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 March 1, 2007
Or more like a wheezing, hissing sound that comes from air leaking from a hole in the front right tire of the Chicago White Sox bandwagon. Kenny Williams starting pitching remodel took a bit of a hit today when top of rotation starters Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland got hit hard in today’s Chicago White Sox Cactus league opener, losing to the Colorado Rockies 12-4. Now, I know what you’re thinking, it’s the first spring training game of the season and this is to be expected. We all know that the hitting comes around much faster than the pitching, but I will say this: If you are a White Sox fan, you have to be very concerned about Mark Buehrle. He essentially picked up where he left off last year by getting hit hard. His line: 2IP, 6H, 4 ER, 18.00 ERA. Not very pretty.
(AP photos by M. Spencer Green)
Jon Garland was worse, although I am willing to cut a break to a back to back 18 game winner at this point. Bobby Jenks shoulder tightness is yet another early concern. Combined with Gavin Floyd’s injured ankle yesterday, looks like the White Sox pitching staff is already under duress, especially the starters. This couldn’t be the start that Ozzie Guillen, Don Cooper, nor Mark Buehrle wanted for the pitching staff.
The every day lineup is not a big concern at this point, for the Sox have enough hitting to keep them in games, but I will say that no team in baseball has enough hitting to keep an ineffective Mark Buehrle and a starting rotation with a 4.50 ERA in many games. Moreso than the Cubs, the success of the White Sox this season comes down to one thing, their starting rotation and unfortunately, that will most likely be their undoing. The Mark Buehrle Farewell Tour looks like its it’s revving it’s engine in the thin Tucson air.
Posted in Chicago White Sox | Tagged: Bobby Jenks, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Don Cooper, Gavin Floyd, Jon Garland, Kenny Williams, Mark Buehrle, Ozzie Guillen | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on January 29, 2007
This weekend was the 15th Annual SoxFest Fan Convention at the Palmer House Hyatt in downtown Chicago. The timing was mixed for Chicago White Sox fans, as it just so happens that the convention fell on the weekend prior to Super Bowl XLI, and the Chicago Bears just happen to be playing in that Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years. Chicago Cubs fans know how that goes with the last two seasons of Bears playoff home games coinciding with the Cubs Convention, but fortunately, the week is slow for Super Bowl news.
The big news out of SoxFest was GM Kenny Williams inadvertent torching of P Mark Buehrle’s chances of being with the White Sox past the ’07 season. The White Sox made plenty of news this off-season by trading P Freddie Garcia to the Philadelphia Phillies for P Gavin Floyd and P Gio Gonzalez, a move I liked, by the way. I felt the more sketchy move was trading P Brandon McCarthy to the Texas Rangers for P John Danks and P Nick Masset. I felt McCarthy was the young pitcher that Williams was using to build his strategy of post-title rebuilding to stave off the hyper inflation of pitcher salaries. This is a HUGE roll of the dice with the payoff being very marginal, at best.
Regardless, if the White Sox are to have a chance to get back to the post-season and compete for a World Series title, I predict 5 key needs/things will have to happen. They are:
1. Bullpen needs to be way more solid. Last year’s bullpen was a bit of a mess, especially in left handed relief. The White Sox had a hard time bridging the gap to closer Bobby Jenks. LHP Matt Thornton was a terrific surprise for the White Sox, but P Neal Cotts (since traded to the Chicago Cubs) was a disaster. The White Sox bullpen is now filled with power arms from both sides with the addition of RHP David Aardsma (from the Cubs trade), LHP Andrew Sisco, and late season pick up RHP Mike MacDougal. Add LHP Boone Logan into that mix and there are a lot of power arms that can really bring it. If this group can somehow find the consistency that was non-existent last season, this will put the White Sox worlds ahead of where they were last season.
2. Fill the hole in CF — CF Brian Anderson was a major disappointment last season. He will be the first to admit that. That being said, there is no way the White Sox can go into the 2007 season with that same kind of hole in their lineup. Anderson actually caused two holes, as his hitting in the 8/9 spot was virtually an automatic out in a strong White Sox lineup and caused power hitting 2B Tadahito Iguchi to have to hit in the #2 spot, which he is able, but would be much better suited to hit lower in the order. I’m very encouraged by the signing of OF Darrin Erstad and the developement of OF’s Jerry Owens and Josh Fields. Brian Anderson has a fight on his hands this season. He could very well end up from the starting CF in Chicago to starting CF in Charlotte.
