Thursday, March 8, 2007
Post Number 2 for the Day …
Pardon This Interruption
Because my Tuesday flight from Chicago to Tucson lasted 3 hours and 45 minutes, give or take the wind, I ended up with too much time on my hands. The result: I want to get a couple of things off my chest related to three popular criticisms levied against this team this offseason and early in the spring.
So if you don’t care about my soapbox sermon, skip this entry until the next one when I’ll get back to describing the clubhouse, our players, Ozzie, games, etc. If you do care, bless you, and read on.
Criticism No. 1
The White Sox are cheap.
Our payroll for 2007 is going to be close to $100M and rank among the top figures in baseball. Not really sure how you can call that “cheap.” When we won the World Series title in 2005, our payroll was about $75M, so you can see that we have increased spending in this area 33 percent (brilliant math, eh). Of course, when you trade a veteran player like Freddy Garcia for young talent like we did, your “payroll” goes down, ipso facto. But the trade was not made for financial reasons and Freddy’s “money” has been passed along to others on the roster for 2007 like Joe Crede.
Some people in Chicago would look to the north and say, yeah, but they spent $300M. True, but all $300M was not spent in 2007 (it’s spread out over many years in some cases). Tuesday’s Tribune had an interesting quote from Bears GM Jerry Angelo, who was talking about evaluating NFL offseasons. He said something to the effect of, don’t confuse activity with achievement.
Let’s all wait until this season ends before we make judgments on money well spent … and that caution goes 30 ways.
Interestingly, some baseball people believe there is a problem of a team actually having too much money to spend. If the point is to build a winning “team” made up of 25 players, going out and spending on the most expensive free agents (read veterans) you can buy doesn’t really seem to be the answer with any consistency in our industry.
Criticism No. 2
The White Sox Won’t Sign Players to Long-Term Extensions
Wrong. Just plain wrong. One reporter wrote of the Sox this spring:
“… that would likely increase the price for keeping the players in the free-agent market, and the team has been reluctant to sign players to long-term extensions.”
The facts: White Sox players signed to multiyear deals in the past 15 months, including the recent inking of Javy:
Players on our current roster playing under multiyear deals (all negotiated and signed by the Sox):
It has long been the policy of Ken Williams and Rick Hahn to lock as many key players as we can into multiyear deals. But it takes two to tango. It’s not unilateral. A player has to be willing to make a reasonable commitment to the club and potentially make an economic sacrifice (if the market explodes), while the club assumes the risk of injury or underperformance by a player. The point is that both sides need to agree and believe it is in their best interests to get a deal done.
Criticism No. 3
Say Good-Bye to All The Free Agents To Be
A.K.A. The White Sox won’t make the commitment to sign any of their free agents to be (i.e. Buehrle, Dye, Iguchi).
I think I only need one exhibit to rebut this: Paul Konerko.
We don’t know what the end of the season will bring. These players may leave or stay. We just don’t know. It is in everyone’s best interest, the team, the players, the fans, to have everyone play well. I don’t think that type of motivation is a bad thing. (And I don’t buy the pressure argument. These guys are highly successful professional athletes. As JD faces a Johan Santana pitch in the batter’s box in front of a sold out ballpark, I just don’t think he’s worried about the pressure of his contract, but that is just my opinion, others may disagree).
Like his directness or not (most people do), Kenny Williams’ answers this offseason were honest. He is not going to lie to you or to the player. If any of us were potential free agents at the end of this year, we would be irresponsible (to our families, to ourselves, to other players) to not check out the market first and then make a decision. Free agents have earned that right. They should exercise it. But at the same time, that does not preclude a player from coming back to the team if a deal makes sense for both sides. In some cases it does. In others, it might not. Ultimately, see exhibit #1: Konerko, Paul.
Sorry for the rant.