Chicago White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf
Jackie Robinson West, which secured its place in the 16-team Little League World Series at Williamsport, Pa., with a victory Saturday to win the Great Lakes Regional, hails from the South Side of Chicago.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city of Chicago will also play hosts for the watch party at Jackie Robinson Field (10700 S. Aberdeen) when the Chicago squad plays its opening game of the Little League World Series against a club representing the state of Washington.
Game time Thursday is 2 p.m., with watch party festivities scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. The game will be shown on a large video screen.
According to the White Sox, there will be ballpark food available, as well as former White Sox players on hand, not to mention team mascot Southpaw.
“This is a great way for the neighborhood and the city of Chicago to celebrate the accomplishments of this talented group of young men from the Jackie Robinson West Little League” White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, said in a release. “We all are very proud of their accomplishments, and we are honored to co-host the watch party with Mayor Emanuel. Six players on the Jackie Robinson West team also play for the White Sox ACE program, so we are doubly proud of their tremendous accomplishments. These kids already are champions in our eyes before a single pitch is thrown in Williamsport.”
The last time a Chicago team made it to Williamsport was in 1983, and that squad also hailed form Jackie Robinson West.
The Little League World Series will consist of eight teams from the United States, as well as eight international teams. The championship game will take place Aug. 24.
Thomas was, in fact, the only inductee to shed tears, losing it early at the mention of his late father Frank Sr., who passed away in 2001.
At that moment, the tears began to flow as Thomas was at the outset of a 17-minute, 45-second speech that was big on thank yous.
Thomas went to every corner of his life to make sure those who helped make him the person and player he was were recognized. He concluded with a rapid-fire list of 138 former teammates Thomas insisted on including, even though he was well over his allotted time limit.
With all of his family in attendance, including his mother Charlie Mae, who hadn't left Columbus, Georgia, in 15 years, Thomas recalled his high school baseball days, as well as his time as a football and baseball player at Auburn.
He thanked agents, coaches, friends, business associates and anybody else who touched him over his adult life. After his family, he reserved the warmest comments for White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
“Jerry, thanks for a long and wonderful ride in that Chicago White Sox uniform,” Thomas said. “You did a lot for me and you still mean a lot to me. Thank you, my friend.”
Often criticized for being a me-first player, especially because of his extreme interest in statistics and league-leader lists, Thomas' speech was the antithesis of that. He showed a vulnerability that added to the emotion as well.
Sitting next to fellow inductee Joe Torre long after his speech was completed, Thomas finally looked at peace after an anxious weekend that had him anticipating his address to the overflow crowd. Torre smiled as Thomas spoke of the reverence he has for his father.
“It was rough,” Thomas said. “Some of the closest people in my life are gone. When you get to that, it’s a lot of emotion. My father meant so much to me, and he’s not here today. I probably won’t get over this until the day is over. It was a special moment. This was my grand finale. I wanted to thank all the people who touched me. I thanked everyone who got me to this point. I definitely didn’t get here alone and I’m proud of that.”
Ozzie Guillen also received significant mention. Guillen and Thomas had a unique bond, with Guillen often antagonizing Thomas. In turn, Thomas admitted he was able to use any anger or frustration he had toward Guillen and Joey Cora and turn it into success on the field.
“And a special thanks to Ozzie Guillen, 11 years as a teammate, three years as a manager, and I can thank you for getting me my only ring, because we had that special bond for many years,” Thomas told the crowd. “I thank you, Ozzie, thank you very much.”
If the years weren’t correct, the sentiment hit right on target. Thomas and Guillen were teammates for just seven years and Guillen managed Thomas for just two seasons.
Thomas went on to thank trainers and doctors for getting him back on the field each day, reserving plenty of love for longtime White Sox trainer Herm Schneider.
After naming as many teammates as he could pack into a short amount of time, Thomas’s speech circled back to White Sox fans.
“In closing I would like to say thank you to the city of Chicago,” he said. “You guys made the Big Hurt who he was in the greatest sports town in America. I know I’m biased but I thoroughly enjoyed playing for you all. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Oakland, Toronto, I thank you for great fan bases and also for making me feel at home. It was short-lived, but I appreciate the love from both of you great cities.”
Playing in the heart of the Steroid Era, Thomas prided himself on not using performance-enhancing substances during a 19-year career, but he declined to get steroids-heavy in his speech. But he did close with a little advice to young athletes everywhere.
