Anyone who lives in the Chicago area has probably seen some of the White Sox new ad campaigns for the 2011 season. A couple of White Sox fans in a grocery store reenact Mark Buehrle’s miraculous play on Opening Day of last season. A.J. Pierzynski takes batting practice from a cannon. The common theme; that the Whites Sox, as well as their fans, are “All-In” for the 2011 season.
And while the commercials may be a tad bit overdramatic, the premise is spot-on. The White Sox are indeed taking a huge gamble for this upcoming campaign.
This past offseason the White Sox were coming off of a year where they narrowly missed the playoffs, despite midseason acquisitions of Edwin Jackson and Manny Ramirez. And it appeared as if the White Sox would face some serious losses in the offseason, as longtime stalwarts Paul Konerko, Bobby Jenks, and A.J. Pierzynski all were eligible for free agency.
However, GM Kenny Williams and Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf clearly had other plans.
Jenks was indeed given his walking papers, but you can bet that the Sox plethora of young power arms in the bullpen were more of a factor in that decision than money.
Pierzynski and Konerko, however, were retained, and somehow the White Sox still managed to shake enough change loose from the proverbial sofa to sign free agent slugger Adam Dunn to a four year, $56 million contract. Factor in the $46 million owed to Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, Jake Peavy and Mark Buehrle in 2011, and I’d imagine “All-In” pretty much hits the nail on the head.
The White Sox enter the 2011 season with a payroll of over $105 million, which is good enough for seventh in all of baseball, and with attendance falling in each of the past five seasons, it’s certainly a risk.
But with big risk often comes big reward, and one look at the White Sox lineup certainly attests to that. The Sox have quietly put together one of the more dynamic and versatile offenses in the Majors, and pending the health of Jake Peavy, the rotation is one of the best in baseball, too.
You have to give kudos to the front office. They have built a baseball team that is more than capable of challenging the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central, and making a deep run into the postseason. But now comes the hard part, and that’s staying healthy and winning games.
Because you don’t get to play baseball games with a pad and pencil, so while “All-In” may SOUND good, I think I speak for most White Sox fans when I say, it’s time for them to make it LOOK good.