Guest: Adam Abdalla
- Who is closer to a championship between the Bulls and Blackhawks?
- Expectations for the Cubs and White Sox in 2018?
- Who is the best rapper alive today?
All that and more on The All Day SJ Show.
Guest: Adam Abdalla
All that and more on The All Day SJ Show.
Guest: Dan Hayes
On Episode 8 of “The All Day SJ Show,” veteran MLB writer, Dan Hayes, stops by.
Hayes covered the Chicago White Sox beat for NBC Sports Chicago for five seasons and was also the team’s correspondent for the MLB Network for three seasons. Currently, he writes for the Associated Press. He also serves as a voter for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
On this episode, we discuss the White Sox and their current rebuild.
We also discuss the statuses of Giancarlo Stanton, Shohei Ohtani and how likely a 2020 World Series match-up is in Chicago.
A 2017 Chicago White Sox Season Review
The 2017 season for the Chicago White Sox was a success in many ways, although it was not reflected in the club’s record or the division standings.
That is exactly what the organization had planned for. Going into the season, the White Sox were officially engaging in a full-scale rebuild. It started with the trade of Chris Sale on December 6, 2016.
Sale, the longtime Ace of the White Sox, was acquired by the Boston Red Sox to anchor a rotation contending for a World Series championship. In return, Chicago acquired four prospects, including Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.
Entering the 2016 season, Moncada was ranked as the fifth best prospect in baseball. He was also the recipient of the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2016.
Kopech, one of Boston’s first round draft picks in 2014, had a fastball that topped out at around 98 MPH and was consistently rated amongst the top 40 prospects in baseball.
With the face of the franchise now shipped off to Boston, the White Sox were not done dealing. A day later, their spark plug centerfielder, Adam Eaton, was traded. Acquired by the Washington Nationals, Eaton brought back a significant haul for the White Sox. Chicago acquired three pitching prospects: Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.
With two separate deals, the White Sox instantly replenished what was an underwhelming farm system.
With Moncada, they had their stud position player, capable of being one of the best players in baseball for a long time. With Kopech, Giolito, Lopez and Dunning, the White Sox continued to do what they did well, and that was developing pitching for the future.
Renteria, a one-time Manager of the Chicago Cubs, was tasked with developing a young roster while also assuring the club would continue to compete and play hard. #RickysBoysDontQuit served as a rallying cry for the young team throughout the course of the season.
Rick Hahn did a tremendous job of building for the future in such a short time. What was even more impressive is the fact that after the separate deals for Sale and Eaton, Hahn still had valuable trade chips in Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera to work with.
With Hahn’s offseason work done, buyers during the season would call for the players listed and Hahn and the White Sox were ready to cash in.
On May 27, the White Sox signed Luis Robert to a deal. Robert, considered a Cuban phenom, was yet another piece added to an already bright future for the team. Robert, who played for Cuba’s Serie Nacional Ciego de Avila team from 2013-15, hit .401 with 12 HR, 40 RBI, and 1.213 OPS last season.
On July 13, the White Sox made a stunning deal. The team traded Quintana to the crosstown rival Cubs.
While a Quintana deal was inevitable, nobody pegged the Cubs as being the team to acquire him. In fact, a deal of this magnitude was thought to be unimaginable between the local but rival franchises.
Jiménez was considered the top international free agent in 2013. Considered a five-tool player, the outfielder was added as another dynamic piece to the future of the White Sox to be paired with Moncada.
Cease, a pitcher with a fastball that topped off at 97 MPH, had been recovered from Tommy John Surgery for his UCL. Baseball America rated him as the second best prospect in the Arizona Fall League at the end of 2015.
With their most valuable piece in Quintana now moved, Hahn still had Frazier, Robertson and Cabrera to work with. He also had smaller pieces in Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle and Miguel Gonzalez to work with.
Indeed, on July 18, the White Sox traded Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle to the New York Yankees. The White Sox acquired four players which included veteran Tyler Clippard. The headliners of the deal were three prospects: Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin and Tito Polo.
