Walter Harvey: You go out, wave your cap, give the people a thrill.
Jimmy Dugan: Why don't you get an organ grinder, I could do a little dance.
Walter Harvey: If your knees are up for it, go ahead.
- A League of Their Own
That's what this feels like. Except Paul Konerko won't be a figurehead manager, does not have the charm of a wood bench - let alone Tom Hanks - and this isn't a fictionalized movie account of women's baseball in the 1940s.
He's actually going to be on the team. Like, with guaranteed money and a roster spot and a uniform.
Konerko was the third-worst player in baseball last season. Over the last two seasons, he's been a replacement level player. And this is a guy the White Sox sign up with almost three months left in the offseason. This is a guy who will be gifted a spot on the 25-man roster that would otherwise go to a player who may have a future beyond 2014 with the White Sox.
The one person who clicked on the second link may have noticed that Conor Gillaspie was worth 0.7 WAR last season. That's probably the guy who is now S.O.L., with the bench now looking like it's going to be Back-Up Catcher, Paul Konerko, Jeff Keppinger and Leury Garcia. On a team devoid of left-handed hitters, they're likely going to have no one on the bench who can legitimately hit left-handed. Or maybe they'll keep Gillaspie and instead delay the development of Marcus Semien.
I'm sure there are those who are going to tell me "It's December 4th! There's almost three months left in the offseason! Wait for the other moves before criticizing this." And I'm normally sympathetic to that line of thinking.
But, whatever moves are made, it's not going to make wasting a roster spot on Konerko better. Adam Dunn gets moved? Great! One less left-handed hitter. Money sent along with him to his new team. And now Konerko is the primary DH. That sure worked out last season. Dumping Keppinger would also cost money.
What the ####, Rick. You give a franchise record contract to a guy to replace Konerko and then still bring Konerko back to the team. You better hope Jose Abreu immediately adjusts to major league baseball or the media that fellates Konerko is surely going to be stirring the pot to get Konerko back in the starting lineup. But, of course, the guy who has never played in a league with a difficulty level higher than the Carolina League is a sure thing to hit the ground running. Nothing like heaping on the pressure.
Back in September, I posited the scenario where it might make sense to have Konerko on the team. This isn't it. They signed a first baseman. His existence will block legitimate internal options, both on opening day and throughout the season. His existence blocks external options, too. Hahn is allegedly trying to rebuild but he's decided to handcuff himself (or let ownership handcuff him) to a guy who isn't good at baseball anymore and isn't a long-term piece. And for any of you still holding out hope that the White Sox might compete next season, this is certainly the towel throw.
Some loyal SSS readers probably remember "Omar Vizquel's free pass to your 2011 White Sox". This is the same thing but with an even sourer taste. At least Vizquel, alleged Competent Utility Infielder, could have theoretically been scuttled, if not for the team's obstinance. Konerko is basically uncuttable. If he wants to play the entire season, he's going to play the entire season, cast in the Role of Veteran Mentor. And, like Vizquel, it's another miscast Role.