Let's put ourselves in a position to keep on loving Paul Konerko. (Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

What Paul Konerko Is Owed

The Paul Konerko debate began quickly after the 2013 season concluded. It was a series of murmurs prior to that, dating back to early in the season when the aging first baseman’s slow start turned into his worst showing in a decade. James discussed the matter here recently and summed it up quite nicely. The roster simply doesn’t have room to watch Paulie die. Jose Abreu’s signing takes care of first base and the single year remaining on Adam Dunn’s contract uses up the last spot for a player without defensive value. If we, you know, pretend Dayan Viciedo isn’t playing out of position in left field.

And then there is this gem from The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan…

Sullivan really wants Paul Konerko to come back. Not because he’s a valuable asset on the field, but because he’s a good guy and deserves it. He also takes some time to suggest that Adam Dunn is some sort of villain, undeserving of being on the team when it could be the mighty Konerko there in his place.

“Now it’s time for the Sox to cut the cord, giving Dunn’s at-bats to Paul Konerko to convince him to return.”

Dunn and Konerko delivered similar on-base numbers last season, with a slight edge going to Dunn. The Big Donkey all stayed healthy enough to appear in 149 games, while Konerko made it into just 126. When it comes to power numbers, Dunn nearly tripled Paulie’s output. Konerko’s bottom-out could technically be simply a down year. But he’ll be 38 before the upcoming season begins and everything about him screams that he’s aging himself out of productivity. Even still, there’s another rather large issue standing in the way. What to do with Dunn and his money?

“But give Reinsdorf a blindfold and his beverage of choice, and Dunn’s $15 million will go down smoothly. It’s all part of the business of owning a modern day sports franchise.”

Oh, ok. Just eat it. Everybody’s doing it! So we just kick that $15M to the curb and take the other guy, who will need a few million of his own for his services, of course.

“Dunn is a good guy and can hit home runs, though he had only 10 — along with 26 RBIs — in the second half of 2013.”

He is a good guy. Unfortunately for him Paulie is gooder. And Konerko hit 12 home runs…the entire season. I guess while we’re being ridiculous we may as well penalize a guy for his RBI total while on a team second to last in the league at getting guys on base at all.

“Reinsdorf owes it to Konerko to give him a proper send-off. Konerko handed him the final out game ball from the 2005 World Series championship during the team’s victory parade, a moment Reinsdorf called “the most emotional” of his life?

How much was that moment worth? In this case, it’s $15 million to pay off Dunn, and perhaps up to $8 million for Konerko.”

I see people dive over seats, push kids aside, dump their $8.00 beers and all sorts of terribly odd things to get themselves a baseball that has been used in a game. It’s illogical behavior, but fans are an illogical lot. You could argue it’s part of being a fan. You know what would be even more illogical? An owner saying “thanks for that ball you handed me 8 years ago, if you’d allow it, I’d love to throw $23 million dollars in the air so that you can drag my already struggling team right into the sewer.”

Owes him. Many claimed that Paul Konerko’s contract immediately following the World Series victory was a repayment for his kind gesture. Or perhaps you could tack on the contract after that one and finally clear the slate.

About the same time this forgettable 2013 campaign was getting underway, The 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card auctioned off for $2.1 million. It just sits there, this card. You don’t have to watch it throw it’s bat down in frustration after popping up hittable pitches. You don’t have to grimace watching it try to run around bases. You don’t have to lament at how you used to love it and now you just want it to go away and stop ruining things. And it only cost $2.1M.

What Paul Sullivan is suggesting is that the Chicago White Sox spend $21M more than that amount so that they can punt a roster spot and handicap their chances at being competitive in 2014. Think about that for a bit. We all love Paul Konerko, he’s done a lot of great things. If the White Sox decide to find a way to fit him into the plans for 2014, all we can do is hope for the best but the idea that the organization or its owner owes him anything for the years of services rendered is outrageous. If the White Sox are in the business of giving out contracts as favors to the detriment of winning games, I’m not sure they should be in business at all.



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Tags: Chicago White Sox Paul Konerko Rick Hahn

  • Pedemegonz

    Using your tortured logic about Viciedo and his bad 2013 year, the Cubs should dump Rizzo and Castro. As to Dunn, I’ll accept your description of him as a “good guy” but he is far from a good player. He is a bad hitter who hits HR’s in bunches, he is a terrible fielder, he is so slow that he never scores from 2nd on a single and lastly he is not a ball player. Mantle Mays and Aaron all bunted for hits. If AD would have bunted once a week in 2013 he would have hit 250 and maybe got some managers to have second thoughts about the shift. The sox have too many non ball players (de Aza and Alexi R immediately come to mind). Its time to dump the humps and keep the ball players.

    • Matthew Adams

      I’m unsure what tortured Viciedo logic you’re referring to. I made no reference to his 2013 beyond his lack of defensive value. Dunn was one of the most productive players on the White Sox last season so whether you like his style or not, that’s worth something. I understand you wanting to see some bunting for hits. The game is different than it was in the days of Mantle and Mays, that’s not a requirement for winning baseball. I suspect your description of a “ballplayer” leaves half the league ineligible to play for your baseball team.

      • Nick Schaefer

        Rizzo and Castro cannot be compared to the Viciedo situation as their contracts are just so profoundly different.

        I think Castro’s contract is disastrous and Rizzo’s is pretty meh, but the White Sox do not owe Viciedo very much money.