View Full Version : The Moron column count '02: Flubs 18, Sox 7

05-16-2002, 09:27 AM
I give this one a "3" for the Sox, since he occasionally praises the Sox's chances while bashing management at the same time.

5=Extremely positive
3=equal parts positive and negative
1=extremely negative

That makes the totals (columns/points/average points):

Flubs 18/63/3.50
Sox 7/22/3.14


Old gall game: Sox want fans to pay

May 16, 2002


The clamor is louder than the nightly fireworks. White Sox fans, smelling a division title in a year when the Cubs just smell, want another starting pitcher. Management claims it would like to help, realizing pups Jon Garland, Danny Wright and Gary Glover are colossal risks compared with a veteran with pennant-race experience.

There's just one hitch. They want you to pay for him.

With a $57 million payroll and the usual low attendance figures, the Sox are crying poor again. ''We can't afford the present club we have,'' said general manager Ken Williams, who relays ownership's financial messages to the public. Thus, any dramatic move to upgrade the pitching staff and help a potent offense will come only if gate receipts increase appreciably the next few weeks at Comiskey Ballmall. Otherwise, the Sox will remain vulnerable to more of their recent shellackings--19-0, 16-1, 15-4, 10-0--and probably fall short in a winnable American League Central.

''There are some encouraging signs from our fans,'' said Williams, asking politely. ''I've noticed a heightened excitement level that, hopefully, will translate to more people coming out to the ballpark. If it does, it will enable us to consider some things that right now we simply can't consider.''

Some would call it extortion. At the very least, it's incredibly nervy to ask paying customers to underwrite the cost of an urgent acquisition--especially this season. As Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is fully aware, baseball is headed toward another stormy labor showdown, with no progress in sight and players so frustrated with the ever-dawdling owners that an early August strike date is being discussed. A baseball team can't be issuing Pitching Relief Fund ultimatums in a work-stoppage climate. This comes only eight years after Reinsdorf, in what Sox fans still consider an unforgivable stance, played a central management role in a strike-shortened season that cut short a potential World Series on the South Side.

So it would behoove Williams to remove the onus from the fans' wallets and go get the veteran starter anyway, whether attendance improves or not. Rather than make demands of ticket-buyers, the Sox should take a more fan-friendly approach: Spend, and they will come. The financial resources aren't as limited as Williams would have you think. While not as well-heeled as the Cubs, the Sox operate well in the black thanks to their share of big-market advantages, such as the $30.1 million in local broadcast revenue that ranked fifth in the major leagues last year. That offsets attendance figures that again rank among the bottom seven teams in baseball.

Don't let them fool you. They can afford to play Buy-an-Arm.

The emerging prize in a thin pitching pool is Jeff Weaver, the former Sox draftee, who is available as the Detroit Tigers downsize their payroll. While he is owed more than $20 million, he'll make only $2.4 million this season. The Sox are interested, but so are the Yankees, Mariners and Reds. In a bidding war, the Sox certainly have plenty to offer: impending free agent Ray Durham, a $6.3 million luxury no longer needed with Tony Graffanino and prospect Willie Harris capable at second base; left fielder Carlos Lee, whose inconsistency and fielding lapses are sources of increasing frustration; or eternal third-base prospect Joe Crede, who may or may not actually exist. Any would be worth sacrificing for Weaver, a legitimate No. 2 man who would give the Sox what they don't have: three serious playoff starters. Hell, throw in Jon Rauch and the washed-up Jim Parque if someone wants them.

There might be a few other helpful options: the Orioles' Scott Erickson, the Phillies' Robert Person, the Mariners' John Halama, the Royals' Paul Byrd, the Dodgers' Omar Daal. Whatever the case, the Sox have to seek someone. The last thing this franchise needs is another year of coming close and failing. Before long, if Reinsdorf isn't careful, the Sox might be candidates for the next round of contraction. The crowds are that low, the interest that lukewarm in a metropolitan area of nearly 9 million people.

As he creeps toward 70, Reinsdorf needs to take advantage of this window. With the Sox near first place and the Twins dealing with injuries to pitchers Joe Mays and Brad Radke, the chance exists for a fun, successful summer. The chairman might be surprised how quickly his popularity quotient would improve if he did a big favor for Soxdom. It's not that he hasn't tried bringing in top-dollar pitchers. It's just that he has been burned a couple of times by his general managers: $15 million for Jaime Navarro, $9.25 million for David Wells.

Here is where Williams must earn his keep and push the right button. His rookie season was a bombout: the Wells flop, Sirotkagate, the Royce Clayton drain, the deal for James Baldwin in which he thought he was getting 23-year-old pitcher Jeff Barry when he really was getting 32-year-old outfielder Jonathan Berry. This year, he is being knocked for trading kid pitchers Kip Wells and Josh Fogg--who would look great in the Sox rotation, given their fine starts in Pittsburgh--in the deal for innings-eater Todd Ritchie. The criticism isn't very fair because the Sox desperately needed a No. 2 starter and couldn't have gambled on Wells and Fogg in key roles. But did Williams have to relinquish so much for Ritchie, including Sean Lowe?

In his two offseasons, Williams has blown up the idea the Sox are blessed with wondrous pitching youth. The hype was advanced for years by his predecessor, Ron Schueler, who promised a remake of his early '90s rotation: Jack McDowell, Alex Fernandez, Wilson Alvarez and Jason Bere. Needless to say, the Schu didn't fit again, with only Mark Buehrle--a 38th-round pick four years ago--becoming a star. Truth be known, the Sox are top-heavy in the everyday lineup. They need to make a deal to preserve another run at October, the most elusive month in Chicago sports.

But let's get something straight. It's on their dime, not yours.

05-16-2002, 11:17 AM
Originally posted by cheeses_h_rice
Hell, throw in Jon Rauch and the washed-up Jim Parque if someone wants them.

Give up on Rauch after 1 month of the majors? Now THAT's smart, Jay. Ugh.