Saturday, March 2, 2019

White Sox being cheap? Or is it just petty people looking for something else baseball-related to gripe about?

The Chicago White Sox this past winter tried to portray themselves as major players to attract the big-star ballplayers who were available on the open market; yet the end result was failure.
Was there ever a chance that Manny Machado or … 
Neither infielder Manny Machado nor outfielder Bryce Harper wound up regarding White Sox offers seriously – which has a certain segment of baseball fans now going out of their way to lambaste the Sox as cheap or amateurish.
… Bryce Harper would have played in Chicago?

SOME EVEN MANAGE to come up with language much more blunt and vulgar – to the point where I wouldn’t feel compelled repeating it here.

Yet I can’t help but think those people are being ridiculous. In part because I suspect many of the same individuals are the same people who spent the winter months when ballplayer negotiations took place lambasting the very idea that these two men were somehow worthy of the big-money, long-term deals they were demanding.

As it turned out, Machado went with the San Diego Padres – which offered him a 10-year, $300 million deal. Harper this week got an even bigger contract; some $330 million over 13 years with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Who, of course, were the baseball franchise whose ownership said they were prepared to spend “stupid” money in order to give themselves an injection of talent that could make them a sudden championship contender.

THE WHITE SOX never made a definitive offer to Harper, while the Machado deal was for some $250 million – with other clauses that could have boosted the overall cost to $350 million.
From journeyman outfielder to nondescript VP?

In theory, Machado could have made more money coming to Chicago, but chose San Diego because he wanted the guaranteed payoff rather than the possibility of more money.

Which has some baseball fans determined to badmouth the South Side ball club by saying the Sox were too amateurish to negotiate firmly – instead acting as though they hoped to get some sort of discount to get Machado in the black-and-white pinstripes of the Sox; rather than wearing the occasional brown-and-yellow throwback uniforms that lead fans to joke about Taco Bell.

I think such criticism is ridiculous – and not just because some of the same fans seem like they’d criticize the Sox for doing a deal AND for not doing a deal.

IT ACTUALLY MAKES me think that White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams had a point when he told the Chicago Sun-Times that, “it’s a shame if it’s being portrayed that we were on the cheap on this thing. That’s really interesting because, holy shit, that’s a quarter of a billion dollars we offered with a chance to be higher than what he’s getting.”

Then again, there probably is an element of a baseball executive trying to downplay the fact that he got beaten out for a ballplayer he wanted to acquire – not only for his on-field talents but also for the large amount of publicity his acquisition would have brought to Chicago.

Which, I suspect, is what has many people eager to bad-mouth them. Or at least those people whose baseball leanings make them delusional enough to root, root, root for the Cubbies.

Perhaps they didn’t like the idea of the White Sox flirting with baseball relevance – and reminding people that Chicago IS a two-team town. No matter how much some Cubs fans are insecure at the thought of anyone paying attention to any team other than themselves.

NOT THAT I’M intending to write an anti-Cubs diatribe here. It’s just that I’m not bothered much by the fact that Machado turned down a White Sox offer and didn’t get serious in trying to win over Harper.
Wasn't good enough to bring championship to Chgo

I still think that if all the rhetoric about the White Sox rebuilding themselves into a serious championship contender has any truth to it, it’s going to be because a significant share of those young minor leaguers already in the Sox system actually turn out to be as good as speculated.

Acquiring either of them would not, by itself, have turned the White Sox into a championship team.

All it would have done was created a deal that would have financially strapped the White Sox for years to come – possibly thwarting any serious efforts to improve the team in the future. As though what the Sox really need is to come up with their own version of Ernie Banks – a star ballplayer whose career was wasted away playing for Cubs teams that never won a thing.


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