Rutherford was considered one of the top prospects for the 2016 MLB Draft. Clarkin was one of the Yankees first round draft picks in 2013.
Polo, signed as an international free agent in 2012 by the Pirates, was acquired the Yankees in 2016. He also played for the Colombian National Team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Hahn was wheeling and dealing, and in a few short months, the White Sox farm system was the strongest it had been in a long time. In fact, it was now considered the top farm system in all of baseball. Entering the season, it was considered the third best. Hahn’s rebuild of the team already was off to a successful start.
More deals followed, as the White Sox were able to flip Clippard to the Houston Astros for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
While the rebuild was the story for the White Sox for the 2017 season, their on-field product offered glimpses of the future as well. Led by Jose Abreu, pieces on already on the big league roster showed that they had a place in the future of the White Sox.
2017 Season MVP: Jose Abreu
Abreu, one of the better hitters in baseball, takes home my season MVP award for the team. In 156 Games, the consistent First Baseman hit .304 with 33 HR, 102 RBI and .906 OPS. He also chipped in 189 hits, 95 runs, 43 doubles, 6 triples and 35 walks. In other words, it was just another expected season for the Silver Slugger.
Abreu, who joined the White Sox in 2014, has been a mark of consistency for the organization. In all four of his big league seasons, Abreu has scored 65+ runs, collected 175+ hits, 30+ doubles, 25+ HR, 100+ RBI, 35+ walks, .820+ OPS and a .290+ Batting Average. He has also played at least 145 games in each season.
Abreu is the perfect veteran for the young White Sox. At 30-years-old, if he is still a member of the team, he figures to still be in prime when the White Sox are ready to compete for a World Series. A former AL Rookie of the Year, All-Star and Silver Slugger, Abreu figures to be a hot commodity this upcoming offseason. Stay tuned.
2017 Most Improved Player: Avisail Garcia
Garcia, whom the White Sox acquired from Detroit in the Jake Peavy deal in 2013, finally showed his potential during the 2017 season. Garcia posted career-highs in Batting Average (.330), Runs (75), Hits (171), Doubles (27), Triples (5), Home Runs (18), RBI (80), OPS (.885) and Total Bases (262).
He also was selected to the AL All-Star Team – the first selection of his career. He was the White Sox’s lone representative.
Garcia is an intriguing case. While he took a huge step forward this season, the White Sox could feel that this is the highest his value will ever be and include him as part of a deal.
At 26-years-old, he is young enough to be considered as a part of the future but one has to wonder if he is guaranteed to be a part of the roster for the 2018 season. The White Sox definitely should considering moving the All-Star if a favorable deal is offered to them.
2017 Pitcher of the Year: Miguel Gonzalez and Michael Kopech
This one was hard to settle on with so many moving parts and deals during the season. At the MLB level, Gonzalez gets the nod here. He was the most consistent starter this season for the rotation with the Quintana deal and failed Holland experiment.
Gonzalez was second on the team in Games Started (22), first in Quality Starts (13), tied for first in Wins (7), second in Innings (133.2) and fourth in Strikeouts (85). He also finished with a 4.31 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
While not the “name” or the “best” pitcher on the staff, he was the most consistent. He turned in several nice starts for the team and was always ready when his name was called.
Kopech, despite not being on the Major League roster, was stellar in 2017.
In 25 starts in the minors, Kopech finished with a 2.88 ERA, 134.1 IP, 172 Strikeouts, 1.17 WHIP, .193 Opponent BA and a 9-8 record. He was also selected to the Southern League’s end-of-season All-Star team. The future is bright for the MLB’s ninth ranked prospect.
What to Watch For: The Young Bucks
Several players on the White Sox this season took steps towards development.
Rodon, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, is reportedly expected to miss 6-8 months while recovering from the injury.
While injury issues are a concern for Rodon, he has the potential to be dominant if he can put everything together. He struck out nine or more hitters in five starts this season and struck out 76 hitters in only 69.1 innings this season.
