The 2010 baseball season is not even over and the Chicago White Sox are still in the race for the American League Central crown. So why should any White Sox fan start thinking about 2011? Team captain and offensive leader Paul Konerko will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season that’s why. While some may argue that it is time to turn the page on the Sox slugger and usher in the Dayan Vaciedo era, we offer five reasons the White Sox need to re-sign him without even thinking twice about it.
5- The White Sox Don’t Need Another Jim Thome Incident
Weeks before spring training was scheduled to begin the White Sox made a team decision to not re-sign future Hall of Famer Jim Thome in a limited role, instead employing a DH by committee among regular outfielders and part-time players like Mark Kotsay, Andruw Jones and even Omar Vizquel. From an offensive standpoint, the experiment failed, leading to a waiver trade for Manny Ramirez. Meanwhile Thome signed a minimal veteran contract with the Minnesota Twins and has hit .278, 22 HR, 55 RBI, 1.042 OPS, in just 241 ABs. Comparatively speaking, Mark Kotsay has hit .240, 8 HR, 30 RBI, .698 OPS in 300 ABs.
4- It’s Hard to Measure the Impact of Clubhouse Leadership
While some opponents of Konerko argue that he’s too reserved and quiet to be a leader, he was named team captain not only for his offensive capability, but for the way he goes about playing the game. Konerko is known for always being on-time, participating actively in all team drills and obeying teams rules without a complaint. While it is hard to place a value on this facet of the game in terms of wins, it is valued within the community and among fans. While Konerko played for two other franchises early in his career, it would be nice to have him end his career as a member of the White Sox.
3- Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers Might Not be Major League Ready
In a limited audition at the major league level, Dayan “the Tank” Viciedo proved to be a free swinger, with a ton of power, who never learned to walk as a child. As a matter of fact, he has walked one time in 82 at bats, yet he has struck out 16 times. While it is still possible Tyler Flowers will be the Sox catcher of the future, hitting in the .220 range at AAA doesn’t scream “replacement” for a hitter of Konerko’s caliber.
2- The 2010 Free Agent Class Has Few Better (and likely Cheaper) Options
Lance Berkman already said “no” to the White Sox once, has broken down multiple times the past couple of seasons and his 2010 line: .249, 13 HR, 53 RBI is not Konerko worthy. Those who are about to scream Adam Dunn’s name as they read this take note: while their numbers are similar, Dunn will likely command a higher salary than Konerko would accept with the Sox.
1- It’s Hard to Replace A Franchise Face and “Sure Numbers.”
Paul Konerko is without a doubt the face of the franchise for this past decade. So long as he’s healthy, he’s a sure bet to provide you above average defense at first base and is good for at least 25-30 HRs. Can you really let a class act player, with good baseball left in him as evident by his MVP worthy 2010 season (currently hitting .318, 33 HR, 98 RBI, .979 OPS) just walk-off to another team? If so, refer back to reason 5 and begin reading again.Follow paulmbanks