White Sox news, Minor Leagues updates and more

January 11, 2012

White Sox Front Office and sabermetrics

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ January 11, 2012 12:00 am
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Doug Padilla’s chat:

Q: This may be a tough question for you to answer. But, do you have any idea how highly the White Sox FO values sabermetrics?

A: They put a solid emphasis on it. Not saying it’s the deciding factor in all their moves, but they have a guy that works closely with KW to break down those numbers.

“Solid emphasis” would be better than I thought. Hopefully, Padilla is right. Another interesting note:

Q: Whats the biggest difference between Walker and the new hitting coach?

A: Walk was huge on mechanics, passing along what he had learned over the years from some of the greats in the game. He coached the mental side as well, but the word is that Manto will stress the mental side even more. Manto wants you in a great frame of mind to hit, then he will go to work on mechanics.

September 28, 2011

Greg Walker resigns

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ September 28, 2011 4:02 pm
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Scott Merkin:

Greg Walker announced his resignation as White Sox hitting coach, effective after Wednesday’s 2011 season finale against the Blue Jays.Speaking to a group of writers Wednesday morning in Ozzie Guillen’s old office, the hard-nosed Walker became emotional at times when talking about his relationship with the players, coaches and people in the clubhouse over his nine years working with White Sox hitters.Walker informed White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf of his decision roughly one month ago. …

Press release here.

How about Joe Crede? Nah, too many popups.

September 27, 2011

Don Cooper to sign multi-year deal with the Sox [UPDATE]

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ September 27, 2011 6:30 pm
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Scott Merkin:

A contract extension for White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper figures to become official on Tuesday afternoon with the announcement of a new multi-year deal that will precede a two-game stint as manager in place of Ozzie Guillen.

Cooper is finishing his ninth full season and 10th overall as Chicago’s pitching coach, having begun the task on July 22, 2002. He has worked under managers Jerry Manuel and Guillen, and soon will be practicing his craft for a third — whomever is hired during the offseason to replace Guillen.

With Guillen released from his contract after Monday’s 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays to pursue other opportunities and bench coach Joey Cora apparently heading to the Marlins with Guillen, Cooper will run the show over the final two days of the 2011 season as the team’s interim manager.

CSN reports first base coach Harold Baines will get a multi-year deal too, but third base coach Jeff Cox and hitting coach Greg Walker won’t get new deals.

UPDATE: The extension is for 4 years:

Of Cooper, Williams said, “Well, the pitching has been as consistent over the last decade, and that’s a testament to our scouting department, to our player development department, to Don Cooper, directly in his direction. It’s something that’s well deserved and I’m happy, thrilled to know that he’s going to be on board here for the next four years.”

Nice!

September 2, 2011

Friction between Kenny Williams and Greg Walker?

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ September 2, 2011 11:10 pm
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Schouwen @ CST:

The frustration stemming from the shortage of production from Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham recently reached a boiling point between ­general manager Ken Williams and hitting coach Greg Walker.

Walker took issue with Williams’ comments about Beckham’s swing, and after he and Williams exchanged heated words in the tunnel leading to the Sox clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field, Williams told Walker to clean out his locker, a source said.

When chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was made aware of what happened, things were smoothed over.

Williams had said he liked the swing Beckham had at college. Walker said as long as Beckham keeps working on his swing, he’s OK with it. The odds that Brett Ballantini’s prediction of big changes after the season is over comes true seem to increase everyday.

August 24, 2011

Did the Sox place a waiver claim on Jim Thome? [UPDATE]

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ August 24, 2011 12:05 am
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Schouwen @ CST:

A source said the Sox were one of several teams putting a claim in for Thome, whose mere presence in the clubhouse would be a plus. It wouldn’t hurt Dunn and those Sox who didn’t play with Thome in 2006-09 to watch the future Hall of Famer approach his every-day job and the designated hitter role.

What do you say Ozzie?

“I’d love to add Jim Thome back, to be honest with you,” said Guillen, who was looking for a more versatile designated hitter that also could play the field when Thome left for Minnesota in 2010. “A lot of people think I don’t want Jimmy. It was just at that time we didn’t have any place for him.”

