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White Sox GM Kenny Williams calls $30 million for Albert Pujols “asinine”

Feb 21, 2011, 8:21 PM EDT

Ken Williams White Sox

In an interview with Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com earlier today, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said that his club won’t go after Albert Pujols if he becomes available as a free agent following the 2011 season.

Hardly surprising information given that the White Sox signed Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko to multi-year contracts over the winter, but what was more interesting was what Williams said about the possibility of the game having a $30 million player.

“For the game’s health as a whole, when we’re talking about 30 million dollar players, I think it’s asinine,” Williams said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. “We have gotten to the point of no return. Something has to happen. And if it means the game being shut down for the sake of bringing sanity to it, to franchises that aren’t going to stop the insanity, I’m all for it.”

Yes, at least for a moment, Williams appeared to advocate the idea of another work stoppage in MLB. He continues:

“Jerry Reinsdorf put it best when he and I had a conversation about it, he said, ‘It’s a shame that our game is played, and when the game starts, everybody plays under the same rules, the same 27 outs. The problem is, before the game, the rules are completely different.’”

“I personally, from a competitive standpoint, would love to be on an even playing field with everyone,” Williams said. “But it’s really difficult for me to complain too much when we still have a higher payroll than some of the others. So at least we have a fighting chance.”

Oh, so Jerry Reinsdorf wants a salary cap. Of course he does.

Williams must have felt someone tap him on his shoulder — or maybe he just remembered how the concept of a salary cap in MLB is a tired and silly notion — because he quickly came to his senses and attempted to put the genie back in the bottle.

“Wait a minute, didn’t I say I wanted it quiet, I wanted peace? Let me shut the hell up already. I was hoping no one would ask me that this entire spring training.”

Too late, Kenny.

  1. bigtrav425 - Feb 21, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    He is right on as much as i hate agreeing with this guy.we already hit 27.5 million which is already asinine and not good for the game at all.A work stoppage and some reality to these players/owners is what is needed

    • JBerardi - Feb 21, 2011 at 11:57 PM

      Why do you object to a baseball player making $27.5m? Why is that bad for baseball, or anyone else?

    • pisano - Feb 22, 2011 at 12:29 AM

      Remember, the owners couldn’t/wouldn’t pay that kind of money if they didn’t have it to spend. Something to think about. Since the start of the free agent signings the owners have been their own worst enemy.

    • paperlions - Feb 22, 2011 at 7:03 AM

      Owners are making much more than that….and they have no discernible marketable talent at all.

  2. Old Gator - Feb 21, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    I would hope that a work stoppage isn’t necessary, insofar as it would simply require that owners be sane about the effect they’re having on the game. Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen. Yes, he is right – but in this culture of ours which grotesquely overvalues entertainers of all sorts, it would also take a sea change in popular perceptions in general to filter down to the level of the owners.

    Fortunately, I live in an area where fans are so fickle when they’re not being apathetic that I can usually get reasonably good seats and reasonable prices no matter how deeply the big market teams slash their wrists to pay these guys….

    • cur68 - Feb 21, 2011 at 10:27 PM

      Well this is really going to set me off, now. I’m glad someone else mentions over-paying entertainers. When I see these guys whining about the millions they get paid and the owners throwing away millions to pay them, my blood just boils. This is not work which serves society in the same was as nurses, physicians, firemen, police, paramedics, teachers, or anyone who gets up early in the cold to build or repair something. These people are talking about money that could be spent WAY better. I wish they’d all just shut up and play ball so when I get off my aching damn feet from 12+ hours of doing what I do I can take my mind off it and cheer for my team to do something ‘meaningful’ this season. Win or lose, playoffs or not, no one will die from the outcome of ball games and that’s why I love them.

  3. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 21, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    I don’t understand why people complain about over-paid ball players and entertainers. How about the overpaid CEOs, corporate board members, talk show hosts and baseball bloggers (just kidding DJ and Craig). This is America, you have the right to every dollar you can legally make. People aren’t paid by some magic measurement of the “value” on some social or moral scale. People are paid generally what their skills are worth on the open market. Sorry, baseball players make more money for their employers than hospice workers.

    • indaburg - Feb 22, 2011 at 1:34 AM

      I am a nurse, and I came to the same exact conclusion today that you did. While my profession does have a great deal of societal value, the bottom line is that I don’t bring in to my employer much money, therefore I don’t make much money, relatively speaking. I don’t have a very specialized skill set. Many peole can go to nursing school, or join the police etc. There are hardly any people who can do what Pujols can do. There is an economic system that allows us to pay people according to their worth to society… it’s called communism. Most of us don’t want to go down that road. If the open market determines Pujols, with his highly specialized skill set and ability to make huge sums of money for his employer, is valued is 30 million, then that is what he is worth.

