Paul Konerko accepted a five-year, $60 million deal from the White Sox today. I figured he'd stay early on, then thought he was going to the Angels. I should've stayed with my original pick.
If they both stay healthy, Konerko and Thome could be a deadly power duo in the middle of the White Sox order. They're still far from perfect, but a healthy Thome is a big upgrade on Carl Everett, and they won the World Series with Everett. The White Sox's continued success will depend on their pitching still, but adding a guy that was hitting 40 homers in his sleep before this season at a discount price isn't going to hurt.
The Orioles have talked with Todd Jones' agent. I'm not a fan of ol' homophobe Jones; to be blunt, I think he's an idiot, though I do think the handlebar moustache is cool. In addition to that, I don't think the Orioles particularly need a guy that just had his first truly great season ever at age 37 and his first worthwhile season period since 2002 when he was in Colorado. And they certainly don't need to pay him anything near the outrageous prices that relievers have gotten this offseason.
The three best relievers on the team this year were BJ Ryan (who's gone), Chris Ray (who's as ready as he'll ever be to close) and Todd Williams (who may just be a fluke, like Jones). You know who sucked? The Arsonists Steve, brought in to anchor the middle-to-late innings. Jason Grimsley was terrible replacing Reed once he got released. There are guys in-house like Rakers - and maybe even DuBose if he's exclusively a reliever and just lets it fly - that can cover the 6th, 7th and 8th innings, I'm very confident in that. I don't think this team will turn out to have been hurting for relief help. You've got Ray, Rakers, The Todd, Kline in a contract year, maybe DuBose as the second lefty/long reliever. The only real dead wood returning is Julio.
I dunno, I think Jones' year was a major fluke and it'd be a mistake to sign him to much of anything.
As for what we'll do at first base now, I think Nomar is what they'll try for as a splashy name signing, but we could still be looking down the barrel at wasting our time on Kevin Millar or Jeff Conine, and that's what I fear. Because I've got no doubt that Millar or Conine would be healthy. I also have no doubt they won't hit. Conine hit like David Segui this year, and any comparison to David Segui drudges up a lot more bad memories than good for an Orioles fan right now. Millar wasn't quite as bad as his rep this season but he was still pretty bad slugging .399. They're also both old - Millar is 34 and Conine is 40 next June.
If Conine did return to Baltimore though, and not get traded or released and signed by anyone else, I have to think that Jeff Conine would be the first player in Major League Baseball history to spend his entire career with three different teams and two stints with each of them: Kansas City (1990-92, 1998), Florida (1993-97, 2003-2005), and Baltimore (1999-2003, maybe 2006?).
Now if we brought Conine in as a 1B/corner OF bench guy, that'd be OK with me. He can still get on base. But, hey, we'll see.