Rick Hahn was introduced as the White Sox general manager on Friday. In his inaugural address, the first couple of sentences were "The goals that Kenny Williams set for the organization 12 years ago will not change. Our intent and our goal and our aspiration is to win multiple World Series championships and our intent is for that to hopefully begin in 2013."
And that is where he lost me.
This was the perfect opportunity to change the tone of being a "contender if things go right" to trying to build something that lasts longer than a Kevin Youkilis hot streak.
In order for the White Sox to realistically contend in 2013, they would need to re-sign all of their free agents to contracts that aren't conducive to the future of the ball club. Alex Rios would have to play at a high level again. Paul Konerko would have to prove that his second half was injury-related and that he can come back from it. Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham would have to hit the ball. Alejandro De Aza can't turn into a pumpkin at midnight. Dayan Viciedo has to hit more like the Cubs version of Sammy Sosa instead of the White Sox one. That's not even mentioning the pitching. Will John Danks come back strong? Will Gavin Floyd's option be picked up and can he build on a strong September? Is Jose Quintana a reliable starter? Can Chris Sale take the next step?
Surely some of those answers will go the White Sox way. In order for them to challenge the Tigers though, nearly all of them would have to. I don't like the odds on that. Do you trust Kevin Youkilis' back and knees to hold out for three seasons? How about Jake Peavy's arm? Is A.J. Pierzynski going to have another career year at the age of 37? The answer for me on each of them is "no".
"A lot can be done in an offseason. We got our 3-4-5 hitters coming back, we’ve got solid defensive players coming back. Chris Sale and,knock on wood, John Danks coming back to the front of that rotation and most of the back end of bullpen in place. Its a pretty good starting point. Thats a lot of things on a lot of clubs shopping lists that we don’t have to worry about right now. So there’s some work to be done but it is something we feel confident that we can get in place thats going to be a highly competitive team for a playoff spot come next September".
How are you going to accomplish filling all of the holes the White Sox do have? The free-agent market is weak and Hahn said "I'm not overly optimistic that we're going to be huge players in free agency". The White Sox minor-league system isn't going to bring back any impact players at this point in time. There aren't any impact players in the minor leagues that are ready for full-time duty like Viciedo and Addison Reed were last year.
I didn't expect him to say in his opening press conference that he is going to burn this mother to the ground, but promising a playoff contender for 2013 seems just as out of place. A nice "we will be working to build something so that the White Sox organization can have sustainable success" would have been a much more desirable choice of words.
Maybe he will cut bait with the free agents and work out some trades that could benefit the White Sox in the future. But if he does that everyone is going to say, "Hey, I thought you said we were going to contend in 2013"? The tone should have been set today.
In years past, I loved the "go for it" approach. Kenny Williams did a pretty fine job for 12 seasons on the South Side. Sure, he had his ridiculous beef with Ozzie. He made some bad trades and signings, but all GM's do that. For the most part his approach was successful. The Sox were in the hunt more times than not and even though there weren't enough playoff appearances for my liking, he did build the only World Series winner since before my grandfather was born.
Now you have to make decisions on guys over 30, two of whom have a large injury history. Betting on these guys could hurt the White Sox for years to come.
In my opinion, the Kenny/Paulie/A.J. era window of opportunity closed when the White Sox failed to beat the Indians at home in late September. Trying to contend in 2013 is just an ill-fated Hail Mary attempt.