Yeah, we had room for Mark Kotsay but not Jim Thome.

“But I have said day in and day out that Jimmy is one of my favorite guys in baseball. That’s up to [general manger] Kenny [Williams]. I don’t know if we’re going to have five DHs. I don’t expect him to be here, but if they want to bring him here, if you ask anybody wearing this uniform if they want Jim Thome back, everybody here would say yes. But that’s not our department.”

UPDATE: I forgot this last night the Sox may be blocking Cleveland from getting Thome. And we see today that they may have claimed another lefty: OF/DH Jason Kubel.

Other White Sox links:

August 5, 2011

Is Paul Konerko sending a message to Alex Rios?

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ August 5, 2011 11:41 pm
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Gonzales @ CT:

Paul Konerko recalled how he salvaged his 2003 season, when he batted .197 in a poor first half but elected to make some changes under new hitting coach Greg Walker and raised his average by 37 points.

It’s tough because in the second half, I felt I was as good as any hitter in the field, and you look up and you’re hitting .220,” Konerko said. “But I told myself I’m going to survive. People need to gain a little perspective on the outside.”

And it may be working:

Alex Rios said he’s started the process of revamping his batting stance in an effort to resurrect his production.

Rios, who didn’t start for the White Sox on Friday night for the second consecutive game, said he has moved his hands away from the middle of his body and said he will continue this if he feels aggressive and comfortable.

This is the start of a process that Rios hopes won’t require the entire offseason to get comfortable with. …

Frank Thomas suggested to Rios to change his batting stance last Sunday:

For Rios, on the other hand, Thomas suggested an entire overhaul of his plate approach.

“Right now, he’s fighting himself,” Thomas said. “For me, I would change that stance. We talked about it the other day. There’s nothing wrong with going in the cage and messing around with it. We saw one of the most successful players to ever play this game, Cal Ripken, he had a new stance every week. I told Alex, the bottom line is hitting the baseball. Go in the cage and figure something out, Get comfortable, because he’s not comfortable right now.”

Other White Sox links:

July 8, 2011

Can a hitting coach change things?

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ July 8, 2011 12:30 pm
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Wischnowsky @ WSCR:

A few years ago, John Levesque, sports columnist for the now defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer, tried to answer that question when he wrote, “When it comes to imparting knowledge and teaching the principles of hitting, big-league hitting coaches really don’t do much of either…

“Even if they tried to teach hitting, they’d run into a solid wall of resistance from self-centered, supremely focused athletes who’ve made it this far on talent and ability and aren’t about to change their swings for anyone, even if he’s got street cred in Cooperstown.”

Former Minnesota Twins hitting coach Rob Ellis, who wrote a book with Hall of Fame slugger Mike Schmidt about hitting, took things a step further.

Ellis told Levesque, “There’s very little solid instruction going on [at the major league level]. The hitting coach tends to be a PR guy, a hitter’s best friend, a security blanket, a go-to guy for salve on his wounds, a friendly guy who’s a little bit psychologist and a little bit con man…

“I never met one truly effective hitting coach. The system is not set up to teach hitting.” …

June 20, 2011

Greg Walker says Gordon Beckham has messed up his swing

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ June 20, 2011 11:07 pm
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Schouwen @ CST:

Hitting coach Greg Walker said Beckham must simplify things at the plate.

“Looking back at Gordon’s 2009 tape, it was brilliant how simple it was,” Walker said. “When Gordon goes bad, his leg kick is bigger, his hand move is bigger and he ends up with bad posture and a loopier, longer swing. We need less of a leg kick, hand move — less of an effort level.”

As if we didn’t have enough things to worry about.

