July 2011

Trade Reaction from Ken Williams

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

White Sox General Manager Ken Williams On the Jackson and Teahen trade

7/27/11

“We traded Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to Toronto for Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart.”

On Zach Stewart:

 “Zach Stewart has been on our radar for a long time, particularly last year when he was doing some special things in AA. His call to the big leagues has shown us that he has four average pitches and a power change up to go with a 90-94 mph fastball that will sink and fade, as well.  So he will ultimately be in the mix in some way, shape or form and most likely this year.

“He can come up here today and we can put him out there.  We see where he was last year, and even though he has had a couple of trip-ups this year, we’ve been able to identify exactly what we think he needs to do to realize how talented he really is.”

On Jason Frasor:

“As far as Jason Frasor is concerned, I think most of you who follow the game know that he is one of the top quality relievers in baseball, and we’re happy to have him.”

On trading Jackson and Teahen:

“Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen are the consummate professionals, just good guys and good workers, but we needed to make a little bit of a dent in our payroll here, which has been stressed a little bit.  We did not want to be making a move that would be counterproductive to the opportunity for us to win still.  So how could we accomplish both of the goals?  That means giving a little bit on the starting end, which we can absorb because we have five starters, and shortening the game by having another guy in the bullpen.  This helps protect our other right-handers Sergio Santos and Jesse Crain in particular because we began to get worried about Jesse Crain’s usage and over-usage, not that he is being overused, but the potential of it for when you get into August and September is to really tax a guy and he becomes ineffective and you might end up hurting him.  Now we’ve insulted ourselves against that and hopefully it’ll help the offense, too.”

More on Jackson:

“In an ideal world I would have liked have been able to realistically considered extension (of Jackson’s contract), but the circumstances prevented me from doing that in this situation.”

More on Teahen:

“Teahen got tripped up from the very beginning on the arm injury in spring training and really never got his feet underneath him at third base all of last year.  But this year you saw a little bit better player because he had a full spring training and worked at it and we saw a little bit more of what we saw when we made the original acquisition.  For whatever reason, we just couldn’t get him in the lineup on a regular basis.  He’s a good player and I hope Toronto can make playing time for him.”

On more trade opportunities:

“Since the All-Star Break, and with the exception of the Kansas City series, I have enjoyed watching the guys go at it.  They’ve been going at it hard and it’s been encouraging, even last night’s loss.  They battled their tails off.  Justin Verlander is a tough dude out there, and we had some guys shorten their swings and battle at-bat after at-bat and we had a chance to win.  That’s all you can hope for.  If we keep getting that kind of intensity, we’ll be more likely to stick with the situation than to go the direction I mentioned the other day.  Let’s wait ‘til we get to Sunday.  The other part of doing what we ended up doing today allowed us to get (Alejandro) De Aza in the lineup and in centerfield to afford Ozzie more than Rios has been giving us.  Rios is going to have to take a backseat now and we’re going to see if De Aza can give us a little bit of a spark and provide us with a way to manufacture some runs.”

On who to play, who to sit:

“Here’s what I told Ozzie: don’t worry about the size of the contracts, just worry about putting the players out there on a given day that can help you win.  The size of the contracts is not Ozzie’s problem, it’s not Jerry’s problem, it’s not the coaches’ problem, it’s my problem.  So, put the players on the field that can win and I don’t give a darn if one guy is making $400,000 and the other guy is making $12 million. I’m sending a message to everyone.”

On the payroll situation now:

“It’s less stressed and we can probably look at more creative things, and maybe look at some things that are creative in a different way now. We’ll see. There’s a lot of clubs out there looking for the same high-impact players.”

Ken Williams on the White Sox

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ken Williams on the Week Ahead

White Sox general manager Ken Williams met with the media today during batting practice and offered a few of his thoughts on where the club stands, the week ahead and how fans should react to all the trade-deadline speculation:

Q:  A week before the trading deadline, where are you now?

“Like Ozzie and I were talking about prior to coming out here, this year is a little different because we don’t really know where we stand, and to a large degree, over the next six days, we’ll find out, and we’ll have a better idea.  I’m going through the normal drills but with different plans.”

