Thursday, December 16, 2010
I truly wish White Sox fans could see Ken Williams in action at the winter meetings and during the offseason. Talk about driven.
Ozzie As Only Ozzie
If you haven’t seen the video of Ozzie Guillen selling Ozzie 13-Game Plans, you really need to check this out.He’s truly one of a kind. And BUY SOX Tickets NOW!
So long to one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, Bob Feller. Feller could always be found around the ballpark, and I would guess nearly everyone in Cleveland has that man’s autograph.
Either this spring or the year before (they tend to run together), I was leaving the Indians ballpark in Goodyear, Ariz., after one of our games.
The stairs from the pressbox flowed into the crowd as everyone departed and there was a bit of a bottleneck ahead as one older man slowly exited, rocking a bit side to side. As people piled up behind him, I noticed that he was wearing a “Feller” jersey. That’s kinda cool, I thought to myself, an old fan is wearing the jersey of his hero.
As I passed the guy on my way to my car, I looked back. It wasn’t an older fan wearing that Feller jersey, it was Feller.
And he walked to his car on a sunny March day just like every other fan in the ballpark that day.
Many of you know that the White Sox and Chicago White Sox Charities support dozens of youth baseball teams each summer, including several elite teams of inner city kids who compete with the top travel programs in the area. Generally each season a player or two from one of those teams gets drafted, and more importantly, each of the past two years two players from those teams have received full-ride scholarships to four-year institutions.
The program is something I’m very proud of and these kids deserve all the recognition in the world for their commitment to becoming better baseball players and better student athletes.
Anyway, recently, local hero and current New York Yankees player Curtis Granderson stopped by to talk with a few of the kids. Here is a report I received about his appearance:
He was simply outstanding.
Curtis told the group of 60 in attendance that his most honored achievement is not playing in the big leagues, not playing in the World Series or with the Yankees, but earning his college degree. He followed up by saying that he can get hurt tomorrow and have his career taken away from him, but that no one can take his degree away from him. He mentioned that he is extremely proud to be one of 38 big league players who can currently make that claim.
Curtis also stressed to the kids to keep working on their craft. He told a story about how he was never selected for the Area Code team when he was in high school and how during his whole career, scouts have been telling him that he is too small, that he doesn’t throw well enough, and that he can never play every day in the big leagues…he finished that statement by poiting out that now he is playing center field for the New York Yankees. Just a great message for the kids about never giving up.
Curtis finished the session by signing autographs for all the kids.
Apparently, what number Adam Dunn was going to wear was causing a bit of a buzz in the online world. When he decided on uniform No. 32, the SportsService staff pulled some strings and were able to get Dunn “32” jerseys and t-shirts delivered to the ballpark pronto so that they could be on sale to the public today as Xmas gifts for the Sox fans in your life. The ballpark store is open 10-4 Monday-Thursday. You also can order the jerseys online at whitesox.com.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Paulie, Paulie, Paulie
How’s that for a productive week? Every so often, it seems, people start to question our direction, our willingness to spend dollars, our commitment to winning. It really makes me shake my head at times. If Jerry Reinsdorf and Ken Williams have proven anything over the last decade, it has to be a commitment to win … again and again. Show me another GM in any sport who has the courage, aggressiveness and competitiveness of KW.
Anyway, here are a few of Paul Konerko’s comments today after re-signing for three years with the White Sox:
How much did you want the White Sox thing to happen? Were you seriously considering other teams? How did this go down?
PK: To come back was 1-A as far as in my mind of what I wanted to happen going back to not only this offseason, but years ago on how you want things to play out. Having said that, last offseason, sometime around now, a year-long preparation for the fact that it might now work that way started. Probably at the conclusion of 2009, to get myself ready, to get my head right, to get my family’s heads right with everything that could happen and be prepared as I could be to know that could be the case.
It’s funny how these things go because you need every last ounce of that because it takes right up to yesterday where it comes down to something where you’re in a situation where you’re going ‘ok, that’s going to happen or come back.’ It’s year-long culmination all the way to that point. And you have to be prepared and know that whatever happens you’re going to live with it and that’s kind of how it goes. It was my goal to come back after the last contract expired because I felt like that would have given 10-years plus with one team, and I thought that was really cool and not to mention the chance to win as you’re doing it. Now, to sit there and say ok, it’s going to be 15 years, that’s a pretty nice round number, that’s intriguing as well. Again, I was prepared and had options to do other things. You just got take all the steps necessary to go through the free agent process and I think I did a pretty good job of that.
