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View from the Other Side: White Sox questions for Brett Ballantini of South Side Sox

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago White Sox Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

We start a 3-game series with the White Sox tonight.

The Sox are 36-65 good for 4th in the AL Central.

They are 4th from the bottom in runs scored per game (4.00) and 2nd from the bottom in runs allowed per game (5.32).

I sent off some questions to Brett Ballantini of South Side Sox. He was kind enough to answer them for us.

With the trade deadline coming up quick which White Sox do you expect to be gone by August first?

It would seem that Joakim Soria is a foregone conclusion. He’s gone 24 of his last 25 appearances without surrendering an earned run, and has picked up 16 saves after breaking camp as only part of a closer committee. Additionally, Soria makes some dough, so he should go. (Tom - Brett was dead on, Soria is off to the Brewers)

Luis Avilán has been an effective LOOGY for the White Sox, and he makes some bread, too, so he should find a new address.

James Shields has been the second-best White Sox starter this season (sit down a second if reading that just made you dizzy) and even though the second-best starter on the White Sox might qualify as like the 25th on a team like the Houston Astros, the White Sox are hoping they can ship off Shields, somewhere, for a new or gently-used gift card and perhaps a low-level prospect who may or may not be related to someone in the White Sox front office.

There is the usual scuttle surrounding José Abreu, but the White Sox would demand first-borns from any GM wishing to acquire the first baseman. Abreu’s unlikely to move unless the White Sox get Christmas, Oscars Night, V-E Day and a new ballpark included in the deal.

There are some other position player and bullpen names, but really, even this much devotion to the desirability of White Sox chips is rather insulting to the Bluebird Banter readership.

On the flip side of that, what prospects are you hoping to see in Chicago before the end of the season?

Eloy Jiménez, picked up from the Cubs last trade deadline for Jose Quintana, is a manchild who dares to let us middle-aged fans dream again of Frank Thomas. Eloy’s been nicked with a couple of minor injuries, but has basically steamrolled through Double-A and Triple-A and may be willing to hit his next home run clear to Sox Park if it will persuade the club to call him up.

Starter Michael Kopech had a strong beginning to spring training and a strong start to his Triple-A season, but has seen his control fall off in July. He’s the centerpiece pitcher received in return for Chris Sale, and as such the White Sox are babying him a bit. Personally I’m not sure what more Kopech and his 100 mph bazooka of a right arm needs to be learning at Charlotte right now. Secondary pitch, better control, ad hominem, come on, get the kid up to Chicago for a trial. He’s got some nice personality and swag. Maybe not quite Nuke LaLoosh, but the White Sox could use an injection of personality, no matter how cartoonish.

If Soria is dealt, there’s a chance that fast-moving closer Ian Hamilton sees some time in Chicago this season as more than just a September call-up.

But the lion’s share of talent is no higher than Double-A at this point, so the calvary is not going to be stampeding up from the southeast to rescue the South Siders from a 100-loss season.

Can you give use a quick scouting report of the starting pitchers we are likely to see?

López has a live arm and a fabulous exuberance. He might be our Marcus Stroman, although Stroman seems to tick people off, López just pitches with intense love for the game. Best smile on the team. Oh, but can he pitch? Hell yeah. He has two of the top nine starts this season (by game score) for the White Sox, including the very best, at 87. He regularly runs his fastball up at 95 mph, and when he’s on, there’s a slider that makes hitters gnash teeth. He’s young (came over in the Nasty Nats deal for Adam Eaton that also netted Lucas Giolito), thus has a tendency to nibble or otherwise lose focus. All season, he’s mostly outpitched peripherals that would say he is a mediocre pitcher. I believe the Blue Jays saw him in his season debut at Rogers Centre, and he was very impressive, if a smidge wild.

Carlos Rodón was out until midseason, recovering from shoulder surgery. He is Chicago’s de facto ace, both by reputation and performance. With a 55 average game score this season, he’s been the White Sox’s best starter, and he’s coming off of a killer effort in Anaheim, his best start of the season. He’s really been rocking the David Wells look, jersey unbuttoned, a touch rotund, looking very beerleaguey. But don’t let that fool you, as he has a killer slider and looks like the one guy on the White Sox you don’t want to face.

Lucas Giolito should start the finale, and it looks like we’ll get to him in a few questions.

Who is your favorite White Sox to watch?

Gonna have to go with Yolmer Sánchez, especially in a season where smiles are hard to come by. He was recently named the White Sox’s Heart and Hustle award winner, whatever that is. But he’s had some fun highlights this season:

  • Rather than douse the hero, Yolmer gave himself a Gatorade bath at home plate after a Trayce Thompson’s walk-off home run.
  • With fellow infielder Tim Anderson, he gave a postgame Gatorade and ice bath to Avisaíl García mere days after Avi came off the DL for a bad hammy/knee.
  • He entertainingly mocked ex-teammate and Cleveland right fielder Melky Cabrera from the dugout, as Melky was attempting to play right field. Something about getting thrown out at home plate, or a strikeout. But you usually don’t see a guy (Cabrera) engaged with someone in the opposing dugout while in RIGHT FIELD. You just can’t ignore Yolmer’s antics.
  • Hitting Miguel González in the nads with his glove in the postgame win handshake line.
  • After every hit, Yolmer does a weird Teletubbie/Mickey Mouse/bump-n-grind move.
  • A new tradition is Yolmer giving a massive bear hug for Abreu after every win. So, not many of those. Perhaps not quite a “tradition.” But it’s a thing.

Yoan Moncada was a top prospect, but he hasn’t put up the best numbers. Are you worried about his future? His strikeout rate is over 33%, can he get that under control?

Moncada is fine. He’s struggled hitting from the right side, and his Ks are nuts, sure. But, wow, what potential. He’s the second-best White Sox player by WAR, and that’s in a first full season. Recent research from White Sox play-by-play guy Jason Benetti pegged Moncada as having had the second-most two-strike bad calls (balls outside the zone called strikes) in the majors behind Aaron Judge. So the umps are not helping Yoán out, either.

No, Moncada is a bad, bad man. Five-tool potential. He’s very young. An offseason to shore up his hitting from the right side, and learning to fend off breaking stuff so he can zero in on heat (Moncada carries one of the highest exit velocities in the game), and he could be a 2019 All-Star.

Another big time prospect, Lucas Giolito has had a rough season too. What’s going on with him?

Giolito has mostly been a real head-scratcher. He depends a lot on his breaking stuff, which he seemed to lose a feel for in the arctic cold of this April’s games, and he never bounced back. After an impeccable final six weeks of 2017 (after a call-up from Triple-A) he seemed a legit merit pick for an Opening Day start. Instead, he’s been awful. He has stepped it up in the past month or so, getting a feel for the curve and improving his control. The meltdowns that were an every-start event earlier in the season are starting to slip away. He could build some great momentum into 2019 if he can string another dozen starts together down the stretch.

In three years the White Sox MVP will be?

If I was to get cute here, I’d say CF Luis Robert, the Cuban bonus baby currently in Single-A, who showed some instant moxie in spring training. However, Robert (“The Panther”) has proven to be eminently breakable, and has missed essentially the entire season with a thumb injury. So let’s go the safe route and say Jiménez, who should be a better fielder and runner than Big Hurt ever was, so if his bat can play even at two-third of Thomas’, he’s definitely the team MVP.

Thanks Brett.