Must every market be skewed against the White Sox liking?

Must every market be skewed against the White Sox liking?
I envy the people who don't find this photo terrifying // William DeShazer, Chicago Tribune

The new, markedly prohibitive spending limits on international free agents go into effect on July 2nd.  From that point on, all teams will be restricted to spending $2.9 million for the whole year on foreign amateurs under the age of 23.  The limit will rise incrementally year-to-year.

For teams that have invested heavily in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, etc., it's pretty unwelcome.  For those who think that the international talent crop is best stimulated by lucrative signing bonuses, it's pretty discouraging for the future of the league.

But for the White Sox, who historically aren't particularly keen in spending money now for possible reward later, it promised to drag the market prices kicking and screaming back to a territory where they would be more comfortable.  Especially now that the international scouting department for the White Sox under Marco Paddy has a pulse.

But that's July 2nd.  That's not now.  Right now, things remain unregulated.

On Thursday, The Cubs signed 18 year-old Cuban LHP Gerardo Concepcion for $7 million.  Concepcion is considered a finesse, control-oriented lefty who is more promising for his precocious development rather than having a frontline starter ceiling.  He was also considered the third-best of the three Cuban prospects on the market, and he got $7 million, and a spot on the 40-man roster, even though he'll probably start in Low-A.

The partisan reception of the Cubs' move is positive, since Cuba is generally perceived to be a talented and under-utilized market, and because their front office is regarded to be very competent, the assumption is that they have (rightly) assessed Concepcion to be worth more than the general opinion on him would suggest, hence the major deal.

This strikes me as a similar reasoning to what justified the Nestor Molina trade, where the White Sox considered him a top of the rotation prospect even if the general consensus didn't, and paid for him as such.  Or more derisively, they bid against themselves.

But it seems like the Cubs weren't doing that, seeing as there supposedly seven other teams in on Concepcion--and maybe the White Sox as well--the signing probably reflects not one team going crazy, but the market for Concepcion, and the corresponding ones for Soler and Cespedes, inflating rapidly.

Part of that could just be this being a rare influx of Cuban talent generating a lot of excitement, but the nearing onset of the new CBA offers the teams that are able, their last chance to aggressively outbid competitors for the top-level amateur talent available.

At the very least, it helps set the markets for Soler and Cespedes.  If it takes a $7 million contract with additional incentives to land an 18 year-old pitcher who doesn't project to have a whole lot of power, well then, 5-tool outfielders tend to run a fair bit pricier.  While the White Sox are showing a bit more courage in investing in amateur talent, and have been known to have the occasional outburst, but are unlikely to be interested in a bidding war at this point in their rebuilding cycle.

More than anything, the White Sox need to get more efficient in their roster building, both by investing in the draft, international scouting, or just less veteranophilia.  If Concepcion's deal is any indication, Cuba isn't going to be the first step in that process.


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  • Taking the long, broad view, it's pretty clear that the lovefest between the owners and players union at the new CBA negotiations was precipitated by a shared impulse to sell amateurs and internationals down river. Reinsdorf did more than his fair share to make this new collective financial model a reality. That, together with the prospect of a 2012 White Sox team that will be 2011-lite, and now that alarming photograph to lead James' post (!), makes me feel kind of icky.

    Perennially this is the time of year when I don't feel like I can go on without baseball for much longer before I lose my marbles. And like always, I'm really excited for pitchers and catchers and the new cycle to begin, but I don't remember a February when I felt so indifferent about the White Sox. "Resigned to our fate" is no way to go through an offseason. The word "prosaic" comes to mind; so does "sucks."

    Thanks to WSO for making it tolerable, even enjoyable.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    At the very least, owners looked to chop expenses at the amateur level and realized they were negotiating with a group that was fairly indifferent to the plight of foreign amateurs. I have no doubt Reinsdorf had a considerable role, because he's always had a considerable role in labor negotiations.

    Still, I'm excited for baseball. If there's no baseball, it gives me longer time to ponder how I feel about Reinsdorf outside the context of "is he spending enough on the Sox and Bulls?", which can only lead to more polemics. While that might be enjoyed by some (you, all of my friends and family), I don't doesn't serve the purpose of this blog at this time. Or it does, and the sooner I get to addressing the time and research to assessing Reinsdorf as a figure in this city, the better I will feel about the work I'm doing here.