“To all you kids out there, just remember one thing from today: There is no shortcuts to success,” Thomas said. “Hard work, dedication, commitment. Stay true to who you are. God bless you all and I thank you.”
Thomas said afterward that a Hall of Fame speech wasn’t the place for a discussion on steroids.
“It wasn’t thought,” Thomas said afterward. “This is a special weekend. I just didn’t think that stuff was necessary. We all know what has happened over the last 15 years in baseball. Today is a bright stage among heroes.
“I wanted to get that out to the kids. Don’t take the shortcuts. Don’t do what other people say is cool or because it’s going to make you better. Believe in yourself, hard work and determination -- stay true to yourself is something I wanted to get out there.”
While players with great numbers are on the outside looking in at Cooperstown, Thomas was able to speak in front of 50 Hall of Famers and five fellow inductees Sunday to talk about his road to greatness.
“I would also like to thank my parents for working so hard to instill core values to make the best of life,” Thomas said. “We didn't have much but my parents worked tireless for me and my four siblings.”
Using a style considered cutting edge when he took the White Sox job in 1979, the Tampa, Florida, native and fringe major leaguer wasn't everybody's cup of tea.
With his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame about to go down Sunday, most White Sox fans in town to see the ceremony are focusing more on 1983 than 1986.
"I've heard it [all] along, but here in the last four or five months I'm getting a lot of comments," La Russa said of interaction with White Sox fans. "I think our fans, I run into them all the time. They remember '83. They enjoyed it. We all enjoyed it. It was something special."
The joy wouldn't last back then. Harrelson left the broadcast booth in 1985 to take over as GM and La Russa's days were as good as numbered.
"We had played pretty good in '85 so he was stuck with me," La Russa said. "I think if he had his own guys, I don't know that his ideas wouldn't work. I just know they didn't [that year]. We fought him. We tried to work 'em, but we had to fight 'em."
Harrelson and La Russa didn't talk again until they broke the ice in 1992. They have stayed good friends since.
Broadcaster Harry Caray was another La Russa critic, and unlike the feud he ended with Harrelson, that one never was repaired.
"Hell no," La Russa said. "The first [shot] he took was, 'Bill [Veeck] was too cheap to hire a real manager.' There's probably a lot of truth to that. Harry liked to pick on the lambs and I was a lamb."
He left the White Sox to manage the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, and that lamb turned into a wolf. In 33 seasons as a manager, La Russa won 2,728 games, the third-highest total all time behind Hall of Famers Connie Mack and John McGraw. La Russa ended up winning three World Series.
But it all started in Chicago.
"First Bill Veeck, the way he would ask questions and get you involved with the great scouts, that was like going to graduate school night school and work on weekends," La Russa said. "It was just work, work, work. Then here comes new owners Jerry [Reinsdorf] and Eddie [Einhorn]. They loved the game of baseball so it was a great atmosphere. Then you had Roland Hemond as the GM. How much better can it get than that?"
CHICAGO -- The initial reactions to Frank Thomas were about what he couldn't do. That soon changed to the things he did which were unlike any other, and it eventually evolved into a Hall of Fame career.
Thomas will be inducted Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. It will be a celebration of a groundbreaking career that saw him win two MVP awards and compile a .419 career on-base percentage that is third-best all-time among right-handed hitters.
"I didn't know he was great right off the bat because the first time I saw him was in A-ball and I had doubts that he could play first base," chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "When I saw him play, it looked like he didn't know where first base was."
Thomas managed to figure out some subtle nuances around the bag, although defense never was his strong suit. He simply hit so well that he was able to overcome any defensive liabilities he had, and moving to the designated hitter spot only increased his overall productivity.
When he arrived in the major leagues in 1990, his unique approach at the plate was on full display.
"You're looking at it and you're thinking, at that time you didn't see big guys that get a base hit the other way and walk," former Thomas teammate and current White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He had the power, but you're just talking about the smaller part of the game, where back then it was just swing as hard as you can and see how far you're going to hit it. But he took his walks, he didn't like striking out, and that was a change at that time for somebody his size."
Interestingly, the walks and the base hits the other way came early, but the home runs did not.
"I remember the first month he was up here he didn't hit a home run, and so we were wondering, 'Does this guy really have power?'" Reinsdorf said. "But after a couple of years he started putting up numbers like (Lou) Gehrig and (Jimmie) Foxx and (Mel) Ott and (Babe) Ruth. You knew if he stayed healthy he'd get into the Hall of Fame."
