance at Zanies Comedy Club airs at 8:30 pm tonight (Friday) on WTTW Channel 11.
Thanks to White Sox fan Don W. for sending along this photo of three White Sox fans from Lima, Peru (no less). Love it!
Friday, July 23, 2010
Congratulations to Mark Buehrle! One year ago today, he tossed his Perfect Game against Tampa Bay at U.S. Cellular Field. Where were you?
Tonight in Oakland, Buehrle becomes the first pitcher ever to start a game exactly one year after throwing a Perfect Game. Let’s all try to send Mark our good Karma, since he has historically struggled against Oakland and at the Coliseum. Buehrle is 3-12 with a 3.93 ERA in 24 career games (20 starts) vs. Oakland and is 0-6 with a 4.66 ERA in 12 outings (10 starts) at the Coliseum. Change starts tonight!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
So how mad were most (all?) of us after Sunday’s loss at Minnesota, feeling like we’d missed an opportunity to gain another game on Detroit and the Twins. But, the great thing about baseball is there is always a game the next day. Low and behold, two days and two wins in Seattle later, and we’ve picked up two games on both the Twins and Tigers. Crazy.
Some of you may have read, watched or listened to coverage at the All-Star game about Kenny Fullman, a youth baseball coach in Chicago and for our Amateur City Elite team who was honored as our “All-Stars Among Us” with a trip to this year’s All-Star Game. If you didn’t, here are a few links to newspaper coverage of Kenny:
It’s fast approaching, so if you are interested, you had better order your tickets soon!
Blog Night V on Sunday, August 1 when we face the A’s (actually, it is a 1:05 p.m. game, but Blog Day doesn’t quite sound the same).
A couple of people have asked what happens at Blog Night. Here’s my pitch, but other fans, feel free to offer your thoughts of the ever-more-popular event …
We come to the ballpark early and meet in the Conference & Learning Center. Fans enjoy the chance to meet one another and put faces with screen names. I try to find some interesting speakers for the group — in the past I think we’ve had Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn, Ozzie Guillen, Steve Stone, Darrin Jackson, Ed Farmer, Moose Skowron, Ron Kittle (are all these names correct and did I miss anyone)? Then we have some fun with door prizes, question and answer, etc.
After that, it’s on to a ballgame and a White Sox victory.
Second Half Stories
This weekend, I was in my car and caught a national radio host complaining about the lack of compelling story lines in Major League Baseball (this, it should be noted, while he spent much of his show talking about the fact that Tim Tebow has the most popular jersey in the NFL). He challenged his producer to come up with some story lines. When the producer could only offer two, the host closed his show by claiming the lack of story lines showed a lack of national and fan interest.
Since part of my job, in theory, is to promote baseball, I was annoyed.
So here are some of my staff’s story lines to watch for during the second half (not necessarily White Sox specific and in no real order):
- Three-team races in the AL East, Central and NL East; a potential four-team race in the NL West
- Will the AL Central need 163 games to decide a champion for the third straight year?
- Success of the Texas Rangers despite the ownership questions
- Surprise San Diego Padres
- Can the Braves win it for Bobby Cox (see below)
- Final seasons for mgrs Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella and questions about Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa.
- The dominance of pitching (no-hitters, Perfect Games, etc.)
- The Cincinnati Reds
- Stephen Strasburg’s rookie season
- Who is going to win the NL Cy Young race out of a loaded field
- Amazing turnaround of the Chicago White Sox
- A-Rod approaching 600 career home runs
- Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton in a legitimate Triple Crown race
Any others you might want to add?
I’ll offer some White Sox-specific thoughts tomorrow.
Monday, July 19, 2010
I need another White Sox game soon to get over yesterday’s debacle. 9:10 CT can’t come soon enough. Pay no attention to the fact that we are facing a pitcher we have never seen before!
Some great comments from Daniel Huson about his role in last night’s episode of “The Club.” Despite what you might have read, I did hear a few of our players enjoyed the show. Others probably could not have cared less. Most of the other feedback from fans has been positive. Let me know what you thought of the show.