      • cur68 - Feb 22, 2011 at 1:55 AM

        @indaburg; A compelling argument. Ironic too, since I am also in healthcare (NICU). I, however, will likely never be convinced that clobbering a baseball a squillion miles is moe valuable, even in monetary terms, to what you do in healthcare (whatever that might be). Mr. Pujols has a rare skill; he entertains me with his ball belting. Good on him. I hope he gets what someone of his calibre should get, doing what he does. All I ask; don’t complain to the media about it when you might be a trifle undervalued (not that he actually has complained, let’s be fair; he’s been rather quiet about the ‘fair’ vs ‘unfair’ of it all. Others though are not so reticent). I am not so accepting of the world’s standards though that I think this difference in pay is, in any way, truly fair when we compare his skills to yours or mine, regardless of what we bring in for our employer (who is, in my case, the tax payer). Kenny Williams is to some degree correct. Its asinine.

      • indaburg - Feb 22, 2011 at 8:33 AM

        @curt68: I understand your point. In terms of pure societal worth, what you and I do is infinitely more valuable than the ability to smack a baseball hard and far. If baseball disappeared tomorrow, our lives would not be affected. If nurses (or firefighters, or cops-RIP Ofc Crawford in St Petersburg last night about 2 blocks from the Trop) suddenly disappeared, there would be chaos. At the same time, there are literally tens of thousands of people who can do our job. If you and I brought in 100 million/year to our employer, we could ask for the same kind of crazy money as ballplayers. Bottom line in our country is the dollar dollar bill, y’all. That said, I don’t want to hear them whine that they are underpaid. Complaining about it? Now that’s asinine.

      • Old Gator - Feb 22, 2011 at 10:08 AM

        “… the bottom line is that I don’t bring in to my employer much money, therefore I don’t make much money, relatively speaking.”

        Yes you do. Or, to put it another way, you (and legions of underpaid health care workers like you) make it possible for medical industry companies to make plenty of money. The fact that it winds up in the pockets of the corporate execs, stockholders and their country club bank accounts instead of yours doesn’t lessen the centrality of your labors in generating it. But I like how meekly you’ve accepted your own low ceiling. This economic system would collapse if people like you actually decided you were worth more than you’re getting paid.

        And your description of “communism” is so utterly uninformed and cliched that I had to cringe while reading it. Go back to school and take some evening courses in economic and political theory.

    • cur68 - Feb 22, 2011 at 1:38 AM

      Yeah, pity there isn’t a magic formula. I think the day I stop getting worked up about the sheer unfairness of it all is the day I’ll really get old. I’m not so jaded or entitled that I think anyone has a ‘right’ to anything. Life owes you nothing, work hard, try to do the right thing and good luck to you; fair enough. Basically, I want these athletes and owners to get over it when they aren’t the biggest income because they are ‘the best’. I happen to feel the same way about CEO’s etc since you mention them. Get your cash, sure owners and athletes, but SHUT UP with the whining about it when you have to take a few mill less than the other guy! I’m weary with all this ‘I deserve’ crap like being in America and capitalism justifies greed and ego or something. They don’t.

  4. henryd3rd - Feb 22, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    These comments are coming from the GM that traded for an over the hill aging superstar and paid him over $22,500,000.00 last year who had been previously suspended for using female hormones in an attempt to boost his own testosterone levels. I guess this is just a case of “Kenny being Kenny”.

    • fquaye149 - Feb 22, 2011 at 5:30 PM

      Um…the White Sox ended up paying Manny Ramirez like $6mm if I recall correctly.

  5. Reflex - Feb 22, 2011 at 4:43 AM

    When Kenny is willing to accept a salary cap for what GM’s make, when Jerry is willing to accept a salary cap for what owners make, when LaRussa is willing to accept a cap for what managers can make, when all these things happen, perhaps then I will accept an argument for capping what those who actually play the game make.

    Seriously, this is nonsense. Baseball players already make a lower percentage of the pie than athletes in the other major sports. If we are going to cap the salaries, lets make it fair all around, eh?

  6. bh0673 - Feb 22, 2011 at 6:59 AM

    Is this the same Jerry Reisendorf who in 1995 called as a spokesman for the owners called for an end to wild spending and the when the owners all agreeed threw stupid momney at Albert Belle?

  7. paperlions - Feb 22, 2011 at 7:05 AM

    Other things that far more asinine:

    $100 tickets to a baseball game (not to mention $1000 tickets)
    $8 beers
    $7 hot dogs
    $5 3 oz bag of peanuts
    $20 parking

    • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2011 at 7:16 AM

      Oddly enough, the same economic principle that allows teams to charge those prices allows Pujols to seek this deal.

      • paperlions - Feb 22, 2011 at 7:22 AM

        Exactly, and I would rather the people that are the reason we are willing to pay those prices reap the benefits of it than no-talent owners that have already found dozens of other ways to “earn” money they’ll never need and that have careers that are 40 years long rather than 15.

  8. cincycoltsfan - Feb 22, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Just because a free market might bear a $30m salary does not make it rational or good. Clearly no one has any sympathy for the owners who do this to themselves. It would be nice if the league could be set up a system so it doesn’t allow the Yankees to buy their way to the playoffs every year. The fact that they quite literally have the fattest team is history weight wise is a delicious metaphor.