The time has arrived for the Hall of Fame to open its door to Thomas, and clearly he is worthy of the honor.
Paul Konerko played with Thomas for seven seasons (1999-2005) and calls Thomas the best hitter he has ever seen.
“"That year in 2000, up close, that's about as good as I've seen anybody just kind of dominate," Konerko said. "Even his outs, nothing looked bad. Maybe one at-bat out of every 15 it was a bad at-bat. It's pretty hard to do for six-month period."
That year in 2000, up close, that's about as good as I've seen anybody just kind of dominate. Even his outs, nothing looked bad. Maybe one at-bat out of every 15 it was a bad at-bat. It's pretty hard to do for six-month period.” -- Paul Konerko on Frank Thomas
Thomas batted .328 in 2000 with a 1.061 OPS, but finished second in the MVP voting to Jason Giambi, who later admitted that performance-enhancing substances were part of his early-career routine. Assuming Thomas would have added a third MVP award if Giambi hadn't cut corners only enhances his Hall of Fame credentials.
Thomas was in the Hall of Fame argument when he left the White Sox after the 2005 season, and he seemed to print his ticket to Cooperstown when he delivered a .926 OPS with 39 home runs and 114 RBIs with Oakland in 2006, finishing fourth in the MVP voting.
"I don't think anyone questioned whether he still had it, it was all injury; that gets people at the end of their career," Konerko said. "He had a couple of those, ankle or foot, where if he can get it healthy there was no question whether he would hit or not. That's different than playing healthy and not doing the job. We never really saw that from Frank.
"If he didn't hit well, it was related to injury. When he came back that year with Oakland, as long as he could swing the bat, the numbers would be there. It was that simple."
Thomas was simply so good with the bat that he got everybody to forget what he couldn't do with the glove.
"I just know watching Frank, I thought he was the greatest right-handed hitter I've ever seen," Reinsdorf said. "Now I think he's one of the three greatest because I think (Miguel) Cabrera and (Albert) Pujols are probably in that category. Still, that's pretty special. I didn't see (Rogers) Hornsby so I don't know how good he was."
"When [La Russa] came to Chicago, I was a fan; I didn't own the team at the time," Reinsdorf said. "He came up sometime in the 1979 season and managed in 1980, and I bought the team in 1981.
"I remember at the time I bought the team, I thought 'Well, one of the first things I'm going to have to do is fire the manager,' because the broadcasters, [Harry] Caray and [Jimmy] Piersall, kept talking about how bad he was. And then I met him and realized how wrong they were."
Eventually Ken "Hawk" Harrelson was unable to realize the greatness as well during a brief turn as general manager, and he fired La Russa at the start of the 1986 season. It is the moment in Reinsdorf's ownership that he seems to regret the most.
Despite La Russa moving across the country to manage the Oakland Athletics, Reinsdorf stayed close with his former manager and the two have a unique bond to this day.
"Over the years we've really become like brothers," Reinsdorf said. "It's just a very, very special friendship. As great a manager as he is, he's a better human being. He's just a great person."
La Russa wasn't a very accomplished major league player, seeing time in 132 career games with the Kansas City/Oakland A's, the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs. And as a manager he raised eyebrows with his use of the bullpen and a sporadic strategy of using the pitcher in the No. 8 spot in the lineup.
But he is recognized as changing the game, especially with how relievers are used.
That is at least part of the reason La Russa will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. Former White Sox player Frank Thomas also will be inducted.
"Obviously having two people connected with the White Sox going in at one time is special, but it's really special for me to see Tony go in knowing how he suffered early in his career and the abuse he took and to see that he proved all the critics were wrong," Reinsdorf said. "I just wish Harry Caray were alive."
A left-hander who could rise quickly through the system probably wasn’t the perfect fit for the Chicago White Sox, but the team wasn’t about to turn its back on one of the best talents in Thursday’s first round of the 2014 first-year player draft.
When you get a chance to land an arm like Carlos Rondon, as the White Sox did with the No. 3 overall pick, you figure out a way to fit him in the mix.
Rodon won’t be rushed to the major leagues as quickly as Chris Sale was in 2010, but if the brass' best guess happens, he will definitely arrive sooner rather than later. It might not be out of the question to see his first full season in a White Sox uniform happen in 2016.
