MILWAUKEE – News that Mark Kotsay signed with the Padres means that a veteran backup with the intangibles of being a solid influence in the clubhouse is coming to San Diego.
One of the few to fill that exact role with the White Sox over the past decade was Kotsay himself, who left after the 2010 season.
Clubhouse leadership is a delicate thing. Typically it’s the star players who lead by example. Their concerns must be measured, they typically are willing to take more blame than they deserve and they have to inspire while running the risk of sounding too rah-rah.
It’s even harder for a player who isn’t in the spotlight to emerge as a leader. Rafael Furcal was credited with changing the clubhouse in St. Louis after he was acquired at the trade deadline. It certainly didn’t hurt the Cardinals, who caught fire after his arrival and won the World Series.
General manager Kenny Williams credited Kotsay with helping Gordon Beckham emerge from his first-half struggles in 2010. One year later, with Kotsay in Milwaukee, Beckham’s offensive problems lasted the entire year.
There have been other leaders to emerge for the White Sox from a reserve role. Tony Graffanino was one such player this past decade. Geoff Blum was that kind of guy for the 2005 team. Omar Vizquel has been another.
Williams has considered a player’s makeup before pursuing him in the hopes of having a clubhouse full of high character guys. There aren’t many of them that can lead from a reserve role, but with the limited funds he has this offseason Williams might want to consider adding one.