How much did Dunn and A.J. deferring salary, and what they were will to do to get you back, factor in?
PK: It definitely says a lot about the two guys. I’m sure those contracts could have been structured differently if they had wanted to, that’s more of a question for those guys. I don’t know where it got to in their negotiations as far what was a make-or-break situation as far as those deals getting done. But anytime you hear it could have taken place during those negotiations that they said, ‘Hey, if we structure like this we have a chance at going and getting this guy,’ meaning me, to come back. And the guy is open to something like that, that’s cool, and I definitely appreciate it. It weighed just a little bit on my mind as far as a little bit of heat to come back. But at the same time, everyone on the players side of it, not only A.J., but the rest of team, kept reinterring ‘do what’s best for your family, don’t worry about us’ type of thing. It got me thinking maybe they don’t want me back, they were trying to kick me out the door. But everyone was really cool not pressuring me as far as teammates go.
Role of Jerry Reinsdorf in making the decision to come back?
PK: As far as me coming back and playing for the team he runs, it affects it greatly because I respect the man, and he’s treated me nothing but good the whole way through. But as far as negotiations, I know my agent Craig Landis had a couple of good meetings with him down there in Orlando. I guess that’s more of a question for those guys. When you’re doing these things there is a phone call made, everybody goes back and pow-wows in their room and then they come back with an answer. I don’t know how it comes out or who is the dominant voice, or who is the one who is really coming out with what comes back to me and my agent. I would like to think that it’s some of Jerry and that he likes me, I guess. But I also know they’re going to try and make smart business decisions. Jerry is a very loyal guy, honestly over the years, there have been 20 guys he would keep if it all worked out right. I know it kills him when he has to let somebody go that he likes because it’s the right move. I just didn’t know, it could be one of this situations this time where it’s just the end of the road. It could have been the end of the road and I was prepared for that. I was fine with that. I said it during the year, 12 years in one place, not many people get that. If it all comes to an end, I was content with that. So I didn’t put as much pressure on coming back as last time because I felt really good about what I had accomplished there and it was one big package of years. If I moved on, it would have been fine. Now that I get to come back I look at the positives of that, 15 years and also on a pretty good team.
Impact of the Dunn signing?
PK: I was down in Mexico lying on a chair, looking out at the ocean and someone texts me, ‘They just signed Adam Dunn.’ My first thought was ‘okay, that was a fun 12 years. It was a him-or-me situation.’ It would have brought closure to this saga. Then I remembered Kenny telling me at the end of the year, ‘if we go after this next year and want to win, I don’t want you or Adam, I want both of you.’ That was in my mind as well, maybe there is a chance to get both of us.
Key to the team contending in 2011?
PK: Obviously Detroit has gotten better, and Minnesota was already really good, and they will be getting Morneau for the whole year. It is going to be about execution. We have definitely made our team better by the signing of Adam because of what he provides. No team in baseball right now can say if we just play our game, we can win this division by 10 games. That doesn’t exist anymore. Last year was a funny year because a lot of guys were playing together for the first time. Last year we got off to such a struggle, we didn’t have enough left in the tank towards the end. During the year, we showed glimpses of the team we could be and were solid for two-plus months. Hopefully one of the reasons I am coming back is they saw value in the fact that I can keep the team together and be a good influence. It will come down to execution, assuming the Twins and Tigers are doing everything right in their clubhouse. But I’ll take our chances with our team. We look pretty good. It will be a 7.5 month battle to see who gets there. It will not come easy.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
It was a day of meetings, Social Media discussion, comments by the Commissioner and an evening of Ken Williams with the media, ESPN, Comcast Sports Net and The Baseball Network …
Here’s a selection of Ken Williams’ comments late this afternoon …
Where do things stand with Konerko?
Where do they stand? Still. And, unfortunately, I was very hopeful coming down here and I’m less hopeful now. I was hoping it wouldn’t necessarily come to us getting serious with our other options, but we have no choice at this point.
