Dec 10, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Chicago White Sox General manager Rick Hahn discusses a three-way trade during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox would like some credit for running a baseball team


The White Sox are doing what they should be doing. Short of the Paul Konerko Interlude, which might be the name of the 2014 season, they are focusing on acquiring assets with multi-year use like Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, or that can be easily flipped like Ronald Belisario. Maybe the strip-down process isn’t happening as fast as everyone would like, but maybe you don’t want to see what it looks like when it does*.

But a team doesn’t have to be as emphatically lost as the Phillies to take an irksome public stance. I doubt there is any real way for a major league baseball franchise to effectively inspire sympathy for the limitations of their inherently self-imposed budget restrictions, but the White Sox are so often banking on total ignorance of their financial situation or recent history, it’s a wonder why they even make public statements. They’re just going to sound contradictory to whatever they say when they’re actually spending aggressively next year!

Doug Padilla:

“Two things: One, the overall expenditures by our department may not drop significantly, in part because we will be spending in excess of $10 million on the amateur draft, which is a huge step up,” general manager Rick Hahn said.”

It’s five million dollars. A little less.

“We’re going to be spending in the vicinity of $5 million internationally which again is a big step up over where we were.”

It’s $2.1 million. Together, we’re discussing a combined figure that’s around what most saber-folks peg as the value of a single win over replacement on the free agent market. Or, it’s less than what a year of Phil Hughes is going for. Also, it doesn’t equal $20-$30 million.

Which is not what’s irritating. They are not in a good position to compete in 2014, and since most free agents are signed for the year they are signed with the hope that the rest of the deal won’t be too bad, they have to wait for the right opportunity. What’s irritating is the implication that these rigid, controlled maximums are some sort of burden to shift resources over for. When international and draft spending was subject to a competitive market, where prospects commanded something close to their true value, the White Sox abstained; either out of protest to accelerating salaries or because they trusted their international operations to a scoundrel.

Now that the CBA has been suspiciously bent toward their way of doing business, you would think we would at least be spared of tales how stinking it up so bad in 2013 that they are regimented to have the ability to outbid most of the league on the top amateur talent available is some sort of philosophical sea change in spending. They’re spending their slot, which is what every team worth a damn does in these situations. And the slot isn’t very large, because they wanted it that way.

“Obviously it was an underperforming year for us on the field and that was reflected at the gate,” Hahn said. “It’s going to be a tick down from where we were last year. (Chairman) Jerry (Reindsorf) has always run it that what comes in goes back on the field and if a little bit less comes in then a little bit less goes out.”

Again, there’s a reason why the White Sox should not break the bank this season, and it’s a lot less philosophically bankrupt than this stated policy. It’ the standard trope of citing poor attendance for another unsuccessful team as a hamstringing financial hardship that prevents ownership from finding the money to build a winner, stretched out as  a long-term plan; where fans become more and more disinterested by a losing team and are in turn, punished by the owner who responds by investing less and less into making it better.

That would make Reinsdorf a rather terrible business man, and the suggestion that his franchise is putting itself out on a limb and greatly risking its financial health with its major league payroll would make him a reckless one, and nothing about the way he’s accumulated his wealth or ran his two sports franchise for 30 years–nor the way Illinois legislators speak about him–suggests he’s either.

But apparently they will pretend he is, if just to obfuscate how much of a rebuilding year 2014 is, and to suggest that just in case it is, it’s probably a little bit your fault.

*Again, I mean.

Next White Sox Game View full schedule »
Wednesday, Sep 33 Sep7:10at Minnesota TwinsBuy Tickets

Tags: Chicago White Sox Jerry Reinsdorf Rick Hahn Trop