The last time the White Sox front office underwent a significant shift, USA Today's Bob Nightengale was the first to report it. He tipped off the transition from Kenny Williams to Rick Hahn by sneaking in a line about Williams' future in a larger column in September of 2012:
White Sox GM Kenny Williams [will be] promoted to vice president of baseball operations, with assistant Rick Hahn becoming the GM.
This wasn't a one-off scoop, as Nightengale's info on the White Sox is sounder than most (he broke the David Robertson signing this past winter). So it's worth paying attention when he writes a story about the White Sox -- with quotes from Williams -- and drops this item:
Besides, who knows who will even be managing the White Sox after this season if they don't show improvement? Hahn certainly is entrenched as the GM, but the Blue Jays solicited Williams' services last winter to be their club president, and are expected to actively pursue him again after the season to replace Paul Beeston. It's also quite possible clubs will call and try to lure Williams back into the GM role, with several vacancies looming.
You may remember that story from last offseason, when it surfaced ex post facto that Jerry Reinsdorf didn't grant the Blue Jays permission to interview Williams for their team president job. Williams also spoke about it in the past tense, vaguely enough about the topic to invite questions about who was wronged. Later, we learned that Rogers Communication deputy chairman Ed Rogers botched the search to a laughable/insulting/potentially complaint-filing degree.
That made the terseness of Williams' statements more understandable. Perhaps Reinsdorf will give the Blue Jays another chance to pursue Williams, this time without the parts involving replacing Reinsdorf's friend behind his back, or tampering with his employee.
Such a move would make sense for Williams' career, more so than becoming the GM for another team. If this is a realistic and foreseeable course, then it might explain why Hahn said he thought nothing of the way Williams represented the chain of command while in Detroit. While Williams said Hahn "hasn't graduated" to the point of hearing directly from an unhappy Reinsdorf, he maintained the comment wasn't condescending, but rather gallows humor. If Hahn is on track to get to that level by a certain date, than "graduated" is merely a descriptive kind of accurate.
The possible expiration date on this front office arrangement also might be why Steve Stone seemed to speak rather candidly about the front office arrangement on "Mully & Hanley" last week. Regarding the "graduated" remark, Stone said:
"If Kenny feels that Rick hasn't graduated yet, maybe the graduation ceremonies would be expedited if there was a little more autonomy on the part of the graduate."
A couple more possibilities:
- Stone is in the last year of his contract, so he might not care to mince words, similar to the way he left the Cubs 11 years ago.
- Stone just doesn't know how to say "I don't know" to a question. After all, he led the Carlos Rodon September promotion speculation last year as much as anybody.
At any rate, Williams says he's focused on the task at hand in Chicago, and gave Nightengale an outline for the month:
"It's important that we not lose sight of what our organization goal was,'' Williams said, "and that was to give us the best three-year window. And we're not going to abandon that completely with only three months to play."
But, as far as Jeff Samardzija goes ...
The White Sox, who acquired Samardzija from the Oakland A's last December in a six-player trade that included prized shortstop prospect Marcus Semien, will keep Samardzija if they truly believe they can contend for a wild-card spot. If not, they will soon have a heart-to-heart talk.
"You can't blame anyone for wanting to see what their value is on the open market,'' Williams said. "We just have to get some sort of indication it's possible or not to sign him. We have to also see if it's realistic given our resources and the other obligations we have.''
Samardzija, for his part, said a trade would have no effect on his willingness to sign with the Sox as a free agent if it reached that point.