Author: Matthew Pouliot

Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko

The White Sox will trade anyone but Sale… and Konerko?


That’s the word from’s Jon Heyman. The White Sox are open to parting with younger regulars like Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham and they’d certainly be willing to move Adam Dunn and John Danks. But ace Chris Sale is unavailable, as is 10-and-5 guy Paul Konerko.

Heyman doesn’t indicate whether that’s Konerko’s preference or the team’s. Konerko has full no-trade protection because of his veteran status. From a performance standpoint, there wouldn’t seem to be a whole lot of reason for the White Sox to keep him. He’s 37, struggling this year (.253/.319/.373 in 249 AB) and he’s a free agent at season’s end.

The White Sox most likely to be traded are relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton. Crain, one of the AL’s best relievers so far this year, is a free agent at season’s end and will probably want another costly three-year contract. Thornton’s contract includes a $6 million option for next year that the White Sox probably won’t want to pick up.

Closer Addison Reed would also be in demand and could bring more in return than anyone else on the White Sox roster, Sale excepted. However, since he’s not going to be a free agent until after the 2017 season, the White Sox would have to be blown away to move him.

The White Sox offense doesn’t have as many intriguing options for potential deals. It is, after all, the AL’s worst offense so far this season. No one on the team has an .800 OPS, though Rios is close at .794. He’s owed a reasonable $12.5 million next year and either $13.5 million or a $1 million buyout in 2015, giving him a fair amount of trade value. He can block a deal to six teams.

It’s hard to imagine the White Sox finding takers for Dunn or Keppinger. Ramirez wouldn’t be a bad pickup for a team in need of a shortstop, but the White Sox have always seemed to overvalue him. Plus, he’s due to make $19.5 million between 2014 and ’15. The White Sox would be selling low on Viciedo, so they’ll probably keep him and hope for the best. Beckham is a more interesting case, since he has hit fairly well in limited action while not sidelined by a broken hamate this year (.309/.340/.383 in 28 games). He still has some upside remaining, but he’s probably going to make about $4 million next year and the White Sox have Carlos Sanchez as a possible second baseman of the future.

Forget Yasiel Puig and just make the All-Star Game a game

American League All-Stars Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees stands with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Home Run Derby in Kansas City

Upwards of 80 major leaguers will again call themselves All-Stars this year. 34-man rosters mean than a ridiculous 68 players will be eligible for the game. Another eight, 10, 12 or maybe more will be ruled out for the game because of injuries or because they were starting pitchers that pitched the Sunday before the game. In 2011, there were actually 84 All-Stars.

And that’s ridiculous. Unless we’re going 15 innings, it takes no more than 42 players to play a major league baseball game (two 25-man rosters, minus the eight starting pitchers going unused on any given day).

The draw of the All-Star Game is to see the best players face off against one another. Ideally, that’d happen for nine innings. Instead, it happens for four or five before the backups start taking over.

That’s what I’d like to see change. First, the All-Star Game needs to be pushed back to Wednesday, a simple move that brings any Sunday starters back into the contest. The Home Run Derby can be Tuesday instead. And, ideally, this would give the Futures Game its own day on Monday, instead of being played on Sunday while the major league action is still going on. The Futures Game, showcasing many of baseball’s very best prospects, is typically far more entertaining than the Derby, but it’s seen by only a handful while airing opposite major league games.

Second, just slash the rosters all to hell. I’d go 13 hitters and nine pitchers. Or we can do 25 if we have to, in case we do go beyond 10 innings. But let’s only invite the best of the best. Let’s have Miguel Cabrera facing Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. Last year, Elvis Andrus, Billy Butler and Matt Wieters made the final three outs of the game, facing three different National League pitchers. How incredibly lame is that?

Also, please spare me the argument that including the hot-shot young prospect makes the game more interesting. No one is tuning into the All-Star Game just so that Yasiel Puig can get a single at-bat 2 1/2 hours into the contest. It’s not 1985 anymore. Anyone curious about Puig can get their fill of highlights on demand.

I say we pencil in three starting pitchers for the first six innings and three relievers from there, with another three guys serving as mid-inning replacements if needed. Free up the managers to keep the position players in for nine innings and only make changes when warranted. Stop the silly “everyone has to play” ideal. It lessens the game. With 22-man rosters, it’ll be more of an honor just to be invited, whether the player is going to get that one seventh-inning at-bat or not.

Of course, this change also necessitates the ditching of the “every team gets a rep” rule. And to that I’d say good riddance.

I don’t believe any of this is going to happen. But it seems to me that the league (and FOX) seems more interested in getting people to tune into the All-Star Game for a spell rather than actually watch it from beginning to end. There’s a more compelling game to be had here if the league would trim the fat.

Braves lose infielder Ramiro Pena for rest of season

Ramiro Pena

The Braves were dealt at least a modest blow Wednesday with the news that Ramiro Pena, who has been on the DL since June 21 with a right shoulder impingement, will need season-ending surgery for a torn labrum.

It was a big surprise this winter when the Braves signed Pena to a major league contract as a minor league free agent; the 27-year-old hit just .233/.266/.288 in 313 at-bats over part of four season with the Yankees. However, he was an immediate success as a utilityman for in Atlanta, driving in six runs in his first three starts for the team. Overall, he was hitting .278/.330/.443 in 97 at-bats.

The loss of Pena means Tyler Pastornicky will get a chance to stick as a utilityman. Last year’s Opening Day shortstop, Pastornicky was supposed to spend this season playing regularly in Triple-A. He’s gone 4-for-14 in two stints with the Braves this year.

The Braves likely will be in the market for a veteran infielder next month, preferably someone with enough pop to spell Chris Johnson at third against some righties.