Now that the White Sox season has come to a merciful conclusion and our television sets are graced with (mostly) competent baseball. I thought it’d be fun to take a look at how many former White Sox players are still alive with their respective teams. Of the eight teams still alive in the MLB Postseason, there are also eight former Sox scattered throughout the league.
It should be mentioned that the total stood at nine before the Rays dispatched of Nick Swisher and Cleveland on Wednesday. And it was even higher before Tampa disposed of A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios, Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts and the Rangers on Monday in the tiebreaker (which doesn’t technically count as a playoff game).
That leaves us with eight on eight. So what are they up to? And how have they done since departing the South Side? Let’s take a look.
Boston Red Sox (2)
The Red Sox boast the most recognizable pair of former South Siders in the postseason, mainly because Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton were still with the White Sox as recently as a few months ago. Peavy went 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 10 starts after Boston acquired him July 30. His peripherals were mostly similar to those he posted in Chicago before the trade. He’s slated to start Game 4 (if necessary) for Boston in the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, slotting in behind Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz in the Red Sox’s rotation.
Thornton, as it turns out, was left off of Boston’s ALDS roster as the Red Sox opted to use Felix Doubront out of the bullpen over the lefty reliever acquired July 12. Thornton was frustratingly inconsistent in 20 appearances with Boston (cue White Sox fans nodding), finishing with a 3.52 ERA and 1.76 WHIP (yeesh). We’ll see if he gets a shot in later rounds depending on performance and injuries.
Yes, 40-year-old bowling ball Bartolo Colon is somehow still huffing and puffing his way through innings 10 years after his first stint with the White Sox. And defying all laws of science and nature, he’s actually been the ace of the AL West champion Athletics and will take on likely Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and the Tigers on Friday.
Colon came to Chicago on Jan. 15, 2003 in a trade that sent Rocky Biddle, Jeff Leifer and Orlando Hernandez to the Montreal Expos and was expected to be the ace of a team that had pretty high expectations coming into the season. He mostly did his job, eating innings (242) and the postgame buffet while compiling a 15-13 record and 3.42 ERA. His 5.1 bWAR was ninth best among American League pitchers and he completed an astounding nine games that season. He was overshadowed, of course, by teammate Esteban Loaiza who came out of nowhere to finish second in Cy Young voting that year. Colon left as a free agent after the season to sign with the Anaheim Angels, but found his way back to Chicago in 2009 when he showed mostly nothing in 12 starts at the age of 36.
The other former White Sox player in Oakland is one many might not remember so well. Reserve outfielder Chris Young was a rising prospect in 2005 when the White Sox shipped him to the Arizona Diamondbacks along with Orlando Hernandez (yes, both Colon and Young were traded in deals involving El Duque) for Javier Vazquez. While Young never saw the field with the Sox, he rose to as high as No. 23 in Baseball America’s Top 100 the year after the White Sox traded him and had several decent power seasons with the Diamondbacks. However, his plate discipline never quite came around (I’m shocked the White Sox didn’t keep him) and he hit .200 with 12 HRs in 375 plate appearances with Oakland this season.
Fun fact: While doing research on Young’s prospect rankings, I found that in 2005, FIVE White Sox prospect ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100 (Brian Anderson, Ryan Sweeney, Brandon McCarthy, Josh Fields and Tadahito Iguchi). Sigh…
Rays and Tigers – none
[Ed Note: As pointed out by @labradork, Jesse Crain is supposed to be spearheading the Rays bullpen right about now, but as of last week is still recovering from the shoulder issues that put him on the disabled list, and will likely never pitch in a Rays uniform]
I don’t know about you, but seeing Francisco Liriano turn the average left-handed hitter into the equivalent of a pitcher every five days this season has been pretty frustrating. Especially when you consider Liriano’s struggles after the White Sox acquired him for Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez in July of last season when he posted a 5.40 ERA in 12 appearances. Liriano, fresh off his Wild Card win over the Cincinnati Reds, will start Game 3 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The other former White Sox player with Pittsburgh is a little tougher to remember. The well-traveled Jason Grilli made eight starts with the 2004 White Sox. And like most of Grilli’s career, it would have been tough to predict that he’d rack up 33 saves for a World Series contender a mere nine years later. Grilli, a late-season call-up who hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2001 prior to the Sox giving him a shot, had a 7.40 ERA in 45 innings pitched with 26 strikeouts and 20 walks.
Juan Uribe has always been a severely flawed if not highly entertaining player who had some of the best years of his career during his five seasons in Chicago. It’s funny … Uribe’s slash line with the White Sox was .251/.293/.431. Hardly above replacement level numbers (his only seasons in Chicago where he posted a WAR above 1.0 were 2004 and 2005), but you’d be hard-pressed to find a White Sox fan who will speak ill of him. I guess winning a World Series and making one of the most iconic plays in franchise history (the dive into the stands in Game 4 vs. the Astros) will do that to you.
Atlanta Braves (1)
Our number of former White Sox in the playoffs would have been stuck at seven if it weren’t for the Braves, out of necessity, deciding to give Big Game Freddy Garcia a shot back on Aug. 23. Garcia, one of the 2005 World Series heros who returned to the team for a stint in 2009-10, has been serviceable for the Braves in six appearances (three starts), posting a 1.63 ERA with 20 strikeouts and five walks in 27.1 innings. The 36-year-old is scheduled to start Game 4 (if necessary) of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Follow Collin on Twitter @cowhitchurch