Interruption

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:

Jose Contreras
Jon Garland
Toby Hall
Mike MacDougal
Rob Mackowiak
A.J. Pierzynski
Javier Vazquez

Players on our current roster playing under multiyear deals (all negotiated and signed by the Sox):

Mark Buehrle
Jermaine Dye
Jose Contreras
Jon Garland
Toby Hall
Tadahito Iguchi
Paul Konerko
Mike MacDougal
Rob Mackowiak
A.J. Pierzynski
Juan Uribe
Javier Vazquez

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.

20 Comments

Scott,

I agree with a lot of what you have to say. You make a lot of good, rational points. The media has definitely taken advantage of the differing philosophies between the Sox and Cubs this off season to slam the Sox as much as possible.

But I disagree with you on one thing you said. You said, “A player has to be willing to … potentially make an economic sacrifice.”

Free agency is the ultimate example of supply and demand. At some point, if baseball continues to prosper and the demand continues, the Sox will have to come to terms with that. Either the Sox will pay the money it takes to sign good players and compete or they won’t. You can’t count on others taking a pay cut like Konerko did.

Thanks,

Pete.

i liked it

Cheap or spendy, long term or 1-2 year deals…I just want to see Gooch and Dye on the southside next year (and hopefully for many years after..). I don’t care how good some of these prospects may end up being, with either of those 2 guys gone, our Sox aren’t gonna win jack.

Scott– I pretty much agree with everything you said and have liked what KW has done since the start of the off-season.

I think Guch and JD will be back next season but I think Mark is gone and to be honest, I don’t mind that much. Don’t get me wrong, I love all that he has done for the team, but i think he is wearing down a bit and would be better suited in the weaker NL.

I also can’t argue with Jerry Reinsdorf’s 3-year contract policy for pitcher’s. As he stated in an interview last night, “G-d did not intend for the human arm to throw curveballs.”

Good post. For me it’s not a question of the Sox being cheap, we spend more than most and have a good product. It’s more a matter of putting that money into older, injury-prone, inconsistent or otherwise questionable players at the expense of proven, more durable ones. I understand Kenny has a plan and knows better than I what the team needs, but it frustrates fans when you hear talk about players like Dye and Iguchi walking after this season like it’s a foregone conclusion.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t mind having some of our world championship crosstown converts go back to the northside.

I kind of liked it more when we didn’t have sold out games, and when you met a Sox fan you knew that person was actually a true fan.

I know the Sox fanbase is sometimes known for being overly skeptical about their own team, but I feel like a lot of the Sox bashing has come from the convert population. I say send them back. Am I the only one that feels this way?

Oh and the thought of a White Sox team without Mark Buehrle seems awful to me. I blame Buehrle’s ’06 season on his inability to tarp slide. Bring it back and his fine pitching will return!

You rant as much as you want, Scott!
At least your rants are interesting!

Scott, you sure do have your White Sox proganda hat on today. I have to disagree with you. Only 1 person on that list of players signed a contract longer than 3 years (Paul Konerko). 3 year contracts in this day and age of MLB are not “long term.”

And to me, Example #1 Paul Konerko, is not enough. He’s probably the only player to come back and give a discount. That is not enough proof for me. I’d say 99% of the players in MLB won’t do that.

The way Kenny is going, we will lose Buehrle, Dye, Iguchi, and Crede at the end of this season. And he doesn’t even seem to care. You can’t lose EVERYBODY and expect to compete in our division. Quit trying to push that garbage propaganda on us.

Sorry for the rant.

I don’t have any issues with what Scott posted but I think for clarification sake his point about ‘long term’ deals needed to be examined.

What exactly do you mean by ‘long term?’

The Sox may feel two or three years is ‘long term,’ and that’s fine…if however the rest of the baseball world defines ‘long term’ as deals lasting four or five years (particularly as we have seen this off season with regards to pitchers)then the Sox are going to be behind the eight ball in that area.

