We Only Have Ourselves to Blame for Alex Rios’ Struggles

Hey, did you know Alex Rios is having a rough go of it with the Good Guys? What were the odds? That’s currr-AY-zeee!

Anyway, as much fun as it is to bemoan the less-than-stellar output of the $68 million, two-time All-Star* and fifth-best rookie** of 2004, can anyone really get too upset over that heinous 13-for-97 start to Rios’ Hall of Fame run on the South Side? Bizarre feelings of entitlement to the money Jerry Reinsdorf is paying him aside, not really, but not for the reasons you’d expect.

To be fair, this could just be a case of Rios having a down year; this happens to even the best of them and better now than during the impending years of glory awaiting the Sox beginning May 2010 and ending October 29, 2014 as the Sox bring home their third trophy in five seasons. His track record suggests he’s better than what we’ve seen of him, and even the previously-burned will begrudgingly admit Rios, in the end, is still a worthy addition to any respectable team. Or, in this case, to the 2009 White Sox.

But the thing is, no one really complains about Rios’ numbers, only that Rios’ numbers are especially low for someone making as much as he is; where DeWayne Wise is merely terrible, Rios is not just terrible but also some kind of thief.

When the Sox landed Rios, everyone knew there was a good player hiding in there somewhere, even if the Jays demanded absolutely nothing in return. That said, the only way to assume the Rios pickup was some kind of genius move is to also assume Kenny Williams never fails (even though he, like even the best of general managers, has in the past and he, like even the best of general managers, surely will again). Rios didn’t line up the terms of his contract with Toronto, nor did he claim himself off waivers. Rios may be somehow putting up numbers that make us all long for the days of (sigh) Brian Anderson, and judging by his remarks to the press he probably understands this, but by now not one but two separate GMs have endorsed his market value. We can fault Rios for his performance, but ultimately have only Ricciardi and Williams’ significant faith in number 51 to blame for the poor return on their (not our) investment.

(*) Other locally significant All-Stars since 2000: Mike MacDougal, Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley.
(**) Other locally significant high finishers in Rookie of the Year voting since 2000: Josh Fields, Nick Swisher, Shingo Takatsu, Ross Gload, Mark Prior.