Paul Konerko: Is He Really Worth Keeping Around?
By Editorial Staff
The season for the White Sox has officially been over for a little more than two weeks, and it seems like the Paul Konerko rumors are never ending. If you go around the sports world, you’re likely to hear 20 different stories pertaining to Konerko and where he will end up next year. You talk to some people and they are 100% sure that he will end up with the White Sox again next year. You go and talk to other people and they say that he is has played his last game in a White Sox uniform. There are rumors that he will end up in nearly half a dozen cities, for however many reasons, and it’s enough to drive anyone mad.
But while all of these rumors continue to fly around the MLB world, the real question we must ask ourselves as fans is, “Is Paul Konerko really worth keeping around for another few years?”
No question that Paul Konerko is “the face” of the White Sox. He assumed that role once we decided to get rid of Frank Thomas, and no one else has come close to taking that role away from him. He has been a leader in the clubhouse and a good example for young players to look up to.
Offensively, he hasn’t been one of the prolific power-hitting first baseman like Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, and Prince Fielder, but he has done more than a respectable job at his position. He has hit 20+ home runs in all but one season since 1999, he’s driven in over 100 runs five times since 2002, he holds a .280 career batting average, and has become a reliable clutch hitter when called upon.
Defensively, he is one of the best in the game today. He dives for balls and makes plays that seem impossible. He’s never had a fielding percentage under .990 in a White Sox uniform and has committed less than 10 errors in all but one season. He is about as defensively sound a first baseman as you can find.
With all that said and all the great memories he has given the White Sox over his playing time here, he just isn’t worth the money. He had an amazing season this year but we all have to be realistic here, how likely is it that he has another year or two like that in the future? He will be 35 this upcoming season, and I don’t care how well he hit, he is never going to put up numbers like he did this year ever again. He will still be able to hit 20-25 home runs as his age increases (depending on what team he plays for and the field they play at) but it would be crazy to expect anything more than that. He can still be a solid RBI guy but his speed is only going to decline (it’s not that great to begin with) so doubles are going to become few and far in between. Think of Jim Thome’s play for the Twins this year and that is the best Konerko will be able to do from now on. Defensively, he is only going to get worse. The plays that he has made year after year he won’t be able to make anymore because his range is going to decrease, and it’s just not going to be pretty when the fans boo because he can’t do all of the things he once could.
If Konerko could still drive 30+ home runs and drive in around 100 RBI for the next couple seasons than I would be all for Konerko returning but we have to accept that it just isn’t going to happen anymore. With Prince Fielder on the trading block, Adam Dunn a free agent, and a plethora of other power hitting free agents out there, the White Sox can use their money to find someone that can help the team more than Konerko would. Even going in house with Dayan Viciedo at first base or as a DH and then picking up a first baseman would be a better option at this point because Viciedo is still very young.
It was a fun ride while it lasted, but we all knew this would happen eventually. We will never forget all the things he has done for us, but the time has finally come for us to say goodbye to Paul Konerko.