At the general managers and owners meetings in Milwaukee two weeks ago, Kenny Williams said the interest in his players was so strong, "you'd think we had a team out there that actually got into the playoffs."
Other teams are still intrigued with what he's got, if Peter Gammons knows anything about anything. As Chuck Garfien relayed, "Many MLB GMs tell Peter Gammons that when they get to winter meetings, they want to talk to Kenny Williams."
Who knows how much of this is true, and that's part of what makes the hot stove season barrels o' fun. But I'm already preparing to clear out next week for some serious writing, because the stage is set for Williams to renovate the White Sox into an unrecognizable form.
He faces an uphill climb to turn around a team that's both bloated and sinking, but he has an interesting combination to work with:
- They have enough pitching to contend, even after a trade.
- With the exception of Chris Sale, no one Sox player would cost an unfathomable amount in a trade.
That's not saying Alexei Ramirez or Paul Konerko could be moved, but when looking at the roster, the White Sox don't have anybody who can be penciled in for a three or four years' worth of genuine surplus value. Sale is their best bet, if he can make the transition to starting. Dayan Viciedo is behind him in line, but his ceiling is lower due to an already higher salary and the Scott Boras factor.
Common sense would suggest that, if the Sox have little to build around, then they don't have much of an organization. That's probably the case, but in lieu of real structure, they have license to go nuts.
They are strongest where the demand is the greatest: pitching. They also have four or five different avenues to pursue an offensive upgrade. That combination creates an enormous pool of talent to pick from, and which can create a buttload of permutations that could result in a real improvement.
Slowly but surely, the spectrum of possibilities reveals itself. Everybody assumes Carlos Quentin is on his way out. There's no talk of a contract extension for John Danks. Word on the street is that Williams is fine with dealing him, or Gavin Floyd, or maybe even the both of them. Teams are inquiring about Sergio Santos (whose contract is as flippable as they get).
It's quite possible the Sox could trade any of these players without their chances taking a real hit, and that's where it gets really interesting. What if trading Quentin nets a power reliever and a so-so second baseman? That makes Santos even more expendable, and now Gordon Beckham is in play for a change-of-scenery trade. Santos himself is worth a multi-player package, and if he can bring in a young starter who receives Don Cooper's pre-approval, then there's your Danks and/or Floyd insurance. And so on and so forth, until the Sox re-sign Mark Buehrle because no other starting pitcher is making huge money from 2013 to 2015. Also, Jason Heyward ends up in right field somehow, which is awesome.
Or, maybe Danks will be the first domino. Or somebody else, like Matt Thornton. The Sox have so many ways to improve their team that the sequences seem endless. At this point, I'd only be surprised if we aren't surprised. Multiple times.
And I imagine this excites Williams to no end, too. From the hiring of Robin Ventura onward -- remember Paul Konerko, player-manager? -- Williams has exited his oppressive long-term relationship looking, sounding and acting like Kenny Williams Plus. Essentially, he's a guy just got divorced and is hellbent on either reclaiming his life or destroying it. The fun part: We'll have no idea to tell which course he's chosen until it's too late.