Siberian Baseball

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Insanity must breed loyalty

There was an exchange during yesterday's Red Sox/Yankees game regarding the different salaries of Terry Francona and Joe Torre which led to a short conversation on Ozzie Guillen's new deal in Chicago.

While the point was that Francona was underpaid - especially in light of Ozzie's payday - it got me thinking again about what Guillen brings to the White Sox, especially in terms of player retention.

With Torii Hunter set to test the free agent waters - and the wild speculation that his departure led to Terry Ryan's resignation in Minneapolis - it's just another reminder that the hometown discount isn't always in play.

Unless you're the White Sox.

With Paul Konerko on the market following Chicago's championship season, I chimed in here that if loyalty was part of the pre-draft testing, the White Sox had cornered the market on giving that a value.

This year it was Mark Buehrle that showed how badly players wanted to stay on the South Side. That makes two marquee players who took deals that were below the market value to play for Guillen instead of cashing a major payday for a team with money to burn.

Make no mistake about those moves - these guys aren't sticking around for the amenities offered on Chicago's south side - they clearly signal that the organization is doing a phenomenal job to keep players. Guillen is at the top of the list of reasons that players are staying with the Sox.

Following the Red Sox championship season, they saw Johnny Damon leave a year later and Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe jump ship immediately. The Cardinals saw attrition this year from nearly half their pitching staff to role players who cashed in on a big postseason.

For the White Sox to only lose players that they apparently had no interest in keeping and locking up two of their stars in Konerko and Buehrle, they have their team on the right track, at least as far as player retention is concerned.

While their North Side neighbors must lean on the perks of day baseball and a national fanbase, the Sox have an uphill battle in that regard. Ozzie seems to be the difference, despite the results this season.

Crazy as he may be, the man is doing something right.

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