I appreciate the fact that for basically the past twenty years their operating philosophy hasn’t changed but in what appears to be a very new reality, that is going to need to be rexamined.

The Sox may not like it but to stay compeditive they, like all successful businesses, may have to begin to change to suit the times.

Mark Liptak

Very well articulated…all ponts cogent…any potential arguments negated…
The bad news is…someone is going to have to read this thoughts to the ink-stained wretches who want to see teams spend,spend and the spend some more…

Why the heck not? … It’s not THEIR MONEY that’s being used…unless you’re last names are Rogers,Van Dyck (please,MLB,don’t censor it…),Gonzales or Sullivan… or Morrisey or Downey… Then it’s different…

I have yet to see a bankbook go up to home plate in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series and say “Don’t worry,folks, this game is as good as over…”

There is wise spending,then there is foolish spending,just to satisfy the blood-thirsty writers,columnists and n’eer do well fans who want you to go into serious debt to win a trophy…

By the way,it’s interseting to note (thank you,Vin Scully) that the WS going into today had the same W/L record in 2007 as they did in 2006,and as they did in 2005…

Anybody out there remember how that 2005 season ended up?

The Sox have been operating in a market that only exists in their own heads. Fortunately this market has been somewhat comparable to the rest of MLB up until the last few years. Now that the MLB market has taken another large upswing the Sox are refusing to adjust to reality.

The “long term contract” concept is proof of it. If they can’t offer security to players who deserve it they will go elsewhere. How many major free agents received 3 year deals this year? NONE!

The market will fall back at some point, but nobody knows when that will be. It could be 2008 or it could be 2018. Can fans sit back for 10 years and not go crazy because we are waiting on the MLB stock market to crash?

Don’t get me wrong. I do think KW has made some great moves and I do see some positives in some of the questionable moves, but if we don’t adjust our philosophy we could be left behind. I’m not asking for foolish spending. I just want to see us lock up guys that we know and have seen get the job done.

As for JD, there is no reason to expect a hometwon discount from him. He gave the Sox a huge discount when he originally signed here. If I am KW I want to reward him for what he has done, and what he can continue to do for us.

WOW, what a lot of passion there is for this topic, and i can see both sides, but for now, i will not comment on either giving or not giving long term contracts (5 years is my benchmark). instead….

Today, i was fortunate enuogh to meet not only Maria Wagener, but Scott too! as you may know, Maria and Pat are visiting for spring training and we hooked up. from and earlier post of mine, i will say that Maria and i had a wonderful time chatting about ourselves, our children and in my case grandchildren, and of course, all things White Sox. even though we lost the game, we had a good time, and isn’t that what it really is all about? having fun at the ballpark…. PRICELESS!!!!!!! oh, and i told Scott that i would come out for Blog Night II this year, so get ready Sox Bloggers. i’ll say more later, but for now i have to do the ….dishes? ugh…. j.k…..

i agree with the white sox on not handing out long term pitching contracts, but id like to see garland be the exception. i would like to see dye pull a 4 year deal and iguchi a 3 year deal. it would be nice to keep mark around but i dont see it happening. i think the sox need to trade prospects for ligit players instead of trading ligit players for prospects though. we were once told if the stadium gets packed we will spend. so then dont trade freddy for prospects!

only other complaints- i would have liked to keep gload and deal mackowiak instead (did you guys see him butcher that soriano flyball in right sunday? terrible)….and i want sox fest back at the hyatt for goodness sake

Great post, Scott! Feel free “interrupt” at any time!

mgrothendick – I have to say I somewhat agree with you! This will be the first year in as long as I can remember that it’s 23 days before opening day and I don’t have tickets! It only bothers me because tickets didn’t even go on sale! If they went on sale and I wasn’t lucky enought to get them fine, but not even having the chance is very dissapointing. Especially to see that sooooo many were already being sold by scalpers!! Well there’s my rant for the day.

As a side note I would hate to see Buehrle, Dye or Iguchi leave but I’m trying not to worry about that until later :)

Keep up the good work, Scott!

