Paul Konerko Resigns with Chicago
Paul Konerko, a first baseman/designated hitter who has played with the Chicago White Sox ever since 1999, ended his brief flirtation with free agency and resigned with his current team for three more seasons. The value of his contract, which will run from 2011 through 2013, will pay him $37.5 million over the course of the deal. The $12.5 million average salary is a slight bump in pay for Paul Konerko, who just finished a five year contract with the White Sox that paid him an average of $12 million per season. As people like comedienne Sarah Silverman might joke, that's a lot of money for car coverage payments to online insurance companies or really nice batter's gloves.
Chicago Making Run at Central
The team expected to contend in 2010, and did hang with Minnesota for the early part of the season but never really challenged the Twins all that much in the second half of 2010. Now with Paul Konerko resigned and back in the fold, the team has indicated that it is interested in keeping its main pieces intact going forward, and it hopes to contend for the American League Central Division title in 2011. Across the division only Minnesota and perhaps the Detroit Tigers expect to provide any stiff competition, with Kansas City and Cleveland each in seller's mode as always and trying to keep payroll low.
Career of Paul Konerko
Paul Konerko has been in the major leagues for 14 seasons, having broken in with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1997. He played for the Dodgers until he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1998. At the close of the 1998 season he was traded to his current team in Chicago, making the switch from the senior to the junior circuit. In the 12 seasons he has been in the Windy City, he has become a fan favorite and certainly one of the faces of the franchise, possibly second through the years only to Manager Ozzie Guillen.
And rightfully so, given the kind of performance he typically turns in year after year. Paul Konerko has been an All Star four times in his career, including in 2010 when he had one of his best years at age 34. He hit 39 home runs and drove in well over 100 runs while hitting over .300 all season long. It was a great individual year for Paul Konerko, but the individual stats he would surely give back if it would have meant a spot in the playoffs in place of Minnesota, the division champs and sacrificial lambs to New York in the first round of the playoffs in 2010.
Paul Konerko has had some great years as a player in Chicago, including 2005 when the team won the World Series. He has shown consistent ability to hit for average as well as power, and his production at the plate has been particularly bothersome to divisional opponents. As his career progresses it seems as though he actually becomes a better and more complete batter, average though he may be as a first baseman. Paul Konerko signed a nice deal with his current team in a strange off season when he might have ended up a Diamondback if Arizona had its way.
But General Manager Ken Williams would not let that happen to one of his best players and most consistent run producers. With a good year in 2010, he could top 400 home runs for his career, which would be a nice accomplishment. But Paul Konerko like the rest of his team seems to want to play just to get back to the World Series.