The White Sox are one of the strangest teams in Major League Baseball. They play in the shadow of their crosstown rivals in a bad part of town (or so the story goes.) They just lost the face of their franchise in manager Ozzie Guillen, which is a damning indictment of the kind of talent surrounding Paul Konerko and the rest of the Pale Hose. They are about to lose perhaps the best pitcher in franchise history in free agency.
Their mounting payroll concerns which don’t mesh well with their mounting “not a lot of talent” concerns. Is a complete blow-up in the works?
The Sox recently announced reduced ticket prices (sort of) and a change to their previously-Ozzie-branded flex packs, tacking on an extra game for good measure. Many around the team, bloggers and columnists alike, consider this a move designed to soften the blow from a complete re-build. Is there anything to it?
Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune highlights the ugly truth facing the White Sox ahead of the 2012 season.
The payroll trimming seems even more essential, based on the Sox’s financial formula of projected revenues minus projected expenses equal player payroll. The Sox suffered a substantial loss in 2011 as home attendance dipped for the fifth consecutive season with a record player payroll of $127 million.
As Jim Margalus of South Side Sox notes, the Sox don’t have any players on their roster, outside of Chris Sale, who command a massive price tag in trade. The given salaries and age of this Sox team permits Kenny Williams a significant amount of freedom to make moves.
John Danks and Carlos Quinten are frequently discussed as possible trade pieces for the Sox, mostly because they, unlike Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, still have a shred of market value. Matt Thornton is reportedly on the block while teams come knocking on Sergio Santos.
Is the team beyond repair? Absolutely not. The White Sox have a decent rotation that gives them a chance to win in their division if Rios and Dunn can emerge from the dark crevice that swallowed their ability to perform above replacement level. Not beyond the realm of possibility, based on their respective track records.
The attempts by the team to soften the blow are not to be dismissed. If Dayan Viciedio develops into an everyday player and Alejandro De Aza continues posting a .400 BABIP and Tyler Flowers becomes a legit catcher and…you get the point.
The landscape of the AL Central is such that you are never too far from contention. With the Royals and Cleveland building strong, young cores, the White Sox need to reload lest they get left behind. Moving out some of their established big leaguers for younger, cheaper players just a step away might be in their best interests.