By The Numbers – 30

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #30.  76 different players have donned #30 while playing in Chicago, 32 for the White Sox and 44 for the Cubs, who have retired it for two different players.

Signed by the White Sox as an amateur free agent in 1991, Magglio Ordonez made his major league debut wearing #30 on August 29, 1997, going 2-3 in the interleague victory against the Astros at Comiskey Park.  He became the regular right fielder for the White Sox in 1998, appearing in 145 games and finishing the year with a .282 average, 14 home runs, and 65 RBIs, good enough to finish in 5th place in AL Rookie of the Year voting.  1999 was a breakout year for Ordonez, earning his first All Star selection and finishing the year hitting .301 with 30 home runs, 117 RBIs, and an OPS of .858.

Ordonez’s hot streak continued in to 2000, putting up a .315 average with 32 home runs and 126 RBIs as the White Sox won their first division title since 1993.  While the White Sox failed to replicate their success in 2001, Ordonez kept up his end of the bargain, earning his third straight All Star nod and hitting .305 with 31 home runs, 113 RBIs, and a .914 OPS.  2002 was the his best season to date, setting career highs with a .320 average, 47 doubles, 38 home runs, 135 RBIs, and a .978 OPS while finishing in 8th place for MVP voting and earning his second Silver Slugger award.

2003 was another excellent year for Ordonez.  He was named to his fourth All Star team, going 0-1 in his home stadium of US Cellular Field, and finished the year hitting .317 with 29 home runs and 99 RBIs.  His 2004 season was on track to match his career norms when, during the May 19 game against the Indians, he collided with second baseman Willie Harris on Omar Vizquel’s popup to right field.  Two trips to the disabled list and two surgeries on his left knee later, his season was over after only 52 games.  Following the season, he became a free agent and his White Sox career came to an end.

On the north side, Steve Stone was assigned #30 after being acquired from the White Sox in December of 1973.  Over three seasons with the Cubs, Stone went a combined 23-20 with a 4.04 ERA.  His 1976 season was cut short due to a torn rotator cuff, which he decided to treat with cryotherapy rather than surgery.

By The Numbers – 35

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #35.  26 players have donned #35 on each side of town, including one Hall of Famer.

Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas was selected by the White Sox with the seventh pick in the first round of the 1989 draft and, a little more than a year later, he made his major league debut.  In 1991, as the White Sox moved into the new Comiskey Park, Thomas became one of the most feared hitters in the American League.  He won the MVP award in both 1993 and 1994, while leading the White Sox to their first division title since 1983.  In 1997, he earned his first batting title and notched his 7th top 10 finish in MVP voting in his first 7 full seasons.

Thomas became a full time DH in 1998 and struggled for the first time.  Injuries slowed him down in 1999, but he bounced back in a big way in 2000.  He hit .328 and set career highs with 43 home runs and 143 RBIs as the White Sox returned to the post-season for the first time since 1993.  A torn triceps cut his 2001 campaign short, and, when he returned in 2002, he was clearly no longer the offensive force he had been.  Foot injuries robbed him of most of the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and, after watching the only team he had even played for win the World Series without him, he became a free agent after the 2005 season.  His number 35 was retired by the White Sox on August 29, 2010 and he was part of the 2014 Hall of Fame class, elected on the first ballot with 83.7% of the vote.

The history of #35 on the north side of town is nowhere near as impressive.  Of the 26 players to wear the number, 4 came in 2000 alone.  While there are players I like a little more, we will go with shortstop Lennie Merullo, who was the first player to wear #35 for the Cubs, during the 1941 and 1942 seasons.  Merullo’s 7 year career was spent entirely with the Cubs.  He went 0-2 in the 1945 World Series.  His biggest claim to fame, at least to me, came off the field, as he is the grandfather of former White Sox catcher Matt Merullo.

Two Sides Of The Same Town

cws-chiFollowing last week’s trade deadline deals, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel became the 36th and 37th people I’ve seen play in person for both the Cubs and the White Sox.  With the first round of crosstown kicking off this afternoon at Wrigley, here’s a look at those players, in alphabetical order.

David Aardsma

After posting a decent season with the Cubs in 2006, Aardsma was traded to the White Sox for Neal Cotts.  Aardsma lasted one season with the Sox, where he was unable to duplicate his success from the year before.

Jason Bere

Drafted by the White Sox in the 36th round in 1990, Bere debuted with the big league club in 1993, finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting.  After an All Star selection in 1994, injuries marred the remainder of his tenure on the South Side, which ended in 1998.  He resurfaced with the Cubs in 2001 and had a decent season, but he went 1-10 in 2002 before being let go.

Emilio Bonifacio

Bonifacio spent back-to-back partial seasons in Chicago, first for the Cubs in 2014 after signing as a free agent, where he played decently enough to be flipped at the trade deadline, along with James Russell, to the Braves for a young catching prospect by the name of Victor Caratini.  He returned to Chicago in 2015, signing with the White Sox, where he he did not do well at all, hitting .167 in 47 games before being released in August.