But it could cause a bit of an overload of left-handers if Rodon does ascend quickly. Sale has contract options that could keep him with the White Sox until 2019, while Jose Quintana’s options can take him to the 2020 season. John Danks is signed through the 2016 season.
Nevertheless, this was a player the White Sox were not going to take a pass on, even if it means seeing opponents’ lineups loaded with right-handed hitters. If Sale, Quintana and Danks are going strong when Rodon arrives, the White Sox will consider it one of those good problems to have.
“We were certainly going take best player or pitcher available,” director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann said. “The fact that it did turn out to be college guy, and that perhaps his timeline is maybe quicker ... for sure it’s quicker than perhaps a high-school kid.”
Rondon’s 436 strikeouts were a North Carolina State record and he finished his career with a 2.24 ERA for the Wolfpack. This past season he had a 2.01 ERA in nearly 100 innings, finishing with a 6-7 record mostly because of a lack of run support.
Rondon isn’t expected to unseat Sale from the top of the rotation, but he could legitimately slide into the No. 2 spot and eventually give the White Sox an impressive one-two punch. He wasn’t the hardest thrower among the top prospects available, but a mid-90s fastball is mixed with what is considered one of the best sliders among all draft-eligible players.
“It’s a good one,” Laumann said. “It freezes left-handed hitters. The one thing I try to look at, especially for left-handed pitcher, you would expect at times that a left-hander would have trouble with it, but when they can bury a slider on the back foot of a right-handed hitter and get it under their hands, then you know a guy has a really good one.
“It’s certainly a dominant pitch -- and that’s not to take anything away from his fastball and his changeup, both of which are plus pitches -- but the slider is certainly a dominant pitch for him.”
If there is a concern, it is that Rodon is represented by agent Scott Boras, someone with whom the White Sox haven’t dealt much in recent years. When Kenny Williams was general manager, he wasn’t fond of the way Boras did business and avoided Boras clients whenever possible.
Rick Hahn, as the current GM, will get a chance to mend fences and get Rondon signed to a deal. Laumann doesn’t think it will be an issue.
“It’s been our goal, ever since I’ve been around here, whether it came from [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] or Kenny or Rick, that it’s our goal to get most talented, the best player available at the spot. I think Rick and Scott Boras have a fairly good relationship.”
When the club announced this past weekend that it had come to terms with the remaining unsigned players on its 40-man roster, it revealed an Opening Day payroll in the general vicinity of $90 million, assuming no more personnel changes.
Last year's team was a bust of course, winning just 63 games. So what can $28 million less buy? Well, if betting lines are any indicator, the White Sox are projected to win between 75 and 76 games, according to the wagering website bovada.com.
While not claiming to be good at math, that sure does look like anywhere from 12 to 13 more victories for nearly $30 million less. Those are finances anybody should be willing to get behind.
And while undergoing the process of getting those finances in line, the White Sox have managed to create the hope for a brighter future by bringing aboard new faces such as Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton for the outfield, and Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu for the infield.
"I think (White Sox general manager) Rick Hahn had a very understated winter," Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "I think he did a great job even going back to last July and August. How he acquired the prospects he got, how he re-did the club, I think that he did a very, very good job."
And that comes from a GM who has moved in the opposite direction than the White Sox by getting his payroll above $200 million.
"Since the All-Star break, the White Sox have probably been top five for what they have done," Colletti said. "Patience will dictate how it really goes, but I think they have done well."
Of course a projected 76 victories for the White Sox still means a record under .500, but this rebuild remains a work in progress. Experience for young players, combined with additional remodeling next offseason is expected to get them even closer to long-term success, especially if impact pieces can be added to the pitching staff.
In the case of Abreu, his six-year, $68 million contract represented the largest commitment to a player (in terms of dollars) in team history. And yet the payroll still dropped significantly.
For some fans, though, a reduction in payroll is like getting a rent increase while being told that water, heat, cable and sewage no longer is covered. To many, the only answer is to keep on spending, and then add a little bit more each year, just in case.
Consider that ship sailed, at least in the short term, especially since the White Sox had been spinning their wheels while averaging over $100 million in payroll ever since winning the 2005 World Series.
As far as the savings goes this year, it's not like it will be used to line the pockets of ownership. The club will now spend more on the draft and international signings, areas that had not been as big of a priority in recent years.
But maybe particular fans who feel scorned aren't the best place to go when trying to understand the value in reducing costs while increasing overall talent, especially talent that still has its best years in front of it.