Fulmer is a bit more of a project. While originally projected to be a starter, a bullpen role is also an option for him. He went 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 7 games this season, 5 of which were starts. In 23.1 innings, he struck out 19 hitters and opponents only hit .188 against him.
Overall Grade: B
All things considered, the 2017 season for the White Sox was a success. The rebuild has gotten off to a great start and slowly, but surely, the critical pieces to the future have begun to showcase themselves.
Hahn and the rest of the organization deserve a ton of credit for picking a direction and setting the White Sox up for success in the future.
Renteria also deserves a lot of credit, as he was able to not only get the most out of all his players but also avoid the cellar of the AL Central Division. He displayed this ability with the Cubs in 2014 and has all the makings of a Manager who can lead a team to… and win a World Series.
Follow Me on Twitter: @lAmSteveJohnson
Today’s guest: @RyanMcGuffey
As a Production Assistant & Associate Producer at CSN Chicago, I have a lot of ambition. Working in the world of sports broadcasting, there is a lot of opportunity to tell stories and be a part of something memorable.
I have seen and worked with a lot of “names” in our industry, but what people do not realize is that there is always the “story behind the story.” It is not just about the people who bring you those features or the subjects that they are about. No, there are always those who bring you the moments that you did not or would not know even happened.
Enter Sr. Producer of Original Content at CSN: Ryan McGuffey.
“Guffman,” as I know him, has seen and done a lot in our business. He is the man behind “5 Outs,” “Believe: The Story of the 2005 White Sox,” and most recently: “Reign Men.”
You have seen him on television during Chicago White Sox broadcasts or on CSN news programs such as “In The Loop” & “In The Loop: Prime.”
You have heard him on several Chicago radio stations, sometimes as a host as he did with David Haugh on the “Kap & Haugh” show.
However, what stands out about The “Guffman” is that he does not take himself too seriously. Honestly, you probably would not have known about all he’s accomplished if I did not list it.
It is not something he boasts about. He is fortunate to have been a part of a lot of historic moments; however, it is the humble approach he takes when it comes to what he has done in this business.
“Never forget where you come from,” he always tells me. It is that honest approach that keeps McGuffey grounded. He never takes what he does for granted and it is that which motivates him to keep working hard and telling stories.
So how did we get here? Let’s hear from the man himself:
“When I was four or five-years old, I can remember broadcasting Nintendo games,” McGuffey said.
“When I was home, we had this projection-screen TV when I was a little kid. I remember we got it for the Super Bowl when the Bears were playing in 1986 and I thought we were like the richest family on the block, and we weren’t, but it had the slide bar for the volume on it and when I was at home at night and the Bulls were playing, I would run downstairs and turn all the lights off and slide the thing all the way off and then would do: ‘AT GUARD, FROM NORTH CAROLINA!’”
“It was in my blood, I don’t know why or how. My Mom & Dad weren’t big sports fans but it was always my passion for as long as I could remember. I was broadcasting the games, I played sports and from the time I was eight or nine-years old, the people I wanted to be were the people I saw on TV. It just stuck; I knew what I wanted to do all through high school and when I got to college, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It’s very rare, I know that. When you’re 17 or 18- years-old, no one knows what they want to do… and I did.”
“Luckily, I just worked hard & I stayed with it. Like I’ve always told you: ‘You have to kick down your own door;’ and once you get in: keep kicking it down because I feel when you get in, it’s your responsibility to keep going… and here I am.”
Even though McGuffey’s journey started off as an eight-year-old kid, he continued to hone his skills throughout his growth in the world of sports.
While attending DePauw University, he was a three-year letterman for the DePauw Football team, a four-year letterman & two-time captain for the Track & Field team and also served as the Assistant Sports Director for WGRE Radio. He was also an active member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.
“I found a place I was happy enough to call home,” McGuffey said. “I love DePauw; I loved everything it did for me. I continue to love it. I have a passion for that place because I feel like it was a huge inspiration for me being here today.”
“I try to give back to them and the students who reach out to me. I didn’t have all that necessarily with people reaching out back to me at the time. It’s just so valuable for kids, whether it’s DePauw, Illinois or Indiana, whatever it is… you still see people that have passion: that to me is the best part.”
