When the White Sox somehow persuaded Jake Peavy to sign a two-year extension when he could've commanded three or four on the open market, it painted a pretty clear picture that the Sox had a turnover in mind after 2014. They started the transition from Kenny Williams to Rick Hahn by ramping up their international investments the winter before, which accompanied legitimate spending on the draft, and the idea was that some of those prospects would begin to materialize by the time Peavy, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios came off the books.
In talking to Matt Spiegel and Ben Finfer on 670 The Score Thursday morning, the soul-shattering sadness of 2013 still hasn't shaken Hahn from his idea that 2015 can be a significant moving year. In fact, he basically reiterated that same outline before discussing whether the current season altered the outlook:
"One that that hasn't changed around here is our desire to win, and win repeatedly, as win as soon as possible. Now we're not going to be shortsighted in this, and it may well be that 2014 is a season that requires us to make similar moves like the one we made a couple days ago in moving Jake. However, given what we have on hand we're hoping that we're going to be able to make that turn as quickly as possible. And we're never going to write off any season in advance, especially a season that we enter with quality starting pitching."
When I opened up Twitter for the first time on Thursday, I saw some hand-wringing about that, which is understandable given the previous shortcuts that didn't take any time off the trip. But I don't think the results of this year -- or the trades that Hahn made and the ones still to come -- change the overarching theme of a transformative 2015 any.
What would turn 2015 into a gun-for-it year is the development of position players like Dayan Viciedo, Gordon Beckham, the outfield corners and the catchers. Beckham aside, those all look varying shades of bleak, and if the front office has to kick some of those guys off the crapper, then 2015 is still going to be a work in progress.
Current gratuitous sadness aside, everything that has occurred, for better or for worse, has been consistent with holding out for a significant turnover. If he thought the Sox had a more realistic chance, he would've reached higher than Jeff Keppinger and Tyler Flowers. Instead, he tried shoring up the roster in smaller ways in order to keep the long-term payroll less cluttered. It didn't work, but nevertheless, the current expensive commitments remain on track to cycle themselves out of the system as scheduled.
I'd recommend listening to the whole thing if you have 17 minutes (right-click to download). It's a very good interview.
The beat writers all covered the part where Hahn defends Robin Ventura:
“At the end of the day, for me, and as we look at our staff, we look at the amount of effort, communication and what they’re doing behind the scenes. It isn’t always available to the media, to the fans, which is unfortunate because they don’t see the anger, they don’t see the high energy, they don’t see the confrontations and communication with the players. And I think to Robin and his staff’s credit, that stays behind closed doors."
But Hann qualified the statement by saying that Ventura's staff might have been overcredited for the great defensive play the year before, so the pendulum swings both ways. Ventura said, "It's just one of those that you just got to take it." (Rhubarb will continue to give it, I assume.)
I can buy both sides -- there's nothing the staff can do to disperse the asphyxiating cloud of brain farts, but it would seem to say something about them, nevertheless. The one point I didn't buy was Hahn's response to a question about Avasail Garcia's plate discipline and the team's lack of OBP, because as I said before, I don't see an infrastructure in place that allows hitters to find patience they don't have.
But there are good questions and good answers on the whole, and when asked about his biggest takeaway from steering an organization in July for the first time, he said, "Not to read the comments section." Present company excluded, I can only presume. Then again...
Scott Reifert transcribes more "Where We Stand" answers from Hahn.
Jake Peavy made the most of his last day as far as Andre Rienzo is concerned, and Rienzo sounds like a lot of fun.
The former White Sox catcher is battling prostate cancer, and Bruce Markusen at The Hardball Times takes a look at his career while bringing attention to the cause.
Grant Brisbee might be the first person to make me enjoy reading about the Biogenesis case. The first paragraph is gold.
En route to the SABR convention in Philadelphia, Rob Neyer talks about his annual tradition of finding baseball-related stops along the way. He visited a few great players' graves in Pennsylvania, and tweeted a few pictures of Nellie Fox's presence in St. Thomas, Penn.
The last picture may surprise you.
Speaking of SABR...
Boom boom boom, shakin' the room!