Hes about to enter the final season of his contract and Paul Konerko intends to do so with a realistic approach.
The White Sox slugger, who turns 37 in March, isnt sure whether he wants to play in 2014 or where he might be if he does choose to return. With no certainty to any of it, Konerko has already identified his game plan on his future. Prior to the start of Sox Fest on Friday, Konerko said he plans to not to cheat his teammates this season --- his focus is purely about the season ahead.
You know at some point your career is going to end, said Konerko, a six-time All-Star who enters 2013 with 422 career home runs. I dont know right now. My thing is just have a solid season and do my job. Thats all it boils down to. I signed a contract to do a job and I want to make sure I do what I signed up for. That has nothing to do with the other distractions of What are you going to do? If I spend time thinking and talking about that stuff Im not doing what Im supposed to be doing for this team.
Konerko was last in this position in December 2010.
Hes experienced friends, family and media asking whether or not he wants to continue playing and where he might end up. He knows hell face them again.
As if he hadnt already been made aware to the business aspect of the game, Konerko admits his guard is already up after he watched in consecutive offseasons as Mark Buerhle and A.J. Pierzynski departed via free agency even though both hoped to return.
So even though he wont know whether or not he wants to play again until after this season, Konerko sounds prepared to roll with whatever comes.
How Im going to feel seven months from now, what I think, I cant project, Konerko said. There are so many moving points that factor in that decision --- kids, family, teams, body. I could not possibly factor all of those decisions now and project it out because I cant do it.
27-year-old Justin Jirschele made quite an impression in his first season as manager of the White Sox Class-A affiliate in Kannapolis. He helped lead the Intimidators to the South Atlantic League championship, and was named White Sox Minor League Coach of the Year. Jirschele came on the podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien about how he went from playing minor league baseball with the White Sox to coaching in their system. He talks about how growing up with a dad who was coaching minor league baseball helped mold him as a manager who is wise beyond his years. Jirschele also gives a report on some of the top White Sox prospects he managed last season such as Jake Burger, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and Miker Adolfo.
The White Sox farm system is baseball's best, according to one of the people making those rankings.
In the wake of Major League Baseball's punishment of the Atlanta Braves for breaking rules regarding the signing of international players — which included the removal of 12 illegally signed prospects from the Braves' organization — MLB.com's Jim Callis tweeted out his updated top 10, and the White Sox are back in first place.
Now obviously there are circumstances that weakened the Braves' system, allowing the White Sox to look stronger by comparison. But this is still an impressive thing considering that three of the White Sox highest-rated prospects from the past year are now full-time big leaguers.
Yoan Moncada used to be baseball's No. 1 prospect, and pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez weren't too far behind. That trio helped bolster the highly ranked White Sox system. Without them, despite plenty of other highly touted prospects, common sense would say that the White Sox would slide down the rankings.
But the White Sox still being capable of having baseball's top-ranked system is a testament to the organizational depth Rick Hahn has built in such a short period of time.
While prospect rankings are sure to be refreshed throughout the offseason, here's how MLB Pipeline's rankings look right now in regards to the White Sox:
4. Eloy Jimenez
9. Michael Kopech
22. Luis Robert
39. Blake Rutherford
57. Dylan Cease
90. Alec Hansen