3. Buehrle needs to come back in form, need strong seasons from the #4/#5 starters – P Mark Buehrle needs to rebound from a career worst 12-13 4.99 ERA season to be the typical Mark Buehrle we are used to seeing. P Javier Vasquez finished the season on a strong note, but was essentially a 5 inning pitcher for most of the season. The since departed P Freddy Garcia had an up and down season, but finished very strong. (although his fastball lost some life this past season) The struggles of the starting rotation only highlighted the difficulties in the bullpen, as they were forced to pitch more in bad/ineffective/short outings by starters Buehrle/Garcia/Vasquez. The bottom of the rotation is now new, with Vasquez holding down the #4 spot in the rotation, and the #5 that could be Gavin Floyd or Charlie Haeger. Either way, the bottom of the order plus Buehrle need to step it up bigtime for the White Sox to compete.
4. Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko need to keep up with the big bats – otherwise, the White Sox have no chance. Any significant drop in one or two of the Big 3 will spell doom for the White Sox. The White Sox have an almost perfect balanced lineup, power hitters and avg./contact hitters, hitters with speed, and fairly good lefty/righty balance. The Big 3 keeps producing, the White Sox are in the race. If not, will be a long, grinder season that won’t be pretty.
5. Develop a replacement for LF Scott Podsednik – I am not a big Scott Podsednik fan. I thought in 2005, he did what he needed to to ignite the White Sox and in the playoffs he was huge, but 2006 really showed that he and Anderson were the weak links in an otherwise formidible White Sox lineup. Now, Scottie Pods starts out 2007 behind the 8-ball with groin surgery. The White Sox need an effective leadoff hitter badly and Scottie Pods is not the answer…..another season like ’06 and the White Sox find more trouble.
The White Sox lived off of the 2005 World Series last season, but things change quickly. The intoxication of the first World Series victory in 88 years is nearly worn off and the construction on the Dan Ryan expressway is a year over schedule, so the White Sox have some work to do to get even close to last year’s attendance record. Do all 5 above, the White Sox are in the playoffs. Anything less, the AL Central is too strong and the White Sox will find themselves on the outside looking in.
Posted in Chicago White Sox | Tagged: Andrew Sisco, Bobby Jenks, Boone Logan, Brandon McCarthy, Brian Anderson, Charlie Haeger, Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Darrin Erstad, David Aardsma, Freddy Garcia, Gavin Floyd, Gio Gonzalez, Jermaine Dye, Jerry Owens, Jim Thome, John Danks, Josh Fields, Kenny Williams, Mark Buehrle, Matt Thornton, Mike MacDougal, Neal Cotts, Nick Masset, Paul Konerko, Philadelphia Phillies, Scott Podsednik, Super Bowl XLI, Tadahito Iguchi, Texas Rangers | 2 Comments »
Posted by sportsmaven on January 24, 2007
With less than 28 days remaning until the start of spring training, the short slumber of baseball transactions is about to end. Both the Chicago newspapers are reporting that the Chicago White Sox are on the verge of signing OF Darin Erstad to a free agent contract. The White Sox have been pursuing Erstad for about 6 years now, dating back to 2001 when they offered the Angels P Jon Garland and OF Chris Singleton. What a disaster that would have been, since Erstad’s best days were clearly behind him, even in 2001 and Garland has emerged as a stong top of the rotation starter and the Sox most consistent pitcher in a pitching-challenged 2006 season.
Still, this is a fairly shrewd pickup by Sox GM Kenny Williams. Pick up a solid CF veteran to bridge to the Josh Fields era. (Does anyone miss the Brian Anderson era yet?)
On another note, Scott Podsednik’s groin is acting up again, causing the White Sox LF and leadoff man to have surgery on Tuesday for a sports hernia. The surgery will most likely set back Podsednik a couple of weeks in spring training.
Finally, Cliff Floyd rumblings about the quiet Chicago skyline. MLB.com is reporting a deal with Floyd and the Chicago Cubs is eminent. Floyd was an all-star as recently as 2001 (.273 avg, 34HR’s 98 RBI), but had an injury-plagued season for the New York Mets, batting .244 11 HR’s and 44 RBI. So will we be getting good Cliff or bad Cliff?
Posted in Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox | Tagged: Brian Anderson, Chris Singleton, Cliff Floyd, Darrin Erstad, Jon Garland, Josh Fields, Kenny Williams, New York Mets, Scott Podsednik | 2 Comments »