June 4, 2011

Brent Lillibridge loves Greg Walker

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ June 4, 2011 11:30 pm
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Garfien @ CSN:

So how did this happen? How did Lillibridge turn into the Lilli-Hammer or the Lilli-Hurt? Let’s start with his hitting, and the coach who he credits for helping turn his career around: Greg Walker.“If it wasn’t for Walk, I don’t think I’d be where I’m at,” Lillibridge explains. “Two years ago, after my first year when I was hitting .158, and I was just lost, mechanically more than anything, he said, ‘Let’s work on things in the off-season,’ and we totally redid my swing to get a feel for what was right. Now it’s been a 2-3 year process and it’s come to fruition.”

Remember the Lillibridge of old, who used to stand in the box looking like he was playing wiffleball, swinging (and often missing) for the fences?

“I’ve always been told that since I was in college.”

He’s not missing so much anymore. But is there some truth to it?

“It’s just my mentality. I want to hit the ball hard,” Lillibridge said. “I’m not trying to hit the ball over the fence, I just don’t want to cheat myself. When my swing is right, I can swing hard and still be under control, hitting to right field, center field. But when things are off, and you’re swinging at the ball hard, you’re not going to be able to do anything with it.”

May 30, 2011

Adam Dunn can’t figure out what’s wrong [UPDATE]

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 30, 2011 7:33 pm
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Schouwen @ CST:

Dunn said he has watched video and studied what his swing looked like when he played with the Nationals and Reds. Hitting coach Greg Walker has talked to former hitting coaches of Dunn on numerous occasions.”I’ve done all that,” Dunn said. “I”ll let you see it and you tell me if you see anything. I can’t find anything. It’s baseball, I don’t know how else to put it. I feel like I’m fouling off the good ones and putting myself in a bind and swinging at the bad ones. It’s not a very good combinations.””I’m getting pitches like I do normally. It seems like when I get a pitch to hit, I foul it off. I’ve never fouled off this many balls in a year, let alone two months. It seems like every swing I take, I foul it off. I don’t know what it is. If I’m too late or what not. I don’t know. We’ll just keep grinding. It will come.”

“I feel timing wise I’m fine. I always look at stuff if getting deep on counts, I’m seeing it and on time. I’m not swinging at bad pitches. But the day before and it’s like I don’t know what happens. I wish I had the answer for you.”

UPDATE: A quick look at Dunn’s plate discipline numbers shows a few things:

  • His F-Strike% (First pitch strike percentage) is 4 percentage points above his career average
  • His Z-Contact% (Percentage of times a batter makes contact with the ball when swinging at pitches thrown inside the strike zone) is 3 percentage points below his career average.
  • His O-Contact% (Percentage of times a batter makes contact with the ball when swinging at pitches thrown outside the strike zone) is 18 percentage points above his career average.
  • His overall Contact% [Total percentage of contact made when swinging at all pitches] is half a percentage point above his career average.

A look at Dunn’s Pitch-F/X numbers follows

(more…)

May 29, 2011

Greg Walker says Adam Dunn must put his foot down

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 29, 2011 2:24 am
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Schouwen @ CST:

“To me he’s a feel hitter,” Sox hitting coach Greg Walker said Saturday. “I really think if you break down his swing it’s a fairly simple fix. We feel like he needs to get his foot down on time to be balanced.”

Walker has talked several times with Rick Eckstein, Dunn’s former hitting coach with the Washington Nationals. He said they agree on what Dunn’s major issue has been.”

He’s shown flashes — that game in Texas [Tuesday when he hit his last home run] he was real good getting the foot down and being balanced. When he gets that feel he’s going to be real explosive for us and do great things. Right now getting his big body in position to hit is the real battle.”

Walker said 3 days ago Carlos Quentin did what he wants Dunn to do:

“Obviously [Tuesday] night he was awesome and he’s had days like that this year where he’s been unbelievable,” hitting coach Greg Walker said. “To me, the only issue so far this year is Carlos being late with the foot down, and we kind of corrected that a week, 10 days ago. Other than having a sore knee one day, he’s really been good ever since.

”Essentially, Walker has worked with Quentin to refine the timing of his swing. If Quentin can stride and get his foot down before the ball arrives, he is in a better position to cover the strike zone. His most impressive home run Tuesday came when he reached out across the plate and slugged a 400-foot-plus shot just inside the foul pole in right field.

