Tag: Kenny Williams

2012 Chicago White Sox: Kenny Williams Deserves More Credit for the Sox Success

The Chicago White Sox have been a pleasant surprise in 2012.  After the departure of Ozzie Guillen and a series of disappointing years post-2005, the Sox looked as if they would be rebuilding at a rate not much faster than their cross-town counterparts. 

The Sox are at 34-30 and in sole possession of first place. They are approaching the all-star break with a half game lead over the Indians.  More importantly, they have a solid four game lead on the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers.

Many factors have contributed to the Sox’s success this spring, including the solid first year leadership of Robin Ventura and an MVP caliber first half from mainstay Paul Konerko. The Sox have been able to rebound from last year’s awful offensive season to become a threat to slug it out with any team in the league.

The person that deserves the most credit for this resurgence is Kenny Williams.  The much-maligned GM of the White Sox has always been passionate about fielding a competitive team on the south side and has made several moves, both good and bad to accomplish that. 

He has balanced keeping the main core of the 2005 championship team that all Sox fans have grown to love with several pieces that seemed primed to position them for success in the AL Central year-in year-out. 

He didn’t blow up the team and get rid of aging Sox heroes Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski; He didn’t try to solely build for the future, either, by saving money at the expense of Sox fans.

Instead, he found a way to bring back the mainstays of this Sox squad while issuing in talented players to compliment the young players that have been brought up into the mix. 

While the Cubs brass on the north side was often accused of standing pat and passing on opportunities to get better, the Sox have almost always opted to make moves that will keep them in contention. Unfortunately for Williams, in the past four years he has been tagged to his misses more than his successful moves.   

While he’s had had acquisitions like Omar Vizquel, Matt Thornton, JJ Putz and Orlando Cabrera that were productive; he’s had moves that did not work out like Mark Teahan, Manny Ramirez and Ken Griffey Jr. that people have put more emphasis on when judging him. 

If you throw in players he’s had mixed results with—Jim Thome, Nick Swisher, Juan Pierre, Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras and Scott Linebrink—it really gets hard to judge how he has done with his active moments. 

On the other hand, he’s had some of his prized prospects not work out quite to their billing—like Brian Anderson, Gordon Beckham, Josh Fields, Chris Getz and Daniel Hudson (the prized prospect he let get away after a slow start).

Overall though, he’s made some awesome signings and produced some very good prospects. The core of his current team is built on rising star and Cy Young candidate Chris Sale. To go along with Sale is John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Alexei Ramirez. 

He has developed several prospects that have really shown great promise in Alejandro De Aza, Dayan Viciedo, Tyler Flowers, Phil Humber and the ever-so-popular Brent Lillibridge.

He’s made timely signings in the past of Jermaine Dye, AJ Pierzynski, Scott Podsednik (twice) and Tad Iguchi, among others.

The biggest story with Kenny that shows how he deserves more credit is when some of his sure-bet signings went wrong on him in flukish fashion. It was hard to hear Williams get pounded for putting his neck out and acquiring players that were well regarded around the league like Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios

It seemed a little bit unfair that, given the Sox had a need for heavy-hitting productive players and top-of-the-rotation pitching depth, that Williams was slammed for getting players that fit the bill consistently over the course of their careers.

Jake Peavy was the opening day starter for Team USA in the last Baseball Classic and was consistently among the ERA and strikeout leaders in the NL for the Padres.  He was a unanimous CY Young winner in 2007, his ERA was under 3.00 three times, he struck out over 200 three times and despite an ankle injury that slowed him down, he was a great candidate to compliment the already solid pitching staff led by Buehrle, Danks and Floyd.   

It was perfectly reasonable to expect him to be back by the end of the 2009 season, make a few starts and be ready to go in 2010.  However, Peavy’s run in Chicago started with a rash of on and off again injuries and only a handful of quality, meaningful starts in his time in Chicago. That was frustrating to everyone, and counter to his track record, so it’s hard to blame Kenny for that lack of success.

Adam Dunn has been a model of consistency as an old school slugger.  He consistently has hit 40 home runs during the meat of his career.  Since 2004, his third full year in the big leagues, he has hit at least 40 home runs every year except for 2009 and 2010 for the Nationals in which he hit 38 in both seasons.  In that same time period, he only missed 100 RBI one time and that was in 2006 when he had 92 RBI for the Reds.  This is a span of seven years in which he was consistent and predictable in his production, all leading up to his signing with the White Sox. 