Q:  Is there a number set in your mind to decide what you’re going to do?

“This is tough because you look back at the early part of May and you look at the overall body of work that they put in.  We were 10 or 11 games over .500.  We’re over .500 versus the ‘better’ over .500 teams.  What’s inexplicable is how we’ve played against some of the ‘lesser’ teams, which, in the American League, I don’t know if you can say that about anyone…teams that we feel we should definitely beat, which is why it makes it difficult to get a gauge on this club.  We still have not played on all cylinders, so what do you do?”

Q: Is this the toughest year you’ve had to read a team as a GM?

“Absolutely, because on one hand, you can look towards potentially adding, and we’d have to add creatively because of the financial situation right now … on the other hand, maybe this is the most opportune time to turn over the entire roster to get some young, exciting players in here and go that route.  To a large degree, like I said, it won’t be me deciding, or Ozzie or the other coaches or Jerry…it will be what they do, they’ll tell us.”

Q:  On adding younger talent to help the team now and for the future:

“Believe me, it’s very difficult for me to put my arms around the concept of taking the (position) that we’re not going to be competitive, because you look on paper, and you’re hopeful that we’ll start to play like we’re capable of playing. It’s very difficult to shift gears. I personally am more on the same mindset that I always have been, and that is, ‘Who is the most impactful player that we could go out and get to help our situation?’  But that isn’t so much of an option right now because you need finances to do that. And it might not be the best thing for now.  There may be a mix, a formula, where we could go into it and do a little bit of this and a little bit of that where we don’t hurt our chances for this season and help our chances for future seasons.”

Q:  Are there deals to go younger?

“Yes, there are some very interesting deals that could be had.  We have some very popular players.”

Q:  On saying that the next six days will tell (whether or not we’re buying or selling):

“I wouldn’t say that I won’t do anything before then, but you shouldn’t read into that. It’s just that I think … Certainly we need to wait to get on the other side of the Detroit series….I’m not trying to pretend with you guys that I have any answers.  You guys have been watching this team all year, anybody got any answers?  If you do, please speak up.  (We have) a lot of questions for me and them, for everyone. It is what it is, and at the end of the day, I’m the one that puts them in uniform and at the end of the day, I’ll fall on the sword if need be.  But again, at least we’re sitting here in this position saying that if we play near our capabilities, we can win this thing because we have that kind of talent.  It’s much better than sitting here being 4.5 out and saying to yourself that you just don’t have the horses.  The pitching staff has been exemplary and has carried a heavy load and now it’s time for us offensively to fight a little harder and more consistently.  Coming out of the gate and beating Detroit, two out of three in Detroit and beating Cleveland twice, that’s a source of optimism.  I guess the whole road trip we were just a few hits from winning each game.”

Q:  Is this a more difficult trade market than last year?

“There are always challenges, and you always have to, in our situations over the last number of years, you have to do some things and be creative.  You have to do some things that some may think are unorthodox, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.  You just try to do the best you can to fit the pieces together.  The difficult part is that Ozzie and I have probably never had a conversation like the one we had before batting practice.  It was one in which we don’t have a whole lot of answers right now. Collectively, we don’t have any answers as to why we haven’t been able to sustain any kind of streak.  It has been a struggle to get where we are.  We’ve given a lot of games away.”

Q:  On interest in popular players on the big league roster:

“That’s what people are coming after.  General Managers are sharks in the water.  There’s a lot of them pulling for Detroit this week, I know that for a fact even though they won’t say it to my face and say it behind my back.”

Q:  On the pitching thus far:

“They’ve carried a heavy load, both starters and relievers all year.  Teams are interested in our players across the board. I don’t want to go too much further than that because it gets too narrow as the interests are out there.  I want the focus to be on the games out there so that we can put ourselves in the position to add and not subtract.  I would much rather fight the fight, but we need to see a little more consistency and this would be a good week to start showing it.”

