Results tagged ‘ Kenny Williams ’

Word from SoxFest…

As SoxFest is being celebrated this weekend at the Palmer House Hilton, bits of news are filtering out. Here are some of the things that caught my attention:

* Adam Dunn, who last year endured what was arguably the worst season ever for a major league position player, was in the house. A slimmed down Dunn (that’s not him above, but you get my point) said that all the Sox need is for last season’s two biggest disappointments–himself and Alex Rios–to rebound and that would prove to be, in essence, two major offseason moves. He also said he can’t wait for opening day and is putting the past behind him.

* Don Cooper, who Steve Stone called one of the Top 5 pitching coaches in the game, said he sees three openings in the bullpen with Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Will Ohman and rookie Addison Reed as the staples going into spring training.

* Jeff Manto, who has replaced Greg Walker as the Pale Hose hitting coach, said  (and I’m paraphrasing) he would be nuts not to look to new skipper Robin Ventura and coach Harold Baines for help in dealing with the hitters.

* Speaking of the new manager, Ventura kiddingly said that Cooper is now his BFF as he approaches his rookie year at the helm of the ballclub.

* Kenny Williams put his cards on the table: If the Sox hit, they’ll contend. See Dunn, Rios and Gordon Beckham for details.

* Williams also said we should expect righthanded hurler Nestor Molina, acquired in the trade for Sergio Santos, to be in the majors as early as mid-season this year.

* Joe Crede got the biggest applause when members of the 2005 World Champs were announced. Among the others were Pablo Ozuna and Cliff Politte.

* Ventura said he wants Beckham to have as much confidence at the plate that he does at second base.

SoxFest runs through tomorrow…

The White Sox in 2012: Nobody Knows for Sure

In a few weeks the White Sox will be firmly embedded in spring training mode trying to assemble a team that’s ready to contend in the A.L. Central.

Conventional wisdom says it’s going to be a difficult task with the Tigers showing no signs of fading and the Royals and Indians seemingly poised to reach the next level.

You really can’t blame the skeptics. As names like Pujols, Fielder, Buehrle, DarvishWilson and others have been the talk of the hot stove period, the White Sox made “headlines” with the acquisition of minor league pitchers Nestor Molina, Simon Castro, Pedro Hernandez, Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb while losing known quantities Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor in the process. The only major news was the signing of John Danks, who we all thought was destined to be traded.

It’s really easy to look at all this and come to the conclusion that bad things are in store for the 2012 club. But we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.  With myriad questions, the truth is that we just don’t know how the season will manifest.

How will the Ozzie-less Sox be with Robin Ventura at the helm?

Will the Sox survive without Buehrle?

Will Danks pick up where Buehrle left off?

Will an effective closer be found to replace Santos?

Will Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham rebound?

Will Alejandro De Aza be a competent major league leadoff hitter?

Will Paul Konerko be Paul Konerko?

Will Jake Peavy be the Cy Young Peavy?

Will Dayan Viciedo live up to the hype and make us forget Quentin?

Will Chris Sale make a successful switch to the starting rotation?

Will Kenny Williams make any more significant deals to upgrade the big league roster?

More than any other year I can remember, it’s hard to predict what’s in store for all of us this season.  We’re just going to have to wait and see.

Robin Ventura New Sox Skipper

“When I met with the media as our season ended, I identified one person at the very top of my managerial list. I wanted someone who met very specific criteria centered around his leadership abilities. Robin Ventura was that man. His baseball knowledge and expertise, his professionalism, his familiarity with the White Sox and Chicago and his outstanding character make him absolutely the right person to lead our clubhouse and this organization into the seasons ahead.”  –Sox GM Kenny Williams

PS — More from me tomorrow.

I Miss Him Already

I’m going to miss Our Ozzie.

I’ll miss his bewildering stream of conciousness, his fall-down-laughing humor, his solid managing and his debunking of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Most of all, though, I’ll miss that we had “one of us” at the helm of the White Sox who no longer will be the face of the franchise.

Having said all that as a fan of Ozzie since he put on the Sox uniform in 1985 and one who saw him guide the Sox to a World Series title, it’s time for the skipper, and for us, to move on. Nothing lasts forever and it became obvious when Ozzie began campaigning for a contract extension. Sorry, Oz, but that was bad timing if you really wanted to stay in Chicago. A contract extension after presiding over one of the most disappointing seasons in the teams’s history? There was no way that was going to fly with the Chairman.