Sure he is a shoe in to strikeout 150 times or more almost every year, but you budget for that when you get a slugger like Dunn.  Given that the Sox needed more left-handed power depth in their order to protect Konerko in Jim Thome’s absence, this move made perfect sense.  However, in 2011, his first year with the Sox, he had a season to remember in the worst way. 

Adam Dunn may have arguably been the worst full-time hitter in the major leagues last year.  Some would argue his performance was historical.  After all of those productive years for three different teams, in 415 at bats he hit .159 with 11 HR and 42 RBI.  He struck out 177 times, which is more like him, but in every other way, Dunn’s performance was completely unrecognizable. 

Many slammed Williams for this signing, but that was unfair given the information and track record Williams was presented with prior to Dunn’s arrival in Chicago. There is no way you could predict or plan for such struggles, but it happened. 

Alex Rios is a little bit more of a debatable scenario because of the money that he is being paid ($12.5 million), but he was no slouch in Toronto either.  He had three or four very solid years including a .297, 24 HR 85 RBI season in 2007 and a .302 17 HR 86 RBI season in 2006. 

His struggles in Chicago were a surprise because, although he was having a sub par season in Toronto in 2009 when he came over, his first six years in the league had all been pretty respectable with averages generally around .300.

This year, Williams has gotten the last laugh on his high-investment decisions that seemed to have gone bad.  Jake Peavy has rebounded from several seasons of injury-plagued ball on the south side with a sparkling 6-2 record with a 2.91 ERA and 78 Strikeouts in 13 starts.  He is 6th in the AL in ERA and 7th in strikeouts. 

This is the type of pitcher that Kenny Williams hoped to get in the long run and had no reason to believe he wouldn’t get. 

Adam Dunn, after his miserable 2011 campaign, is currently leading the Major Leagues with 23 home runs.  That total is one more than Josh Hamilton, who is arguably the most feared hitter in Major League Baseball. 

Very few of his home runs have been cheap also.  He has been dead on the ball and hit several towering majestic flies. He is also second in the AL with 52 RBI.  His batting average is still pretty low, but this is pretty much what Kenny signed up for when he got him last year. 

It’s hard to hold an odd aberration season like what he had last year against Kenny Williams.  The proof is in the pudding, you book Adam Dunn for 35-40 HR and 100 RBI every year, and it appears this year should be no different.

Even Alex Rios has bounced back to have a solid season thus far, batting .294 with 32 RBI.  He may not be performing on the level of Dunn and Peavy, but he is producing on a level that makes the idea of having him on the team as a productive force a respectable one, unlike other years in his tenure for the Sox.

In the end, even after letting go of the face of the organization and letting guys like Carlos Quentin and Mark Buehrle go in free agency, the White Sox are relevant once again.  He helped make the solid decision to hire good-looking skipper Robin Ventura, and the moves he made in the past have all seemed to pan out now. 

Kenny deserves some credit for his work as GM here in Chicago since 2000 and people should be patient when player’s and/or teams have aberration type bad years. 

Obviously he helped bring a Championship to Chicago, but he deserves credit for making a variety of moves that give the Sox a chance year-in and year-out to compete for another one. He has never been satisfied and although some of his moves have not worked out for him, you can never knock him for trying.

We’ll see if they can make a run at another AL Central title in this year and add another impressive notation to Kenny Williams’s resume in unlikely fashion.

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Chicago White Sox: Kenny Williams and Organization Can’t Walk Rebuilding Talk

Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams is in dire need of a dictionary this Christmas.

It seems as if Williams needs to learn the meaning of the word “rebuilding”.

When it comes to that word, you’re either rebuilding or you’re not. Trying to go halfway doesn’t cut it. So why is Williams insisting on going off half-cocked on the White Sox this winter?

Earlier this week, Williams announced that the rebuilding had begun, moving Sergio Santos to Toronto for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Okay, now where are the follow-up rebuilding moves?

You know, the trades involving contracts that pare down a bloated payroll and replace expensive players with younger more reasonably-priced talent? Because that’s what rebuilding is, Kenny.

Just days after his rebuilding pronouncement, Williams had this to say to Scott Merkin of MLB.com.