Not only do the free-spending Dodgers like what the White Sox are doing, the far more frugal Kansas City Royals ($80 million payroll last season) have taken notice.
"I think that's the wise way of building your team for long-term success," Royals GM Dayton Moore said about the White Sox's youth movement and their renewed interest in the farm system. "The Yankees didn't start getting on a roll and winning all those games and winning all those championships until they committed to their farm system and they had (Derek) Jeter and they had (Mariano) Rivera and Bernie Williams and (Jorge) Posada and (Andy) Pettitte and others that helped them establish a core group of young players."
"Of course they had the resources to supplement that through free agency, but I think it's the model to build your team long term."
Perhaps Moore recognized the White Sox's new style because it is similar to his plan of putting together a solid young core in the field with players such as Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas.
"The White Sox have very talented baseball people, and I have admired Rick for a long time," Moore said. "Robin Ventura is one of the better leaders in the game and always has been. He represented himself and the game very well as a player and now a manager. Jerry (Reinsdorf) and Kenny (Williams) have created a great culture in Chicago. People like working there, people admire what they have done.
"They have done a great job and they will continue to do a great job. They are doing a great job now with Marco Paddy running their international department. They will do well."
Colletti believes that at some point in the near future all White Sox fans will come to appreciate the value of reducing costs in the fashion that their team has done it over the past six months.
The Dodgers GM had particular admiration for the deal that sent closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks while returning third baseman Matt Davidson to the White Sox. He called it an "interesting trade" but a good one since both teams filled needs. He also no doubt recognized that a division rival came away with a proven closer.
It still didn't take away his admiration for what the White Sox have done.
"As I was watching it take place starting in July, you see there was a lot of thought and deliberation put into it," Colletti said of the White Sox's moves. "I think they haven't gotten a lot of national headlines, but the way they have gone about it has been smart, and I think it will pay off."
No cause of death was listed for David Reinsdorf, who was the senior vice president of asset management for Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group in Northbrook, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.
A moment of silence was observed in Glendale, Ariz., prior to Monday’s spring training game between the White Sox and the Kansas City Royals.
The White Sox and Bulls both released statements on David Reinsdorf’s passing:
“The Reinsdorf family has suffered a terrible loss today with the untimely passing of son David Reinsdorf, age 51. Jerry, Martyl and the entire Reinsdorf family appreciate the sympathetic thoughts and prayers from all of their friends and acquaintances, however, the family members do request privacy and your understanding at this time as they deal with this very personal loss.”
Jerry Reinsdorf, who has four children and eight grandchildren, headed the limited partnership that purchased the White Sox in 1981. He purchased controlling interest of the Bulls in 1985. In 2010, Jerry Reinsdorf’s son Michael was named president and chief operating officer of the Bulls.
It is the second death to affect the White Sox in the past five days as reliever Daniel Webb left camp Thursday night after a death in his family.
“First with Webby and now with this,” manager Robin Ventura told reporters in Arizona after Monday’s Cactus League victory over the Kansas City Royals. “It’s tough any time anything on the outside happens. It just wakes you up for what’s important. I think it’s sad around here just because it’s Jerry and how much people care about him and his family. It’s a tough day for us.
General manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday the team expects to have the situation resolved before the winter meetings begin Dec. 9, insisting that the wait isn't hurting the team's ability to put together next year's roster.
"It's not really hamstringing us in terms of our planning," Hahn said. "We have a plan, obviously, if he's back, and we have a plan if he's not back. We haven't missed on any opportunities to fill that role if he doesn't fill it himself. I think it's good to have it resolved for his own preparation, and for the terms of getting ready for spring training to have it set by December. I think we'll be able to do that."
Both Hahn and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf have said they will welcome Konerko back with open arms if he wants to forgo retirement, but there have been no indications about what the team would be willing to pay its team captain, who made $13.5 million in 2013.
Hahn and manager Robin Ventura met with Konerko in Arizona before this month's GM meetings to personally extend the offer of a roster spot.
Williams stepped upstairs this past offseason, handing the general manager job to Rick Hahn. While sitting in that GM chair for 12 seasons, the White Sox were at or above .500 nine times, winning the World Series in 2005.
This season has been unlike any other, though, as the White Sox headed into play Tuesday with a 45-72 record, having already shed talent over the past month to add prospects and get salary relief.
“Obviously we had greater expectations,” said Williams, who ultimately put together most of the 2013 roster when he was the GM. “We thought that first and foremost we’d catch the ball better. We thought we would execute offensively better and be a little bit more diverse with the offense and it just hasn’t manifested itself in that way.
