By Mike DePilla
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The logic is baffling, but it's true: the White Sox have passed on signing Jim Thome for 2010.
Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones will not have to suffer the indignation of seeing their somehow "earmarked" at-bats taken away by a superior hitter with a higher standing in the White Sox community.
Could the White Sox organization really be this short-sighted? It seems downright idiotic to think the Sox would elect not to blatantly improve their offense and leave a gaping hole wide open like this.
Then again, it was just last year that everyone laughed off the idea that journeyman minor leaguer Dewayne Wise could actually be the team's opening day centerfielder and lead off hitter, despite Kenny and Ozzie saying it was a real possibility all winter. Even the farthest-flung peyote-induced visions of 2009 didn't actually have Wise playing that vital role.
"No way Kenny lets that happen."
And yet, who was it going 0-4 with 3 K's in the opener?
But of course, as Homer Simpson would tell you, "everything looks bad if you remember it."
Ozzie may not want to remember but Sox fans surely do, and the boos reigned down hard and quick on Wise last year, right out of the gate: Sox fans booed Wise literally after his first at bat. It wasn't so much a reaction to Wise himself as it was a loud and clear message to Sox brass that putting the team in that position was not acceptable.
I would expect a very similar scenario this year, as Sox fans are cranky and especially cantankerous in situations like these. If Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones (and even, shudder, Omar Vizquel) get off the a poor start, get ready for a restless crowd immediately.
In fact, it might be even worse- if Thome signs elsewhere Sox fans will have a clear view of what they're missing.
To state the obvious, as everyone and their brother is doing right now, there is literally zero benefit to the decisions the Sox are making. If we were debating Thome vs. another free agent, at least there would be decent discussion. On this there is simply isn't. It's like arguing about the relative values of a quarter and a nickel.
The only thing I can think of is that Kenny and co. have their eye on a big ticket mid-season acquisition. Everybody knows about their desire for Adrian Gonzalez; maybe throw in a Prince Fielder or Adam Dunn in there as well?
It would sure be nice to land a big name like that, but there is something to be said for making the move(s) now and having continuity for the whole year. The constant trade rumors and threats of up-rooting your team do not inspire better baseball among the players actually on the roster. Plus, it's expensive.
The precedent for that was set in the same Wise scenario. Wise, and the cavalcade of other centerfielders, failed so spectacularly that the Sox went out and spent about $60 million to get Alex Rios. A few years before, the Sox "young, power arm" bullpen failed so spectacularly that the Sox spent about $30 million on veterans Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel to shore things up.
So if this rotating DH fails, it's likely the Sox will go to great measures--and cost--to fix the problem. It's just so frustrating that there are easy answer today.
Isn't it like a guy looking into his future and deciding to wait until he gets really fat before going a diet? Couldn't that guy just eating healthy now? Preventative medicine and action save tons of money!
I guess technically there is a slim chance the Sox make a move for Johnny Damon, Russell Branyon, Carlos Delgado or Hank Blalock in the next few weeks. Otherwise, be prepared to hear some boo birds.
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