Posted by sportsmaven on December 10, 2008
Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams has always been a man that plays his cards close to his vest. In the super secret sensitive world of Major League Baseball, that position is not necessarily a terrible proposition, as team are competitive in nature, from ownership right on down to the clubhouse management teams. Across town, Williams’ counterpart, Cubs GM Jim Hendry, is embroiled in the highest profile deal making at the Annual Baseball General Manager’s meetings in Las Vegas, courting perhaps the National League’s best pitcher this side of CC Sabathia in Padres P Jake Peavy.
Hendry has been open in his desire to acquire Peavy and is generally open in discussing his desires to continually improve the level of talent for the Chicago Cubs. Here is where he and Kenny Williams diverge, and that divergence may be misinterpreted as Williams not being cooperative and sleuth-like in managing his team. In a Chicago Sun-Times article on December 10th, Williams comments on his recent transactions and his potential transactions to date in this off-season certainly reinforces the “sleuthness” of his personality:
“I don’t have any timeframe, any timetable to do anything. We are in the fortunate position where we have good young players, we’ve acquired more depth. We’ve also not taken our eye off some of the veterans that could make themselves available to us in the marketplace. My guys are under instruction to listen to deals and potential deals whether they go along the prospect lines or the veteran lines.”
Kenny Williams is certainly underestimated as a baseball GM. His work has resulted in 2 division titles and a World Series Championship since 2005. He has hit big with the Carlos Quentin acquisition, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, A.J. Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye and a host of others that have kept the White Sox in playoff contention for most of his tenure. He has done it with limited budget and a very demanding ownership group looking over his shoulder.
He has done it in a city where the White Sox are the red headed stepchild to the more venable Chicago Cubs in a city deeply divided in it’s baseball loyalties. He has endured extreme criticism, risen to the top of the mountain in bringing the White Sox their first World Series title in 88 years in the Sox infamous 11-1 playoff run in 2005.
Williams was also a key figure in Michael Lewis’s bestselling book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game. In the book, Lewis details Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane’s dealings, more than a few with Kenny Williams. Williams is characterized in the book as a GM that is consistently outmanaged and outsmarted by efficient analysis of Beane and his team, almost looking foolish and overmatched. Lewis paints Billy Beane as a statistical mad scientist, brilliant in his management of efficiency in a market in which Beane must be creative to compete.
But with all the brilliance of a Billy Beane as portrayed in Moneyball, it is Williams that ultimately gets the last laugh, as he is the one with the World Series championship and not Beane.
Posted in Chicago White Sox | Tagged: AJ Pierzynski, Billy Beane, Carlos Quentin, CC Sabathia, Chicago White Sox, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, Jermaine Dye, Jim Hendry, John Danks, Kenny Williams, Major League Baseball, Michael Lewis, MLB, Moneyball, Oakland Athletics | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on September 9, 2008
Historically, the month of September has been a month of angst for Chicago baseball fans. This September is no exception. In fact, this September has been particularly brutal for the Chicago White Sox. If a tough schedule wasn’t enough, the Sox are losing key players to an injury bug that has them clinging to dear life to a one game lead in the AL Central Division with 18 games left in the season.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
The September schedule looks a bit tougher in real life than on paper. The month started by facing perhaps the best pitcher in baseball this season in Cleveland Indians LHP Cliff Lee. All Lee did was hang 5-hit complete game shut out on the Sox to run his record to a MLB leading 20-2. It gets worse this week with the hottest team in baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays hitting town. The Sox lost the first two of a 5 game series today and they face RHP Roy Halladay and his 18-9 record. The Blue Jays have won 10 in a row to move into 3rd place in the AL East. After this homestand, the Sox hit the road for 9 games with 6 games against a hungry New York Yankees team and the upstart and amazingly resilient Minnesota Twins before a season ending 3 game homestand against the Indians and one more potential shot at Cliff Lee.
That’s not even the worst of it. The rash of injuries that have hit the Sox this season has been absolutely horrific, with the brunt of key injuries happening this month. The Sox had already lost RHP Jose Contreras on August 11th with a season ending achilles injury and had to endure losing all of August and the beginning of September without their best releiver, RHP Scott Linebrink. Now, in September alone, the Sox expect 3B Joe Crede to miss the rest of the season with a back injury, AL MVP candidate LF Carlos Quentin is injured, breaking his wrist in a freak mishap with his bat and is out until potentially the post season if that happens, and now tonight, the Sox hottest hitter in the last 10 days and team captain 1B Paul Konerko goes down with a sprained MCL slipping while cutting off a throw from right field. His status is uncertain. In addition, also announced today, September callup IF Chris Getz will miss the rest of the season due to two broken bones in his wrist.
Now the Sox don’t want anyone to feel sorry for them, with Manager Ozzie Guillen stating that they just have to fight through this and keep going with the team they have. Things aren’t all that bad, with CF Nick Swisher moving to first and plenty of CF options are available for Guillen to play with. DH Jim Thome can play first if Swisher needs a breather and OF Ken Griffey, Jr. is also available to swing between DH and OF. The Sox definitely have karma working against that right now, but have somehow managed to fight through all the adversity that has plagued them this season to still remain in first place, one game ahead of the Twins with 18 games to play. The Sox have a lot of fight left in them…they will need every ounce of fight to cross the finish line in first, and they may be the better off of the two Chicago baseball teams…..
Posted in Chicago White Sox | Tagged: Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox, Chris Getz, Cleveland Indians, Cliff Lee, Jim Thome, Joe Crede, Jose Contreras, Ken Griffey Jr, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Nick Swisher, Ozzie Guillen, Paul Konerko, Roy Halladay, Scott Linebrink, Toronto Blue Jays | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on April 22, 2008
The surprise team in the AL Central this season is the Chicago White Sox. After a dismal 72-90 season in 2007, the Sox were picked no higher than 3rd place in most prognosticators division rankings for 2008. The Sox are certainly hitting the ball, with a solid offense led by Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome and newcomers Nick Swisher and Carlos Quentin.
While the Sox were expected to be strong offensively, the true surprise for this team has been the solid performance of the pitching staff, especially the starters. Going into 2008, Mark Buehrle and Javier Vasquez were expected to be staff leaders. The back half of the staff has been led by a recent resurgence from Jose Contreras, who had his best outing since the World Series season of 2005 in his start on April 16th against the Baltimore Orioles, hurling 7 innings of 1 run ball with 6 strikeouts.
Gavin Floyd and John Danks have been the most surprising, with Floyd taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning of his start against the Detroit Tigers on April 12th. Floyd is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA and improving by leaps and bounds as this season progresses. John Danks has also been fantastic, with a 2-1 record and a 3.04 ERA. Danks currently has a 14 2/3 inning shutout streak, and outside of a 2 1/3 inning, 7 run outing against the Minnesota Twins on April 9th, his ERA would be a sparkling 0.14 (1 earned run in 21 1/3 innings pitched)
If the Sox continue to get quality pitching, they can dominate a AL Central Division that suddenly appears to be much weaker than anticipated. The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians have huge pitching problems that may not work themselves out. While Sox pitching continues to dominate AL Central play, the teams considered the strong horses of the division are fading early, providing the Sox a great opportunity to open up a formidable lead in the early part of the the 2008 season.
Posted in Chicago White Sox | Tagged: Baltimore Orioles, Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Gavin Floyd, Javier Vasquez, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Joe Crede, John Danks, Jose Contreras, Major League Baseball, Mark Buehrle, Nick Swisher | Leave a Comment »