Saturday, January 22, 2011
Adding payroll tough call for White Sox
By Bruce Levine
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox made a splash this offseason, adding free agent slugger Adam Dunn and reliever Jesse Crain and bringing back fan favorites Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski.
But White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said Saturday at SoxFest that deciding to add payroll in 2011 was a tough decision on the heels of a disappointing 2010 season on the field and in the stands.
"Last year we weren't as good as we thought we could be," Reinsdorf said. "Our attendance was down. Financially we came out of it OK, but thinking about this year, we had to make a decision for the long term -- do we try to get better, or do we view this as a rebuilding year? And that's what took us a long time to make up our minds.
"Finally, I just decided two days before the Adam Dunn signing, 'Let's go for it.' If we spend the money, the attendance will pick up. Once we committed to Dunn, we had to bring Paulie and had to bring A.J. back."
The Sox payroll has been increased almost $15 million over last year's $110 million allotment, and Reinsdorf said it was still too early to tell if the high-profile pickups will increase revenue this season.
"We've really taken a chance," Reinsdorf said. "We've really stuck our necks out. If this team bombs and we draw 2.2 million people again, we are going to lose a lot of money. We are betting that we're going to be good."
An easier call for Reinsdorf was picking up the 2012 option in manager Ozzie Guillen's contract before the start of this season.
"It was just the right time," Reinsdorf said. "We anticipate Ozzie's going to be here for a long time. Ozzie said he doesn't want to manage any place else. We knew we were going to pick up [the option] at the end of the year anyway. But we thought we might as well eliminate the uncertainty and pick it up now."
Reinsdorf said the ups and downs in Guillen's relationship with general manager Ken Williams last season come with the territory in those positions.
"There's a tension between managers and general managers because they look at things differently," Reinsdorf said. "I'll bet you that [Atlanta's management team for 20 years] John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox didn't always see eye-to-eye."
Reinsdorf offered a tongue-in-cheek response when asked if Williams-Guillen will hopefully be his last management team.
"At my age, that could happen anytime," Reinsdorf said, before turning serious. "You always want your guys to be the last ones. Almost everybody in the organization has been here 20-25 years, so I would hope this is the last tandem."
Bruce Levine covers baseball for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.