A White Sox executive saying that he wants to return to winning “as quickly in possible” possibly triggers a reaction different than the one intended.
Drafting in the top-five and being the doormat upon which playoff contenders wipe the feet is an existence that Rick Hahn and Jerry Reinsdorf make a point of describing as personally offensive. But while the White Sox have a desire to keep up appearances more than full-gut rebuilds elsewhere (the last time they spent under $95 million on a payroll, they won a World Series), the long-distance gaze projected here in this Dan Hayes piece is obvious.
“We’re still working off projections in terms of what our revenue are going to be,” Hahn said. “Jerry (Reinsdorf) runs it, after fixed costs we get what’s left over. Our amateur budget is going up to $10 million; our international budget is going up to $5 million, which in previous years was about $7 million. It’s a decent bump there. Payroll is probably not going to be as high as it was last year, but there’s still room for us to operate.”
This is while simultaneously affirming that there is “some flexibility” with a payroll that Hayes puts at $80 million with current arbitration-eligible players factored in, but that major league payroll will be down from last season, which Hayes puts at $112 million, while Cot’s put it at $119 for the Opening Day total.
It’d be easy to see the Sox settling in at $95-$100 million, because that’s where they always wind up, and because a free agent catcher and a reliever easily brings the payroll near that area. Hahn’s mention of the international and amateur budgets refers to the increased pools the Sox will have on each on account of being terrible in 2013, and while hearing league allotments depicted as expenses that sap at the major league budget aren’t thrilling, the clear intent to use the full pot available to them is a move away from the bad old days.
If nothing else, the plan of getting stronger by no longer sabotaging themselves is in place.
Mark Parent barks
As a bench coach, Mark Parent naturally doesn’t warrant notice often, but if I had to pick three times he’s caught my eye, I would go with him getting ejected by an umpire while exchanging lineup cards, boasting that the White Sox planned to plunk batters in retaliation, and bellowing “G***AMMIT!” from the dugout loud enough to be caught on the field mics after bad calls.
So when he says that he now wants to be the guy to inject a combative, fighting attitude to the White Sox dugout, I wonder if incoming teams should be warned of the mortal peril they are entering. Besides the obsessions with sliding into first base, the “grinder” trope is only looked at negatively for fear that it might take precedent over true talent in player evaluation (both by teams and analysts), not as an actual ethos. The ripples of fear that might be incurred from an article about Rick Hahn or Robin Ventura filling out his lineup that wistfully references Orlando Hudson and Eduardo Escobar don’t apply to Parent, who is in a professional position to be rah-rah.
But since this city can have a football coach–the sport where they are actually supposed to render violence upon one another–that can recognize how unnecessary this bluster is, it’s a wonder how much longer it will have to be accommodated in the sport where it’s long since been ancillary to being good at one’s job.
Not that it change things for Parent,for whom questioning the “grinder” attitude might be as useful as questioning the utility of all the infield practice he and Ventura demand. Pondering whether it’s necessary doesn’t leave him with any insight on how to do his job. For practices, all he’s come up with is “quality over quantity,” and will be challenged even more to find an alternative to the hard-ass attitude he’s been exuding for the past two years. And it’s doubtful he would be encouraged to, since enough interviews were done to know his character was acquired on purpose.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan