January 2010

Fisk: McGwire’s Claim is a “Crock,” Clemens Rebirth No Miracle

Sox (both White and Red) Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk comes out blasting with both barrels in an interview with Fred Mitchell in today’s Chicago Tribune.

Here are a few of Fisk’s gems:

On Mark McGwire’s recent statement that steroids didn’t help him to hit home runs and steroids use in general:

* “That’s a crock. There’s a reason they call it performance-enhancing drugs. That’s what it does–performance enhancement. You can be good, but it’s going to make you better. You can be average, but it is going to make you good. If you are below average, it’s going to make you average. Some guys who went that route got their five-year, $35 million contracts and now are off in the sunset somewhere. Because once they can’t use (steroids) anymore, they can’t play anymore.”

On McGwire’s eye-and hand coordination assertion:

* “(McGwire) says, ‘Well, it doesn’t help eye-and-hand coordination.’ Well, of course it does.
It allows you more acuity physically and mentally and optically. You are going to be stronger and you are going to be better.”

On Clemens:

* “The reason he got let go from the Red Sox was because he was starting to break down. His last couple of years in Boston just weren’t very productive, a la ‘The Rocket.’ Then all of a sudden he goes to Toronto and he wants to show somebody something. Then he gets two consecutive Cy Young Awards. Come on, give me a bucket.

carlton-fisk.jpgFisk and White Sox teammates celebrate during “Carlton Fisk Night” in 1993 after the Sox great set the major league record for most games played by a catcher.

John Danks in the Fold, Will Baby Bro Jordan Join Him in Chicago This Summer?

Within a matter of four days, the Sox have come to terms with their four arbitration-eligible players. On Saturday it was Bobby Jenks and Carlos Quentin, yesterday it was Tony Pena and today it was John Danks signing a one-year deal for a reported $3.45 million.

danks.jpg     And what about promising outfielder Jordan Danks (below)? After his fine year in  
     Birmingham and an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League, I’m sure that
     John hopes his talented younger sibling finds his way to the Cell some time this
     summer and a place in the White Sox outfield picture. If not this year, it would seem
     a certainty that he will be in the Sox big league plans in 2011.

    
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Sox Avoid Arbitration with Tony Pena, Sign Him to a One-Year Deal

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              No, not him. He’s Tony Pena, the Yankees bench coach, former Royals
              manager and ex-All-Star catcher.
   

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                   No, not him either. He’s Tony Pena, Jr., son of the above and a  
                   major league infielder.


              

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             Yes, this is the Tony Pena who just signed with the Sox and the 
             one they are counting on for effective middle relief in 2010.


CQ, Jenks Avoid Arbitration

The White Sox agreed to one-year contracts yesterday with Carlos Quentin and Bobby Jenks, leaving only two remaining arbitration-eligible Sox–starter John Danks and reliever Tony Pena. Jenks signed a deal for $7.5 million and Quentin will make $3.2 million in 2010.

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OK, he’s in an Angel uniform, much thinner and it looks like his bar mitzvah picture, but this is the reasonably-svelte Jenks that Ozzie would like to see February 21 at Camelback Ranch. So maybe if I visualize, it will happen.

Sox-wise and Otherwise

My weekly offseason musings about the White Sox and more…

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White Sox Baseball is Just Around the Corner

The much-anticipated yearly ritual of pitchers and catchers reporting is almost upon us. The Sox hurlers and backstops report and work out on February 21. The first full workout for everyone will be February 26. For the record, I will be in my seat at Camelback Ranch on the evening of March 15 when the South Siders host the Podsednik-Getz-Anderson-Fields Royals and I’ll be there all week.

See You in Glendale

The Sox have announced that the following have signed minor league contracts and will be invited to the major league spring training camp: Righthanded pitchers Greg Aquino and Daniel Cabrera, lefty Eric Threets, infielder Freddie Bynum and outfielder Jason Botts from outside the organization. Ten players from the Sox system will join them, including four of the club’s top prospects: outfielders Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell plus infielders Brent Morel and C.J. Retherford.

The Ex-Sox Report

Rumor has it that both the Cubs and Padres have their eyes on 2005 World Series MVP Jermaine Dye…Aside from a Jim Thome sighting in Detroit by a New York on-air personality, I haven’t heard a thing about the amiable slugger’s future…The White Sox’ loss is the Pirates gain as the Buccos signed D.J. Carrasco. There also are rumors that Pittsburgh’s next move is to sign Octavio Dotel as their closer…The Diamondbacks inked first baseman Adam LaRoche, apparently so former Sox prospect Brandon Allen can get more seasoning at AAA…Don’t be surprised if one-time Sox fave Joe Crede winds up with the Orioles…And five clubs–Cubs, Cardinals, Rockies, Phillies and Padres–appear in the hunt for Jose Contreras.

Art of the Pale Hose Person of the Week is…

Lynn Garson. Why? Because she’s a HUGE Sox fan and almost as important she’s a devoted follower of this blog–something for which I’m eternally grateful. Go Sox!

Castro Re-signs with Sox, Where Does That Leave Flowers?

3116474f-edc5-425b-bc8b-809702d5e2c81.jpgThe White Sox have re-signed backup catcher Ramon Castro to a one-year, $800,000 contract with a club option for 2011. It now begs the question: What will become of youngster Tyler Flowers in 2010?

