In stark contrast to the his first two years in the chair, Sox fans treated GM Rick Hahn with uniform praise. No questions about why Tyler Flowers was the catcher and not A.J. Pierzynski. No rambling lectures on the fundamentals of baseball. The sharpened knives of the past turned into roses thrown at his feet. The closest thing to a complaint came in the form of a fan disappointed that Matt Davidson probably wasn't going to be on the opening day roster and thus the opening day third baseman would not be a power hitter.
Heck, even the signing of Brian Anderson was seen as a feather in his offseason cap - from the ladies, of course.
Hahn warmed up for the fans with an unsurprisingly gentle presser with the assembled Chicago media. The only question that even remotely approached pointed was the suggestion that Carlos Rodon's representation (read: Scott Boras) would mean that the White Sox would keep him in the minors for the first few weeks of the season in order to ensure seven years of team control. This drew a "Representation has nothing to do with roster decisions" retort from Hahn.
Hahn again reiterated that Rodon would ultimately be a starting pitcher (and would be treated as on in spring training) while acknowleding the option of working him (as well as Frank Montas) into the rotation via the bullpen.
Surveying what is still unfinished about the 2015 roster, Hahn cited bullpen depth - what new - as well as a bench player who can play against lefties and ideally play shortstop, second base and third base. Tyler Saladino received a strong endorsement for this role but Hahn expressed a desire to get him some competition. Saladino's recovery from Tommy John surgery wasn't far from Hahn's mind - that's a wait-and-see until spring training - but later Hahn did tip Saladino as the third best defensive shortstop in the organization behind Alexei Ramirez and Cleuluis Rondon.
Interestingly, Dayan Viciedo wasn't the subject of media inquiry but your intrepid reporter made sure that Hahn didn't get off that lightly. His primary message was "wait until opening day" to judge the decision to tender a contract to the Cuban. The obvious implication being that Viciedo's place on the White Sox is by no means certain.
I (and others) have previously asked Hahn (and others) why the White Sox haven't developed a decent position player since, well, Joe Crede. The answer has invariably been a permutation of "I don't know" and this time was no different. Mentioned as always was the drafting philosophies of the past, most recently the high risk, high reward raw athletes. Hahn credited hitting coach Todd Steverson with narrowing the focus on what is needed to succeed in the big leagues. That teaching method obviously suggests that the White Sox think they weren't doing something optimally in the past.
As suggested at the outset, the sparesely attended fan session was largely uneventful in terms of new information or insight. A lot of it was retracing ground - Samardzija, Robertson, LaRoche - that has been well-trodden on this site and elsewhere by anyone who has followed the offseason closely.
For those still holding out hope for Davidson, Hahn did assure us that "talent doesn't disappear at that age". Without much of an opportunity for a full-time with the White Sox, Hahn said Davidson would benefit from regular reps at Charlotte for awhile before he'd even be considered for a part-time role later in the season.
Regarding second base, Hahn mentioned that Emilio Bonifacio fancies himself a candidate for the starting job. However, Hahn thinks he has more value in a more versatile role without a set position. Looks like it'll be Carlos Sanchez vs. Micah Johnson straight up in spring training.
Hahn and Robin Ventura face the fans again this morning. Perhaps the disturbed fans are simply lying in wait and the knives will be unleashed. Stay tuned.