I'm not sure about you guys, but I really haven't felt Kenny Williams' presence this year. I wouldn't say I've forgotten about him -- there are enough tinfoil-hat puppetry allegations to ever let that happen -- but it certainly seems like Rick Hahn is steering the ship.
Maybe it's because Hahn has made himself very available to the media, and perhaps also beacause he hasn't been afraid to entertain the notion of dialing it back for a year to get ducks in a row.
But listening to Williams talk before Tuesday's game, I think it's the lack of rhetoric more than anything.
Grinders and fighters always have had a place on Williams’ teams, and he hasn’t seen enough of them to satisfy. If asked, he’ll advise Hahn to toughen up the roster.
‘‘You’ve got to have an edge about you as a team and a grind about you that is relentless,’’ he said. ‘‘I have not seen that.
‘‘You need a few guys in your dugout that are going to push. They may not be the most popular guy around, but they’ll push some of the other guys or they’ll keep it light. Some guys you have to have around to keep it light, so that when you do struggle, there isn’t a panic situation.’’
Yep, it's been nice getting a break from that kind of stuff.
Not that it's completely irrelevant, but those intangibles are to the Sox as alcohol is to Homer Simpson: the cause of -- and solution to -- all of life's problems. The Sox sign these alleged gritty gutty grindy gamers, and then they end up grinding too hard and putting pressure on themselves when they need to relax. There isn't enough of it until there's too much.
Really, what the Sox need are guys who can recognize balls from strikes and get on base more often. That way, every RBI situation isn't a matter of life and death. As it stands, the paucity of scoring opportunities exacerbates every mistake, and the Sox haven't responded well to a nonexistent margin for error.
On the plus side, Williams didn't dismiss the notion of pursuing Jose Abreu, and that's a good start:
Asked how active the Sox will be in free agency during the offseason, Williams said, ‘‘If there’s somebody out there that fits that bill, that fits in with a younger core for an extended period of time, why not?’’
‘‘If it’s big money, it’s big money,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Can we fit it into our equation? We’ve gone out and spent money before at given times. It has to fit into the current equation and our three-year look. But I need to see more video.’’
That's really what I wanted to see out of the media scrum. The rest I'm dismissing as noise, more or less, until I see it come from Hahn, whether in his words or decision-making.
Even then, it's possible that a White Sox GM might lean on certain keywords that appeal to tried-and-true cross-sections of the fan base. If that's the case, I'd appreciate if somebody could drop in a verbal keyword over the course of an interview/media conference that you or I could pick up, but might go undetected otherwise.
- "Sweet sassy molassy"
- "Hard stares"
- "Fifty-four forty or fight"
- "Orange pie"
- "Jerry Owens"