After graduating from college in 2001, McGuffey was like most graduates when it came to finding the right gig after school. He worked with his family’s small business until one day he decided he had to take matters into his own hands. He was hired as a Production Assistant & Associate Producer with Fox Sports Net Chicago (where he interned in 1999).
“One day, I just called this phone number that I had,” McGuffey said. “I called this guy, a DePauw connection that was working at Fox Sports Net and he kind of wrote me off… and he told me as much because I didn’t keep in touch for a little while.”
“He gave me a guy’s phone number, a name & a phone number: Dan Lafferty. He was the Executive Producer and that was it. That was all he gave me. It was up to me to do something with that number. Keep in mind: it wasn’t like texting. E-mailing was an option… but from a computer, because cell phones were still really new. I didn’t have one in 2001. So I called the guy, every single day for 17 days… and he never picked up.”
“Every day, I left a message. Every day… and on the 17th day: he picked up. He said: ‘Hey, I’m Dan Lafferty.’ I froze because I didn’t expect him to pick up & before I could say my name, he said: ‘You’re Ryan McGuffey,’ and I’m like ‘Yea.’ He said ‘could you come in today at 3:00?’ and I was like: ‘Yes.’ I think I was in his office for maybe 10 minutes.”
From there, McGuffey was hired as a freelancer. He was allowed two days to train and was assured that if he caught on quickly; they would try to call him every day if they could. McGuffey proceeded to work 22 straight days after the meeting.
“It was persistence,” McGuffey said. “Like I said, when you get an opportunity, kick down the door. I got hired full-time three months later. I got laid off four months after that. After September 11th, there were huge layoffs. They let 100 people go and we had to stay here two weeks to get severance packages. I was devastated. I was 22-years-old and I just didn’t expect it. I was so happy to have this job.”
“It happened, and I got called into the same guy’s office. He said: ‘Look, they’re going to rehire like three people. Not for what we’re doing right now. I know it’s not what you want to be doing but if you want the job, you should consider it.”
McGuffey was convinced he was not going to take the job. He went home one day, however, and had a conversation with his mother. Not only did his mother encourage him to take the job, she raised a good point when it came to McGuffey’s dilemma: “Take the job, if you want to find another job afterwards, ok but stay on board.”
“It was a rough three years,” McGuffey said. “It was fine for like the first 15-18 months. Then, the last 18 months, it was rough. It was more like administrative, 9-5 stuff. Not that I don’t like 9-5 but it just wasn’t production.”
“So I would keep my nose in the production mess over here by helping out with ‘Pro Football Weekly’ while I was doing my normal job. I just needed to feed that fire. CSN came along in 2004 and I was right about at the end of my bridge. My bridge was almost up at the end of that other job. If CSN had been another year, I don’t know if I would’ve waited… but it all worked out.”
From there, McGuffey continued to hone his skills in all facets of the sports broadcasting field. He started at CSN as an Associate Producer for seven months before being promoted to Booking Producer in February 2005.
After working in that role for three years, he produced the popular “Monsters in the Morning” show, which was hosted by Mike North & Dan Jiggetts. He also served as head producer of “Chicago Tribune Live,” now known as “Sports Talk Live” on CSN.
McGuffey continued to pay his dues as a producer. He served as CSN’s Coordinating Producer for two years, a role in which he oversaw all of the daily content on the station.
In April 2013, McGuffey moved into the role he continues to have today at CSN: Sr. Producer of Original Content.
“I never stopped doing things on the side,” McGuffey said. “Because I love to be creative, I love to feed my own beast and that’s kind of how it all led to where I am at now. With Original Content, which I give Kevin Cross [CSN’s News Director] beyond so much credit because it’s truly what I feel I should be doing.”
