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updated: 12/5/2013 1:55 AM

Sox re-signing Konerko a colossal mistake

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  • Paul Konerko's coming back for one more season on the South Side -- a decision Mike Imrem says doesn't make any sense.

      Paul Konerko's coming back for one more season on the South Side -- a decision Mike Imrem says doesn't make any sense.
    Associated Press

 
 

A good policy always has been a separation of sports and sentimentality.

So what were the White Sox doing Wednesday by announcing that Paul Konerko would play for them again next year?

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This is a surprising development in many ways. When last season ended, I sure didn't expect the Sox to invite Konerko back or him to accept the invitation.

Yet Konerko will be on the Sox' roster on Opening Day unless he suffers another of those injuries that have nagged him in recent years.

The Sox are mixing sports and sentimentality, a blend for disappointment. Konerko doesn't belong on next year's roster. Not on merit he doesn't. Not based on his performance the past couple seasons.

That last paragraph was hard to type. It sounds like I'm kicking around Bambi when that wasn't the intention.

Everybody loves Konerko. Sox fans love him. Cubs fans probably love Konerko. I certainly love Konerko.

But none of that would matter unless the only person that matters loves Konerko, and that's team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

The widespread belief is Reinsdorf was responsible for the Sox hiring Ozzie Guillen as manager, which turned into a championship. Reinsdorf might also have been responsible for the hiring of Robin Ventura as manager, which hasn't worked out so well yet.

Now this Konerko thing can be added to the list of blessed favorites with Jim Thome's inevitable return to the organization in some capacity to follow sometime.

The perception is that Reinsdorf is bringing back one of his favorites in Konerko, and perhaps his very favorite. Konerko did present Reinsdorf with the ball from the Sox' clinching victory in the 2005 World Series, didn't he?

Reinsdorf said in a statement, "(Konerko) certainly earned the right to make the decision on his own."

No he didn't. If that were true, Ernie Banks still would be playing first base for the Cubs and Bobby Hull on a wing for the Blackhawks.

This was the Sox' decision first, then Konerko's. The impression, correct or not, fair or not, is that a 2014 invitation, plus $2.5 million in salary, resulted from a personal decision rather than a baseball decision.

Konerko's contract represents a huge pay cut, yes, but it's still $2.5 million, a considerable amount of spare change even for an athlete that already has earned 10s of millions.

A gold watch, sports car or landscaping service for a years would have been a nice parting gift, but $2.5 million is one of those "oh, no, you shouldn't have, I can't accept this, OK I'll take it because I don't want to insult you by turning it down" kind of gifts.

It isn't the money, though. It's the roster spot, what with the Sox already having two first baseman/designated hitters in Adam Dunn and Jose Abreu.

The only way Konerko's return borders on sensible is if the Sox trade Dunn by eating much of his salary. Ah, but even then it doesn't make sense because Konerko batted only .244 in 2013 with 12 home runs, 54 runs batted in, myriad aches and countless pains.

Roster spots are too precious to grant to an aging former star even if he is one of the classiest players that ever wore the uniform.

The Sox are supposed to be in the process of getting younger, faster and better. Which of those does Paul Konerko contribute?

Look, it'll be comforting to walk into the Sox' clubhouse and see Konerko. Hopefully for all parties involved, he'll perform on the field like he's 28 instead of 38.

Otherwise, as the late, great, former 49ers coach Bill Walsh used to say, nothing should get in the way of winning.

Bringing back Paul Konerko sure seems like the White Sox are letting sentimentality get in the way of winning.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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