White Sox dismiss Shaffer
Director of amateur scouting was with organization for 35 years
CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Ken Williams referred to the "philosophical differences" excuse for explaining personnel moves as "a tired and old expression." But in the case of Williams' decision to remove White Sox senior director of amateur scouting Duane Shaffer from his responsibilities, announced before Friday's series opener with the Cubs, Williams said the phrase accurately depicted the move.
"It's probably applicable at this point and time to put that tag on it," Williams said, speaking to the media Friday in the White Sox dugout after the move was announced. "It doesn't mean my philosophy is any greater than his. It just means at this point and time, we're going to try it my way."
Shaffer has been with the White Sox as either a player, coach, roving instructor, manager, scout, scouting supervisor or scouting director for over 35 seasons. He also supervised White Sox selections in the First-Year Player Draft from 1991 through this past Draft.
But the 2007 selections featured far more of Williams' input and direction than in the past, with a move toward players with a greater level of raw talent to be developed by the organization and not necessarily the more polished collegiate player. Williams' increased influence was expected as far back as January's SoxFest, when he put the scouting department on notice.
At that point, Shaffer's position seemed a bit tenuous. But Williams took slight umbrage with a question Friday as to why a move with Shaffer was made almost seven months after the initial directive. Williams also took full responsibility for the perceived problems in this specific area of the team.
"Would you have preferred I waited eight [months] or only two? The timing is what it is," said Williams of Shaffer's termination. "It was recognized that we needed to head in a different direction.
"My management style is such that you hire good people, you set a plan in action and you let them carry it out. I'll carry the weight of that.
"This is one of the most difficult parts of this job in management, whether it be releasing a player or sending a player down, or terminating anyone in the organization," Williams added. "It's not easy. I take it very seriously and it's a difficult thing to do -- take someone's livelihood away from them. But it all falls on me."
Williams said Shaffer's position would be filled very soon and it would be handled internally. Shaffer officially finished his run of almost four decades with the White Sox on Thursday and will look for another job in the same capacity within the industry after taking a break for a few weeks.
When contacted by phone on Friday afternoon, Shaffer said he understood the move made by Williams as part of the business. It's another tried and true statement that once again fits the situation.
"We've had our differences in the past and this is the way it is," Shaffer told MLB.com. "He has control and I don't. I probably would have done the same thing if it had been the other way around.
"That's what they wanted and they are the ones running the show. That's the way things work. When you don't see eye to eye on how things go, someone has to go.
"I'll survive," said Shaffer, one of the last holdovers from the Ron Schueler regime. "I'm a big boy and I can take it."
Williams said there wasn't one deciding factor in making the Shaffer move this week. He also wouldn't call the player development department into question, and added that Friday's move had nothing to do with the Minor League callups this year who haven't consistently produced.
"You know, I could always find something to be dissatisfied about," Williams said. "Here's what I do know. We have quality instructors and quality teachers. It doesn't always turn out to be that way in the final analysis, which is the game on a given day. But I know the information is getting to them.
"I have a lot of confidence in the work ethic and the people we set out to do their jobs. I'm not going to be reactionary based on a year where we don't achieve the things we want to and show well at the big-league level, or even if a certain Minor League team doesn't do well. You have to have confidence and trust in the people, and it's served us well over the years to not be reactionary along those lines."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.