Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Paulie, Paulie, Paulie
How’s that for a productive week? Every so often, it seems, people start to question our direction, our willingness to spend dollars, our commitment to winning. It really makes me shake my head at times. If Jerry Reinsdorf and Ken Williams have proven anything over the last decade, it has to be a commitment to win … again and again. Show me another GM in any sport who has the courage, aggressiveness and competitiveness of KW.
Anyway, here are a few of Paul Konerko’s comments today after re-signing for three years with the White Sox:
How much did you want the White Sox thing to happen? Were you seriously considering other teams? How did this go down?
PK: To come back was 1-A as far as in my mind of what I wanted to happen going back to not only this offseason, but years ago on how you want things to play out. Having said that, last offseason, sometime around now, a year-long preparation for the fact that it might now work that way started. Probably at the conclusion of 2009, to get myself ready, to get my head right, to get my family’s heads right with everything that could happen and be prepared as I could be to know that could be the case.
It’s funny how these things go because you need every last ounce of that because it takes right up to yesterday where it comes down to something where you’re in a situation where you’re going ‘ok, that’s going to happen or come back.’ It’s year-long culmination all the way to that point. And you have to be prepared and know that whatever happens you’re going to live with it and that’s kind of how it goes. It was my goal to come back after the last contract expired because I felt like that would have given 10-years plus with one team, and I thought that was really cool and not to mention the chance to win as you’re doing it. Now, to sit there and say ok, it’s going to be 15 years, that’s a pretty nice round number, that’s intriguing as well. Again, I was prepared and had options to do other things. You just got take all the steps necessary to go through the free agent process and I think I did a pretty good job of that.
How much did Dunn and A.J. deferring salary, and what they were will to do to get you back, factor in?
PK: It definitely says a lot about the two guys. I’m sure those contracts could have been structured differently if they had wanted to, that’s more of a question for those guys. I don’t know where it got to in their negotiations as far what was a make-or-break situation as far as those deals getting done. But anytime you hear it could have taken place during those negotiations that they said, ‘Hey, if we structure like this we have a chance at going and getting this guy,’ meaning me, to come back. And the guy is open to something like that, that’s cool, and I definitely appreciate it. It weighed just a little bit on my mind as far as a little bit of heat to come back. But at the same time, everyone on the players side of it, not only A.J., but the rest of team, kept reinterring ‘do what’s best for your family, don’t worry about us’ type of thing. It got me thinking maybe they don’t want me back, they were trying to kick me out the door. But everyone was really cool not pressuring me as far as teammates go.
Role of Jerry Reinsdorf in making the decision to come back?
PK: As far as me coming back and playing for the team he runs, it affects it greatly because I respect the man, and he’s treated me nothing but good the whole way through. But as far as negotiations, I know my agent Craig Landis had a couple of good meetings with him down there in Orlando. I guess that’s more of a question for those guys. When you’re doing these things there is a phone call made, everybody goes back and pow-wows in their room and then they come back with an answer. I don’t know how it comes out or who is the dominant voice, or who is the one who is really coming out with what comes back to me and my agent. I would like to think that it’s some of Jerry and that he likes me, I guess. But I also know they’re going to try and make smart business decisions. Jerry is a very loyal guy, honestly over the years, there have been 20 guys he would keep if it all worked out right. I know it kills him when he has to let somebody go that he likes because it’s the right move. I just didn’t know, it could be one of this situations this time where it’s just the end of the road. It could have been the end of the road and I was prepared for that. I was fine with that. I said it during the year, 12 years in one place, not many people get that. If it all comes to an end, I was content with that. So I didn’t put as much pressure on coming back as last time because I felt really good about what I had accomplished there and it was one big package of years. If I moved on, it would have been fine. Now that I get to come back I look at the positives of that, 15 years and also on a pretty good team.
Impact of the Dunn signing?
PK: I was down in Mexico lying on a chair, looking out at the ocean and someone texts me, ‘They just signed Adam Dunn.’ My first thought was ‘okay, that was a fun 12 years. It was a him-or-me situation.’ It would have brought closure to this saga. Then I remembered Kenny telling me at the end of the year, ‘if we go after this next year and want to win, I don’t want you or Adam, I want both of you.’ That was in my mind as well, maybe there is a chance to get both of us.
Key to the team contending in 2011?
PK: Obviously Detroit has gotten better, and Minnesota was already really good, and they will be getting Morneau for the whole year. It is going to be about execution. We have definitely made our team better by the signing of Adam because of what he provides. No team in baseball right now can say if we just play our game, we can win this division by 10 games. That doesn’t exist anymore. Last year was a funny year because a lot of guys were playing together for the first time. Last year we got off to such a struggle, we didn’t have enough left in the tank towards the end. During the year, we showed glimpses of the team we could be and were solid for two-plus months. Hopefully one of the reasons I am coming back is they saw value in the fact that I can keep the team together and be a good influence. It will come down to execution, assuming the Twins and Tigers are doing everything right in their clubhouse. But I’ll take our chances with our team. We look pretty good. It will be a 7.5 month battle to see who gets there. It will not come easy.