“But where there is bad news along those lines, there’s good news in terms of being able to bounce back, because what you look for, and I think it’s similar to 2007 with us.”
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Sizing up the chances that Pierzynski one day receives a statue on the outfield concourse, the veteran could actually find himself frozen in time inside the ballpark. That honor would go along with his dominating presence in front of Gate 4 atop the 2005 World Series sculpture.
A high-ranking White Sox official, who was contacted about Pierzynski's chances of possibly receiving a statue, didn't say one is in the works at the moment, but didn't deny that it could eventually happen either.
Reinsdorf, who only releases farewell statements to the club’s most cherished players, recalled specific moments from Pierzynski’s White Sox career, as well as what his tenure meant to the organization. The veteran catcher is now headed to Texas after signing a one-year, $7.5 million contract with the Rangers.
The complete text of Reinsdorf’s statement:
“A.J. Pierzynski played a major role in many of the greatest moments in recent Chicago White Sox history. From reaching first base in Game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship Series, to his double in Game 3 of the World Series in Houston, to his performance behind the plate during the 2008 “Blackout Game” division-winning 1-0 victory, A.J. was a key contributor, often in his own very unique way.
“Every White Sox fan appreciates and celebrates what A.J. meant to this organization during his time in Chicago. A.J. epitomized Chicago’s South Side through his toughness, his attitude, his flair for the dramatic and his passion for the game. He came to compete – and to win – every day.
“A.J. will forever be appreciated and remembered by White Sox fans as a very special member of this franchise. He earned that spot in our hearts. I personally wish A.J. the very best with the Rangers and with the rest of his career. I suspect U.S. Cellular Field will be one ballpark where A.J. Pierzynski will never be booed. He’s earned our cheers.”
White Sox fans will have to wait to express their appreciation to Pierzynski. The White Sox and Rangers don’t play each other at U.S. Cellular Field until a three-game series Aug. 23-25. The two teams play each other for the first time April 30-May 2 in a three-game series at Texas.
CHICAGO -- Speaking on a panel discussion about baseball in Israel, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was asked by a fan about the possibility of international expansion. He said he’d rather see two teams contracted.
“I don’t see any baseball expansion right now,” he said. “If it were up to me, I would contract two teams. But I certainly don’t think expansion on the horizon.”
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox are stuck in between going for a division title and building toward their future.
This year’s team, which currently leads the AL Central, has surpassed even team executives' expectations -- optimistically they had hoped for 81-85 wins this season. The good news is the White Sox could make the playoffs. The bad news is that winning could set the organization's player-development plan back a couple seasons.
All that said, this evolving group of players is maybe a little too green to get the job done without adding some depth. Realistically, the White Sox need at least one starting pitcher, a third baseman and a veteran reliever to win 90 games.
With that, economic factors may force the White Sox to do a complete about-face and begin trading off veterans such Jake Peavy and A.J. Pierzynski to build toward a younger, cheaper group of competitive players.
As the Sox close in on the 15th anniversary of the infamous “White Flag Trade” of 1997, would they make a comparable trade, under somewhat similar circumstances, this season?
In 1997, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf gave his consent to then-GM Ron Schueler to essentially drop out of the pennant race -- Chicago trailed Cleveland by 3 ½ games in the AL Central at the time -- and trade three veteran pitchers (Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin and Robert Hernandez) to the San Francisco Giants for four prospects. At the time, the move was almost universally panned. But years later, it didn’t look so unwise. Two of the prospects the White Sox received in that trade -- relievers Bobby Howry and Keith Foulke -- were major contributors on the 2000 club that won the AL Central crown.
Many aspects of what made the 1997 club execute that trade seem to be in play with this year’s squad. Like the '97 club, the White Sox’s payroll is bogged down by expiring veteran contracts. The bottom line certainly isn’t helped by attendance figures that rank in the bottom five in the big leagues.
Ironically the most irate player after the ’97 trade was third baseman Robin Ventura. After 10 years with the team, Ventura has said he made up his mind the day of trade that he would become a free agent and move on after the 1998 season.
The loss of left-hander John Danks for another month should give the Sox brass pause in deciding what major moves to make next. Peavy and Pierzynski will be playing elsewhere at some point. It’s up to Sox management to figure out if that departure date will be July 31 or Oct. 4 .