Thursday, February 17, 2011
A New Season Begins...After An Eventful Offseason
Today, February 17th, marks the beginning of a brand new baseball season. Outside there may still be snow and cold temperatures in Chicago but with a warm front coming into the area and with the White Sox reporting to Arizona it feels a little bit like spring, and spring feels like baseball.
This was definitely an offseason to remember. As the stadium screens turned off, and Sox fans took a final look at the park there was uncertainly in the air. As Konerko and Piersynski trotted off the field, Sox fans took their possible final looks at the two ballplayers. Memories flashed by and minds began to wonder what the 2011 season would be like. Unlike the 2005 offseason, when Konerko's contract was under question, White Sox fans were a little less confident that he would return.
I think the question on everyone's mind was whether or not Kenny Williams would propose the plan to go young. In my opinion going young is a term that means a season to rebuild. Not many people travel to a building that is being built, maybe every so often they will, but no one wants to go everyday to see the construction. People would much rather see the glorious final product. Of course it is true you can't get to that point without some building, but the White Sox already had a foundation.
Alexei Ramirez and Gordan Beckham aren't rookies anymore but they are still young. Brent Morel and Chris sale proved in the late 2010 season that they could be great young components for 2011. So the young players were already present. A lot of teams were thrown in 2010 when a majority of the playoff teams were young, but veterans can not be undermined by fresh talent. Rebuilding years are never fun and I think Kenny Williams realized that he couldn't go in front of a microphone and say, "Well, um this year we are going to rebuild, we probably won't win a lot. Maybe next year it will be that way too, but maybe by 2013 we can beat the Twins for the division."
I think attendance also played a large part in the moves made by the White Sox organization. According to Jerry Reinsdorf they went all in with the hope the attendance would pick up. Fans can pay for big name players by going to the games, that was the whole idea around the 2011 decisions. It was very unclear what path the Sox would take. The anticipation came down to a couple days before the winter meetings. I think the biggest surprise was when Adam Dunn signed a four year contract. At this point a lot of people thought that the Sox would still rebuild but Adam Dunn would replace Konerko.
My views on Konerko are like most of Chicagoens. I think Konerko makes the White Sox. He is a silent leader that brings the whole team together. In other words he is like the seams of a baseball, without the red yarn it could not stay together. 2005 players solidify the White Sox because they remind fans of that victorious year. When 2005 players became free agents this year, there was a possiblity that Mark Buehrle would be the only remaining reminder of that historic club.
With Buehrle possibly leaving baseball after the 2011 season I thought it was appropiate for the White Sox to give Konerko, Buehrle, Piersynski, and Jenks one more shot at winning it all together one more time. The White Sox organization apparently thought the same way. With the exception of Jenks, they shocked the baseball world by signing those players again. Carlos Quentin, whose career has been dampened by injuries came back too, along with Omar Vizquel who is partly responsible for Alexei Ramirez's success in the 2010 season. Alex Rios and Juan Pierre will also be returning in the outfield for 2011. The pitching staff isn't really finalized yet because of Jake Peavy's career being still up for disscussion but the bullpen looks strong with the addition of Minnesota Twin's Jessie Crain and Will Ohman. I will go into more detail on the 2011 team and depth chart in my next post but for now it is very clear that the White Sox went ALL IN FOR 2011.