Moving forward, shows are 30 minutes in length, so action will likely move much faster. MLB Network cameras are with us through the trade deadline, so the last show will take you through the final minutes of July 31. Will they be action-packed or will nothing happen? Time will tell.
Friday, August 27 is Blackhawk Night at the ballpark with the Stanley Cup making an appearance at U.S. Cellular Field. Just for fun, what would be the best White Sox hockey lineup we could put out on the ice? Konerko has to be on it, doesn’t he? … give me a lineup, two wingers, a center, two defensemen and a goalie. Best offering wins a future prize we’ll determine.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
So the long anticipated MLB Network show on the White Sox front office, The Club, debuts tonight at 8 pm CT with a one-hour episode.
Having helped coordinate The Club from the White Sox perspective, I am interested in hearing what you all think of the first of the six shows. I will be hanging out on twitter @InsideTheSox if you want to carry on an on-line conversation during the show.
I wouldn’t really call The Club a reality show. Just to make sure everyone understands, it is not like the MLB Network has microphones and cameras on the White Sox 24/7. Instead, we work with them to come up with what we think will be the best opportunities and days to give baseball fans a behind-the-scenes look at how decisions are made at a major league team. The focus of the show is on Jerry Reinsdorf, Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen and the relationships the three men share in trying to help the White Sox win games, divisions and World Series titles.
You’ll get to sit in meetings fans and the media rarely see — organization-wide meetings in spring training, staff meetings in spring training and even private meetings in Ozzie’s office when players are told they’ve made the team … or are being sent down. You’ll also see and hear from Rick Hahn, our assistant GM, pitching coach Don Cooper and hitting coach Greg Walker. The show’s producers also wanted to show many of the characters away from the ballpark, so you will see footage of that as well.
For example, cameras weren’t around earlier this spring when Williams held a team meeting — perhaps when we look back on it the meeting will be seen as an important step in the creation of this team — when, as the team struggled on the field, he assured veterans that they were not being traded and told everyone that he believed in their ability to win. Basically, he called on the team to relax and play baseball, not to worry about trade rumors and critics crying out that the season was lost.
Probably the best footage in the first episode involves rookie Sergio Santos, but Cooper also steals some of the show, and as anyone who knows Coop would understand, some of the laughs.
A few critics have argued that this footage had to be scripted. It can’t be real, they claim. As someone who has worked for the White Sox for 20 years and who knows the “characters” very well, I can only laugh. At no point did anyone say “Action” or “Cut,” and I can assure you that the focus for everyone is on winning baseball games, not Emmys. In some cases, principals were asked specific questions before or after the fact, but no one was following any script!
People also assume that content is heavily edited by the team. Not true. While we did get to see advance drafts of the episode, the vast, vast majority of our comments were more factual concerns about the script or footage than whether or not something should be included or edited out. No significant portion of the first episode ended up on the editing room floor because of a White Sox concern about the team or our employees.
In fact, one argument I lost related to the spring training involved the Twitter “controversy.” My argument with MLBNetwork was that the general public did not really care about the issue and that it really had no impact on the team in any important way. I also questionned whether or not it was important to include specific tweets as examples. The guys from the MLBNetwork countered that to not include it would only open the show up to criticism of ignoring tough questions and/or stories. In the end, this show’s content belongs to MLB Network and MLB Productions, so the decision was theirs. It’s in.
The real work being done here is by the MLB producers. I cannot begin to imagine how many hours of footage have been shot and how much time has been spent since January in shooting, collecting and editing video. The real challenge is for the producers to take all of these hours, all of these possible story lines, and create 45 minutes of compelling story telling that is entertaining, dramatic and that makes sense.
Let me know what you think of the show tonight. All I can say is, “Thank Goodness,” our on-field performance in June appears to have helped us re-write the ending to this show come July 31 (when shooting ends).
Hope you enjoy tonight’s behind-the-scenes look at the White Sox.