GM Williams' resolve tested, unshaken
Sox architect willing to exercise patience in building '08 squad
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Amidst the public silence seemingly engulfing the White Sox during Day 3 of Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings, and sitting in the tranquil setting of a gazebo at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center on Wednesday evening, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams made his feelings of disappointment -- bordering on displeasure -- known loud and clear, without having to say much.
Williams stridently walked over to the table where the Chicago media had gathered for the daily briefing in Nashville, and exited a little more than eight minutes later to appear as a guest on a television show back in Chicago. Williams answered all questions thrown in his direction, but on Tuesday, a less perturbed Williams had a slightly more expansive chat with local reporters, covering more than 30 minutes.
So, what specific point had Williams agitated? It certainly was not delayed anger over Torii Hunter's signing with the Angels or the addition via trade of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis by Detroit, a prime American League Central rival for the White Sox. Both Hunter and Cabrera were prominently on the White Sox Hot Stove radar.
If anything, Williams' resolve has grown even stronger in that his revamped, balanced team will contend when all his moves are complete and the 2008 regular season begins.
"Absolutely," Williams said. "All this has done is put the Tigers in a better position to contend with us.
"We certainly are not going to shy away from the challenge, especially knowing that no matter what your roster looks like on paper, it takes well-rounded teams in Major League Baseball to compete for a championship. And what we have started this season, I am proud of. Where we our headed is right toward being a well-rounded baseball team in all facets of the game."
Shortstop Orlando Cabrera's addition from Anaheim has been pointed to as the major White Sox acquisition of the offseason, with Scott Linebrink's addition to the bullpen falling close behind. Carlos Quentin, picked up via trade from the Diamondbacks on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings, gives the White Sox a solid young hitter with strong on-base potential in left field when healthy.
But Williams' offseason remodeling project certainly hasn't come to a close. The White Sox continue to look for another impact bat to add to the lineup through an outfield upgrade and, even with Cabrera and Jerry Owens in-house, could pursue a speed boost through the leadoff spot.
Information concerning these moves might not be very prevalent, at least on the White Sox end, until they actually take place. That's the feeling Williams put forth on Wednesday when asked about significant talks taking place between his team and other possible fits.
"There has been dialogue in a number of circles, nothing that I'm going to expound on," Williams said.
When asked if there was anything in the works that could finish the Winter Meetings with Williams' requisite flourish -- following past closing-day trades to acquire Scott Podsednik and Rob Mackowiak -- he pointedly added, "My flight is after the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow."
The White Sox offseason plan did not exactly receive positive coverage following Detroit's acquisition of Cabrera and Willis on Tuesday, although Williams stressed once again how the recent results concerning big-name deal possibilities certainly have not toppled his confidence.
His aggressive nature also hasn't been shaken, nor has his drive to pursue other big-ticket additions. Williams can be criticized, in part, for his team's 72-90 disappointment from 2007, but he certainly can't be faulted for forcefully going after players such as Hunter, Cabrera and even Edgar Renteria.
This sort of generic criticism seems to be off-putting to Williams.
"It doesn't matter if I think it's fair or not," Williams said. "It is what it is. You guys are going to write what you write, you're going to write it in the tone that you're going to write it in. It was disappointing because it wasn't that long ago that one of the biggest complaints was we were not going after the major players out there, the impact-type guys.
"Well, since Day 1, over the last seven years, we've made a habit of it. Sometimes you're going to get your guy, sometimes you're not. We're going to go down swinging, and if this is the result of it, if this is the fallout of it, so be it. We can accept it like men and move on.
"Every road we travel down, I feel confident that we can do what we need to do," Williams added. "Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. I can't get anymore determined when I wake up in the morning than I already am. Based on what someone is saying or people are writing or talking about, that really does not effect how aggressively I go after the job."
In the immediate future, though, Williams won't be operating solely under the radar -- to borrow a phrase Williams has invoked during his personnel maneuvers. On the heels of information leaking out recently concerning the White Sox involvement in possible high-end deals, Williams will add an organization-wide code of silence to his approach. He wants to keep White Sox business as solely White Sox business.
"There are too many executives in Major League Baseball offices that have loose lips," Williams said. "If they didn't have loose lips, then you guys wouldn't know about it and the rumors wouldn't get out.
"Of course, they effect how you do business and if you're able to do business. It's a lot easier to do business when you don't have to deal with the public debate."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.