What is the biggest sticking point?
Again, the one thing I think is necessary, it’s appropriate, particularly with a guy who’s been so respectful, so first class, this doesn’t need to be anymore public than it is. So we’ll keep those issues private?
If you do split, what do you think the overall perception would be?
I don’t much care what the perception is of how we have to do business because we’re just gonna try to put the best team on the field. We’re going to be measure, ultimately, by how the team performs. And that’s the measuring stick we should go by. But I’ll do everything in my power to make sure people understand Paul makes his own decisions, and they need to be respected. He’s given Chicago everything we have right to expect. There will be no hard feelings on this end. It’s just the business of baseball.
Is the dialogue still open, are there still talks?
All I can say is we have meetings with other guys representatives tonight, and it’s with the mindset to try and get a deal done. I know we did reach out one more time, to see if we could have one more round of dialogue. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, we can’t stop the train.
How disappointing would it be for you?
I want the man back. I want the player back and I want the man back. We all do. But you don’t always get what you want. I’ve said it time and time again, but the business of baseball is the business of baseball. Sometimes things just don’t work out. You have to be prepared for it and you have to have a contingency plan in place to react.
Is there a finality in your mind at this point?
It’s never over until its over. That’s the oldest sports clichť there is, but it’s very apropo I think. This is what I was fearful of, you can go through day one down here and try and flush some things out. But when you get towards the end of day two, I think when you’re talking free agents and some of the more impact guys, I think you better get serious with them. We’ve got others teams agents that I’ve kind of put off, up until now. They’re asking me to get serious and I have no choice but to get serious.
Hopeful for a change tonight?
I don’t mean to be ambivalent over it, cause I’m not. I’ve learned to go through the process on an even keel and not get swayed too much to the left or the right. You just forge straight ahead and hope that you’re able to accomplish your goals. And you’re of the same timing and mindset of the player and the representative. And if you’re not, you go to the next guy.
As many of you know, from time to time I tend to screw up on Twitter (imagine that). Sorry for a couple of hiccups during the day today.
Monday, December 6, 2010
One of the great things about having the Winter Meetings at the Swan & Dolphin Hotels in Orlando is that the Dolphin features a great lobby where much of the action of the next few days takes place. When I arrived last night at 11 pm, the place was buzzing with conversation. You see media, scouts, club reps, agents, job seekers, baseball fans, etc. hanging around talking.
One of the interesting things to witness is the game of telephone that ensues when a rumor starts at one side of the lobby and runs all the way around and then back again. Each winter meeting features its own run-away rumor.
There are meetings taking place during the day. Our PR group met from 8:45 pm until 3 pm today discussing a variety of issues.
Former pitcher Sam McDowell spoke to our group about the Baseball Assistance Team and the support that exists for people in the baseball family who may be in need or in need of support or counseling.
After lunch, there was an hour, Social Media for Dummies session, that I, appropriately, sat in on to hear what I didn’t know. As it concluded, one smart aleck asked for Sam McDowell’s phone number.
Manager Ozzie Guillen visited Orlando for today to meet with the media and do the tour of national television and radio shows. He is heading to his native Venezuela later to check on his friends and family who have been caught in the recent flooding. Guillen said up to 30-40 people were staying at him home while waiting for the waters to subside.
A few of Ozzie’s comments from today:
Q. You guys sign Konerko yet?
OZZIE GUILLEN: I just got here. I mean, I think everybody knows in Chicago and White Sox fans that they’re talking, they’re trying. Like I say, it’s the type of thing that you do to look great, if you don’t, you’re going to face people talking and making comments and why not. But that’s why I say I keep saying the last thing I want to do in my life is be the GM. Because that decision you’re going to make there, sometimes you have to think with your brains, not with your heart. Sometimes when you think with your heart, you make a lot of mistakes.
We’re all waiting, everybody in Chicago, myself, everybody, players, front office, fans, we want it. Then a lot of things go a different way. I don’t know if it’s about money, I don’t know if it’s about years, exactly I don’t know the details. But they’re talking to him. Hopefully, hopefully, they make the decision he make the decision, they make the decision right away. And we set the thing up and see what happens.
