Kenny Williams is still his boss, but Chicago's baseball writers sense a new approach from the new GM.
As mentioned in the previous post, you're probably going to see the name "Kenny Williams" when reporters mean to say "Rick Hahn." That's a testament to Williams' one-of-a-kind presence, if nothing else. He made quite the impression on the baseball world, so much so that the national media may refer to the White Sox front office as "Kenny Williams," much like the headquarters for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were tagged "Chicago" and "Boston."
("The White Sox have signed Jake Peavy to a two-year extension, according to sources inside Kenny Williams...")
That won't be the case for the people who cover baseball in Chicago. As Hahn works the rooms at the general managers meetings at Indian Wells, Calif., the Chicago-based writers are saying the White Sox are in new hands, and they're good hands. Yes, they might be familiar hands, but they'll ultimately be different hands. Softer hands? Not sure.
Phil Rogers says Hahn's "buttoned-down" approach gives the Sox a much better shot at building a self-sufficient franchise. There's also a prevalent theme in his column that is seconded by Roland Hemond in the Sun-Times' story: Hahn is everybody's friend.
Internally, we get some elaboration on Hahn's plan to load up on scouts:
Hahn said Wednesday that he is adding scouts, especially in Latin America. He expects to hire six or seven overall, with at least four working for new international scouting director Marco Paddy.
"We had a four- or five-year period where we were pretty bare in Latin America,'' Hahn said. "We had some scouts who did good jobs — look at (Carlos) Sanchez, (signed by Amador Arias) — but it was awfully bare-boned. We want to get back up to speed down there.''
This is a continuation of his effort to supplement his weaker areas with people who know better, which we previously saw with the promotion of Buddy Bell to Hahn's old spot. But we can use the phrase "weaker area" instead of "blind spot," because Hemond says Hahn takes an interest in every area:
"He has a real good relationship with everybody in the organization, from the scouting people, player development, all the areas,’’ Hemond said. "I don’t say that Kenny did not. But it goes straight to respect for the people working in the field.’’ [...]
"I feel he has that type of respect and relationships with the other front-office people,’’ Hemond said, "the general managers, farm directors, scouting directors.’’
It's going to take a while to see how and where their differences play out, but Rogers speculates the Sox will be far more patient with their own farmhands.
While saying he had been involved with trade talks Wednesday on the first full day of general manager meetings in the California desert, Hahn also just came from organizational meetings where the names of hot-shot prospect Carlos Sanchez and left fielder Dayan Viciedo came up as third base possibilities. [...]
Hahn said he expects the 20-year-old Venezuelan to start next season at Triple-A Charlotte, but "we've had a history of taking the best 25 guys out of spring training, and he's certainly going to be at the top of a lot of guys' minds, given his flexibility."
Hahn also said if Viciedo were moved back to third base, where he has played extensively, it would be done before spring training began.
HONEYMOON PERIOD OVER! ABORT ABORT ABORT ABO--
Nah, I'm assuming/guessing/hoping that Hahn has to play up the internal help at third base in order to more effectively position himself when trying to haggle for an outside solution. He could just as easily say, "We've reviewed our best available options at third base, and we're down to a little guy who can't legally drink, and a guy who's like Miguel Cabrera in the field, minus the hands," but that's not going to help. Either way, Brent Morel may look even more lugubrious than usual.
(I'm not knocking Sanchez's potential, but he's 20 years old, and waiting might allow him to make a more effective initial impact. For instance, I'd rather see him groomed as somebody who could threaten Gordon Beckham's job security if second base is a void come June.)
If you want a more reassuring quote to end on, Dan Hayes has this for you:
As he addressed the media on the first day of the GM meetings on Wednesday, Hahn said he hopes to diversify the team’s offense -- to an extent -- so it no longer lives and dies with homers. But no matter how much he tinkers, he refuses to stray too far from what works on the South Side.
Last season, U.S. Cellular Field yielded 229 home runs in 81 games, second in the majors behind only Yankee Stadium.
"Playing in our ballpark and playing in our league, we’re always going to have to hit home runs to stay in games and win games," Hahn said. "So we’re not going to run away from the home run. Having a more diversified offense, one that involves a little more speed, a little more contact, would help complement the power element and perhaps allow us to ride through some slumps there because of the weather or whatever reason the ball is not leaving the ballpark on a consistent enough basis."