Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Sox Budget Rant and Really, Really, Complicated, Poorly-Reasearched Financial Records

It’s a shame that major league baseball isn’t a publicly traded company, but I’ve nevertheless decided to go ahead with my research. Perhaps it’s my “real life job” that’s been taking over my brain and causing me to become obsessed with the White Sox budget, but nevertheless, it is something we need to look at, considering that Kenny Williams often talks about how he doesn’t have a dollar.

The closest I can come to financial records are what the folks at Forbes have researched for me. In 2008, the Sox made $196 million in revenue (of which $71 million are gate receipts) and the expenses for the team (Operating plus salaries) are $139.8. Over 90% of expenses come from “player expenses.” As of 2009, about $93 million are accounted for on as player salaries. Assuming 93 million is all the Sox are playing for salaries and all the players leaving this year are about $25 million and actually off the books for good, the Sox are freeing up about 27% of its salary budget. Not to mention that this list does not include Jim Thome, Jose Contreras, and whoever else we dumped mid-season. When you take all of this into account, the Sox have a small fortune to spend on players. Sure, there are other salaries, and administrative expenses, but those cannot add up to the remainder. Especially since this remainder (not including the newly-freed-up budget) is, by this estimate, about $56 million in profit, that Jerry Reinsdorf can spend on whatever he chooses. Do the Sox have $80 million to spend? probably not. But they do have somewhere between $25 and $80 and that's no small change.

So… Kenny… I no longer believe you when you say you don’t have $1. That your boss doesn’t want to spend $1… that would be a different story.

Case in point: Scott Podsenik. Scotty made half a mill this year. Less than DeWayne Wise and Dayan Viciedo, whose contribution to the White Sox was about 1% that of Scotty’s. Combined. I’d think Scotty was in the right even if he demanded as much as Alex Rios. (Who, by the by, makes about $6.4 million a year. Hard-earned, aren’t they?) Don’t tell me you can’t afford his salary, and tell me that instead, you’re looking to invest in a slow-running, slugger-type outfielder. I’m not trying to make the case for Scotty here, I’m just saying the Sox’s case against him seems pretty weak at this point.

But it’s not just Scotty that I’m talking about. I’m talking about Bobby Jenks. No doubt, he’ll be asking for an arm and a leg. And that’s because it’s the standard among closers. Jenks makes about half of what Joe Nathan does and about a third of what Mariano Rivera makes. Among other high-paid closers are Kerry Wood, F. Rod, and B.J. Ryan. Jenks is rated about 6th in terms of effectiveness and seems to be in the appropriate salary range. And, you know what? In another Forbes article, Jenks was ranked as the #2 best relief pitcher for the buck. Would I rather pay him $250,000? Sure. But if we have to pay him $7 million, I wouldn’t be too upset. If the Sox don’t resign Jenks, I want them to cite his work medical or effectiveness concerns, not salary concerns.

What am I ranting about here? Well, a little research (okay, not that little. Finding the financial records of the MLB is harder than finding out Obama's private phone number) will show you that Sox have the money to spend. So, this off-season, instead of sitting back and making bonehead moves because Jerry/Kenny were too cheap to dip into the free agent market for what we really need (outfielders, serious-non-Thornton-non-Carrasco, bullpen support), let’s use our brain. Let’s not rely on the likes of DeWayne Wise again. Brent Lillibridge is not a valid outfield option. Jayson Nix is not a valid starter as DH. The Sox can do better. The Sox should do better. The Sox should stop complaining about the economy.

To Kenny Williams: I dare you to stand behind what you say. Release the Sox’s financial records like the Brewers did in 2004.

If you're wondering where I got my numbers, have some links:

[ESPN Roster/Salaries] [About Costs of U.S. Cellular Field] [Jerry Reinsdorf Wikipedia] [Forbes Baseball Values] [Sports Illustrated Closer Rankings] [Forbes Best Pitchers for the Buck]

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Trade Ninja and the Unlikely Return of the Pods

Reasons why Scott Podsednik is not returning to the South Side:

1. Kenny Williams
2. Kenny Williams
3. Chone Figgins
4. Kenny Williams
5. Kenny Williams

…shall I go on?

For every Gavin Floyd that Kenny Williams acquires, there is a Tony Pena. For every Mark Buehrle in the Sox farm system, there is a Josh Fields. For every Mark Kotsay, there is a Horacio Ramirez. And who is to blame for these control failures? Kenny Williams, I’d say.

Although Sox fans usually take pride in calling him “The Trade Ninja” I feel that this nickname’s connotation is moving more and more toward the negative end of the spectrum.

This whole “I don’t know what in the heck Kenny is doing anymore” thing started, for me at least, when he chose to sign Ken Griffey, Jr. Of all the possible moves he could have made, really!? It was enough to make a Brian Anderson fan out of me.

I was further disappointed when Kenny chose to rely on Josh Fields as the Sox’ 2009 starting third basement, rain or shine. Yes, he got lucky in that Beckham stepped up and didn’t faceplant, but if you honestly believe Kenny predicted this would be the case in winter 2008-early 2009, you are either a liar or as na├»ve as I was in believing Joe Crede would be alright after his first back surgery.