You know, if we have some guys have some bounce-back years and go back to their career norms, yeah,” said Williams of his team’s chances to contend with Detroit in the American League Central as presently constructed. “Mostly, if a number of things happen offensively, continued growth at third base and second, [Alejandro] De Aza continues to play the way he ended the year, and along with the obvious bigger names.

Wait a minute. What happened to the start of rebuilding? When are those big expiring contracts like Carlos Quentin, Gavin Floyd and John Danks going to be converted to talent for the future?

Williams said the following.

We will all have answers to that in the upcoming weeks and months. It’s still a work in progress, but I wouldn’t anticipate anything major unless the opportunity presents itself to add impact, young 0-3 [year]-type players. But if that doesn’t manifest itself, this just isn’t the time to make wholesale changes.

Now I’m really confused. We’re rebuilding, but we don’t want to make wholesale changes.

That’s akin to rebelling while not trying to make any waves.

Is Williams arrogant enough to think he can make questionable moves one day under the guise of rebuilding and not make obvious moves in the name of remaining a contender?

I only buy the Santos trade if it is the tip of a rebuilding iceberg. If that’s the rebuild, then it makes even less sense than when it went down Monday. The White Sox were looking to get younger and cut payroll. To do this, they traded their 28-year-old closer—who was set to make a million dollars in 2012—after resigning a 33-year-old set-up guy to a 2012 salary of $3.75 million.

Congratulations, Kenny. You got five years older in the pen and spent $2.75 million more to do it. I’m wrapping your dictionary as we speak.

Maybe Williams isn’t in an ego-driven mission to have his cake and eat it too. I have to believe that some of the trade candidates are moved before opening day this coming spring. Williams is just trying to maximize the value he gets for what he is putting on the trading block.

It had better be the case, because what Williams has accomplished right now is not rebuilding.

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A.L. Central: Why the White Sox Are the Most Exciting Team to Watch in 2011

Baseball season is coming up and the American League Central is promising to be one of the most competitive divisions this season. I have come up with six different reasons why the White Sox will be the most exciting team to watch within this division.

The White Sox are always full of excitement, exemplified last year by the feud between Guillen and Williams, by the 30-game stretch in which the White Sox went 25-5, and by the addition of Manny Ramirez—one of the biggest characters in all of baseball.

This season promises to be even more exciting, as the White Sox have added some new pieces to their roster, while retaining the main pieces from last year. Oh yeah, Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen still work on the South Side.

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Chicago White Sox: Oney Guillen Responds to Bobby Jenks on Twitter

Former Chicago White Sox minor leaguer and scouting video technician Oney Guillen responded to former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks recent comments about his father, current White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on, on his Twitter Tuesday.

hahah memo to bobby jenks get a clue u drink to much and u have had marital problems hugeee ones and the sox stood behind u

they did not air out ur dirty laundry, u came to srping not drinking and then u sucked and started srinking again be a man

be a man and tell the manager or the coaching staff how u feel or the organization when u were with the sox not when u leave

u cried in the managers office bc u have problems now u go and talk bad about the sox after they protected u for 7 years ungrateful

if it wasnt for u and mainly u freddy garcia would have like 17 wins and the sox would have beat the twins

and u self diagnosed urself bc u didnt want to pitch un real i hope the sox let this guiy (expletive) have it

oh and yes i remember clearly u blowing a hugee game in 09 and u laughing ur bearded ass off while everyone busting there tail

i thought u were a man not some punk who runs away and talks bull(expletive). u coward. say it to there face when u were with them

dont make me air out more then i have 2 say ur sorry dont disrespect the White sox ever

now u know what piece of (expletive) person u rooted for chicago. the ones that leave and talk bad about ur team

and u say the manager didnt trust u? he kept putting ur fat ass there and u kept blowing it, he never took u away from that role unreal

go read it its a scott merkin piece its a dandy, i hope people say what they really feel instead of me

although it wouldnt surprise me if the sox take the high road and be classy instead of destroying this yellow beard dipping idiot

and to think u were actually a cool guy and ur word meant something, to bad u dont hit in the AL so they can drill that ass

one little story remember when u couldnt handle ur drinking and u hit a poor arizona clubby in the face i do. and later u covered it with

Im sorry thats ur answer to everything. How can u disrespect ur ex team like that.

Guillen previously was in the news for his criticism of White Sox general manager Kenny Williams.  After resigning from his scouting video technician position with the White Sox in March of 2010, Guillen has still been around and inside the White Sox clubhouse.

