With Paulie clocking in with 2 HRs, 3 hits, 3 runs, and 5 RBI in Sunday’s 6-run comeback that dragged out the absolute death of the White Sox season another day or two, he now sits at .322/.399/.598 for a .997 OPS (also known as A++) for the season, with 36 HR, 104 RBI, and a 4.8 WAR. Yes, those are all team highs, and no, it’s not particularly close.
Alex Rios is far more of an all-around guy than a truly dominant hitter, Carlos Quentin is two years into his trip to the doldrums, and Dayan Viciedo still thinks it’s a strike so long as it doesn’t bounce. Re-signing Konerko after not just a good contract year, but in no uncertain terms the best year of his career seems like a requirement lest the White Sox have a good line on the always-hard-to-obtain Younger, Not More Expensive Dominant Masher.
The management has complained all season about revenue and how they’re dipping into the red. So, if the mandate for the 2011 season is to cut every cost possible, the team by-passing the opportunity to let 15 million run off the books and move to Detroit or Cleveland, or whatever division rival wants to thrash the Sox to death for the next five years, seems unlikely. But hey, say what you will about the tenets of brazen cost-cutting, at least it’s an ethos.
It’s far better than the double-talking nonsense Williams provided on the matter:
“I would love to have him retire as a White Sox,”
“That’s pretty much all I’m going to say on it, because I don’t know
what the future holds,” said Williams. “I don’t know how we are going
to finish. We are driven by the revenue stream that comes in. People
might not like it but it is what it is. We have to at least be able to
be a break-even operation, and try to win at the same time.”
This. Is. Hooey.
Not only is Konerko not likely to command a huge raise at age 34 from his current $12 million salary, but his play has been calculated by FanGraphs to be worth $16.5 million. He hasn’t exactly been an idle expense. Rather, he’s been paid approximately the combined salary of Scott Linebrink, Mark Teahen, and Carlos Quentin; who have accounted for 0.0 wins above replacement between them. For all the areas of the roster where the White Sox are taking a bath on their investments, Konerko is certainly one of the exceptions. And if Konerko is being allowed to walk, can it be from any standpoint besides a straight payroll cut? Because axeing the best player on the team while holding on to Williams’ sucky attempts to find diamonds in the rough doesn’t seem like a real plan to win in 2011, does it?
But how does letting Konerko walk even work from a revenue standpoint? How much can the White Sox expect to benefit financially from discontinuing the tenure of their most recognizable, more revered, and most marketable player? The player most likely to lend national exposure? The player most likely to deliver meaningful milestones? The player most likely to provide the best thing for attendance–winning–by delivering the highest win shares?
If Konerko is allowed to leave in free agency, it’s not win-at-all-costs, it’s not stay-competitive-while-reducing-expenditure, it’s salary dumping. It’s rebuilding. It’s refusing to make long-term expensive commitments while taking draft pick compensation and repairing the farm system. It may very well be a change in approach long-overdue, painful as it would be to watch for about three years, but to hear it sugar-coated into something it’s not is beyond annoying. If the White Sox didn’t decide Konerko was worth some scratch while watching his first 36 HR this season, the next 4 or 5 aren’t going to do the trick either.