At some point this year, every general manager in baseball will be asked if he would sign Albert Pujols. Most will give a dull response—we don’t have the money, we don’t have the need, he’s a great player, etc. Most, except Kenny Williams.
The real story isn’t that Williams told Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago he wouldn’t sign Pujols—he made that perfectly clear by shelling out nearly $100 million on contracts to first basemen Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko this offseason. No, the real story is that Williams wants an even playing field.
A salary cap.
Williams told Garfien he’d be okay if the game was “shut down” for a few years to restore sanity. People can focus on that quote all they want—sure, it’s extreme, but focusing on that buries the lede. Baseball has a prominent advocate for a salary cap, one who doesn’t run a small-market team.
As a general manager, Williams’ desire won’t hold much sway in any collective bargaining meetings between the players’ union and owners—which, by the way, will be held after the season. While Jerry Reinsdorf seems to be of the same mind on this issue, getting both owners and players to agree to a salary cap is something that won’t happen this year. And it shouldn’t be expected to happen any time in the future, either—not as long as teams are doling out eight, nine, 10-year contracts.
That’s where Williams “shut the game down” idea comes into play. If there’s no way to stop this wanton spending, shutting the game down is the only option. But entirely shutting the game down is even less feasible than implementing a salary cap, as baseball knows—or should know, at least—that any work stoppage, good-intentioned or not, could have lasting negative effects on the game that may never be remedied.
I’ll be curious to see what the response around baseball is on this subject, though. It won’t mean anything for a future salary cap, but nonetheless it will be interesting to see Williams be both blasted and praised. I’m especially interested in seeing how many condescending comments and Randy Levine makes in regard to Williams and his opinion.
Williams’ comments may have no impact on the game of baseball, let alone the 2011 season. But there’s a chance the ones made by Alex Rios today do.
“Definitely,” the 30-year-old center fielder said. “We’re the team to beat. We have good additions to the team. The core is solid, and with the additions, we’re even stronger. I think we’re going to give a hard time to a lot of people out there.”
I’m not going to fault the guy for being confident. But it would’ve been nice if Rios had said he was confident without the whole “We’re the team to beat” thing.
While there will be more than a few analysts projecting the White Sox to win the AL Central between now and opening day, the simple matter of fact is that the Twins have won the last two division titles. And the Twins really, really, really have had the White Sox’s number over those last two years.
Sure, Minnesota curiously dealt JJ Hardy. Sure, their bullpen hardly looks strong. And sure, the White Sox probably have a better starting rotation. But until the White Sox get over a hump they barely crossed in 2008 (remember, the Sox were swept in Minnesota in maddening fashion only days before game 163), the Twins are the team to beat in the AL Central.
I’m not going to read too much into Rios’ comments—again, the guy’s confident, that’s a good thing—but unfortunately for Rios, a lot of people will. And if the comments reach the Twins (likely), they could be used as added motivation. That may or may not transfer on to the field, but the last thing the White Sox need in their battle with Minnesota is to face a team that’s a fraction more motivated to win.
- Jim examines Omar Vizquel and other 44-year-old players in baseball history.
- James has regression fever, taking a look at the chances A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn slip in 2011.
- Add Dayan Viciedo to the list of players who are in the the best shape of their lives. (h/t: Wizard)
- This doesn’t bode well for Mark Teahen.
- Bill and The Common Man take a stab at projecting future Hall of Fame votes.
- Here’s a fun quiz: Chris Archer or the Dalai Lama?