Q:  On the possibility of saying goodbye to some players:

“It’s been 11 years, and I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of guys that I have affinity for.  That’s the worst part of the job.  We’ve got a bunch of professionals and they know the deal, they know what’s at stake and let’s hope we don’t have to do that.”

Q:  On the Colby Rasmus rumors:

“I’m not going to get into who we’re talking to or what sort of deals are out there for us, but that, as reported, is incorrect.  Here’s the deal: you can virtually speak to most of the teams with impact players at any given time where there’s any kind of trade talk, and you can put us in a room because we are constantly, aggressively asking how we can acquire an impact player to help our situation.  It’s easy to get it wrong, too.  Generally, the things you’re hearing in public too loudly, don’t usually happen for us.  Seems like the things that we’re able to get done, we get done and make the announcement.”

Q:  On more speculation:

“I won’t say that I won’t be frustrated about the reports, but I’m not yet.  If it inhibits us from doing something we want to do—because once public debate enters into play, I don’t necessarily back off that, but sometimes another club wants to trade a popular player and it’s debated publicly, that player will be pulled back.  I try to avoid it whenever possible and certainly our guys that are in the inner circle know what’s going on and how to protect those sorts of things.”

Big Series, Big Homestand

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tigers In Town

Stating the obvious, tonight starts a big series with the Tigers — and a big 10-game homestand for the White Sox as Detroit is followed by Boston, the Sunday trade deadline and then the New York Yankees.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again tomorrow with our sixth (can you believe it) annual Blog Night.  The program features gifts, prizes, Buddy Bell, Brooks Boyer and Ron Kittle.  Tickets sold out this year — most ever — so I am really looking forward to seeing everyone.  Gates open at 5:30 pm and the program starts at 6 p.m.

I was laughing today that I haven’t posted for awhile, that Vote Paulie campaign took a lot out of me, I have to admit, and I was warned that I might hear about it from the crowd tomorrow night.  Be kind.

Perspective

The past four days were terrific in providing a perspective on my job and the White Sox that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of day-to-day life.

On Thursday, I attended a memorial service at the UC for Dr. Jim Nachtman (Dr. Nock), who passed away recently, suffering a heart attack during a cancer survivor rafting trip.  I didn’t know Dr. Nock all that well, basically we had met and exchanged donation checks from Chicago White Sox Charities to his pediatric oncology center at UC each winter as part of Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities.  But I knew him well enough to know that he was a genius, a character, that he loved life and loved his White Sox.

So as speaker after speaker talked about Dr. Nock, his life, his brilliance and the thousands of kids he literally saved, what hung from the podium at the UC’s Rockefeller Chapel?  A White Sox jacket.

Here was a man who dedicated his life to saving kids and yet one of the most important things to him in his own life was being a White Sox fan. 

As the ceremony ended, Christine O’Reilly, our tremendous senior director of community relations, leaned over to me.

“It would have been nice if every one of our employees could have been here,” she said.  “What a great reminder of what the White Sox mean to people, of how important the White Sox are to so many fans.”

Cooperstown

Friday, I had the opportunity to fly to Cooperstown with Jerry Reinsdorf, Dennis Gilbert, Howard Pizer, Christine and Nancy Nesnidal to see our friend Roland Hemond accept the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Buck O’Neill Award.  What an honor!

Roland received his award on Saturday, and we all had a chance to congratulate him and his wife, Margo.  The entire Hemond family came to Cooperstown to celebrate with one of baseball’s truly great gentlemen.

During his speech, Hemond recognized the six current GM’s who received their initiation into baseball under his watch, thanked Jerry and the White Sox for making him feel such a part of our family (even today) and told a touching story of his mother.

Mrs. Hemond spoke only French, but as the young man grew up in Rhode Island, Mrs. Hemond recognized his love for baseball, a game she little understood.  She always shopped for clothes and other items at estate sales — Roland said he was often the best-dressed kid on his block growing up — and one day she came home with a gift for her son.  It was a baseball glove.

“I don’t know where this will lead,” Roland remembers his mom telling him/asking him in French that day.

