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Want to Tell the Sox to Re-Sign Konerko? Get in Line

by Mike DePilla
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
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As the team comes home to play their most important series of the season, there's been a lot of buzz recently about the Sox desire, ability and need to re-sign Paulie Walnuts.

The Trib's Phil Rogers has been stumping all season along about the travesty that would be a 2011 sans Konerko. David Haugh took his turn last week, saying that Konerko, the team leader in the clubhouse and on the field, deserves a contract extension to stay with the Sox. Haugh says it's "more smart than sentimental." The only spot where I disagree with Haugh is about attendance: Haugh says re-signing Konerko will boost crowds at the Cell in 2011, I don't.

(As an aside, my favorite part of Haugh's article was where he said we should call the Sox new DH "Minny" Ramirez until he gets an extra base hit. Hey, I'd settle for an RBI.)

James from White Sox Observer took his turn on Sunday, saying "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."

And then Jim sparked a long discussion on Sox Machine Monday by saying the Sox will have to find a way to fit Konerko into the budget for 2011, although it might have consequences for the rest of the roster.

So the consensus, without a doubt, is that the longest-tenured current Sox player should be back with the team next season. Historically I have been the last person to defend Konerko. Although I always liked him, there was something about his "tip your cap" persona and streaky production that made me wonder what the team would be like without him. But there's no denying the heckuva season he's having in 2010- if the Sox bullpen didn't hit the skids in August and/or the Twins didn't play out of their minds in September, Konerko would be riding his career season to the American League MVP.


Even at age 34, that seems like a good enough reason to bring the guy back for an encore. All season I had taken a "wait and see" approach about re-signing Konerko: if the Sox make the playoffs, bring him back; if they don't, don't. Konerko-led teams sometimes fade competitively down the stretch, even if individual players get their numbers (i.e. 2009 left a really bad taste in my mouth).

This team has faded down the stretch a bit and they'll likely miss the playoffs for the second straight season,, but in no way can you blame it on the first baseman. His numbers are gaudy, but what is even more impressive to me is the surprisingly consistency he's displayed all season. Absent in 2010 are the massive, month-and-a-half-long slumps that have marred previous campaigns. (Note: after a sizzling April he did cool off in May, but he picked it right back up in June and hasn't looked back since.)

It'd be foolish to expect this kind of production from the man in his next contract (hopefully a two-year, $20 million deal; anything more and I'd be wary), but there's no way you can show him the door now. You have to hand it to him: he knows how to play in a walk year. I may take issue with his lack of urgency in the clubhouse and lack of range at first base, but I have to congratulate him on a fantastic 2010: .322/.399/.598 with 36 HRs, 104 RBIs and still three weeks to accumulate more.

Great job Paulie, here's hoping there's more to come in Chicago.

******

Oh, in case this wasn't obvious to everyone, yes, the Sox have to sweep these three games from the Twins to have any shot at the division crown. Konerko and Ozzie Guillen are covering their bases with the "two out of three" talk, but that won't cut it with a six-game deficit and only 16 games to follow.

Foe what it's worth, coolstandings.com currently gives the Sox a 3.3% chance to make the playoffs, while Baseball Prospectus gives them 3.7% (down 15% from a week ago). Those are long odds, but anything is possible if the Sox take three in a row starting tonight.

******

Lastly, ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in the Morning have discussed the 2-Wildcard playoff format idea a few times over the past week. They brought up the topic last Thursday, then talked it over with Tim Kurkjian and, as a follow up, with Buster Olney.

I'm very glad this topic is getting so much air time, happy that it is greeted with so much support (Verducci, Kurkjian, Olney and most others are in favor) and cautiously optimistic about Olney's prediction that the powers that be will seriously consider the proposal and a change will come soon.

The only problem I have with Mike & Mike's perspective is the framing of this concept as a way to compete with football. Look, MLB is not the NFL. I'm not saying that is good or bad; it's just a fact. They are two different sports, with overlapping but different different fan bases and drastically different season structures. If MLB adopted this or any change just as a way to try to mirror the NFL or take fans from the NFL, the idea would be thoroughly wrong-headed.

The 2-Wildcard idea is a fantastic one for reasons only relating to Major League Baseball. That is the only way the idea needs to be framed.

1 comment:

  1. Paul Konerko for MVP!
    the two wildcard system would be a good change, especially since it'll add a strong fifth playoff chase. It'll give September more importance to borderline teams

    ReplyDelete