Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sox Offseason Moves; Reinsdorf opens the pocketbook again and again.

I was prepared for the worst for my White Sox this winter; greatly slashed payroll, youth movement beginning, the whole works.  I had written off Sox heroes like Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski.  Too old and too expensive.  Cast aside for the oncoming rebuilding project built around (cheap) youngsters like Gordon Beckham, Brett Morel, Chris Sale, and Dayan Viciedo.

Then a funny thing happened; Sox GM Kenny Williams convinced owner Jerry Reinsdorf to open the Scrooge McDuck money vault on the offseason.

Money has flowed like wine over the past 3 weeks.  $2.5 on Alexei Ramirez's club option, $8 million on AJ, $56 million on "Big Donkey" Adam Dunn, $37.5 million on Paul Konerko, and, just yesterday, a 3-year $12 million commitment to former Sox nemesis Jesse Crain (Fairview Product, as Tuba John would want me to point out).  This year alone the Sox will have close to $130 million in commitments; absolutely unheard of on the Southside.

Kenny Williams' enduring legacy has to be his ability to get a famously thrifty owner to open the pocketbooks again and again on a franchise that traditionally has been second tier.  If you would have told my younger self that I'd grow up to see Jerry Reinsdorf willingly increase payroll like this, without a guarantee of success or, more importantly, increased attendance, I'd have called you nuts.

After all, it was Reinsdorf who was famously the most steadfast of the owners during the '94 players strike that crippled his own franchise.  It was Reinsdorf who threw in the "White Towel" in 1997.  In my childhood, despite 6 Bulls championships, despite the early Frank Thomas years, he was always wearing the black hat; especially in the press.
(For a man who's brought 7 titles to the Windy City, he's gotten a lot of grief over the years)

Now he's boosting payroll to try and sustain a decade-long run of general excellence.  Maybe the elderly Reinsdorf is legacy-shopping.  Maybe he's still high with post-2005 giddiness. Maybe his love for Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen keeps him from holding back.  Whatever the reason, I'll take it, and the Sox are in a better position for it.

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