“Well, mom,” Roland said during his speech so many years later, voice cracking.  “It led to the Buck O’Neill Award and the Hall of Fame.”

Too often in my job, I take moments like this for granted.  I’ve been to Cooperstown and to the Hall of Fame many times.  This time, I brought my dad.  He is a huge fan of baseball and to see him experience a few firsts — flying on a private plane, meeting baseball people, walking the floors of the Hall of Fame and standing next to Ozzie Smith, Juan Marichal and other HOFers, made his weekend. 

Seeing his enjoyment in the weekend’s festivities — the setting, the history, the Hall of Famers — reminded me once again of how lucky I am to find myself in these situations time and time again.  I should never take any of these moments for granted.  Every fan of this great game needs to come to at least one induction ceremony in Cooperstown.  Maybe in 2014, we’ll all be celebrating another White Sox in the Hall?!

Roland will be in Chicago next week when we present the annual Roland Hemond Award.  I look forward to again congratulate him on his great honor.

A Deserving ‘PaulStar’

Saturday, July 9, 2011

This was not unfamiliar territory – not for the Chicago White Sox, not for Paul Konerko.

When it was announced Sunday morning that Konerko was one of the annual five American League finalists for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game Final Vote, it was the ninth time since 2002 that a White Sox player was on the list and the second consecutive year for Konerko.

There was something different about this year’s campaign though, and that is the fact EVERYONE involved, not just with the White Sox but throughout baseball, felt Konerko deserved to be on this year’s All-Star team just as much as any other player.  Being relegated to the Final Man on-line runoff was seen as a slight because Konerko’s 2011 season has been one of his best ever.  Halfway through the season, the slugger was hitting .317 and ranked among league leaders in RBI (3rd, 62), home runs (4th, 21), total bases (4th, 170), OPS (4th, .954) and average (5th, .317).

But when the dust settled on the 2011 A.L. Final Man vote, most White Sox fans and 24 White Sox players felt justice had been served as Konerko earned his fifth All-Star appearance, claiming the vote with an amazing 8.4 million votes cast.

When the White Sox immediately launched a “PaulStar” campaign Sunday morning to try and win that final All-Star roster spot for the team captain, the effort had full support from every corner of the White Sox clubhouse.

“Paul is just the ultimate professional,” said White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy of Konerko.  “He’s a Major League Baseball player on all aspects, from dealing with (the media), to issues on and off the field. It’s a nice thing to call somebody like that team captain. It’s nice for young guys like Gordon (Beckham) and Brent (Lillibridge) and (Brent) Morel, to come up and watch a guy who goes about it the right way.”

As soon as voting started on Sunday, July 3rd, current players and the White Sox front office took full advantage of every opportunity to encourage fans to vote for Konerko.  From t-shirts to airplanes, the organization made a strong and wide-ranged push for the popular captain.

 

“Obviously, it starts with a great player on and off the field,” said Scott Reifert, the club’s senior vice president of communications.  “Next are great teammates.  As an organization, we were able to engage our partners to help with the campaign, and ultimately, it’s the millions of votes by our incredibly plugged in fan base that make this possible.”

“PaulStar” t-shirts were quickly created and distributed as one of the first strategies of the campaign.  Fans behind home plate at both Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field could be seen in the tees throughout telecasts.  Ballpark staff also wore them during Wednesday’s game vs. Kansas City.  Chicago TV/radio broadcast media were also presented with t-shirts as incentives to push the campaign via their respective outlets.

The organization successfully worked with media partners like Comcast, WGN-TV and WSCR-AM to provide in-game drop-ins and advertisements of the campaign with broadcasters Hawk Harrelson, Steve Stone, Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson actively promoting the vote.

To further compliment the “PaulStar” push, logos and signs were strategically placed behind home plate starting on Monday and continuing through Wednesday’s home game.

“It certainly was an advantage for the White Sox to be home for three games during voting,” said Reifert.  “Our objective was to produce something new, unique and creative for fans attending each game while also generating something different each day content-wise to share with our fans via social media and the web.”

