Chicago White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf
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 .
CHICAGO – After a few years of spending aggressively, the White Sox are back into a small-market philosophy that concentrates on scouting and player development in building toward the future.
For a large-market team, that type of message to the fan base may be a little unnerving -- particularly if a fan has invested in season tickets for any number of years. The departure in team structure from signing veteran players was not a reaction to just one underachieving season, but an educated overview of the new collective bargaining agreement itself.
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf said last year that if the baseball plan didn’t work with a $127 million payroll, the team would have to go another way. Winning only 78 games last year set that “other way" in motion.
The team started the season with a $105 million major league salary base. Depending on the early-season results, that number could be in the lower 90s by the trading deadline on July 31. The main reason the White Sox decided to go young is the new collective bargaining agreement that limits the money each team can spend on both the draft and in signing foreign prospects through a heavy-handed taxation system.
The White Sox have spent less than $10 million (combined) on the draft the past three seasons -- no major league team has spent less in that span. That way of doing business, both GM Kenny Williams and Reinsdorf have acknowledged, is about to change dramatically this June. The club is also scouting and signing Latin American players for the first time in four years.
There will be growing pains with the Sox’s new way of competing as the contacts for older players like Paul Konerko (after 2013 ), A.J. Pierzynski (after 2012 ) and Jake Peavy (the team can buy him out for $4 million after 2012) begin expire.
Williams will continue to attempt to make trades for players who are not yet approaching salary arbitration or free agency. In this type of environment, don’t expect any big-time free-agent signings.
“The offseason was boring,” Williams said on Opening Day. “It was a good exercise in patience and a much needed exercise in patience.”
“If we are in the mode of going young, we have to be right and be targeted to take care of the major league club and blend in some youth at the same time we are running the development .”
Accomplishing that feat will, of course, be a major challenge for the White Sox moving forward.
Four days before the start of the White Sox’s annual fan convention, Reinsdorf praised Guillen’s time with White Sox as both a player and manager, and cleared the air as to why Guillen departed with two games remaining last season. Guillen is now the manager of the Miami Marlins.
“Regarding Ozzie Guillen’s departure as White Sox manager last September, I want to make it clear that he left with our organization’s blessing and at my urging,” Reinsdorf said in a statement released Monday evening.
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"Years later, I was so proud that Jackie Robinson played for my team," Reinsdorf said. "But when I was at that game, I didn't realize how momentous it was because I went to school with a lot of black kids. What I saw two years later had more of an impact on me."
It was then, while changing trains in San Antonio on a trip with his mother, brother and sister to visit an aunt in Mexico City that the 13-year-old saw signs that read "Colored" water fountain and "White" restroom.
"I had never seen anything like that," Reinsdorf said. "It actually stunned me and obviously affected me. I never understood why the color of a person's skin should mean anything. I just always felt it was your brain, not the color of your skin."
Some 60 years later, the chairman of the White Sox and Bulls is regularly recognized as one of the leading examples in sports in the areas of minority hiring and programs dedicated to helping inner-city youth. Last June, Reinsdorf was one of 13 recipients of the 2011 Jefferson Awards, considered the Nobel Prize for public service, and in August was given the Barnes and Thornburg Jackie Robinson Award for diversity in the workplace.
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"I was talking to [Blue Jays president] Paul Beeston," Reinsdorf said, "and I told him, 'It seems every time I like a player, he gets traded.' "
One day later, Reinsdorf and the Sox said goodbye to a cornerstone of the franchise when pitcher Mark Buehrle agreed to a four-year, $58 million deal with the Miami Marlins.
"He gave us a chance to keep him and I'm sure he would've taken less money to come back," Reinsdorf said of Buehrle. "He just didn't fit into our plans. That's the thing. You can't let personal feelings for players stand in the way of letting the general manager do what he feels is right for the team."
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"We have to find out what our assets are," Reinsdorf said Saturday on ESPN 1000's 'Talkin' Baseball.' "We have to find out what our players are worth on the marketplace, and what we can get for them.
"After that, we'll try to make a decision that will keep us in the hunt."
The Sox spent a club record $127 million on their major league payroll in 2011. The team finished in third place with a disappointing 79-83 record. That resulted in just two million tickets being sold, which was almost 200,000 fewer than 2010. The consensus is the White Sox will have to cut their payroll somehow.
"Before coming to a final decision, we need to have a better idea about our players, and what step to take next," Reinsdorf said. "We don't want to be in the playoffs one year and then be bad for the next 5-6 years. If we have to step a back, we will. If that's the decision, then that's the decision."
The White Sox were the busiest team at the recent general manger meetings in Milwaukee. GM Kenny Williams said he had more meetings about his players than he ever had during the meetings over the last 10 years.
"Right now I'm not sure which way we are going," Reinsdorf said. "Not yet. But we go through the same process every year."
Williams was asked most about pitchers Gavin Floyd and John Danks and their availability during discussions with other GMs.