Welington Castillo

Debuting with the Cubs in 2010, Castillo spent time behind the plate for the Cubs until May of 2015, when, having been replaced in the starting lineup by Miguel Montero, he was flipped to the Mariners.  He returned to Chicago in 2018 after signing with the White Sox as a free agent.  On May 24th of that season, he was suspended 80 games for a violation of the PED policy.  The White Sox then cut bait following the 2019 season, shipping him off to the Rangers.

Neal Cotts

Acquired by the White Sox in the Billy Koch trade, he debuted with the team in 2003.  He was a key contributor in the bullpen during the 2005 championship season, and was the only relief pitcher to appear in all 3 rounds of the playoffs that season.  Following the 2006 season, he was traded to the Cubs for David Aardsma, and he spent the next 3 injury filled seasons on the North Side.

Scott Eyre

Joining the White Sox organization in a 1994 trade with the Rangers, he debuted with the big league team in 1997.  He split the next 4 seasons between the rotation and the bullpen, not to mention between Chicago and Charlotte, before being moved to the Blue Jays following the 2000 ALDS loss to the Mariners.  He joined the Cubs as a free agent for the 2006 season and enjoyed 2 seasons of relative success, before falling apart in 2008, when he was traded to the Phillies.

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End Of An Era

When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over baseball operations for the Cubs following the 2011 season, they started a rebuild effort that combined high draft picks with savvy trades in an effort to end the longest title drought in US professional sports.  They key to that rebuild, four prospects ranked in the Top 50 by nearly every publication prior to the 2014 season, became known as the Core Four.  Javier Baez, the 9th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Albert Almora, the 6th selection in 2012, Jorge Soler, a Cuban defector who signed a 9 year, $30 million contract in June of 2012, and Kris Bryant, the second overall pick in the 2013 draft were expected to lead the Cubs to the promised land and, in 2016, they did, each contributing to the team’s first World Series title in 108 years.

Bryant and Baez were the only two left heading into the 2021 season.  Both were traded today.

Kris Bryant is heading to the Giants, with OF Alexander Canario and RHP Caleb Killian coming back to the Cubs.  Bryant, the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and the 2016 NL MVP, has seemingly been on the trading block for years now, ever since the Cubs won his service time grievance.  Ironically, he was the last one out the door, following yesterday’s trade of Anthony Rizzo and this afternoon’s moves with Craig Kimbrel and Javier Baez.

Canario, a top 15 prospect in the Giants’ system, showed flashes as a teenager prior to the pandemic, but has seen his strikeout rate increase as he’s gone up to higher levels of competition.  Killian, likely rated in the top 40 of the Giants system, was an 8th round pick in 2019 and has seem some success this year coming back from the pandemic.

After winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubs, with their young talent, looked to be on the verge of a dynasty.  5 years later, that dynasty is over without ever really starting, having dropped their last 4 consecutive post-season games dating back to the 2017 NLCS.  Now, 10 years after the start of the last rebuild, Jed Hoyer has to start again.

Bryant’s and Baez’s numbers in a Cubs uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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A Flurry Of Activity

The Cubs have seemingly turned Wrigley Field upside down, shook real hard, and let the pieces fall where they may.  With less than an hour until the trade deadline, they’ve made two huge deals, sending closer Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox for second baseman Nick Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer and, in a separate deal, sending Javier Baez and Trevor Williams to the Mets in exchange for Pete Crow-Armstrong.

The first move, along with yesterday’s acquisition of Ryan Tepera, fortifies the White Sox bullpen as they look towards October baseball, giving them two All Star closers to choose from as Tony LaRussa sees fit.  Madrigal, the fourth overall selection in the 2018 draft, should hold down second base on the north side for years to come, assuming he can stay healthy.  He’s been out since early June with a hamstring tear and is expected to be ready for spring training.  Heuer has been a workhorse, and is the pitcher I’ve seen in the most games this year, but has gotten knocked around a bit more than the White Sox expected.

Baez, the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft and the runner in the 2018 MVP race, has been a centerpiece of the Cubs run these last 7 years, debuting in 2014 and cementing himself in the lineup in 2016.  He is reunited with his friend and Team Puerto Rico teammate Francisco Lindor with the Mets.  Crow-Armstrong was the first round selection of the Mets in the 2020 draft and is currently their 5th ranked prospect, according to MLB.com.

With all of this, the one guy everyone expected the Cubs to move, Kris Bryant, is the last man standing.  Will something happen in these last couple of minutes?  Time will tell.

Crosstown Dealings

In his second move of the day, Rick Hahn went shopping in Wrigleyville for a new relief pitcher, picking up Ryan Tepera from the Cubs for Bailey Horn, a pitcher in Class A Winston-Salem.  Tepera, best known for garnering a National League MVP vote last season thanks to a misclick by a St. Louis writer, has put up a career-best 2.91 ERA this season, with 50 strikeouts in 43.1 innings.