It is not totally unexpected that the Sox signed a backup behind A.J Pierzynski, but there have been two main scenarios concerning the Sox backup catching situation. One being that a backup would be signed from outside the organization and Flowers would spend the year honing his skills, especially defensively, at AAA Charlotte. The other thought is that Flowers would be the backup and a part-time DH. Now with Castro on board, how about a third scenario which would find the Sox keeping both Castro and Flowers with the latter getting a lot of time in the DH rotation as well as behind the plate? If that’s an option at all, it’ll be something to keep an eye on during Spring Training.

Regarding Castro, I was told by someone close to Ramon in November that the Sox may not be so interested in having him back. So I was thinking if a backup was signed it might be somebody like Mike Redmond, who has most recently been with the Twins. I’ve always liked Castro since his days with the Mets when he came through with numerous clutch hits. He was rather disappointing with the Sox, aside from catching Mark Buehrle‘s perfecto, but hopefully he can turn things around and do a better job at spotting the durable A.J.

Scotty Pods Close to Joining the Royals; Sox ’05 Series Hero Will Join a Familiar Cast of Characters

Word out of Kansas City is that 2005 World Series hero Scott Podsednik is on his way to the Royals.

It’s going to be old home week when the Sox play their KC counterparts this summer with Pods, Chris Getz, Josh Fields and Brian Anderson all changing from silver and black to royal blue uniforms during the offseason.

By the way Pods, we’ll never forget you.

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Sox-wise and Otherwise

My weekly offseason musings about the White Sox and more…

dayan-viciedo.jpgDayan Viciedo Update

Some interesting tidbits were revealed today about Dayan Viciedo (above), the promising Cuban import. According to an interview whitesox.com’s Scott Merkin did with Sox minor league boss Buddy Bell, Viciedo’s conditioning is going well and he will play both first and third this season probably starting at AAA Charlotte. Bell thinks Dayan will be ready for the majors offensively some time in 2010. He adds that his footwork may not be good enough to play third, but Viciedo has great hands and is adaptable as anyone in the system.

jared-mitchell.jpgJared Mitchell: A Star in the Making

Merkin also spoke to Bell about our 2009 draft choice, Jared Mitchell (above) out of
LSU. An outfielder who seems destined for the leadoff spot, Bell says of Mitchell:
“He’s freaky fast, strong and very athletic. He’s a very intelligent kid. Very coachable.” It seems Mitchell will be brought around slower than most No. 1 picks because of his limited baseball experience as he played both baseball and football in college. Mitchell fared very well at Class A Kannapolis last summer in his first taste of pro ball.

Frank-ly Speaking

I have huge issues with the manner in which the Baseball Writers’ Association of
America handles the voting, whether it’s for the Hall of Fame or yearly awards like the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year. For example, how can Gordon Beckham finish
first in two player votes for AL rookie honors and finish fifth in the writers’ vote? Ridiculous.

A key matter these days in the Hall of Fame voting is the DH issue. Some feel it
should be considered in the manner of any other position. Some feel that the fact a
player doesn’t play the field should be held against them–there’s no doubt it has hurt Sox legend Harold Baines and certainly hurt Edgar Martinez in his first year on the ballot. For the record, I’m firmly in the camp of the former.

While we have a few years to obsess about it, I’ll be furious if the discrimination
against the DH affects Frank Thomas‘ candidacy when he is eligible. Frank’s record speaks for  itself, not to mention that he was the greatest hitter in White Sox history.

2005_12_sports_frank_thomas.jpgHot Stove Talk

Where else in Manhattan would the names Juan Pizarro, Francisco Barrios and Buddy
Bradford be brought up other than a lunch reunion of three huge White Sox fans? Sox talk ruled the day yesterday as my friends Kevin “Sully” Sullivan, PR consultant and former White House communications director, and Tom Merritt, the creator of the board game Box Score, and I broke bread at Emmett O’Lunney’s Irish Pub. Suffice it to say that we’re all very positive about 2010.                       

Bill Gleason: Legendary Sportswriter, Unique Character, Wonderful Guy and Unabashed Sox Fan

For those of us growing up in the 50s and 60s with our sights set on working in sports, the sportswriters and sportscasters of the day were our heroes as much as the athletes themselves.

For me, one of my favorite writers was Bill Gleason, a legendary character in Chicago sports circles. I’m sorry to say that Gleason passed away yesterday at the age of 87, leaving many friends and admirers both in and out of the business.

I’ve been lucky enough to reach a point where I’ve personally gotten to know many individuals who once served as professional role models for me. Gleason was one of them. I first met Bill while I was in college, we crossed paths many times over the years in one press box or another and he even did an event with his “Sportswriters on TV” crew when I was at Sports Illustrated. He was always kind and encouraging, something I’ll never forget.

It’s a bonus for me that Gleason, a true South Sider, was a proud White Sox fan. Sportswriter Mike Downey wrote the following after Bill’s death: “Gleason was a White Sox homer and had the courage to say so. He made a commitment to the South Side personally and professionally.”

According to Rick Telander in today’s Sun-Times, Gleason requested that there be no Irish wake, no weeping and sadness and that his passing be celebrated next spring on the South Side with a jazz band, drinking and great merriment.

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Hey White Sox Fans, Here is Something to Warm You Up on New Year’s Day: Pitchers and Catchers are Right Around the Corner!

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