When a headline about Konerko possibly retiring at the end of 2013 crawled across my timeline, I expected that the veteran first basemen had issued another statement where he pondered his own baseball mortality. He’s done this before.
But Konerko has not spoken to the present of recent. Instead, ESPN Chicago’s Doug Padilla was just laying out the facts of Konerko’s situation.
- He’ll be 37 by Opening Day
- His contract is expiring
- His performance has declined back-to-back years
- There are other options at the position
Or more pertinently, an aging Konerko anchoring a lineup that’s gunning for the division is fine and well, but is an odd choice for a team in transition, especially on offense.
It would seem shocking for Konerko to ponder playing somewhere besides the South side for the first time since 1998, but he’s been far too pragmatic over the course of his career to have a pledge of undying devotion to the franchise on the record.
At this point, and at this age, the tangible benefit of shipping Konerko out as part of any rebuilding effort has waned to the point of being inferior to the simple desire of giving the man a proper finish in Chicago. However, the last two seasons have seen the White Sox part with players with comparable levels of social cache as Konerko, in the interest of transferring the fate of the franchise to younger and more inexpensive hands.
A wrist-surgery aided return to 2010 form that makes him essential, or a surprising run from the 2013 squad that changes the White Sox focus to the more immediate seems necessary for Konerko to extend his improbably long run of re-signings.
Or he could quit, after this season playing for the White Sox, which is an awfully bizarre thing to want him to do.
Where are you now, Jose Valentin?
Finding out that Edgardo Alfonso is mutilating Venezuelan Winter League pitching as a 39 year-old made me curious about what another old, but fit power-hitting middle infielder was up to.
Unfortunately, Jose is not still playing somewhere, even though when he left the Mets organization at the age of 38, he was still only two years removed from slugging .490 in Shea Stadium, for crying out loud.
Instead, Valentin is managing for the Fort Wayne TinCaps (their logo appears to be an apple with a pot on its head?), the Low-A affiliate for the San Diego Padres. It’s low-level for sure, but Valentin was just named Baseball America’s Manager of the Year for the level, so he might not be there for very long. That’s good, because most of the photos of him on the TinCaps site make it look like he’s not enjoying the Fort Wayne weather.
Technology and Baseball – A shotgun wedding
Antiquated bullpen phones will be a thing of the past, as a new sponsorship agreement with T-Mobile means managers will be fitted with wireless phones to summon relievers with. And just so ejected managers don’t get too crafty, the phones are not supposed to work outside of the dugout. If Don Cooper fiddling with a cell phone after Robin Ventura‘s been ejected isn’t a reason to watch all year long…I can’t do anything for you. Who are you?
In addition, T-Mobile will be providing 4G service in all the ballparks, which is potentially a precursor to Wi-Fi coverage being offered. Of course, all this T-Mobile excitement begs the ultimate chicken-or-the-egg question–Which came first, the push to improve fan experience or the exorbitant bids from sponsor to be the sole licensed provider?
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan