White Sox view Trade Deadline differently
GM Williams may remain pat if team keeps winning
CHICAGO -- Discussion regarding the prospects for White Sox activity at the upcoming July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline carried an entirely different focus just two weeks ago.
On June 9, the afternoon following a home loss to the Tigers that left the White Sox nine games under .500 and 9 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central, general manager Ken Williams spoke solemnly about changes needing to be made -- changes, as in breaking up what had to be considered Major League Baseball's most disappointing team.
Courtesy of a nine-game winning streak and 13 victories in 14 games, Williams now almost has a new team to work with, as the White Sox have rejoined the Twins and the Tigers in the division mix. Even at their lowest point, though, the White Sox were never looking to tear apart and rebuild; they were considering trades involving veterans that would help them to get better for the present, hopefully, and in 2011, definitely.
But now the White Sox will look to help their push for the division title and to compete with the AL's other top teams, such as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers. Here's the issue, and it has nothing to do with finances, which White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said are in place to add important pieces.
There just might not be a logical spot for the White Sox to seek to improve, with the team firing on all cylinders.
"One of the things I keep talking to the coaches about are always additions, possibilities, variations of the team we have now," Williams said. "The thing that they run up against, and we get tripped up on, is, who they are going to replace, even if you do go out and get player X, Y or Z? We have a lot of confidence in everybody out there. Everyone out there is getting better and starting to return to form, so where does that person fit?
"If there's an obvious choice, you certainly go down that road. If it's less obvious, then how does that person fit in, and can they fit into that role that [White Sox manager] Ozzie [Guillen] would need that particular player to play, which would be a part-time-type role. Or is that guy an everyday guy [who] can't keep his timing in that kind of role?
"There's a lot to weigh in, and I think over the next numbers of weeks, this team will show me more of either consistent play or show more of the inconsistent play that has been prevalent," Williams said. "To me, you keep pushing and trying to add to the puzzle until you are forced not to."
A left-handed-hitting run producer has been one area mentioned by fans and pundits alike for Williams to explore, with talents such as Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder being thrown out as hoped for targets. But as Williams mentioned, at this point, the White Sox don't want to disrupt the great thing they have going.
Mark Kotsay and A.J. Pierzynski both have started to hit closer to their proven career numbers, giving the White Sox lineup a little balance. Meanwhile, Carlos Quentin resembles the Most Valuable Player candidate from 2008 more than the outfielder who has struggled with injuries and consistency over parts of the past two seasons.
Never doubt Reinsdorf, Williams, assistant general manager Rick Hahn and the front office team when it comes to creatively obtaining a big-ticket player. Jake Peavy joined the White Sox on July 31 last year and Alex Rios was claimed off waivers 10 days later, when money was thought to be tight for a squad that was in a similar situation to this year's group, without the long winning streak.
Minor League standouts such as right-handed pitcher Daniel Hudson, outfielder Jordan Danks or catcher Tyler Flowers would be attractive possibilities for other teams. Then again, Williams might stick with what he's got, aside from adding a strong supporting piece, in the hope that a youngster such as Hudson or third baseman Dayan Viciedo, already with the team, could provide the boost Bobby Jenks did in 2005.
"This team might be good enough the way it is, if they keep playing this way," said Reinsdorf, as part of a recent interview with White Sox beat writers in Washington, D.C.
"I've said it for a long time," Pierzynski said. "Carlos and [Gordon] Beckham won't hit .200 all season. Peavy and [Mark] Buehrle won't struggle all year. When they got it going, it coincides with when we got it going. Our bottom line is pitching, and if we keep pitching, we'll be fine."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.