I began reading the Colby Rasmus rumors shortly before some retweets of Joe Cowley started populating my Twitter feed.
The subject was Adam Dunn, and the angle was one we're all too familiar with:
- And as far as the whole Dunn not having fun story ... according to one Sox official, having too much fun might be his real problem.
- Memo to Dunn: shadow Paul Konerko and do everything he does during the season and in the offseason. You'll be fine.
- Being the fun-lovin guy that likes to have a few cocktails after games works when you're hitting 30-40 homers a year ....
- .... when you're not, grab a few clubhouse brews and just chill in the room. Perception is everything. #TheBrianAndersonRule
And then he proceeds to pin all the blame on Dunn for not being "Chicago tough," and Kenny Williams for running a restaurant. Ozzie Guillen escapes unscathed once again! Remarkable!
Of course, Cowley talks through both sides of his mouth with comments like these. He complains about the number of "choirboys," then preaches that Konerko is the mold of molds. He touts Carl Everett as some kind of talisman, but he didn't much care for Orlando Cabrera, whose teams go to the playoffs every year. His arguments often have the depth of a Miller Lite ad.
But whenever he does mention these conflicts, whether it's Cabrera, Brian Anderson or Nick Swisher, they tend to have legs (much like Swisher's sex dolls). At this point, this is the similarity between Rasmus and Dunn that scares me the most.
It's not the National League background or the strikeouts. It's the notable personality.
Daryl Van Schouwen relayed Jesse Crain's thoughts on the White Sox clubhouse compared to its reputation:
"It’s a little quieter than I expected," Crain said. "I only knew what I had seen on TV and through the media. Jim Thome told me a little bit about how it is over here. So far, it’s been quiet."
"I think it’s great," he said. "Coming from the Twins, it’s opposite. They get guys from the draft and bring them all the way up, so it’s a system, with younger guys and a couple of veterans like [Justin] Morneau and [Joe] Mauer. But it’s not the same as here, where there’s a group of guys who have played for a long time, and they kind of run what goes on."
This is just additional confirmation for a perception we've used as joke fodder -- that the door to the clubhouse has a picture of Konerko with the words, "You must be this bland to enter," or that a player only becomes a True White Sox when his wife pops out a kid.
I have no idea how much this steady clubhouse helps or hurts the win column, but it certainly lends itself to criticism during seasons like these. When there's no reaction to a game-tying, ninth-inning homer ... when A.J. Pierzynski is relatively satisfied with a five-hit effort ... when Guillen once again says he likes the guys he has after 100 games of mediocrity ... well, "fire-retardant" comes to mind.
And we're not alone. From Mark Gonzales' last mailbag:
I've had two scouts from other organizations tell me over the past two years that too many Sox players appear too comfortable. Perhaps the Sox's evaluators have shown too much faith in them.
It's true that the players who keep their head down seldom feel pressure of any kind (see Morel, Brent). On the other hand, the Sox don't deal well with wave-makers. Players who run afoul of the veteran core are not long for the club, and that brings us back to Rasmus, who has clashed with Tony La Russa and disappointed Albert Pujols in the recent past, twice requesting a trade. Their current relationship -- or the perception thereof -- could be most charitably described as "uneasy."
I don't care to figure out which side is more wrong, because regardless of blame, he would be in exile in the White Sox clubhouse for what he's done. Hell, the veterans took umbrage with Chris Getz in 2009 for suggesting he and other young players brought some energy to the club, so imagine the reaction if he said he wanted nothing to do with them.
Acquiring Rasmus would be a fascinating chemistry experiment. We saw the way Jermaine Dye short-circuited in 2009 when Williams claimed Alex Rios in August, and Guillen would have another outfield numbers game to manage, barring another move. At least this one would cost about $59 million less.
Here are other important numbers: Konerko is under contract for two more years, Pierzynski will start behind the plate in 2012, and Guillen is under contract for one more season as well. With these three guys around, I wouldn't count on an outspoken guy like Rasmus smoothly assimilating into this well-defined culture should a trade take place. If Dunn and his track record are already running out of slack due to goofball antics, it's hard to imagine Rasmus getting much of a leash.