Q. Have you spoken to Paul since the end of the season?
OZZIE GUILLEN: I didn’t talk to anyone. I just talked to A.J. a couple of days ago. And I know, I mean, two years with you again? Why did they do it to me? (Laughing). That’s the only player I talked to.
Besides that, all you guys know when the season’s over, I try to stay away from the game the most I can and that.
Q. If Konerko signs, there may not be a lot of money for a bullpen. Are you comfortable with that?
OZZIE GUILLEN: We talk about it, and I think the guys that we have in our rotation, they give off better quality innings this year than they did last year. You know what I mean? I expect them to do that. I expect all the starting pitchers go have a better year and go deeper.
You’re always going to find somebody in the bullpen to help. But with the lineup we’re going to have, if everybody stays healthy, I think we’re going to have a good lineup. I mean, the question is always asked. My biggest concern or my biggest thing is to try to keep Carlos Quentin healthy and get there and get the at bats he wants to be, and try to keep him in the lineup. Because, like I say, we’ve got those guys in the lineup most of the time and it can be a very dangerous offensive team.
Q. What are your thoughts on Jayson Werth’s contract?
OZZIE GUILLEN: If I was his agent or his wife, that would be nice (laughing). That’s very nice. I mean, I think this guy I don’t follow the National League that much, but I looked at his numbers yesterday, pretty good positioning. I think I like players that are good athletes. He’s a great athlete. He’s a great outfielder, he runs the base well. He’s got home runs.
One thing about it, he’s taking his own lead. You don’t have to start over and find the lead and how it’s going to be. And God bless him. Those kids didn’t have any problem going to college, making a lot of money.
Q. You still feel like even if you have Dunn and Konerko, who are RBI guys with not much speed, do you still like the overall athleticism you have on this team with Rios, Beckham, Pierre, Ramirez, that kind of thing?
OZZIE GUILLEN: Well, we’ve got a hole, I don’t know. We’ve got the kid at third base, Mo, he’s a pretty good athlete. He can run the base. I’m talking about speed. I don’t talk about Juan Pierre, 60 stolen bases. I want the guys to run around and make things happen. You know what I mean? We cannot wait.
I just talked to Dunn, I said, listen, I’m going to tell you the same stuff I’m going to tell everyone. You’re not coming here to save the White Sox; you’re coming here to help us to get what we want to get. A lot of guys when they’re making money, oh, he’s a free agent. Believe me. I told Dunnn, I said, they love you right now, but you know you haven’t had your first strikeout yet, and you haven’t missed a ball at first base yet.
In Chicago, it’s not an easy place to play. In Chicago, I say the city’s very nice. But in the city, they know who you are and what you do. He’s a big boy; he can’t hide it. And they’re going to let you know how good you are or they you’re going to let you know how bad you are right away. I told the people, don’t worry about it, he’s just coming here to help us, not to push any of the spotlight like I’m the savior.
Q: If Konerko comes back, do you consider yourselves the favorites to win the division?
OZZIE GUILLEN: No. No, because I believe in pitching, and I believe that we pitch better. Right now the way we pitched last year, it’s hard for me to say that.
The year before in spring training I was very excited because of the rotation we have. We didn’t pitch that well, and Peavy, he got hurt. Now the rotation for us is pretty, pretty excited. We’re going to have a good ballclub, yes, because I think the players that we have and having Dunn in the middle of the lineup, that will help.
In the meanwhile, it’s not about those two guys. It’s about 25, maybe 32, 30, to put it together.
Who won the World Series last year or this year? The people nobody even thought about they’re going to be there. That’s the message to baseball. You do not need to be big boys up there to win it. You just have a good team, everything clicks for you, play good at the right time and that’s it. I think everything starts about injuries. You stay healthy, you’re going to have a chance to win.
(Quotes courtesy of MLB)
As reported, Kenny Williams intends to meet Monday with Paul Konerko’s representatives to discuss the possibility of a deal with the free agent.
To listen to a Q&A with Williams that was shot on Friday, click here.
To longtime baseball executive Pat Gillick on being selected for induction to Baseball’s Hall of Fame next July.
Remember, for more up-to-date info from the winter meetings, follow us on Twitter @InsideTheSox at this link.