The campaign quickly expanded outside of stadium walls when the White Sox partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers to encourage White Sox fans to also vote for Andre Ethier in the National League.   If successful, both Konerko and Ethier would return to their home state of Arizona for the All-Star Game.  Konerko, a Scottsdale resident, and Ethier, a Phoenix resident, recorded videos advocating for one another.  Both videos are available on whitesox.com and dodgers.com.

The sports team assistance didn’t stop there.  Both the Bulls and Blackhawks joined the “PaulStar” campaign by playing a personalized video message from A.J. Pierzynski and other White Sox players on their respective websites (bulls.com, chicagoblackhawks.com), facebook and twitter encouraging both Chicago fan bases to vote for Konerko.

Social media provided an extra push to the online campaigning.  Even Bulls broadcaster and fan favorite, Stacey King, spread the word to over 26,000 followers on the “PaulStar” campaign.  The official White Sox English (@WhiteSox) and Spanish (@MediasBlancas) twitter accounts also promoted the campaign and its many incentives, sending an amazing 91 tweets during the campaign’s 97-hour life-cycle.

Fans who voted for Konerko at whitesox.com and mlb.com or by texting “A3” to 89269 received a code for a special ticket offer to four upcoming White Sox home games.  Those games are Tuesday, July 26 and Wednesday, July 27 vs. the Detroit Tigers where premium upper box tickets will be available to Konerko voters for $18 (regularly $36), upper box for $16.50 (regularly $33) and upper reserved for $12 (regularly $24).  The other two discounted games for Konerko voters are Monday, August 1 and Tuesday, August 2 vs. the New York Yankees where premium upper box tickets will be available for $37 (regularly $47), upper box for $34 (regularly $44) and upper reserved for $26 (regularly $36).

Fans who voted for “Paulie” also were entered into the 2011 Vote Paul Konerko All-Star Game Final Vote Sweepstakes. Ten lucky winners will receive two tickets, an autographed Paul Konerko Jersey and a pre-game on field photo with Paul Konerko on Tuesday, August 30 at U.S. Cellular Field.

One passionate White Sox fan, Phil Prombo, felt so strongly about Paul’s candidacy, he voted for Konerko approximately 22,500 times – more than anyone else.  When Konerko caught wind of this enthusiastic fan, he insisted on meeting with him, and did just that following Friday’s batting practice.  Konerko presented Prombo with an autographed bat and posed for a few photos, while thanking him for his overwhelming support.

“I don’t know how you did it,” Konerko said.  “My wife said she was getting antsy after voting 100 times. I hope your fingers and eyes are ok,” Konerko joked.

The White Sox did not simply count on eager fans like Prombo and truly elevated the campaign to a new level on Wednesday when they took the campaign to the skies.  An airplane sporting the message “PaulStar: Vote Konerko” flew over Chicago, around downtown and over the ballpark prior to the game.

While the efforts might have seemed extensive to some, the Chicago White Sox organization was committed to seeing one of its most prized players become a 2011 All-Star.

“If you had a clubhouse full of 25 Paul Konerkos, you have a winning team on and off the field,” said Reifert. “That’s what is important. Our fans see him as one of the greatest White Sox hitters ever.”

“Definitely the MVP on our team, if not the MVP of the whole league,” White Sox reliever Jesse Crain said.

 

 

 

 

Happy Fourth

July 4, 2011

Happy Holiday

Hoping everyone enjoys America’s birthday with lots of White Sox fireworks tonight!

Vote, Vote and Vote Some More

Once again, White Sox fans are being challenged by the Final Man vote.

For the ninth time since 2002, a Chicago White Sox player is in the running for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game Final Vote, presented by Sprint, as first baseman Paul Konerko was one of five players selected for the American League ballot.   The White Sox captain joins Kansas City’s Alex Gordon, Baltimore’s Adam Jones, Detroit’s Victor Martinez and Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist on the ballot.  White Sox fans now have until 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, July 7 to vote for Konerko at whitesox.com or mlb.com.

