Veteran pitching one area for White Sox to mine
Youkilis deal already a positive; injured hurlers may boost staff
CHICAGO -- Ken Williams operates under the premise that there's always one more move to make in pushing his team closer to playoff contention.
That theory becomes obvious to anyone who has watched the White Sox general manager during his 12 active years at the helm and was reinforced by comments Williams made to the media before the All-Star break. But those words and that theory don't necessarily guarantee Williams will add to the American League Central-leading White Sox before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Starting pitchers John Danks and Philip Humber and right-handed reliever Jesse Crain are working their way back from the disabled list, meaning the White Sox could get a significant second-half boost without losing any prospects or current contributors.
"I feel like if we stay put, we've got enough talent here and enough guys playing well," Danks said. "It's a good thing we have going on right now. Kenny and [assistant general manager] Rick [Hahn] know what they are doing.
"They have done it before. If they feel like there's someone out there that can help us, they will go get him. We know that's how they work."
As was the case with Carl Everett (July 1, 2003) and Freddy Garcia (June 27, 2004), serving as just a couple of past examples, Williams didn't bother waiting for the Trade Deadline in making what could be his most significant 2012 move. Kevin Youkilis was added from Boston on June 24, along with the Red Sox paying approximately $5.6 million of Youkilis' remaining salary, in exchange for utility man Brent Lillibridge and Minor League hurler Zach Stewart.
Not only did Williams avoid sacrificing the club's future or even present in the deal for Youkilis, but he immediately filled a major void at third caused by Brent Morel's back injury and Orlando Hudson's inability to fully handle his first big league foray into the position. Youkilis hit in seven straight games going into the All-Star break and drove in at least one run in seven straight, with regular chants of "Youuuk" at U.S. Cellular Field already placing this move near the top of Williams' deals with just two weeks of evidence.
The White Sox appear set as far as offense and position players go, buoyed by resurgent efforts from right fielder Alex Rios and designated hitter Adam Dunn, and the emergence of left fielder Dayan Viciedo. But pitching certainly could be a target for Williams and his staff.
Currently five rookies join Matt Thornton in the bullpen, with rookies Jose Quintana and Dylan Axelrod working in the rotation along with first-year starter Chris Sale. The White Sox might look for veteran help in the bullpen or the rotation, if signs point to Danks being gone longer than expected, but there's one caveat to potential deals.
Williams wants to go for it in 2012, with the White Sox leading the American League Central by three games at the All-Star break. But in the precarious state of contending while developing young talent, he doesn't want to give away too much of the team's future. Ultimately, if the right trade situation shows itself, Williams will give the White Sox every possible opportunity to once again become a champion.
"I'm not sure if they are going to do anything," Danks said. "But if they don't, I think we are fine. If they do, it will most likely be the right move. They have always been aggressive in trying to give us the best chance to win."
"We have players I think we can go out and get in a trade, but they're not going to be any better than what we currently have coming back," Williams said. "The guys coming back will be like trades that we've made because we've improved exponentially."