    Hmm, the comments are a weird place for me to talk to myself...especially a comment in reply to someone. Where was I? Right! Baseball! I'm excited. Not tingly "Oh my God this should be special", but definitely interested in the next step of this saga. I'm particularly interested in the path of certain players. Dunn should be fascinating, albeit it might be for the reasons people turn on reality television...grim social horror. I'm curious on the development of Beckham, Morel, Flowers, fascinated by Lillibridge, De Aza, and I watch Viciedo at-bats like a nervous parent. Surely you would watch a bad team if your kid was on it, right? I say this not having kids. I have a pet fish, though. If my fish played right field for the White Sox, I'm sure I'd never miss a game. Though I imagine no one would. I want to see if there's any development left in Floyd or Danks, or if there's enough variance in Danks to produce another 2008 season, just out of luck. I am interested in seeing if Phil Humber is for real (as a back-end starter, that is) like I theorized. I have the most morbid interest in Zach Stewart imaginable.

    I adore watching Alexei Ramirez.

    I could talk myself into being fascinated by the entire roster, and since they're clearly not actually that fascinating. It must be giddiness. Clearly there's an investment, and pride, and thrill in the Sox being competitive and winning that stirs the loins, and the Sox probably won't do that. Some time when I was around 15, over-serious, very political, and very astute and finding the flaws in everything around me, I realized that I wasn't having much fun, and would enjoy being myself more if I viewed everything as inspiration for jokes and gleeful mockery. Having cultivated that for almost a decade now, I'm fully confident that I can watch the only sports team I really unconditionally love flounder helplessly at the hands of hated rivals, and earnestly derive enjoyment from it.

    Some would say that's messed up. I....yeah, it probably is.

    Anyways, I'm pumped! BASEBALL!!!!! Where's my 16 oz Miller-produced swill served in a plastic bottle so I can't shiv anyone with it?

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    You were over serious and very political when you were 15? How tragic. That Montessori school really f---ed you up. When I was 15 I was in a band trying to play drums like John Bonham and wanting to like the taste of beer even half as much as I liked its effects (I later learned that Mickeys Malt Liquor wasn't brewed to taste good).

    Thanks for your candor. I doubt I'm writing anything you haven't already considered, but the problem with being polemical is that it opens you up to being criticized for not being objective, which can negatively affect your credibility. Of course, no one is objective and all writing is political, and how ideas should be judged is by the quantity, depth, choice, and interpretation of the sources that inform the writing. But that doesn't stop people from making judgements about "objectivity" or "bias" based on the nature of the argument.

    You know where I'm coming from in terms of interests and politics so of course I can understand your impulse, but I also think you're fine doing what you're doing and leaving the polemics to hacks like me in the comments from time to time. Or if you wanted me to do some investigative pieces on the White Sox in the larger political/economic/cultural context of the city or the sport to post on WSO from time to time I'd do it. That'd be fun. And you could maintain a little bit of professional distance.

    Oh jeez. Don't take it the wrong way. I'm not soliciting myself. Anyways, not in any premeditated way. Throwing it out there to consider in the future or never.

    Lastly, the Sox. Agreed. Excited about all of those things now that you made me think of them. And my body jerked so hard from laughing at the bottle shiv joke that I dropped ketchup on my pants (from a french fry of course, not my hot dog, which I maintain at a distance of at least 6 inches from the ketchup puddle on the wax paper wrapping).

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    If it wasn't too much a drain of your time and a distraction from your studies, then yeah, I'd be totally down for seeing what you could come up with and making you a contributor. You've demonstrated in your comments that you're capable of producing work it'd pretty cool to have under the WSO banner. I'd even give you all the money when it shoots you to international fame

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    International? Why sell me so short? I was thinking intergalactic fame. President Gingrich is going to start us a moon colony, ya know.

    Thanks for considering it and the kind words. Let me ponder things a little bit and then send you an email, ok?

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    Aahh, but the Moon Colony will be the 51st state! It'll be borderline regional appeal if you become popular there.

    Take all the time you need.

  • Offhand,

    1. Jerry was the face of the 1994 labor dispute, so if you are making any implication in the headline that others screwed the Sox, I doubt it. The body of the article seems more like the real story that it was the Sox that wanted to bring the price down...

    2. ...Thus, Ham N Egger's point that the CBA was to screw the unrepresented seems correct. Of course, I wonder how many Cubans are coming over on the raft like El Duque and Livan did, and then cry that they got screwed.

    3. As far as the comment on "Jerry spending money on the Sox and Bulls," I pointed out previously somewhere on Chicago Now that each team is owned by a separate group (either limited partnership or LLC), and Jerry is merely the managing partner. It basically isn't his money.

  • In reply to jack:

    1. The title refers to the period between now and the CBA taking effect. As I addressed when it was agreed upon, the CBA reads like it could've been hand-written by Reinsdorf. Until then it's the Wild West for a few more months.

    3. Yeah, that was a rough lumping together. I meant that I generally only spend time judging Reinsdorf in terms of how he's performing in each of those separate duties, as they're what affect me most as a sports fan, and don't spend that much time--as least as much as I should--contemplating him as private individual.

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