Horn, 23, was selected in the 5th round of the 2020 draft and posted a 13.09 ERA with Winston-Salem, issuing 11 walks and 12 hits over 11 innings. with the Dash.  To make room for Tepera on the 40-man roster, pitcher Evan Marshall has been moved to the 60-day IL.

With a little less than 23 hours until the trade deadline, the Cubs have made 3 moves and the White Sox 2.  I have a gut feeling that the White Sox are done, but the Cubs still have some work to do.

Trade Winds Are A Brewin’

With a little more than 24 hours remaining before the trade deadline, the White Sox finally made a move, acquiring second baseman César Hernández from Cleveland for Double A pitcher Konnor Pilkington.  Hernández, who won a Gold Glove and led the AL in doubles last year, has hit a career high 18 home runs while hitting .231 with 47 RBIs and a .738 OPS.  The White Sox have been looking for a second baseman since Nick Madrigal went down with a torn right hamstring in early June.

Pilkington, the third round pick of the White Sox in the 2018 draft, is 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 14 starts this year for Birmingham.  He was rated as the 17th best prospect in the White Sox system by Baseball America at the start of the 2020 season.  To make room for Hernández on the 40-man roster, the White Sox released right-handed pitcher Tyler Johnson.

Meanwhile, on the north side of town, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are not in the lineup for today’s tilt between the Cubs and the Reds.  One or both of them are expected to be moved prior to tomorrow’s deadline.

By The Numbers – 46

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees. By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues. Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #46. 40 players have donned #52 while playing in Chicago, 34 each for the White Sox and 22 for the Cubs.

Lee Arthur Smith was the 2nd round selection of the Cubs in the 1975 draft.  He made his major league debut on September 1, 1980, becoming a fixture in the Cubs bullpen wearing #46.  He took over the closer role in 1982 and became a force, leading the league in saves in 1983 while earning his first All Star nod and post-season support for both the Cy Young award and MVP.  Following the 1987 season, he was traded to the Red Sox for Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi, ending his Cubs career with a 40-51 record and a 2.92 ERA with 180 saves and 342 games finished.  In 2019, he was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee.

On the South side of town, Neal Cotts donned #46 after being acquired by the White Sox, along with Billy Koch and Daylan Holt, from the A’s in exchange for Keith Foulke, Mark Johnson, and Joe Valentine in December of 2002.  He made his major league debut on August 12, 2003, lasting only 2 1/3 innings in a start against the Angels, and made 3 additional starts, finishing the year with an 8.10 ERA in only 13 1/3 innings pitched.  Cotts moved to the bullpen in 2004 and, in 2005, things finally clicked.  He appeared in 69 regular season games and posted a sparkling 1.94 ERA, before facing one batter in the ALDS and becoming the only White Sox reliever to appear in the ALCS, getting the final 2 outs in the Game 1 loss to the Angels.  As the White Sox moved on to their first World Series since 1959, Cotts appeared in all 4 games, winning Game 2 and giving up only 1 hit in an inning and a third.  Cotts reverted back to his previous form in 2006 and, following the season, he was traded across town to the Cubs for fellow relief pitcher David Aardsma.

 

By The Numbers – 47

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #47.  73 players have donned #47 while playing in Chicago, 38 for the White Sox and 35 for the Cubs.

The somewhat unfortunately named Rusty Kuntz spent parts of 5 seasons with the White Sox, wearing #47 the entire time.  He was selected by the White Sox in the 11th round of the 1977 draft and made his major league debut 2 years later as a September call-up in 1979, starting in left field and going 0-3 in a 4-3 victory over the Tigers en route to 5 appearances and an anemic .091 average.  Kuntz split time between Triple A Iowa and Chicago in 1980, with slightly better results, before spending the entire strike-shortened 1981 season with the White Sox, appearing in 67 games and batting .255 in a mere 55 at bats.  Both 1982 and 1983 saw Kuntz back splitting time between Triple A and Chicago, until he was finally traded to the Twins for a minor leaguer.

Catcher Miguel Montero wore #47 during his 2 1/2 years on the North side.  He had a few highlights, including his Game One grand slam in the 2016 NLCS against the Dodgers to give the Cubs the win.  His tenure with the Cubs came to an abrupt end the following June when, after the Nationals stole 7 bases in one game to leave him at 0-31 at nabbing would-be base stealers for the season, he placed the blame on the pitching staff.  The next day, he was designated for assignment.

By The Numbers – 48

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #48.  65 different players have donned #48 while playing in Chicago, 35 for the White Sox and 30 for the Cubs.

Rick Reuschel was selected by the Cubs in the third round of the 1970 draft.  He joined the big league team in June of 1972, donning #48.  His best season came in 1977, winning 20 games and finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting as the Cubs flirted with a pennant chase before a late season swoon.  He remained with the Cubs until he was traded to the Yankees during the 1981 strike.  He returned to the Cubs in 1983, but wearing a different number.

Acquired for Omar Narvaez, Alex Colome wore #48 during his two seasons on the south side.  He notched 42 saves in 83 games, and picked up an additional save and 2 scoreless innings in 2 appearances during the 2020 Wild Card series against the A’s.