Jenks criticized Ozzie Guillen’s treatment of him this offseason and his inability to manage a bullpen in an interview Monday. 

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MLB: Is Kenny Williams Finished Improving The White Sox? Not By A Longshot

The big signings have been completed by White Sox GM Kenny Williams during the Winter Meetings.  Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski are safely in the fold, and Adam Dunn is looking for some Chi-town digs.

Now the wheeling and dealing can begin.

I don’t think Williams is anywhere near finished trying to improve this team.  Right now payroll could be in the $125 million range next year, or even a few dollars more.  I don’t think Williams wants to spend quite that much.

At the same time, the bullpen has several needs following the departures of Bobby Jenks, J.J. Putz and Scott Linebrink.  Late-inning pitching hurt the team in key stretches last season and an overhaul is now in order.

Please excuse Mr. Williams while he puts on his trading hat.

I won’t rule out a free-agent signing for part of that bullpen, but if that’s the case, Williams has got to move some salary.  I’m not saying he’ll be able to pull off a move like unloading Scott Linebrink, but he’s a creative thinker and loves to make deals.

Short of the three guys they just signed, plus Alexei Ramirez, I don’t think anyone is off limits.  Even those guys may not want to get too comfortable.  Williams is all about making the deal that will win a pennant this year.

Who are the leading candidates?

Mark Buehrle and his $14 million price tag could go a long way in the bullpen.  So could Edwin Jackson’s salary.  Could Gavin Floyd fetch a closer?

Carlos Quentin, Mark Teahen, Alex Rios… could Williams take advantage of a big rebound year for the Sox center fielder and turn it into some relief help?

If the right deal came along, would he be willing to part with his middle infielders?  Chris Getz found out last year that Williams would.

There are plenty of phone calls to make, scouts to consult and risks to be calculated. 

The White Sox are all-in, according to Williams.  When it comes to trades, all bets could be off.

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Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams Adds Another Player Linked To the Cubs

It could just be a coincidence, or there could be something to it.  Adam Dunn is just another example of a player who has been linked with the crosstown Cubs who is headed to White Sox.  Let’s take a look into Kenny Williams’ past.

1. Jim Thome

Remember how Jim Thome always wanted to play with the Cubs?  The slugger tried his hardest to get the Cubs to consider signing him in 2003, but the North Siders decided to go another route and traded for Derek Lee.  Kenny Williams then pulled off a trade for Bartonville, IL native in 2005 much to Cubs fans’ chagrin.

2. Ken Griffey Jr.

Junior was supposed to be the Cubs’ left-handed power threat for years.  Every trade deadline from 2004 to 2007, the Cubs were always rumored to be working on acquiring the future hall of famer.  As soon as his trade value went down far enough, Williams snagged Griffey at the 2008 deadline.

3. Juan Pierre

Traded to the Cubs in 2006 for Ricky Nolasco and a pair of other pitchers, things never worked out like they were supposed to for Pierre on the North Side.  Pierre left the Cubs in free agency after just one year and was snatched up by Williams in a trade after three seasons with the Dodgers.

4. Kosuke Fukudome

The White Sox are happy that the former Japanese superstar never signed with the South Siders, but he almost did.  The Cubs were long seen to be the front-runner to sign the free agent in 2007, and the White Sox were not even known to be considering Fukudome. 

But after Fukudome signed a four-year, $47 million deal to play for the Cubs, it came out that Kenny Williams and the White Sox had actually offered him a bigger deal than the North Siders in negotiations.

5. Jake Peavy

He was always supposed to be a Cub.  The Cubs were rumored for years to be interested in the former Cy Young winner, and despite injury concerns in 2010 were still pursuing him at the deadline.  But the White Sox got to him first, and after initially rejecting a trade to the South Side, Peavy finally waived his no-trade clause and agreed to play for Ozzie Guillen.

6. Scott Podsednik

Obviously Podsednik played for the White Sox first, but don’t forget that the Cubs showed serious interest in signing the outfielder after he was released by the Sox in 2007. Podsednik eventually signed with the Rockies, and the Cubs continued to wonder if he could have been what Juan Pierre couldn’t be for them before Kenny Williams re-signed Podsednik in 2009.

7. Adam Dunn

Dunn is another player in a list of many who was supposed to come to the Cubs to finally fill the left handed power hole they’ve had for years.  The Cubs were seen by many to be one of the front runners for Dunn, before the White Sox came out of no where to sign the slugger.