So, what now? I think it would be an exercise in futility to try and find someone as colorful and fits as perfectly as Ozzie did in the context of his Sox bloodline. That person doesn’t exist. That’s not to say we won’t hire an outstanding manager with the potential of getting better results–even someone with a high profile who will help bring the fans back into the fold. But there’s only one Ozzie and we shouldn’t look for a clone.

The names of candidates are out there, though Kenny Williams hasn’t tipped his hand. Tony LaRussa is a longshot at best. There’s Dave Martinez, Sandy Alomar, Jr., up and coming AAA manager Joe McEwing, former manager and Sox player development director Buddy Bell, among them. Williams has said that because of Ozzie’s “warning” the Sox already have been focusing on a possible replacement and the decision could come sooner than later.

Last offseason, the Sox were “All In” for 2011. This offseason there undoubtedly will be substantial changes. A new manager, certainly new coaches and a belt-tightening that might see more familiar names–like Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Matt Thornton  and Carlos  Quentin–leaving as well.

It’s a time of change on the South Side. While I’ll miss Ozzie and some of the others, an overhaul is the right thing to do. We need to move on.

 

The Blame Game

The conventional wisdom in the media is that lists, polls and surveys are sure to create buzz among its viewers, listeners and readers. So, everybody does it.

I was particularly amused today when I saw a poll in the Chicago Tribune asking readers to answer the question, “Who is most to blame for the Adam Dunn debacle?” The question is certainly a legitimate one so I have no problem with the paper posing the inquiry. What made me chuckle was the responses from the 2,462 individuals who participated as of this morning.

–68 percent blamed Dunn himself

–24 percent pointed to GM Kenny Williams, who signed the slugger

–4 percent said skipper Ozzie Guillen

–4 percent said Greg Walker

I don’t know if you agree, but how can only 68 percent blame Dunn himself? I know that nothing is black and white and I can see small percentages for Guillen and Walker if you are so inclined to believe they have had a negative effect. And even though he thought he was getting a proven 40 homer, 100 RBI man, I can see why some blame Williams. But to me, the percentages are way off.

Here’s the way I think it should measure up:

–Dunn: 90 percent…he’s the one who has been unable to hit and has given new meaning to the phrases “mental block” and “being out of shape.”

–Williams: 10 percent…He made the right move, but the player didn’t deliver…Why am I giving him any blame at all? It’s a token gesture since he was the architect of the signing.

–Walker: 0 percent…he’s a hitting coach, not a shrink.

–Guillen: 0 percent…No manager could have been more patient. He played Dunn in an effort to get him out of his doldrums, played him at first in case his inexperience at DH was the problem and rested him when he thought it was prudent. And I don’t buy the argument that Ozzie should have benched Dunn early and often. The hope was that he would turn it around and he couldn’t do that from a seat on the bench. Whether the Big Donkey was in the lineup or sitting next to the skipper in the dugout, the truth is that we were going nowhere without him hitting.

A Happy Ending for a Change

After an inning and a half in last night’s game against the Twins, you could just imagine all the TVs and radios being shut off in disgust wherever White Sox fans had gathered.

The Sox blew a golden opportunity to take a sizeable lead by leaving the bases loaded after scoring just a single run in the top of the first. Then, a ground ball got through the legs of Adam Dunn at first base that paved the way for three unearned runs for Minny in the bottom half of the inning.

In the top of the second, Alejandro De Aza singled to lead off the inning, but was quickly caught stealing. Brent Morel reached on an error and Juan Pierre walked to set up a potential one-out rally. You guessed it, Alexei Ramirez grounded out and Paul Konerko popped out to the shortstop. Nada.

I know what you’re thinking. We’ve seen this movie before. But for the first time in a week, there was a different ending. Thanks to two players who can’t be blamed for the team’s woes this season, Carlos Quentin and Mark Buehrle, the Sox were able to win a game, snapping their six-game slide with a 5-3 victory.

Quentin hit a pair of homers and drove in four runs while Buehrle gave up only four hits in eight innings, allowing no earned runs and lowering his ERA to 3.04.

The Zach Stewart Era Begins Tonight

When minor leaguer Zach Stewart was recently acquired along with proven reliever Jason Fraser in the Edwin Jackson/Mark Teahen trade, Kenny Williams made it clear that Stewart would be in the major leagues before the end of the season.

The comment was somewhat surprising, but the 24-year-old righthander did make three major league starts in June  before he was sent back to AA New Hampshire.

The future is now–as in tonight–for Stewart, who will take the mound for the Sox against Carl Pavano and the Twins with Jake Peavy being moved back to Sunday. It’ll be a challenge for the former high draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds as Pavano has had his way with the South Siders this season.

