Sox Drawer: Williams says no to Pujols, 'insanity'

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Sox Drawer: Williams says no to Pujols, 'insanity'

Monday, Feb. 21, 2011Posted: 4:30 p.m.
By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz-- Kenny Williams said he wanted peace and quiet at spring training this season. No drama. No controversies. Just baseball and sunshine.

Well, it was good while it lasted.

With the White Sox in position to contend for an AL Central title, there is an undercurrent of hostility boiling inside him. It has nothing to do with Ozzie or Twitter. But instead, the face of baseball, Albert Pujols.

The Cardinals slugger might be thousands of miles away from Glendale, but with talk that he might command around 30 million a year when his contract runs out or re-signs with the Cardinals, Williams has looked at the present and into the future, and he doesnt like what he sees.

Consider this his warning shot to the rest of the league.

For the games health as a whole, when were talking about 30 million dollar players, I think its asinine, Williams said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. We have gotten to the point of no return. Something has to happen. And if it means the game being shut down for the sake of bringing sanity to it, to franchises that arent going to stop the insanity, Im all for it.

Considering the White Sox just raised their payroll for 2011 to around 125 million, a franchise record, one could say that Williams is just as guilty as the other big market teams who are contributing to the escalating salaries. But Williams is simply playing by the rules that the league set forth, a system without a salary cap, that gives big market teams a significant advantage over the smaller teams.

And get this: its a luxury Williams says he doesnt even want.

I personally, from a competitive standpoint, would love to be on an even playing field with everyone, Williams said. But its really difficult for me to complain too much when we still have a higher payroll than some of the others. So at least we have a fighting chance.

Pirates, Royals, Marlins...Kenny Williams is looking out for you. And hes not the only one.
Jerry Reinsdorf put it best when he and I had a conversation about it, he said, Its a shame that our game is played, and when the game starts, everybody plays under the same rules, the same 27 outs. The problem is, before the game, the rules are completely different.

Compare the Pujols situation to the NBA, where there's a salary cap. When LeBron James became a free agent last summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers, a small market team, had the money and ability to re-sign James. Forget about LeBrons intentions about where he actually wanted to play, but finances were never the issue for the Cavaliers.

But in baseball, what kind of shot do the Cleveland Indians have in signing Pujols? Zero.

If Pujols does hit the open market, only a handful of teams will be able to afford him. Would the White Sox go after him? The answer is no. Not at that price.

If (Jerry Reinsdorf) gave me 30 million dollars right now, Im not going to spend it on one guy. Sorry White Sox fans, Williams said. But I tell you what, Im going to take that 30 million and Im going to distribute it around. My team is going to be better as a whole than it is with one player who might get hurt. Then youre done. Sorry, thats just me. And thats no disrespect to a future Hall of Famer, first ballot, one of the greatest players in history.

Where is all of this headed? Nobody knows. Kenny Williams doesnt. But hes prepared for the worst-case scenario, which he believes might be the best-case scenario for the health of the league.

Youre not going to get any disagreement from me or argument from me if the game is shut down for a while until something is put in place where there is some sort of cap on the board, Williams said.

Do you think the game might get shut down?

Listen I love the game, I love the game for the players and the fans, but in order for the game to continue to be affordable for families, for guys who are hard-working guys busting their butts everyday to take their kids to a ballgame...well, hell yeah. Yes. Im okay with it being shut down.

Then Williams remembered something.

Wait a minute, didnt I say I wanted it quiet, I wanted peace? Let me shut the hell up already. I was hoping no one would ask me that this entire spring training.

And the drama begins again.

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.

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Saladino hit leadoff on Wednesday, finishing with a home run and a single.

Saladino's first-inning drive was one of eight combined homers hit between the White Sox and San Diego Padres, who finished in a 9-all tie at Camelback Ranch. Before the game, White Sox manager Rick Renteria said that Saladino, who finished 2-for-2, would see most of his playing time at second base.

"He's been developing and continuing to grow every single season," Renteria said. "The flexibility that he brings allows him to be in the lineup over an extended period of time. But we want to make sure we take care of him as we want to do with everybody else, kind of keep them all fresh as much as we can.

"He's developed into a pretty good major league baseball player."

Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico and Jake Peter all homered for the White Sox. Delmonico led the White Sox with five homers this spring. Abreu went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs.

[Buy White Sox tickets right here]

Rule 5 pitcher Dylan Covey, who appears primed to make the Opening Day roster, allowed two earned runs in his lone inning pitched. Covey then headed to the bullpen and threw additional pitches there as the White Sox continue to build up his arm strength.

Veteran Anthony Swarzak allowed a run and struck out two in two innings. Reliever Dan Jennings allowed five runs (four earned) and four hits in 1/3 innings.

First-rounder Zack Collins drew a pair of walks in his only plate appearances and scored a run.

The White Sox ended the spring with a 16-15-2 record.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."