Sox Drawer: Ozzie believes Konerko will be back

273217.jpg

Sox Drawer: Ozzie believes Konerko will be back

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
2:58 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. -- Day One of the MLB winter meetings is playing out like a primetime TV show for the White Sox, a team surrounded by mystery and suspense.

The sub-plot: Will they re-sign Paul Konerko?

At the moment, no one knows for sure. But Ozzie Guillen thinks he knows the answer. Well, at least his gut thinks so.

Is Paulie coming back?

I say yes, Guillen said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. Thats my gut feeling, but my gut has been pretty wrong a lot. I say yes because thats the guy we want the most. But like Kenny Williams said a couple days ago, he better hurry because if you dont make a decision, were going to lose the guys behind him.

Team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was scheduled to meet with Craig Landis, Konerkos agent, Monday morning at 11 a.m. eastern time. Kenny Williams arrived later, talking contract parameters with Landis, a meeting that lasted around 45 minutes. However, no offer was made.

Before they signed Adam Dunn last week, the Sox' biggest priority appears to have been the pursuit of one Adrian Gonzalez.

The Padres eventually traded the All-Star first baseman to the Red Sox, but behind-the-scenes, the White Sox were reportedly trying to pry him loose.

Williams wouldnt comment on the topic, but Guillen did slightly, giving us a glimpse into some of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering.

There were rumors out there that the White Sox were after Gonzalez. It was something that Kenny kind of told me after, Guillen said.

Gonzalez? Dunn? Konerko? Williams wasnt kidding when he said last week that the White Sox are going all in this season. And that even surprised Guillen.

Did he think the Sox would be this aggressive this off-season?

No, I was wrong. I told my family that we have to be ready because were going to be managing kids. When I saw the (Dunn) move, I was shocked. I texted Joey Cora after we signed him. The whole coaching staff was shocked. Thats a great thing. A lot of teams wanted him and we got him. Kenny and Jerry showed the fans that we want a winning team. I hope the fans support them too, because thats a big part, to put people in the stands, and I hope they do that.

Guillen is already thinking about his lineup for next season, one with Dunn hitting 3rd.

I want to give Dunn the most at-bats. I want him hitting in the first inning, Guillen said.

If Konerko re-signs, hed bat 4th. Alex Rios 5th.

Guillen sees Matt Thornton and Chris Sale competing for the closer role, unless Sale starts the season in the rotation.

Is Guillen preparing for Bobby Jenks not coming back to the South Side?

I have to," the Sox skipper said. "I have no other choice. I read in the paper the other day that we didnt get along. That guy is wrong, because the guy I talk about the most is Bobby Jenks. Hes still out there. I dont know whats going on. I think the Chicago White Sox will miss him.

Besides the Konerko story, the big buzz here at the meetings was about the 7-year, 126 million contract the Nationals gave to Jayson Werth, who gets all that money despite playing in only one All-Star Game (as a fill-in reserve in 2009).

Said one MLB executive, We dont have that many superstars, but were paying players like it.

Guillen put it another way.

I wish I was his agent. Or his wife.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

Bobby Howry wasn't aware of the fact he was part of one of the more infamous transactions in White Sox history until a few years after it happened. 

In 1997, with the White Sox only 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians, general manager Ron Schueler pulled the trigger on a massive trade that left many around Chicago — including some in the White Sox clubhouse — scratching their heads. Heading to the San Francisco Giants was the team's best starting pitcher (left-hander Wilson Alvarez), a reliable rotation piece (Doug Drabek) and a closer coming off a 1996 All-Star appearance (Roberto Hernandez). In return, the White Sox acquired six minor leaguers: right-handers Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Keith Foulke, left-hander Ken Vining, shortstop Mike Caruso and outfielder Brian Manning. Only Foulke had major league experience, and it wasn't exactly good (an 8.26 ERA in 44 2/3 innings). 

Howry was largely oblivious to the shocking nature of the trade that brought him from the Giants to White Sox until, before the 1999 season, he was featured in a commercial that referenced the "White Flag trade."

"I don't even know if I knew it was called that before then," Howry recalled last weekend at the Sheraton Grand Chicago at Cubs Convention. 

The trade was a stark signal that youth would be emphasized on 35th and Shields. Both Alvarez and Hernandez were set to become free agents after the 1997 season, and the 40-year-old Darwin wasn't a long-term piece, either. With youngsters like Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee rising through the farm system, the move was made with an eye on the future and maximizing the return on players who weren't going to be long-term pieces. 

Sound familiar? 

It's hardly a perfect comparison, but when the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in December for four minor leaguers — headlined by top-100 prospects in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech — it was the first rebuilding blockbuster trade the organization had made since the 1997 White Flag deal. Shortly after trading their staff ace at the 2016 Winter Meetings, the White Sox shipped Adam Eaton — their best position player — to the Washington Nationals for a package of prospects featuring two more highly-regarded youngsters in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. 

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

And there still could be more moves on the horizon, too, for Rick Hahn's White Sox (Jose Quintana has been the subject of persistent rumors since the Winter Meetings). But for those looking for an optimistic outlook of the White Sox rebuilding plans, it's worth noting that the club's last youth movement, to an extent, was successful.

Only Howry (3.74 ERA over 294 games) and Foulke (2.87 ERA, 100 saves over 346 games) became significant long-term pieces for the White Sox from those six players brought over in 1997. And it wasn't like Schueler dealt away any of the franchise's cornerstones — like Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Robin Ventura — but with future starters in Lee, Ordonez and Chris Singleton on their way the White Sox were able to go young. A swap of promising youthful players (Mike Cameron for Paul Konerko) proved to be successful a year and a half later. 

And with a couple of shrewd moves — namely, dealing Jamie Navarro and John Snyder to the Milwaukee Brewers for Cal Eldred and Jose Valentin — the "Kids Can Play" White Sox stormed to an American League Central title in 2000. 

"It was great," Howry said of developing with so many young players in the late 1999's and 2000. "You come in and you feel a lot more comfortable when you got a lot of young guys and you're all coming up together and building together. It's not like you're walking into a primarily veteran clubhouse where you're kind of having to duck and hide all the time. We had a great group of guys and we built together over a couple of years, and putting that together was a lot of fun."

What sparked things in 2000, Howry said, was that ferocious brawl with the Detroit Tigers on April 22 in which 11 players were ejected (the fight left Foulke needing five stitches and former Tigers catcher/first baseman Robert Fick doused in beer). 

"About the time we had that fight with Detroit, that big brawl, all of a sudden after then we just seemed to kind of come together and everything started to click and it took off," Howry said. 

The White Sox went 80-81 in 1998 and slipped to 75-86 in 1999, but their 95-67 record in 2000 was the best in the league — though it only amounted to a three-game sweep at the hands of the wild-card winning Seattle Mariners. 

Still, the White Flag trade had a happy ending two and a half years later. While with the White Sox, Howry didn't feel pressure to perform under the circumstances with which he arrived, which probably helped those young players grow together into eventual division champions. 

"I was 23 years old," Howry said. "At 23 years old, I didn't really — I was just like, okay, I'm still playing, I got a place to play. I didn't really put a whole lot of thought into three veteran guys for six minor leaguers." 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox 2016 first round pick Zack Collins joins the podcast to talk about his future with the White Sox, when he hopes to make the big leagues and the doubters who question whether he can be a major league catcher.   He discusses comparisons with Kyle Schwarber, his impressions of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, why his dad took him to a Linkin Park concert when he was 6 years old and much more.