On Thursday afternoon the White Sox declined their option on backup catcher Toby Hall, and for the most part, nobody outside of the Hall family really cared. After all, Toby Hall is a backup catcher and he plays once a week. Those guys aren't exactly hard to replace.
Still, on the north side of town, the feelings are a bit different. Henry Blanco could be the most beloved backup catcher in the history of baseball, cherished even more than Sal Fasano, and Blanco doesn't even have a sweet mustache. Blanco is such a fan favorite that he's even got his own fan club: The Hank White Fan Club.
I have no doubt there are some angry and distraught members of the Hank White Fan Club this afternoon. The Cubs have declined their option on Henry for next season. The team had signed Hank to a two-year $5.25 million deal after the 2006 season, and had an option for next year that was worth $3 million. Apparently the team feels that $3 million is too much for a backup catcher, but I do not agree with them.
Not only is Blanco a fan favorite -- cut him loose and Wrigley becomes a mausoleum, just watch -- but he was also a large factor in Geovany Soto's ascent to becoming an All-Star catcher this season. Besides, if Barack Obama is elected President, the team can just take some money from Alfonso Soriano and give it to Hank (I'm not Barack Obama, but if I were, I would approve this message). Got to spread the wealth!
Not all hope is lost though, Hank White fans. Just because the Cubs declined Henry's option for 2009, that doesn't mean they don't want him back next season. They do, they would just prefer to pay him less than $3 million. So while they don't mind paying Jason Marquis $7 million to be the team's fifth starter -- and this is not a slam on Marquis, unlike most Cubs fans I think he's a great fifth starter -- they won't give $3 million to a backup catcher.
So this is where you, Hank White Fan Club member. really have to earn your stripes. Take to the streets, and spread the word. Not paying Henry Blanco $3 million in 2009 will end up costing the Cubs a lot more in the long run. Like, say, their lives.
You've been warned, Jim Hendry. Hell hath no fury like a scorned Hank White Fan Club member.