“Going the other way is always a good sign for any hitter, especially being able to hit the ball in the gap and drive the ball,” Quentin said. “My push is to always stay up the middle and to the right side and to accomplish that, that’s something good.”

More Dunn inside. (more…)

May 20, 2011

Fangraphs’ David Golebiewski on Gordon Beckham’s struggles [UPDATE]

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 20, 2011 2:50 pm
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Golebiewski @ FG:

[Gordon] Beckham gave every indication that he was ready for prime time. He hit the ground running with the White Sox in ’09, putting up a .351 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) in 430 PA while earning the Sporting News’ AL Rookie of the Year Award. Just 22 years old at the time, Beckham looked like a franchise cornerstone and a needed first-round success story for an organization that had recently been criticized for taking low-upside players like Lance Broadway and Kyle McCulloch.

Since then, however, Beckham has been sliding backwards. His wOBA dipped to .305 in 2010, and he’s the owner of a sordid .262 wOBA so far this season for a Chicago team whose park-and-league adjusted offense is 12 percent below average. In late April, White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker told the Chicago Sun-Times, “[Beckham]‘s swinging at a lot of pitches out of the zone. He’s frustrated. He’s getting himself out a lot.”

Walker’s comments are spot-on. Beckham, described in Baseball America’s 2009 Prospect Handbook as possessing “unusual pitch recognition for a young hitter,” has devolved into one of the easiest outs in the majors. Take a look at Beckham’s outside swing percentages from 2009 to 2011, compared to the MLB averages during those years: …

UPDATE: Here’s Steve Stone’s take.

April 11, 2011

Greg Walker on Gordon Beckham and more (video)

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ April 11, 2011 4:00 am
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Mitchell @ CT:

“To be honest with you, we haven’t tinkered a lot,” said Walker. “He had a little lay off with the bat. When he put the foot down, he got the bat more horizontal and kind of got loopy with it a little bit. That was a minor thing. Short of that, the kid is really talented and he’s really good and he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.

More Walker at the link. Video (2:46) here.

March 11, 2011

“it’s about the five minutes right after”

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ March 11, 2011 11:00 pm
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Merkin @ CWS:

That ultimate Cactus League grade for Quentin won’t come from results, which have him holding at a dismal-looking .136 average through Friday’s personal off-day. For Quentin, it’s about dealing with the negative moments even when they don’t count on his resume.

“To be honest, I’m really paying attention to, how do I say this, how I respond to whatever happens out there,” Quentin said. “That’s something I’ve planned on the offseason to work on.

“So I want to maintain a level head, just maintain a relaxed feeling out here. It’s been pretty good. There have been a couple of days where I resorted back to frustration. But I want to say that I’m making some progress there. From this point, I want to monitor how my mindset is on a day-to-day basis.”

As far as Quentin’s swing progress, the deep-thinking right fielder said he has been working with hitting coach Greg Walker with a purpose in order to clean some things up. Walker pointed to looking for a lower-effort swing for Quentin and getting consistent with posture and body position.

“There’s a trust involved,” Quentin said. “[Walker] sees stuff I can’t see, and I go to work on them. The at-bats have been better. Contact has been better.”

Major production hasn’t been there for Quentin, who has three singles in 22 at-bats. But those struggles actually might provide better regular-season preparation for Quentin than hitting safely in almost every at-bat. Quentin understands he isn’t perfect, and there will be the occasional bat slam after missing a pitch he should have hit.

“Really, it’s about the five minutes right after that,” Quentin said. “Maintain a good mindset to go out there and compete and have the best chance to succeed in the next opportunity.

“It’s always easy to handle good results. The key is to handle the ones that aren’t so optimistic and move on from there to have the best chance for good results the next day.”

January 13, 2011

Camp Cora video

http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/white-sox/post/_/id/3090/video-live-from-camp-cora (1:11)

Camp (Joey) Cora: Gordon Beckham, Ramon Castro, Brent Morel, Alexei Ramirez, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo, Juan Pierre, A.J. Pierzynski and hitting coach Greg Walker.

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