Konerko is hitting .317 this season and is among league leaders in RBI (3rd, 62), home runs (4th, 21), OPS (4th, .954) and average (5th, .317).  Konerko looks to join teammate and second-time All-Star Carlos Quentin at this year’s Midsummer Classic.

The White Sox are calling on all fans to “get out the vote” to send the team captain to this year’s All-Star Game in Phoenix.  The White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers have teammed up to promote a dual “ticket” of Konerko and Andre Ethier.  Both are Phoenix natives, so voters are encouraged to send them back to their hometown for the All-Star game.  

In 2005, White Sox fans voted Scott Podsednik to the All-Star Game through the Final Vote ballot, and in 2006 A.J. Pierzynski was voted onto the A.L. team as the result of the team’s successful “Punch A.J.” campaign. Outfield Jermaine Dye made the AL Final Vote ballot in 2008, while Konerko also was on the ballot last year.  

Previous winners of the All-Star Game Final Vote include:  Nick Swisher (A.L., 2010) and Joey Votto (N.L., 2010); Brandon Inge (A.L., 2009) and Shane Victorino (N.L., 2009); Evan Longoria (A.L., 2008) and Corey Hart (NL, 2008); Hideki Okajima (A.L., 2007) and Chris Young (NL, 2007); A.J. Pierzynski (A.L., 2006) and Nomar Garciaparra (NL, 2006); Scott Podsednik (A.L., 2005) and Roy Oswalt (NL, 2005); Hideki Matsui (A.L., 2004) and Bobby Abreu (NL, 2004); Jason Varitek (A.L., 2003) and Geoff Jenkins (NL, 2003); Johnny Damon (A.L., 2002) and and Andruw Jones (NL, 2002).

Balloting is now open at whitesox.com and mlb.com and continues until 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on mlb.com shortly thereafter.  Fans may also vote from their mobile device.  Text A3 to 89269 to cast your vote for Paul Konerko.  That’s A3 to 89269. Message and data rates may apply. Voting ends at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 7.

FINAL VOTE CAMPAIGN MANAGER

MLB.com also will launch the 2011 All-Star Game Campaign Headquarters, which gives fans the chance to join a campaign for any of the 10 candidates and compete to become that player’s online “Campaign Manager.”

After completing the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint, fans are presented with the option to support the campaign of either of the two players for whom they just voted. When a player is chosen, MLB.com will track every vote that fan helps generate for that specific player, whether it comes from Facebook, Twitter or MLB.com links forwarded. The fans generating the most votes will be ranked on that player’s campaign page.

ALL-STAR GAME FINAL VOTE CELEBRATES 10th YEAR The All-Star Game Final Vote program has seen over 250 million votes cast since its inception in 2002. In recognition of this milepost, MLB.com is giving eligible voters a 10-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 9-19, 2011. Fans will receive an e-mail notifying them of the instructions for redeeming this All-Star Final Vote offer.

Also, MLB.com and its partner Jib Jab, the leader in personalized entertainment, have introduced a specially-created Starring You® campaign featuring each League’s five Final Vote candidates in a humorous, animated video of the traditional seventh-inning stretch song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Fans can watch the candidates’ Starring You® videos and then cast their online votes for the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint here. They then can create their own free Starring You® video where they can choose their favorite teams and insert photos of themselves, family and friends. The videos, including those featuring the 10 All-Star Game Final Vote candidates, are embeddable and can be shared via e-mail and through social network platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. For complete details, visit MLB.com/jibjab.

The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8:00 p.m. (EDT)/5:00 p.m. (local). For more information, please visit allstargame.com or dbacks.com/asg.

White Sox Blog Night 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Great news: our sixth annual Blog Night is scheduled for July 26th before our game vs. the Tigers.

Click here for specially priced tickets.

Blog Night is a great opportunity for the readers of Inside the Sox to come together for a lively panel discussion. In the past we’ve featured speakers such as Rick Hahn, Moose Skowron and Ken “Hawk” Harrelson. As always we’ll have door prizes, giveaways and our collectable Blog Night T-Shirt.

I hope to see you all there!

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