GREAT post Scott! I don’t live in Illinois, so I haven’t been reading the criticism. I’m glad the Sox didn’t go after guys like Soriano. But the extension for Javier Vazquez puzzles me. The guy could not pitch more than five innings last year. Why give him an extension at this time? I would also hate to lose Dye or Iguchi next year. I hope KW can sign them to new contracts.

okay all you frozen Chicagolanders. i understand from TQ that it’s supposed to get into the 60’s for you next tuesday.. that’s wonderful and way past due. We have to endure out here too; here’s what happened. as i mentioned yesterday, i met Maria and Scott at the rockies game and we had a great visit. today i met Maria’s Pat and the three of us golfed at a local course along with a visitor from red sox land. the conditions were horrid to start with. our tee time was 7.20 and it was cold for the first three or four holes ( it had to be 55 at least). and then after it warmed up, the sunburn i got from yesterday started to get aggravated in spite of the sun screen i put on. after the round, we parted and Pat and Maria made ready for today’s game, while i needed to come home and get set for bowling tonight. What a tough life!! and all the while the three of us played pretty poorly ( especially me). so you can see, being in tucson isn’t at all worth the trouble, unless you can cope with sunny skies, temps in the 80’s, low humidity ( 12%) and meeting new friends (even Barbara from boston was pleasant).

now onto yesterday’s comments about free agency. i tend not to worry about it. i think that a passionate some of us are about who we would want to retain and who should be let go, we need to remember that this is OUR passion and as such, we don’t look objectively at the situation all the time. would i want to keep JD? certainly! Tadahito? yes of course. Mark? i would keep him too in a minute, but do i want to spend everything to keep these guys or anyone else for that matter? No, not at any price. this is where i tend to let Kenny do his thing. remember, this is still a business, and must be run responsibly. so we may lose some GREAT players and can be sad about that, but let’s wait and see what comes from any given move before bemoaning the deal… case in point, who among us would have traded CLee for Pods? probably nobody, and yet that was a key piece to us winning it all a couple of years ago. Magglio gone? that hurt, but didn’t stick a fork in us either. Thome for Frank? i was a huge Thomas supporter and was sorry to see him go, but you know what? that deat worked out too. my bottom line is this: wait and see what comes of the moves made for now and for the nearterm future, and DON’T buy into what you read in the papers about how BAD our team is. that’s all for me now. i’m pooped… i think i’ll take a nap….. j.k. from “dreary” Tucson

i still wouldnt have traded lee for Scotty Pathetic, and i dont see how the thomas/thome thing worked out last year…thomas was key in getting the a’s into the playoffs and thome stunk in the 2nd half. i would have rather gone with big frank. i said at the time that dye would be better than maggs.

Getting Thome was a part of getting Konerko re-signed. With Frank staying and no Thome, Konerko could have gone to the Angels or Orioles.

This is what a lot of fans who seem to base their comments on what they do or don’t do on their fantasy baseball teams conveniently overlook: that in real life, every trade has quite a few consequences and ramifications, some tangible, some intangible.

It gets really boring reading the second guesses of fans who think that putting together a team is just collecting the best ERA’s and batting averages available and sticking them on a lineup card.

Scott, your blog is off to a great start this year! As I read less and less of the silliness penned by people like Rogers and Van Dyck (– I never read Mariotti at all, thank goodness), I will be reading more stuff like this site to get my fix of Sox news and info. Thank you!

Scott…

As much as you consider this a rant, living out in Phoenix, I haven’t heard many REAL Sox fans complain about these issues. Like all other loyal fans, we want our team to win as bad as the Sox organization does and we all have players that we hope to see retire in a Sox jersey. That said, I think we are poised for a great season and the Cubs are in for yet another (and even more) dissapointing season than they have had in many years (is that even possible?). In Kenny I trust…

Thanks for the honest words.

Got to get used to reading here again every day. Love your blog!

markopat in AZ

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