Wave of enthusiasm fuels White Sox momentum

Fan reaction to offseason moves encourages club to push limits

Wave of enthusiasm fuels White Sox momentum

CHICAGO -- If you improve it, they will come.

That theme seems to be playing out on the South Side of Chicago, with the fans' huge response to the six offseason additions made by the White Sox giving the team greater confidence for bolder moves in the immediate and distant future.

"I can't measure the excitement and pride that I have," said White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams of the fans' response to the free-agent additions of Adam LaRoche, Zach Duke, Melky Cabrera and David Robertson, and the acquisitions of Jeff Samardzija and Dan Jennings. "As executives, especially when you are talking to the owner and you're trying to sell him on the contracts, especially nowadays and the potential for you to do special things, you're also doing a projection.

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"You establish your payroll, the attendance and all the other peripherals on the economic end and hopefully it lines up to where ownership gives you the benefit of the doubt, and that's what happened here. [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] saw, we all saw, a little peak of fan interest to give us the confidence to say, 'We really want this last piece.'"

Williams specifically referenced the addition of Cabrera via a three-year, $42 million deal, which the White Sox finished off Saturday night and officially announced on Tuesday. Cabrera, Samardzija and Robertson were introduced at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday afternoon.

White Sox fans can feel an even deeper connection to their team than they usually do because they influenced what could end up being a necessary piece for contention. According to Brooks Boyer, the club's senior vice president, sales and marketing, that enthusiastic response skyrocketed after news came from last week's Winter Meetings in San Diego that the Samardzija and Robertson deals were done.

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"There's been a lot of very brisk activity on season tickets," said Boyer before Tuesday's news conference. "Between season tickets, our 81 game plans, 27's, 14's and then 7's went on sale today, and then it's just been very, very active and gives us a lot of confidence in where we are headed and what these moves have meant to the club. There was interest when we signed LaRoche and then after the [Samardzija and Robertson] deals were done, it has been going at a frantic pace all week.

"Then to have Melky go on top of it for this week, it just continues. We've seen our renewal percentage jump up. And then our new sales have been something we haven't experienced in quite some time."

Boyer added that the interest doesn't match the 2005 offseason, after the White Sox won the World Series. But it's the greatest push Boyer has seen since the team went "all in" going into the 2011 season, bringing back franchise staples such as Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and adding Adam Dunn through a four-year deal.

Now, the White Sox hope to sustain that explosion of interest by finding as much success on the field in-season as they have during the offseason. If you improve and keep winning, they will continue to come.

"Rick has said it and Jerry has said it," Boyer said. "When the product is what or fans expect and want and they are playing as hard as [White Sox manager] Robin [Ventura] expects them to play and doing the right things and playing smart baseball, our fan base has always supported. We don't think it's going to be any different going into next season."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.