White Sox bide time at Meetings in Indy
Club patiently exploring options for leadoff hitter, power bat
INDIANAPOLIS -- Ken Williams made the leisurely drive from U.S. Cellular Field to the Marriott in downtown Indianapolis on Monday, arriving at Major League Baseball's 2009 Winter Meetings sometime around mid-afternoon.
Filling out the 2010 White Sox roster, through either a power-packed bat or a fleet-footed leadoff type, seems unlikely to take place this week. In fact, it might not happen until after the calendar switches to 2010, when, to steal a line from one-time Bears coach Dave Wannstedt, all the pieces are in place for the South Siders.
Williams didn't have any meetings lined up for these four days in the city made famous by Peyton Manning and Reggie Miller. This dearth of meetings, though, doesn't exactly represent a change in Winter Meetings operating practice for the White Sox, who view deals throughout their entire season with the same sort of importance.
"We never go into an offseason with an offseason shopping list because that is ongoing, just as it was in June and July and August," said Williams, during his media briefing Monday evening. "It's difficult to place too much importance on one meeting when we are always trying to acquire the best talent with the best fit.
"There's always one more move to make," Williams said.
That one move figures to be a left-handed hitter, and it probably will come in the form of an outfielder but also could be a designated-hitter candidate. Manager Ozzie Guillen stressed during his Monday interview session that he wasn't interested in a player who solely would serve as a DH, seemingly ruling out a return for favorite son Jim Thome.
Nothing seems set in stone, though, with the tender date of Dec. 12 certainly opening up more, somewhat cost-efficient options and not pushing the White Sox to rush to any sort of solution. Pat Rooney, Thome's longtime representative, planned to meet with the White Sox this week, just to get an overall feel of the team's thought process, but any return for Thome would come near the end of the offseason.
"At the end of all of this, we'll sit down and take a look at where we are at, for that given time," Williams said. "Everyone knows I have the utmost respect for Jim Thome, the man and the player. But he's got to see what's available, and we have to see who we are and what type of team we want to field."
Along with taking questions about Thome's possible return, Williams mentioned assistant general manager Rick Hahn and Ryan Gleichowski, Scott Podsednik's representative, continued to have contractual conversations. Podsednik's camp is pushing for a two-year deal, taking a chance that the White Sox one-year offer still will be available if the two-year deal never materializes.
As far as rating his optimism for a potential Podsednik return, Williams didn't have a definitive feeling in either direction.
"Early on, we made no secret that we felt there was a place for Pods and we made overtures to that effect," said Williams. "They expressed to us how he wanted to test the market and we respect his right to do that, but we told them that we were going to continue moving down the road. We don't allow any player to hold us hostage and wait around for them to get on their timetable. We operate on our own timetable.
"Obviously, we still have roster spots to fill and he's still out there. So, if he has a sincere desire in terms of fit and in terms of dollars that match up, it's time to get serious."
The name of World Series Most Valuable Player Hideki Matsui also was brought up to Williams and Guillen in their respective sessions. Williams chose not to get into specifics for any player not previously associated with his team, and while Guillen praised Matsui's efforts for the Yankees, the veteran needs to be judged by the White Sox as capable of doing something aside from hitting the baseball with authority.
"You know, Andruw [Jones], we need one more guy that could be him," said Guillen, when asked about Matsui. "But he'd have to show us he can play the outfield, too."
Of course, the length of deal and money requested by Matsui as a free agent would influence any interest from the White Sox, with Williams telling MLB.com last week that the team currently finds itself in a "holding pattern." But Williams has time to make these decisions.
Options exist within the system. If the big move doesn't come in Indianapolis or over the next two months, there's always the in-season possibility to strengthen the squad.
"We're kind of excited about what we have," Guillen said. "I don't think Kenny needs the Winter Meetings to make deals."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.