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Monday, November 01, 2004
Old Faces, New Places

There were a couple of White Sox related hirings made official today. Tim "Rock" Raines was hired as the new Sox first base coach, and Wally Backman was hired as the Diamondbacks new manager.

I don't really have an opinion on the White Sox hiring either way. Raines replaces Rafael Santana, who also held infield coach duties with the Sox. I not even old enough to remember Rock playing anything but the outfield, but that has something to do with him spending too much time in Montreal. It's unclear to me whether he will assume the infield duties as well. Santana was not dropped from the organization though. He assumes the role of minor league infield instructor, a job at which according to Hawk, Santana was among the best in baseball. That's if you can believe anything that Hawk says.

I don't believe that Rock's presence will have a great impact (positive or negative) on the team. His #1 job will be to instill confindence in Willie Harris, who admitted at the end of the season that he wouldn't run unless he was given the steal sign. Here's a little taste of what Rock had to say.
"A lot of people say the emphasis is on stealing bases, but it's more of an emphasis on running the bases," Raines explained during a conference call Monday in which he talked about replacing Rafael Santana as the only coaching change for manager Ozzie Guillen's second season. Santana will stay with the team as a minor league infield instructor.

"It's about taking the extra base or going around first base hard and forcing that outfielder to make that throw to second," Raines added. "An emphasis on that area could change the club."
It's really hard to get excited about baserunning, especially when last season was the best in recent memory for the White Sox in that department.

The Arizona Diamondbacks made it official today, and hired former Birmingham Barons manager Wally Backman. This is noteworthy because in the middle of last season, Backman appeared to be the heir apparent to the White Sox managerial throne.

At some point during when the White Sox were struggling, (I don't remember now. There were a lot of times when the Sox were struggling last season.) Backman made a phone call to his long time friend, former teammate, and current Twins manager Ron Gardenhire before they were due to play the Sox. During the phone call he told Gardy to beat the Sox so that lame duck manager Jerry Manuel would be fired, and he could take over the White Sox managerial reigns. How this private conversation became public is unclear to me, but it did, killing Backman's chances within the White Sox organization in the process.

Plenty of people were upset when they heard the things that Backman allegedly said, but what did he really do wrong? Calling and old friend and wishing him well? Hoping his superior would fall on his face so that he could take over? Who among us has not done something similar? Backman didn't do anything malicious or unethical, yet he was vilified in the press and blackballed by the White Sox.

The sad fact is that last August the White Sox probably had the most dangerous team in all of baseball. We've seen excellent examples of what a well timed managerial firing can do for a team in each of the last two seasons. (Torborg fired, McKeon hired in '03; Williams fired, Garner hired in '04) We're left to wonder "what could have been" if the Sox only had the balls to pull the plug on the Jerry Manuel experiment a few months earlier. I don't know if they would have won the World Series, or even the AL Central, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that they wouldn't have rolled over and played dead in September against the Twins like they did with Manuel at the helm.

I'll be wishing him the best with the D'backs. I'd be willing to bet that his team outperforms their Pythagorean W-L too.

Same ol', Same ol'
I need to preface this little rant with this statement. I am one of the most optimistic people you will ever meet. I'm always pulling a Monty Python, and looking "on the bright side of life." With that being said, you can begin to understand my complete disgust with the recent series of little nuggets of information the Sox are letting slip out about next season's payroll.

November 1st, WhiteSox.com
White Sox general manager Ken Williams told me last week that the payroll for 2005 figures to check in around the same point it was when 2004 concluded. That total should be somewhere between $63 million and $65 million.
October 28th, Chicago Tribune
The deferred money could make it more palatable for the Sox, who are expected to have a payroll of approximately $65 million in 2005, about the same as 2004.
A few weeks ago, I noted that the Sox are on the books for about $63M next year already for 21 players. Simple math tells us that leaves an average of about $500K per player for those last 4 guys.

All I can say is that I'm extremely disappointed with this news, and that I can't even bring myself to examine it any further. I'll probably have an entry up in the next day or so, where I try to piece together the best possible team I can for $65, and contrast it with what I think the Sox will do.

No Haiku today,
A scary cartoon instead
Oops, I'm a liar.