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Notes: Success brings payroll increase12/28/2005 6:15 PM ET
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- With each move made by Ken Williams during this busy offseason, the general manager seemingly has put his White Sox in a stronger position to repeat their historic 2005 effort in 2006.
Need a little more power from the left-side of the plate? Acquiring Jim Thome was the answer.
Don't want to lose your team leader and No. 1 power source in the middle of the lineup? Simply bring back free agent Paul Konerko via a five-year, $60 million deal.
How about a talented utility player, who can serve as almost a semi-starter? Bring in Rob Mackowiak from Pittsburgh. And of course there was the addition of Javier Vazquez, making one of baseball's deepest starting rotations even stronger.
As these players were added to the roster, the White Sox payroll also quietly but steadily escalated. During a conference call announcing Jon Garland's new three-year, $27 million deal, Williams estimated that the 2006 payroll for his team will come in at $95 million. Even with this jump of $20 million from 2005, Williams stated that chairman Jerry Reinsdorf gave him only one edict in regard to the upcoming season.
Reinsdorf wants to win the World Series title once again.
"Fortunately, he's allowed us some flexibility to really try to do some things to do that," Williams said of his boss.
Williams admitted that the removing of eight players from last year's championship squad during the offseason, the caveat to all of his improvements, sounds a bit harsh. But he can't allow himself to "relish in the sentimentality of what happened last October."
Just as Williams wouldn't buy into the notion that his revamped squad couldn't win a championship in 2005, he also isn't satisfied with the theory that the White Sox will play second fiddle to the Cubs in Chicago. In order to accomplish that goal, Williams understands more titles will be needed.
"I not only wanted to get to the World Series, but I wanted to have sustained success," said Williams, who spoke of a projected increase in attendance figures for 2006 as one of the supports for the payroll increase. "It's a defeatist attitude that we will always be Chicago's second team. It doesn't fly with me.
"We must win again and then possibly win again after that to change the culture. Jerry has taken on a huge financial gamble to try to win it again. I'm hoping I'm right or someone will have a lot of answering to do, and that someone will be me."
That final decision ultimately will be made by manager Ozzie Guillen and his staff.
"As I look at my [player] board right now, I have 14 names pitching-wise for 12 spots," Williams said. "I'm sure at some point and time [pitching coach Don Cooper] and Ozzie will bring up the notion of our starters consistently going six or seven innings, and that it was hard enough to get our 11th guy work last year.
"We might want to carry that 25th spot as a position player," Williams added.
Ross Gload, a left-handed-hitting pinch-hitter and exceptional defensive first baseman, and rookie Jerry Owens also figure to battle Borchard for that final position. Williams believes the left-handed specialist role will be filled by Arnie Munoz or Paulino Reynoso from within the system or one of a couple six-year Minor League free agents the team will be bringing to Spring Training.
Applause, applause: Count Garland as one of many White Sox players who strongly support Williams' moves during the past few months.
"It's good to see he's not satisfied," Garland said. "He wants to expand on what we accomplished and do bigger and better things. He's trying to improve the team."
Garland also understands it will be tough to match last year's special chemistry among the championship team.
"From Day 1, we all got along and the chemistry was there," Garland said. "It's the most important thing in a team sport because if you don't get along and there's no chemistry, it will roll over on to the field.
"If we start off in Spring Training like we did last season, we have a good shot," Garland added.
Around the horn: Williams will undergo a second surgical procedure Thursday to have a painful kidney stone removed. ... Pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training on Feb. 17, two days later than last year. "If you play an extra three weeks, you get an extra two days before you have to report," Williams said with a laugh. ... Garland was greeted by a congratulatory message from Williams as the two crossed over on Wednesday's conference call.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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