More details are emerging about the events leading up to Adam LaRoche’s retirement following Ken Williams’ request that he bring his son Drake to the clubhouse less often. The highlights:
- Jeff Passan reports that a heated meeting was held about the matter on Tuesday. And I do mean heated. F-bombs were dropped and pitcher Chris Sale lit into Williams over the issue;
- Karl Ravech reports that tsohe Sox were so mad at Williams that they considered boycotting yesterday’s spring training game, but that manager Robin Ventura — who sided with the players and LaRoche — intervened and convinced them to play;
- The claim Williams has made — that it was all his decision and that it was made because he was worried about setting a bad precedent over kids in the clubhouse — seems to have been blown to bits as sources have told CSNChicago.com’s Dave Kaplan that Drake’s presence in the clubhouse was a condition of LaRoche signing there. The Twitter account of a company Adam LaRoche owns seemed to confirm this.
As I said this morning, this whole situation doesn’t add up and none of these updates makes the math work any better. If Drake’s presence was part of the deal, Williams need not have worried about setting a precedent. He could simply tell future players “nope.” If every single person who actually works in the clubhouse — including manager Robin Ventura — was on board with this, there is no other reason for Williams to have intervened.
There are a couple of things which would explain all of this better:
- Ken Williams simply being on a power trip in which he decided, for no reason that affected him personally, to ask LaRoche to give up something he negotiated for in his contract and which Williams would have to know would lead to an emotional reaction from LaRoche; or
- A player or a few players complained to Williams anonymously about Drake LaRoche’s presence and Williams, in an effort to not have the clubhouse torn apart, decided to appease those players while taking all of the heat for the decision himself. Yes, there are reports that the “entire clubhouse” is on LaRoche’s side here, but no one is taking a poll of 25 guys. It’s possible that someone complained and then sat quietly in the meeting, not wanting to be responsible for the strife.
Another theory some of you have offered in comments is, I think, a pretty far-fetched one: that the White Sox were just trying to antagonize LaRoche into retiring to save $13 million. Sorry, can’t buy that one. There is no way they could be sure ANY course of action, up to and including treating him like George Costanza when he worked for Play Now, could be reasonably certain to make LaRoche retire. This isn’t sitcom or a some melodrama where the White Sox are scheming and sinister actors. I can’t really feature that one at all.
What I can feature are the very human motivations possessed by players not liking their clubhouse vibe but not wanting to create waves. I can feature the motivation of a senior executive with unassailable job security deciding to take the heat for something which other players or maybe a manager couldn’t take. While less likely, I could see that same executive acting unilaterally to feed a power trip, but that doesn’t square with what he should’ve known to be Adam LaRoche‘s contractual rights.
I said this morning that this all seems fishy. It seems even more fishy now.