    • henryd3rd - Feb 22, 2011 at 8:02 AM

      I love it when everyone blames the Yankees for the spiraling salaries in MLB; but if one looks at history it was not the Yankees who signed A-rod to the outrageous salary. Nor was it the Yankees that gave Kevin Brown his stupid salary. Kenny Williams would you please ask your boss Jerry Reinsdorf about all that money he gave to that psycho Albert Belle after saying baseball owners needed to exercise financial restraint.

      As long as the fans are willing to pay those outrageous prices for tickets and refreshments the owner will charge it

      • paperlions - Feb 22, 2011 at 8:12 AM

        Agreed, and as long as we are paying it, I’d rather the majority of the money go to the talent and not the facilitators.

  9. BC - Feb 22, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Watch the White Sox sign him for 8 years, $35mil per year now.
    Seriously, I think he’s St. Louis or Texas bound. I really don’t see any other teams being in it.

  10. normb11 - Feb 22, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Jeez. I thought the game was past the point of no return when Nolan Ryan got the first million dollar contract?
    Or when Kevin Brown got the first $100 million contract?
    Or when Arod got the $275 million contract?

    I can’t believe a guy as smart as KW would say a work stoppage would be OK.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      I think close proximity to Ozzie periodically causes him to take leave of his senses.

    • bigharold - Feb 22, 2011 at 12:52 PM

      “I can’t believe a guy as smart as KW would say a work stoppage would be OK.”

      What that translates into is the ML players union is much stronger than the owners, as evidenced by the fact that the owners have gotten their collective butts handed to the every time they went against the players and likely will next time too. So, lets have a work stoppage in the hopes that perhaps we’ll get a system that will save moronic owners from themselves.

      We already live in a culture, not particular to the US alone by the way, that values professional sports players more than teachers, police, military, health care workers …. which is why they are paid so obscenely. But, lets not lose sight of two facts; 1. If players agreed to a 50% cut in salary tomorrow, across the board, the outrageous prices we pay for all things baseball would not drop a nickel. Owners would merely pocket the additional profit. 2. The value placed on professional sports is what it is because of us, the fans. The very people that complain here about the prices and the irrational cultural hierarchy are the root cause of it. If we weren’t showing up at games, paying our cable subscriptions and buying official MLB stuff the system collapses within a single season. So we kind of earned it.

      If fans really wanted to exert some influence for OUR benefit, i.e. lower prices more access…, all they need do is; Stop going to games. Stop watching games. Stop buying official MLB stuff. In fact if ALL fans agreed to do just two of those things it might well get the attention of the owners and players. But since fans are even less organized than the owners that is nothing ore than a pipe drream. Like an electorate that gets the government they deserve we have a system that we have because we paid for it. And, nothing short of an economic collapse, on the scale of 1929, would change ths system. And, we got a glimse of that after the 2008 sean when many high priced FA went without contracts or got significantly less because the economy tanked.

      To paraphrase; I have seen the enemy and he is us.

  11. tucknrolle - Feb 22, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    If Kenny Williams thinks it’s “asinine” to pay a player it must be true. He’s usually the guy signing or trading for a guy with a large contract. If someone pay Albert 30 mil then that’s what he’s worth. I think the ten years is a little too much, but if he signs with a new team he will make them a lot more than 30 mil a team. Sorry to the Cards fans, but I see this guy as a Cubby next year. They’ll pay him and certainly do need a guy like him.

  12. marinermousse - Feb 22, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    In listening to the full interview with Kenny Williams, I think he was trying to put it into the context of a mid-market payroll team. Estimated 2011 Payrolls for the top 8 spending teams are:

    NYY $202
    PHIL $165
    BOS $162
    METS $138 (Hello Omar!!)
    LAA $136
    CUBS $134 (Hello Jim!!)
    WHITE SOX $125
    SFG $122

    While I think Pujols is worth every bit of $30mm/year not only as a player for the next 5-7 years, but also as he becomes THE home draw attraction in years 6-9 (notwithstanding how good or bad the team he is with will be at that time) begins to rack up milestone upon milestone creating records that may not be broken for 50 years or longer (some of the same that had Barry Bonds drawing 3.5mm in SF in 2006 and 2007 while the Giants had a terrible team and then dropped off by 400k the following year)….I also understand and would agree that for a team with $100=$125mm payroll it is very difficult to allocate $30mm to one player and expect to have 6-9 years of contending teams by filling in around that. Of course, just imagine what it must be like to work with a $60-$75mm payroll and try and compete and need to “fill in” with $10mm players??

    On the other hand Bonds put, arguably 500-750,000 fans/year in the seats for the Giants. How much is a fan in the seat worth between the ticket revenue (all marginal, with no variable cost), food purchased, shirts, jackets etc.?? If it is $25/person “net” (since they share, but also get to share on the road), that would mean that Bonds was worth $12.5-19mm/year single-handedly. Thus, if one were paying him $25mm during those twilight years, they were really only paying him $6-$12.5 for playing “net’….So perhaps not such a bad deal for a middle market team after all?

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