There is something odd about the Sox system in that whenever they have a role to fill, little money, and little hope, they go to veteran players that were once part of the Sox organization. (See, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Scott Podsednik) When it comes to Scott Podsednik this time around, I don’t see Kenny doing the same. Why? Well, when it comes to the outfield, it’s usually a big pit of suck. Let’s think of the Brian Anderson, DeWayne Wise, Nick Swisher, Alex Rios, and Griffey, Jr. disasters. Podsednik was the only one that has impressed me since… Carlos Quentin. No one has worked out and I’m sure there is some sort of reason behind it.

Besides, Kenny is envisioning that Scotty will be asking for a large pile of cash. Which he will be. But I guarantee he will settle for a small mound. And there’s always Jordan Danks in the background. Whether or not he’s major league ready, he will be ready to be Kenny’s excuse.

What’s my point? Well, for one, I’m not too optimistic about Podsednik’s return and I don’t see why it has to be this way. He’s probably a pretty affordable, solid option and it really can’t do much damage to the Sox organization. Let’s not get creative here for the sake of being creative.

Side Note: As I was writing this post, a rumor surfaced that the Sox were in talks with the Angel and Padres to trade Konerko for Adrian Gonzalez in some sort of 3-way deal. Some "prospects" were also included.

Now, here's where I get skeptical: a deal involving Konerko is never likely because of the "No Trade" clause.

Here's where I believe it: This guys doesn't seem to be much of an improvement and this is sort of a salary dump.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Massive Update/Apology

I know it may seem like I’ve jumped ship this season. Trust me, you’re not wrong. With the amount of work I’ve had to put in to “real life” things and the amount of disappointment Chicago Sports have induced this year, can you blame me? But here is a long-overdue post. Before I start ripping a hole into everything, here’s some good stuff!

Gordon Beckham has been voted Rookie of the Year in two different races. There’s one more left, but I’m content as of right now. The one bright spot in the Sox’ year has been the man who puts the “ham” in “Beckham.” It’s really amazing what he did for the team this year. From popularizing The Outfield’s “Your Love” to taking over third like a seasoned pro, he really kept fans excited even when the ship was sinking. Thanks, Becks.

In other “bright side” news, Mark Buehrle won his first Gold Glove this year. He’s a pretty shnazzy defensive pitcher, so the award was clearly deserved. Of course, this honor, plus his perfect game this year, will remain as Buehrle’s personal best year. And to think I always think of him as the third-best pitcher the Sox have on staff. Shame on me.

While I’m in a good mood, let me take this paragraph to thank those reading it. I am really happy to have reached the one-year milestone with The White Sox Blog in June. I feel very lucky to be part of a community of smart, loyal fans, and surrounded by other writers that I really respect.

Alright, enough of that. Now, let’s get down to some news. Or something.

Chris Getz, Little Crede, Carl, whatever you want to call him, has been traded to the Royals in exchange for Mark Teahen. On the bright side, he’s taking Josh Fields with him. I have no words to express the joy that the Sox are finally recognizing him as a sunk cost and cutting their losses. I’m going to miss Chris. He’s a genuinely nice guy and a solid dude on base and at the plate.
As for Mark Teahen, who is headed our way, it’s no secret that I hate him. I’ve never realized his name was Mark and called him Mike simply because he was “that a-hole on the Royals.” He’s always been able to handle the Sox hitters, but we’ll see how he’ll fit in in the clubhouse and how the adjustments in the infield will affect the team. I think Beckham should stay at third, if you ask me, but… who am I to tell them what to do? If it was up to me, Joe Crede would still be our starting third baseman.

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, hey, hey, good bye! Jermaine Dye and Octavio Dotel have filed for free agency and aren’t likely to return. On the other hand, Scotty Pods might be returning. I feel slightly upset about Dye leaving because he’s one of our 2005 guys, but the last season was deplorable for him. Dotel… Dotel-Gives-Up-2-Run-Homer-In-The-Night-Dotel. Well, I’m not going to miss him much. But it makes me wonder about the Sox bullpen. As for Scotty Pods, I love him! I think he was the spark we needed this season, and he deserves another chance. I’m not saying $99 million over 4 years, but maybe $3 over 2?

In semi-related news, Carlos Gomez has been traded to the Brewers. Hawk Harrelson is believed to be heartbroken after his mancrush has left him for another league. In the famous words of the Hawk himself, “No one can close a gap like Carlos Gomez.”

Awhile ago, DeWayne “The Rock” Wise filed for free agency. He didn’t want to go back to Charlotte. And he didn’t appreciate the fans booing him. Well I didn’t appreciate him being the worst Black Ross Gload Ever!

But, Garcia and Thornton are staying. The Sox picked up their options. Thornton is obviously one of the most valuable assets the Sox have, especially with the Jenks drama a-brewing. As for Freddy, he might still have some gas in the tank. I feel slightly better having him as a fifth starter than having Contreras or Colon. Of course, not by much.

As the offseason continues, I promise I will keep you updated on trades, planes, and automobiles. And I’ll try to answer questions about the future. Like… who will be our DH? Who will be our first baseman? How old is Jose Contreras, really?