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A/V Room: Behind the scenes

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Over on Ed Sherman's Business of Sports blog at Crain's, he sat down with Kenny Williams for a 12-minute interview. It starts with the topical questions of the day, such as Williams' perspective on going gung-ho in the offseason, and his relationship with Ozzie Guillen. The second half is devoted to the GM-specific questions, and it gives some insight on the balancing act he tries to pull.

That's the first installment. The other three are on the right rail of his blog.

As a pitcher, Carlos Torres was nothing special. He was the rare starter who always worked from the stretch, but his pitches and performance were pure AAAA material. That's why he's taking a crack at the Japanese League.

However, the Santa Cruz Sentinel took Torres the person and made him interesting, finding out why their local boy made the decision to go overseas, and how the Sox managed him from the draft to his buyout. It's a little heavy on agent-based puffery at times (you'd think the Sox clipped the wings of a bird born to soooooar!), but after filtering out the PR, we learn why Torres is taking a salary that isn't much more than the major-league minimum, and how Japanese teams scout players in the minors.

(UPDATE: I heard from Torres' agent, Kurt Varricchio, who said the information in the article was incorrect. Torres signed a one-year contract for $850,000, with the chance to earn $500,000 more through incentives. The original article has also been amended.)

A sample:

One team made a "fairly significant" offer for Torres prior to his major-league debut, Varricchio said, but he noted that organization and the White Sox were still far from striking a deal.

Yomiuri made an offer in November, however, and White Sox general manager Kenny Williams and assistant GM Rick Hahn agreed to lower their asking price and accept the buyout.


There's a new Sox blog on the block - South Side Hit Girl, written by Cheryl Norman. In her most recent post, she writes about something I touched upon during a conversation on WGN with Rob but never went back to -- why do so many players have the White Sox on their no-trade lists?

She uses Michael Young as the jumping off point (although Young only approved eight teams, so at least the Sox were in the vast majority), and also references Jake Peavy and Zack Greinke. I'll add a couple more names to the list - Lance Berkman, who turned down a trade, and Roy Oswalt, who preemptively shot down a rumor.

It's odd that the Sox are often shunned. Chicago's a great city, and Williams always fields a competitive team and will push to get better. I think Ozzie Guillen and the unique situations he creates have a part in it. In an SI player poll a couple of years ago, Guillen finished just behind Lou Piniella as the manager they'd least like to play for.

Granted, I don't think Guillen is that bad to play for - although if you're young, single or a free spirit otherwise, there might be problems. If you're a quiet veteran with a wife and kids, you should have no problem fitting in. But I wonder if the presence of Guillen causes players to pause reflexively and say, "You're going to have to sell me on that one."

On a positive note, that Young doesn't want to come to Chicago is fine by me. And Cheryl. And J.J.


Christian Marrero Reading Room

*Gordon Beckham says his hand injury won't be holding him back.

*The Sun-Times' shift takes effect: Joe Cowley is dividing his attention between the Sox and Cubs, and he starts by declaring Chicago a Sox town. Meanwhile, Daryl Van Schouwen (cq) is the new beat writer, and he wrote a brief article on Mark and Jamie Buehrle's comments about Michael Vick.

*J.J. looks back fondly on the career of Jose Valentin.

*James admires and braces for further repercussions of Jake Peavy's "irrational levels of determination."

*Two things I didn't know - not only was Jerry Reinsdorf close friends with late Negro League/Brooklyn Dodgers pitching phenom Joe Black, but his daughter, Martha, works for the Sox.