MORRISSEY: White Sox do something interesting by signing Abreu
By Rick Morrissey Sports Columnist October 18, 2013 11:07AM
Cuba's first baseman Jose Abreu celebrates after he hits a grand slam in the fifth inning of their World Baseball Classic first round game against China in Fukuoka, Japan, Monday, March 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Updated: October 18, 2013 9:07PM
The emails and tweets have been coming in regularly while the Cubs search (and search) for a new manager: Are you going to write anything this century about the White Sox?
My answer has been consistent: Yes, just as soon as the Sox do something, anything that might be considered interesting.
“Interesting’’ arrived late Thursday night in the form of a $68 million package of pure hitting ability. The Sox and Cuban star Jose Abreu have agreed on a six-year deal that is the largest for a free-agent international player signing an American contract for the first time.
Wait, the Sox just dropped all that coin? The Chicago White Sox? Those Sox?
Yes, they did.
I don’t know if the Abreu signing will be a game-changer, the phrase of the moment in the sports world. But it’s nice to see the Sox doing something bold. This wasn’t Trader Kenny Williams at work, making an in-season splash with limited resources and dealing in high risk, high reward during a playoff run. This was cold cash talking, a language in which the Sox haven’t always been conversant.
In other words, Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf deliberately lost his grip on the purse strings, with some convincing from general manager Rick Hahn.
Abreu is 26 and is expected to play first base for the Sox, which would seem to point to veteran Paul Konerko’s departure. Is it a risk for the South Siders? Of course it is. Does anyone know the exchange rate when it comes to Cuban statistics?
Abreu has been spectacular in the Cuban national league. In 89 games in 2009-10, he hit .399 with 30 home runs and 76 RBI. The next season, he hit a ridiculous .453 with 33 home runs and 93 RBI in 66 games. The past two seasons, he hit .394 and .382, respectively, with great power numbers. He has also played extremely well in international events.
He defected to the United States in August, which probably brought tears of joy to Hahn’s eyes.
Between Abreu and outfielder Avisail Garcia, Sox fans have reason to be excited. The team couldn’t score runs for its pitching staff this season.
Is Abreu the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig or the Athletics’ Yoenis Cespedes?
He had better be. No pressure, kid.
Whatever happens, it very much will be worth watching, which is a lot more than you could say about the White Sox in 2013.
The Cubs were monumentally bad over two seasons. The Sox were boringly bad this season. Big difference. You couldn’t help but stare at the Cubs’ ongoing car crash and their attempts to clean up the mess. The Sox? There wasn’t a deader team in the majors. Maybe they were just plugging into the zombie craze.
They certainly came alive Thursday night. Now it’s their stage — until the Cubs hire some poor sap to be their manager.