“It took a long time. It took a lot of different paths and detours to get to a spot where I feel I truly am doing something with my talent that makes sense for it. You need time to figure out who you are; you need time to figure out if the career is right for you. It’s like any career: you have to have a lot of downs & you have to have some ups, then you have to sort through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”
“Luckily & fortunately, I have been able to do that. I don’t know what the future holds… but I like where it’s at right now.”
Original Content at CSN has an impressive library of content thus far:
McGuffey is always one step ahead when it comes to his next feature.
How did this event get to that point that’s being talked about nonstop? McGuffey always asks himself different questions when approaching his features & it frames the story structure. It’s a deliberate process & it is very detailed…
“In 2013, we did ‘5 Outs’ and it was really good,” McGuffey said. “I was excited. We told some stuff that had never been told… like players buying plane tickets home during the series. At the time, I was so excited about ‘Ok, we got Moises Alou.’ I didn’t care about anything else. I didn’t care about how it looked, I didn’t care about where it was, and I didn’t care about what he had on.”
“It didn’t impact the show but it did impact maybe the look, whereas now, everything to me is thought out. I know we’re going to get the interview. I’m just confident. We’ll get Jason Heyward, what’s the room like? Is it going to be in this room? What time? What’s the day look like? What are our lights situations? Should we go to the room an hour, two hours early? That’s all a part of the content creation part.”
McGuffey focuses on what is not obvious. We all know the Cubs won the World Series in 2016. We all know the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. We all know about the Bulls & Blackhawks dynasties. But what are the stories behind them? What went on behind the scenes to get those teams to that point of accomplishment?
“I was at Game 7 (of the 2016 World Series) and I knew there was other stuff going on that needed to be told,” McGuffey said. “I watched Game 7 six or seven times before I did these interviews and I think the art and crafting process has changed the longer I’ve done this. Not just for what I do & we do, but for everybody.”
“If you look at [ESPN’s] 30 for 30 from where it started vs 30 for 30 now, it just destroys the original product… and that’s just because they are getting better. They’re putting more resources into it. That’s a good example too: that people want it. People want that stuff. They think about that ‘What if I told you…’”
“There is something. The Cubs didn’t just win because there was this rain delay. There was legitimate doubt and concern from the players. They felt like you did at home. I don’t think people thought about that. People didn’t think those guys felt the emotions that fans do, but it turns out they are human beings.”
“My goal is to humanize these guys… to realize: ‘Yea, he makes $25 million and we’re only sitting three feet from each other… but it’s just two guys talking.”
McGuffey’s story itself is “the story behind the story.” Yes, he’s accomplished a lot and continues to create and tell stories. He loves what he does and he is truly fortunate. But he never forgets what he had to go through and what journey he had to take to get to this point.
It all would not have happened if he didn’t call for 17 straight days about a job. If wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t take his mother’s advice. It wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t have to experience the lows of doing a job he didn’t want to do.
Hell, it wouldn’t have happened if the bridge didn’t stay strong for one last week…
McGuffey wants those to know the story is still being written, while also encouraging others to keep “kicking down that door.”
“There definitely is more,” McGuffey said. “I want to keep telling stories that haven’t been told or maybe some stories that have been told: but differently. I want to keep pushing the envelope… further & further, whether it’s here or down the line… wherever it is.”
“I want to raise the bar of expectation, not for those around me but for myself too. For my bosses, for the people all the ways up the ladder. For people who don’t even know me yet. Maybe I am a little more cognizant of my name now than I have been in the past… whereas, I want people to say: ‘Ryan McGuffey was involved in that.’”
“I have more confidence. There’s proof out there, so I should. That could sound arrogant and cocky but I think it’s more of a humbling process for me to get to that point. I want to keep doing Original Content, 100%. I do not want that to change. That passion is very much alive.”
What should all the aspiring producers do to get to this level, though?
“Test your limits,” McGuffey said. “Push yourself. Challenge yourself to do something that maybe you think you can’t do. Don’t just come in here and swipe in. Don’t come in the door to just be content. That’s probably the best way to say it.”
We’re already on our way…
Follow Ryan McGuffey on Twitter: @RyanMcGuffey
Follow me on Twitter: @SteveJohnson_12