The most fascinating news item coming out of the second day of SoxFest was Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf‘s explanation of why the Sox took the “All In” route in 2011 as opposed to entering the season with a younger, less expensive product.
Reinsdorf, who has been given a bad rap over the years for NOT spending, went above and beyond this offseason by increasing the payroll by more than $20 million.
Here are some of the comments from the man who has won seven titles–six with the Bulls and in 2005 with the White Sox–courtesy of MLB.com’s Scott Merkin:
“Last year was a difficult year. We weren’t as good as we thought we could be. Our attendance was down. Financially, it came out OK.
“Thinking about this year, we had to make a decision for the long term: Were we better off to try to get better or were we better off to use this as a rebuilding year? That’s the thing that took us a long time to make up our mind.
“Finally, I just decided like two days before the Adam Dunn signing, ‘Let’s go for it.’ Let’s hope if we spend the money, the attendance will pick up and once we committed to Adam Dunn, then we had to be all in. Then it had to be (Paul Konerko) and we had to bring A.J. back.”
More from SoxFest:
* Another inside tidbit that was revealed yesterday involved Pierzynski. Apparently he was a phone call away from signing with the Dodgers, but because LA ownership was unavailable to approve some the of language, A.J. changed course and accepted the Sox offer through his agent. Because of the delicate nature of the circumstances, Pierzynski even called Reinsdorf to make sure the offer was real.
* In addition to relating the story behind his signing, A.J. endorsed another Sox offseason signing (via Merkin): “I told (Don Cooper), ‘We need another lefty. We need another lefty. We need another lefty.’ Going out and getting Will Ohman was huge. He can get lefties out. Look at our division with Mauer, Morneau, Choo, Sizemore…You have to have more than one lefty available to go through a lineup three times. People look at the eighth inning, but what about the sixth inning when you have the bases loaded with two out and Joe Mauer up and you have an extra lefty. Will Ohman is that guy.”
* Kenny Williams indicated that outfielder Alejandro De Aza, infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge and Dayan Viciedo, who is now learning how to play the outfield in addition to his previous experience at the two infield corner positions, will be fighting it out for the final utility spot on the roster. Williams also offered that De Aza is better than people think he is.
* Ozzie predicted that Carlos Quentin will revert back to his 2008 form when he was vying for the league MVP award before an injury cut his season short with a month to go. CQ slugged 36 homers, drove in 100 runs, batted .288 with a .965 OPS in ’08.
* Sox captain Konerko sees good things ahead for the 2011 Sox, as reported by Mark Gonzales in today’s Tribune: “Everyone has their opinions on who is good and who isn’t in baseball, and people have their advice and thoughts. But you’d be hard-pressed to say, ‘there’s a gaping hole there’ or ‘this is a real problem that is going to affect them.’ We’re pretty solid everywhere you look with everything you need.”