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How Does Chicago White Sox GM Rick Hahn Escape the Shadow of Kenny Williams?

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How Does Chicago White Sox GM Rick Hahn Escape the Shadow of Kenny Williams?
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Rick Hahn must be bold to escape the shadow of Kenny Williams.

Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has a golden opportunity to forever distance himself from his predecessor, Kenny Williams.

In less than six weeks, Hahn can do something that Williams never did while GM of the White Sox—accept a lost season for what it is and improve the club through an infusion of youth at the non-waiver trade deadline.

Perhaps an example is in order.

On July 31, 2007, the White Sox had a 48-58 record and sat an uncomfortable 13 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. They were playing very bad baseball.

As the non-waiver trade deadline approached, the Sox were in talks with multiple teams regarding some of the veterans on the 25-man roster, including Bobby Jenks, Jermaine Dye and Jon Garland.

Surely, Williams would be a busy man, right?

Wrong. The only players he could bring himself to trade were Tadahito Iguchi and Rob Mackowiak.

The Texas Rangers took a different route.

They traded Eric Gagne to the Boston Red Sox for a package that included David Murphy. They also sent Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay to the Atlanta Braves for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia among others.

How were the Rangers doing when they made the trades? Their 47-59 record was one game worse than that of the White Sox.

Very easily, Williams could have been one of the biggest sellers in 2007. Instead, he netted the White Sox Michael Dubee and Jon Link.

The Carmines were willing to deal, too. According to an MLB.com recap at the time, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said they were actively pursuing Dye, but that Williams had priced him off the market.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
If Williams had been more proactive, Jermaine Dye would have been traded to the Boston Red Sox in 2007.

To be honest, I was a fan of the aggressive nature Williams exhibited while GM. There is no argument, however, that his actions ended up severely limiting what the White Sox can do now. Looking back at the totality of Williams’ final years as GM, he did a very poor job.

The Sox consistently got older—and more expensive—as he seemed to treat prospects as tools to acquire veteran players, and not the other way around.

Everything is different in 2013. Hahn is in charge and has plenty of options.

Two players on Chicago's 25-man roster—Adam Dunn and John Danks—are unlikely to get traded due to cost and production. With the exception of Chris Sale, however, everyone else should be on the market.

The speculation is beginning in earnest.

CBSSports’ Jon Heyman posited that Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton, Matt Lindstrom and Jake Peavy could be part of a “big and interesting sale if they don’t turn it around soon.”

Rios and Peavy each have another year left on their contracts, so moving them for valuable pieces may take some creativity, but the rest are untethered following this season.

Will Hahn ever escape the notion that he is an extension of Williams?

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Heyman mentioned the Tigers and Red Sox as potential trade partners. Many other teams are known to need help as well. The New York Yankees, Braves and Washington Nationals all have holes that someone on the South Side could fill.

Hahn must find the best fits, though, and his list of needs is long.

The White Sox need to get more talent at every position on the field. In order to do that, Hahn must drive away from convention.

Last week, the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers mentioned the names of Drew Smyly and Avisail Garcia from the Tigers in exchange for Crain. Trading a proven veteran to the division leader is the type of move that the White Sox need Hahn to make.

It would be bold, forward thinking, prospect driven and the antithesis of the former GM. Sure, Williams was not afraid to trade with division rivals, but the Sox were the superior team when those deals were made.

That is not the case this time.

Hahn must recognize the urgency of the situation and do what is needed to prepare for the 2014 season.  

If he is aggressive in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline—and can acquire prospects the White Sox will lean on in the coming years—he will have clearly set himself apart from Williams.

 

All transaction information provided by Baseball-Reference.com.

Follow @MatthewSmithBR

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