To make room for Stewart, the Sox designated reliever Brian Bruney for assignment.

How is Kenny Williams Feeling These Days?

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                                     Is he angry about the horrible start?
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                                                   Is he blaming Ozzie?
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                                 Is he on his cell trying to shake up the roster?
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                                                         Is he tearful?
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                              Is he blaming himself for the Jake Peavy deal?
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              Is he experiencing guilt over disappointing his Commander in Chief?


Let’s hope that whatever our GM is feeling these days it will just be a bad memory as soon as the Sox turn things around.

Sox Fans: Take a Look at Ed Sherman’s Interview with KW From Crain’s Chicago Business

whitesoxx-large.jpgI don’t know about you, but with 10 days to go before “pitchers and catchers” I’m in the market for any good White Sox scoop.
Today, I’ve got a treat for the readers of Art of the Pale Hose. My good friend and sportswriter extraordinaire Ed Sherman has just completed an intriguing interview with Pale Hose GM Kenny Williams for Crain’s Chicago Business
Enjoy!

Day 1: SoxFest More Like an OzzieFest

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The first day of the annual SoxFest celebration turned out to be quite a day for the Sox skipper.
A group of fans broke out into a rendition of “Happy Birthday” in honor of Ozzie’s 47th (celebrated on Thursday), a brand new website, ozzieguillen.com, was launched and, most significantly, the Sox picked up Guillen’s option for 2012.
The extension wasn’t a sure thing as we all know. After a hellish (Ozzie’s sentiments, not mine) summer where he bickered with GM Kenny Williams, dealt with his son Oney‘s annoying tweeting (my view, not Ozzie’s) and was on the verge of being traded to the Marlins, Guillen’s future was certainly in doubt. But when all was said and done, Williams had his back.
“I’ve never doubted the man’s managerial ability and the ability to pull people together,” Williams said at SoxFest, according to Mark Gonzales of the Tribune.  “Listen, we all can get off track a little bit, and we (did) last year. All I want us to do is to get back on track and focus on the baseball team and the fans. They’re hand in hand. Everything else, I want out of the equation.

“And I wanted to get that (option) thing behind and move on and enjoy the game. I always enjoy the game. Go about my business the way I always do. We know it was a tough season last year. We just put everything behind, and everything goes well.”
More from SoxFest:
* It was apparent that the GM was unhappy with his pitching coach Don Cooper‘s comment that he would prefer that Chris Sale prepare for a single role as opposed to preparing to be a starter and reliever. Here’s Williams’ view: “…to have Sale prepare as a reliever and take away one or two of his pitches, because that’s what guys tend to do, I don’t think it’s wise. My pitching coach will ultimately fall in line with his general manager and his manager. Coop should probably speak to us before he speaks to you guys.”

* Sale’s immediate future, of course, will depend largely on Jake Peavy‘s progress. Reports range from he’ll be ready on Opening Day to him stepping into the rotation by May 1.
* Mark Buehrle is the latest Sox star to be headed into his “walk” year. Where does he stand? “If I have a good year and something happens, there’s an opportunity out there to sign and I’m open to it. I’ll talk with the wife and play for a couple more years, possibly. So we’ll see. It’s a long year. If I decide to retire at the end, I’ll retire. If not, I’ll sign somewhere.”

* With third base (Brent Morel, Mark Teahen, Omar Vizquel) and first base (Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn) spoken for, Williams indicated that Dayan Viciedo is spending time learning how to play outfield to give him a shot at the Opening Day roster. The GM says Viciedo has done well so far.

58945940.jpgMatt Thornton, decked out in a Brian Urlacher jersey at yesterday’s SoxFest, shows where his football loyalty lies.

Paulie’s Back

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Breathe a sigh of relief, SoxWorld, your captain has returned.
In an 11th hour move, Paul Konerko signed what is reported to be a three-year, $37.5 million dollar contract. It looked very iffy for a while yesterday as Konerko’s demands increased, but the White Sox brass obviously made a convincing case that Paulie belongs on the South Side of Chicago.
So, the White Sox’s Three World Champion Musketeers–Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Buehrle–all will be back to hopefully repeat their 2005 success. Joining them will be a solid starting pitching staff and a powerful lineup, including newcomer Adam Dunn, that should be enough for the Sox to be considered the favorite–at least for now–in the A.L. Central. The only void seems to be a spot or two in the bullpen, which Kenny Williams is undoubtedly addressing as I’m writing this blog.
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