Ozzie Guillen has made it clear, he doesn’t hate the Cubs, he just hates Wrigley Field.  But what about his GM?  Kenny Williams seems to have a personal goal to grab whoever it is that is currently catching the Cubs’ eye. 

It could just be a total coincidence, but its something to think about.  Maybe Kenny just really hates the Cubs. Maybe he hates how he can put a better product on the field year in and year out but the Cubs still outdraw the South Siders every year.  Who knows.  

Think I’m crazy?  The most recent player the Cubs have shown interest in is James Loney. If the Sox fail to resign Paul Konerko, don’t be surprised if Kenny Williams makes a play at him.

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Chicago White Sox: Be It Addition or Subtraction, Williams Is Making Moves

White Sox GM Kenny Williams sent a strong message that his team will be ready to compete for a Central Division title in 2011 with a lot of activity Friday.

So far, Williams has played to form this winter.  He has not been afraid to make a splash and is retooling with veterans, as opposed to going young.

Let’s take a closer look…


Addition Through Subtraction

For minor league pitcher Kyle Cofield, Williams traded away much maligned reliever Scott Linebrink.

Cofield may or may not pan out to be a major league arm, but the White Sox general manager succeeded in unloading five million dollars from the payroll, which will be instrumental in continuing to address needs this winter.

Sure, the White Sox will have to find another guy to mop up in blowouts, but they should be able to do that at a more reasonable price than Linebrink’s five million dollars. 

Considering that Chicago is non-tendering Bobby Jenks, there is money to pursue J.J. Putz or other outside help in filling the White Sox bullpen.


Set Behind the Dish

Chicago signed A.J. Pierzynski to a two-year, eight million dollar contract, which I’m thrilled about. We signed one of the better free agent options behind the plate for two million a year less than he made a season ago.

Again, Williams went with experience, giving Tyler Flowers more time to develop, and saved some dough at the same time.  We win on both counts.


Adam Dunn Knows Why He’s Here, Right?

Most of the savings generated by the above activity, coupled with the non-tendering of Jenks, will go into bringing in Adam Dunn, who will sign a four-year, 56 million dollar contract.

Williams hinted that the organization could still bring back Paul Konerko, which would be great as long as everybody knows their role.

If the White Sox are serious about bringing Konerko back, they’ve made it clear to Dunn that he will be the regular DH, right?


Because if this isn’t the case, we could be in for some adventures in the clubhouse next year when Dunn starts griping for playing time at first base that he will not get if we have Konerko in place in 2011.  I hope both sides are clear on the situation and what Dunn’s role is on the club—provide a left-handed power stroke.

I trust that Williams felt confident that Dunn will accept the majority of his at-bats to come in the DH spot before he set his sights on retaining Konerko.  Of course, he could just be blowing smoke at this stage of the game. 

Konerko has other options and, with the winter meetings starting next week, so does Williams.


Not Done By a Long Shot

There are still holes to fill and I suspect that Williams is far from finished wheeling and dealing. We may hear of another deal yet today. Don’t think he won’t pull the trigger on any deal.

What’s next?  Dealing a starting pitcher?  Resigning Konerko?  Surprising us with Adrian Beltre? Trading Joey Cora for an espresso machine?

Hang on, Sox fans. I get the feeling that Kenny’s just getting warmed up.

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Ozzie Guillen, Take Your Small Ball and Shove It…Sincerely, Kenny Williams

With the signing of Adam Dunn for four years and $56 million, Kenny Williams asserted his power over White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

Williams stood tall and in one fell swoop declared: This is the American League. This is the AL Central. This is U.S. Cellular Field. We will hit the ball. We will hit the ball far, and we will win. Take your National League, small ball crap and shove it.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I love Ozzie Guillen. There is no one I’d like to have managing my baseball team more than Ozzie Guillen. His crazed press conferences, his antics and his without-a-doubt ability to manage a major league ball club should keep him as a staple in the South Side dugout for years to come.

But, Ozzie had it wrong.

What seemed like small ball in 2005, or Ozzie ball, was a mirage. True, Scott Podsednik dazzled at the top of the lineup with his ability to reach base and wreak havoc on opposing pitchers while he perfected the art of the steal. But the 2005 White Sox won for two reasons:

They hit the hell out of the ball. And they pitched their arses off.

