With the Royals' 5000th comeback victory of the playoffs last night (which I believe is a record), the World Series is over and the offseason is now officially underway for the entire league, not just for the teams that can't field a competitive roster.
1. Congratulations are in order to the Royals fanbase who have certainly suffered more in between titles than most other recent champions. As much as I fatigue of "Dayton Moore and Ned Yost Are Infallible!" and the absurd "Us Against The World" narrative that took such a strong hold with the Royals, there are a lot of cool / smart / nice people who are happy because they won. Ben Zobrist has been one of my favorite non-White Sox players for a long time now and I'm glad he has a ring, just to name one guy.
2. Even without taking shots at the Royals, their victory further highlights the White Sox' failings in that a team that used 2015 Volquez as the #1 starter followed by a recently shaky Cueto and then the truly mediocre options of Yordano Ventura and Chris Young won a title. Meanwhile the White Sox have Sale-Quintana-Rodon and can't crack .500 in a pretty bad division. It speaks to the run scoring environment that the Royals could succeed with the rotation that they did, and it is a grim reminder that finding offense is harder than it used to be - and the White Sox haven't been good at it in a long, long time.
3. Attendance went up league-wide in 2015, making it the 7th best season of all time by that metric. Given that league-wide revenues were a record $8 billion in 2013, another record $9 billion in 2014, I believe it is safe to infer that teams are making more money than they ever have before, and that we should not expect anything other than high revenues for 2015.
I bring this up because as we head into the offseason, I am anticipating the White Sox to keep downplaying expectations as to their budget as they wring their hands about spending on any free agents at all. The usual White Sox playbook is also to bash fans and/or threaten not to spend unless they buy more season ticket packages.
This position is comical and borderline evil given that the White Sox have a strong, cost-controlled core in its prime, that they had a team-record payroll of $127 million in 2011, that they likely have way more revenue now than they did then, and that they are still comfortably under the $127 million mark heading into next season.
They have the money to spend, and there are players available that would turn the team into a playoff contender. Spending for the sake of spending is bad, but if you won't spend now then stories about a state-funded $7.3 million scoreboard start to induce rage, not excitement.
4. Yoenis Cespedes, one of the aforementioned free agents that could really help the White Sox, injured himself on his already injured leg yesterday when he fouled a fastball off of his knee. He was already likely to be too rich for the White Sox' blood, but leg injuries could (justifiably) cause the team to be even more gunshy.
5. The rumor mill is already going strong, as the Orioles have at least expressed an interest in retaining Chris Davis, and the White Sox are one of several teams that have been specifically linked to interest in Alex Gordon. While Gordon has a versatile skillset that should age well, and while he would be a huge upgrade in corner outfield, he will be 32 before the start of next season and he missed significant time to injury in 2015.
So while it is exciting to hear the White Sox may have admitted to themselves that riding into 2016 with only Avisail and Trayce for RF isn't good enough, there is reason for caution here. Again, it would mean once again the White Sox are skipping right past the elite free agents and looking in the discount aisle, although Gordon would likely command a franchise-record contract (which isn't saying much). I am also worried that they would be attaching extra weight to a player's success against the White Sox as a legitimate factor in his acquisition, when it should be an afterthought at most.
All of that said, Alex Gordon would be an athletic, great glove who gets on base a ton. That would be a very refreshing change of pace.
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