Tuesday, November 2,2010
With rumors, whispers, and teamsources ever swirling through the offseason, turn to the BBQ toprovide a bit of a reality check. Heres a look at the supposedbreaking news that Chicago White Sox free agent first baseman PaulKonerko is the object of the Arizona Diamondbacksdesire:
Q: Konerko is fromArizona, right?
A: Yeah. He was rumored to be going home toplay back in 2005 as well. Hey, did you fall asleep five years ago andjust wake up now?
A: Indeed, Konerko starred at Chaparral High inScottsdale. He was a prep Player of the Year. He led Chaparral to astate title in 1994, when Konerko hit a school-record .558. And ifbeing a high school hero had bearing on where a superstar signs acontract in his mid-30s, well then, book PK toAZ.
Q: Allright, simmer down, theres a reason for all this Konerko-to-Arizonatalk, right?
A: Absolutely. Althoughpitched today as the Diamondbacks being interested in Konerko, thereverse is actually true: PK is trolling for a new address. Konerkosurprised many late in the season when he calmly commented that theWhite Sox not only wouldnt be given the right to match any offer hegot over the winter, but he might not return to Chicago even if theWhite Sox trumped all other offers. It was very clearandwrittenvideoed by yours trulythat PK had another suitor inmind.
Q: In2005 he re-signed with the White Sox for less money than the BaltimoreOrioles or Los Angeles Angels offered, now he may take less to signelsewherewhat is this Konerko guy,nuts?
A: All the power is in Konerkos hands. Thatswhat he earned back in 2005, when he led the White Sox to a WorldSeries, then chose to remain with the team for less money than othersoffered. In fact, Konerko specifically mentioned that had he leftChicago after the 2005 season, he would have felt like there wasunfinished business left on the table. Today, he says he knows hell beconsidered a White Sox no matter where his career takeshim.
Q:Uh-oh. That doesnt sound promising. Where do the White Sox rank onPaulies list?
A: From here it looks like Arizonaand the White Sox are 1-2. Its unlikely that will change until Arizonatells him no, or slips sneakily from hometown discount tolowball.
Q: But the White Sox want Konerko back,right?
A: The whole of the White Sox family, from JerryReinsdorf on down, told Konerko they wanted him back next season. Thedecision rests almost solely on Konerkoalthough Williams wont dallyif he needs to pull the trigger on a deal that bolsters his club, withor without Konerko.
Q: OK, what are Konerkosdemands?
A: Postgame brews? Seriously, PK is as low-keyas they come. He isnt going to demand a long-term contract like thefive-year that just expired, as he admits he doesnt know how muchlonger he wants to play. And he will be affordableeven after his bestyear since 2006, at his age and in a robust first base market, he wontcommand a raise on his 12 million annualsalary.
Q:What are the options for the White Sox if Konerkoleaves?
A:There are myriad first basemen available to the White Sox,none preferable than Konerko himself. On the opposite end of thespectrum, Dayan Viciedo could step in as the new first sackerdumb mathwould project him to 25 homers, 65 ribbies if hed played a full seasonin 2010, and his .840 OPS is downright decent considering he walkedjust twice last year.
Q: Dayans fine, but who else is out there for the WhiteSox?
A:Its no dis on Konerko, whose leadership ability is hardto quantify in dollars, but there may be smarter money to be spentelsewhere for both the White Sox and Diamondbacks. Adam Dunn, VictorMartinez and Aubrey Huff are front-line free agent options, with DerrekLee, Lance Berkman and Carlos Pena as comeback candidates Williamscould by low on. And dont forget that Prince Fielder is anothertop-notch first baseman long coveted by Williams, and one who theMilwaukee Brewers will likely put on the trade market over thewinter.
Q:But we want Paulie back. Is there a down side to suiting Konerko up fora few more years?
A: Decorum alone would see Konerko getting, say,10 million over three years from the White Soxand thats a startingpoint. Per FanGraphs value data, Konerko outperformed his recent, 12million per season contract in just 2006 and 2010, putting up 56.3million in value over the course of his 60 million deal. It will beexceedingly hard to match his future contract value when he starts anew deal at age 35. Also, advanced fielding statsas well as thegood-old eye testindicate PKs generally solid work in the field tooka significant step back in 2010.
Q: So, is Konerko comingback?
A:I said it then, and Ill stick it now, but I dont thinkso.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.