Last season, the decision to keep or dismiss Jim Thome fell in Ozzie’s lap. Ozzie let him go.

I agreed with the decision. Thome was too slow. Thome was getting up there in age. Thome’s strikeouts seemed to come more frequently than his bashing of said baseball.

Ozzie wanted more speed. So we got Mark Kotsay and Jayson Nix and Brent Lillibridge and Omar Vizquel and Juan Pierre. Was this the South Side hit men or the Florida Marlins?

Again, the White Sox win when the White Sox crush the baseball.

I know this, because Kenny Williams knows this.

Ozzie Guillen will soon know this, if he doesn’t already. You don’t need base stealers; you need table setters. If the White Sox manage to bring back Paul Konerko, their lineup will be a formidable murderers’ row. Both Konerko and Dunn are .900 OPS.

If you’re not a numbers guy, that’s good. That’s very good.

With the rotation the White Sox look to carry into the 2011 season, even without Jake Peavy, they should have the firepower at the plate and on the mound to be strong contenders for their third American League Central title in six years.

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Adam Dunn Brings Monster Power to Chicago White Sox Lineup

According to various reports, The Chicago White Sox have pulled off the tremendous coup of slugger Adam Dunn.  Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman reported earlier on his Twitter account that terms of the deal are said to be $56 million over four years.

As a member of the White Sox, Dunn’s long-ball ability should fit well U.S. Cellular Field.  In his last two seasons spent with the Washington Nationals, he 38 hit home runs in consecutive years at Nationals Park.  His new home in Chicago is considered to be a power hitter’s paradise and Dunn could well eclipse 50 long-balls in the upcoming 2011 season.

ESPN.com lists their “Ballpark Factors” home run index for every major league stadium since 2001.  For those who are unaware, the mathematical equation takes into account home runs hit by clubs at home and on the road to decide which ballpark is the most long-ball friendly.

U.S. Cellular field came out on top of the rankings in 2010 and since 2003 has been amongst the top five in all of baseball, according to the formula.  During Dunn’s two seasons in Washington, Nationals Park has placed 19th and 15th, respectively, from 2009 to 2010, making the stadium “middle of the road” at surrendering home runs.

Judging by the evidence presented, Dunn should have a significant surge in power numbers in 2011.  His signing makes perfect sense for the White Sox, who are yet to re-sign their previous foremost slugger in Paul Konerko

The first baseman who hit 39 home runs in 2010 is reportedly being chased by the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox.  If the White Sox are unable to retain Konerko, Dunn would fill his absence in the lineup.

White Sox general manager Kenny Williams will do his best to keep Konerko on “The South Side” of Chicago.  Losing him to inter-city rivals in the Cubs or the American League playoff contending Red Sox or the defending AL champion Rangers would be a hard pill to swallow.

If Williams is able to hold on to the loyal Konerko, the White Sox would have a dominant pair of No. 3 and 4 hitters in their lineup and make a stronger push at making the playoffs in 2011.  Last year, the “Pale Hose” finished six games behind the division-winning Minnesota Twins and failed to meet the expectations that many baseball writers had of playoff berth.

With Dunn in the mix and the probable re-signing of Konerko, the White Sox will have an excellent chance at overtaking the Twins and clinching a postseason place in 2011.

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Chicago White Sox: Which Prospects Will Help the Club in 2011?

When Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams needs some talent, he’s proved that he’d rather harvest players from other clubs than go the home grown route.

Williams’ strategy over the years has been to use Chicago’s farm system to pick up more experienced commodities.

Look at how the current roster is constructed.  Mark Buehrle is the only starting pitcher that came through the White Sox system.  Of the everyday starters last season, just Gordon Beckham was drafted by the team and was developed in the minors.

Excluding Alexei Ramirez, who was signed as a free agent from Cuba, the Sox have depended on trades to fill out the lineup card.

Williams may very well be planning on dealing for some of Chicago’s needs (first and third base, catcher, bullpen) at the winter meetings.  However, big deals in the last two seasons have left the farm system a bit thin.  Williams has dealt most of his stronger pitching prospects to try and stay competitive in the now.

There is some talent, but do these prospects factor into the White Sox roster or as tender for a player outside the organization?

Here are my thoughts on some of the more prominent South Side prospects and how they may fit into the major league mix in 2001.

