"Appreciate the Game." That's the 2012 slogan for your Chicago White Sox.
The front office might as well have said, "If you can't appreciate the game, it's going to be a long summer."
Look, I'm a huge White Sox fan. I have been since the time I could say "baseball". However, I can't even fathom the type of year my South Side team is shaping up to have. Thank you, Kenny Williams, for pulling apart this franchise brick by painful brick.
2005 seems like such a long time ago. I remember when that trophy was hoisted, and Williams was touted as a genius. I was one of those people saying that, at the time, he was the best GM in baseball. No one can argue that the moves he made to put that team together were golden.
But the moves he has made since then? Yikes.
There's no doubting that players want to play for a championship team. So when the banner was raised at U.S. Cellular Field in April 2006, the Chicago White Sox were a hot commodity. It seems no one knew that better than Kenny Williams, who started recruiting names rather than talent and results.
Williams has utterly decimated the White Sox payroll in the last few years recruiting Jim Thome (who, to be fair, was at least decent), Alex Rios, Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr.
Two, maybe three (if Ramirez gets very lucky) of those guys are headed to the Hall of Fame, but they were way past their prime when they put on White Sox uniforms. The other two, Rios and Dunn, were among the worst pickups in the history of sports.
Gordon Beckham was deemed "untouchable" by Williams two years ago. Now it seems as if he really should have sold high. The farm system is among the worst in baseball, and our new manager, Robin Ventura, has almost zero big-league coaching experience.
At least Guillen was a base coach before he took the big job, but even that was amongst the biggest homer hires in the game.
Williams has spent the last few years trying to show that he still has what it takes to build a winner. He doesn't. Like Ramirez, Thome and Griffey Jr., he is way past his prime.
Williams has turned a hopeful, aggressive franchise into a baseball nursing home where washed up players come to spend their last days.
And while this year, the team is younger, there are still four non-pitching starters over 30 years of age, and the only one who has proven himself despite that is Paul Konerko.
I'm still excited for baseball this year. It's my favorite sport, and I'm looking forward to seeing Konerko continue his pursuit of 500 home runs. I'm excited to see how Chris Sale will pitch as a starter. And of course, I'm relishing the kind of trouble that A.J. Pierzynski might cause for his opponents.
However, I'm really concerned for where this team stands right now. An injury-prone Jake Peavy heads the rotation, the bullpen has no closer, and the marquee pick up during the offseason was Kosuke Fukudome.
Why? Because the White Sox have no one left, starting or in the minors, to trade. They have too much money dedicated to players who don't produce and no good prospects because of risky moves made by Williams.
Please, Mr. Reinsdorf, don't let this continue past this year. I could be wrong, and the 2012 White Sox could surprise everyone. But it sure doesn't look like it, and getting past the likes of Detroit seems like trying to climb Mount Everest with no oxygen and no crampons.
Last year, the slogan was "All In." This year, it's looking like "All Outs."
I can only hope that I am wrong.
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