Paul Konerko Re-Signs with the White Sox – Two Things

Asher B. Chancey

November 30, 2005


I just got word that Paul Konerko re-signed with the White Sox. In this era of big free agent deals, and guys leaving winning situations to join losing ones (Derek Lowe?) simply based on dollar signs, Konerko’s resigning is an interesting one. I have two reactions to this – one immediate, and one that dawned slowly. I will start with the one that dawned slowly – “the bad news first,” if you will.


Konerko re-signed with the White Sox, which means in substance, this team has lost Frank Thomas and Aaron Rowand, but gained Jim Thome. What the White Sox have essentially done is switched a right handed hitting DH (Frank Thomas) for a left-handed hitting DH (Jim Thome), in exchange for losing the centerfielder of their World Series championship team. I appreciate as much as anyone the fact that a) Rowand was a huge disappointment this season, b) Thomas is more injured and older than Thome, and c) a lefty is preferable over a righty, all other things being even, but these moves give me pause.


This seems to be a move which stands in direct contrast to the reason proffered by so many for the White Sox success this year. The Sox have eliminated speed and defense in exchange for power, the reverse of the very formula which so many have said is the reason they won the World Series this year. Remember the Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik trade? Remember not re-signing Magglio Ordonez? This team won with a defense that backed up its pitching, and hitters who could move around the bases and take an extra base when necessary. Simply trading Thomas’ injured righty bat for Thome’s injured lefty bat can’t make up for Rowand’s speed and defense in centerfield, can it?


Rowand was the White Sox starting centerfielder in 2005, with an above average range factor, and he committed only 3 errors all season. Further, the White Sox pitching staff had a very good year, in which each starting pitcher over-achieved. None of these guys had a particularly dominant, as their K/BB ratios were average to poor, and two of them tied for league lead in wild pitches, which to me is a sign that the defense behind them was a significant factor in their success. Rowand’s hitting stats this season were fairly lousy, that much is for sure, but it should not overshadow what he meant to the team defensively.


That having been said, we move on to my first, more immediate reaction upon hearing the news that Konerko re-signed with the White Sox – Wow! I simply stand in disbelief at the fact that, in this day and age, a big name top of the game free agent would re-sign with his old team. And for less money! Apparently, the Orioles were offering Konerko more money to join them, and he turned it down to stay with his current team! What in the name of Derek Lowe is going on here? He allegedly liked the situation better in Chicago, and thus agreed to return for less money!


I am not sure getting rid of Aaron Rowand, will be a positive for this team, just as I am not sure picking up Jim Thome will be either. But I can say for sure that Paul Konerko deserves all the props in the world for measuring the best possible situation for himself in 2006 on considerations other than money. I just hope that is enough for the 2006 White Sox.