Chris Sale, Pitcher

2010’s first round pick was up with the club in August and made 21 appearances out of the bullpen.  The tall southpaw was used in relief and performed well in that capacity, but in the long term, Sale has more value as a starter and should be allowed to develop in that role.

Jake Peavy’s availability on Opening Day is in doubt.  It’s possible that Sale starts the season in the rotation and moves into the bullpen or to Charlotte when Peavy returns.  I’d like to see him as a starter, and I think the White Sox feel the same way.  However, if he can help them in the bullpen this season, he may stay up with the club throughout the season.  Remember, Buehrle spent time in the pen and found his spot as a starter.

2011 Projection: Sale should be around in some role for a majority of the season, though he may spend time in Charlotte if the White Sox want him to throw starter’s innings all year.

Brent Morel, Third Base

Morel came up and impressed White Sox management with his glove last September.  His .231 batting average left a lot to be desired, but he hit over .320 at Birmingham and Charlotte last season.

Given some time to find his offensive game at the big-league level, Morel should bring stability, if not a ton of power, to the hot corner for Chicago.

I think that the Sox have figured out that Mark Teahen is not an every day player at third.  The White Sox should show the patience they did with Joe Crede, who eventually found some pop in his bat.

2011 Projection: If the White Sox re-sign Paul Konerko or another big name bat to patrol first base, expect Morel to head into spring training as the starter at third. 

Dayan Viciedo, First Base

If Viciedo has a spot in the White Sox roster, it probably won’t be at third.

The Sox had hoped the Cuban free-agent signing of 2008 could fill that role, but his glove is a big question mark.  Morel’s arrival in Charlotte moved Viciedo to first base.  Any talk of him helping out the White Sox in 2011 starts there.

Viciedo has a heavy bat.  He had 20 dingers in 86 games with Charlotte last year before being called up this summer, but he swings at a lot of poor pitches. 

The amount of time Viciedo spends with Chicago will depend on Konerko’s possible return and what Williams finds available at first base.  I could see some at bats for him at the DH spot, but it’s likely Williams will want more game-tested production out of those positions than possibly trotting out the next Joe Borchard or Josh Fields.

2011 Projection: Viciedo starts the season at AAA trying to develop some plate discipline, then may be up mid-season or in 2012.

Tyler Flowers, Catcher

Traded along with Brent Lillibridge and two minor-leaguers for Boone Logan and Javier Vasquez before the 2009 season,  Flowers was looked at as the future behind the plate for the White Sox.

It doesn’t appear that he’s quite ready to assume that position just yet.

Flowers hit just .220 in Charlotte this season, despite 16 home runs.  His two short looks in Chicago the last two years didn’t get anyone excited. 

At 24, Flowers is probably going to be a below-average defensive backstop at best.  Until he proves he can be a .280, 20 homer type of guy, I don’t see the White Sox turning over the everyday catcher’s spot to him.  He may be that type of guy in two years, but he’s not that guy right now.

The fact that the White Sox bid in the Victor Martinez sweepstakes tells me the club feels the same way.

2011 Projection: Flowers plays everyday, in Charlotte.  He gets a call up in September, but I think the Sox either re-sign A.J. Pierzynski or bring in another veteran (Miguel Olivo, perhaps) to bridge the gap to the Flowers era. 

Gregory Infante, Pitcher

Infante wasn’t with the club long in 2010, but did not allow an earned run in his five September appearances.

He’s the prototypical Kenny Williams reliever.  He’s got a live arm, big fastball, impressive curve ball when it’s going well, may be a little spotty with control.

The bullpen is a major priority for improvement.  If the memory of the Scott Linebrink signing is still fresh in his mind, Williams trades for that arm or fills the need through the farm system.

2011 Projection:  Infante gets a long look in the spring.  Depending on what the White Sox are able to add in the arms department, he could find himself in a seventh inning set up role.  However, I don’t think the team is going to sit still in addressing the bullpen for long this winter.

Trade Bait?

The White Sox have showed over the years that they aren’t afraid of dealing a hot prospect to make the club better.  Any of the above guys could be sent packing if Williams gets the right offer.  He likes making deals, and I think overall his success rate gives him the benefit of the doubt when we hear of a trade on the South Side.

I think Sale and Morel are safe bets to be on Chicago’s 40-man roster come spring, and I don’t think the organization is ready to give up on Flowers.  But there are many highly touted players who found their way onto other rosters, and the wheeling and dealing of the Hot Stove League has just begun.




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