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Possible impact of a Kenny Williams departure

USA Today's Bob Nightengale shares what his sources have been saying about an impending change in the White Sox front office.

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On August 20th, USA Today MLB Columnist Bob Nightengale wrote a piece about how loyalty to general managers is fleeting from Major League Baseball owners. He highlights the 40-percent turnover rate with GMs, including the removal of Dave Dombrowski from Detroit and the impending dismissals elsewhere. One of those future dismissals very well could be in Seattle with current GM Jack Zduriencik.

It’s a harmless paragraph, but sure has the Chicago White Sox fan base stirring:

Jack Zduriencik, who has had seven years on the job but with no playoff berths, likely will follow Amaro out the door, with Chicago White Sox President Kenny Williams coming in, unless Williams instead goes to the Toronto Blue Jays as club president.

Nightengale appears pretty certain that Kenny Williams is leaving. He did appear on Spiegel and Goff on 670 the Score to clarify:

"This is a situation where he misses the action as a GM. If he goes to Toronto he is the President; if he goes to Seattle, he’ll be the GM with maybe some President duties as well," said Nightengale on the show.

I recommend taking a listen to the entire segment, because he does bring up additional points that caught my interest.

Nightengale: Jerry Reinsdorf will allow the Blue Jays to pursue Kenny Williams

This is how the rumors of Williams leaving all began. Back in December of 2014, ownership of the Toronto Blue Jays approached Williams about becoming president, replacing Paul Beeston. Once White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf got wind of it, without being asked for permission to interview Williams, he quashed that idea due to his long-term friendship with Beeston.

After this season, Beeston is retiring, leaving the vacancy of president with the Blue Jays officially open. Instead of trying to replace his friend while still on the job, if the Blue Jays do approach Reinsdorf it makes sense he would grant them permission to interview Williams. In a way, Reinsdorf would lend a hand to find his friends successor to try and keep the momentum moving forward in Toronto. Also, he allows one of his long-term employees to move up the corporate MLB ladder.

It appears that Williams will have competition for the role. Sports Illustrated is now reporting that Cleveland Indians president Mark Shapiro is also a target for the Blue Jays, along with Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette. Based on how aggressive general manager Alex Anthopoulos was this previous trade deadline, it seems that Williams would be a very good fit with his reputation of wheelin' and dealin'. However, Anthopoulos' contract is set to expire at the end of October, leaving his future up in the air. Blue Jays would have to be quick finding a new president because whoever that will be has to decide if they want to keep Anthopoulos. Drama will not only be on the field for Toronto come October, but also in the front office.

Nightengale: Zero percent chance Ozzie Guillen returns as manager with the White Sox ... and doesn't see Ventura leaving.

Sources within the White Sox tell Nightengale that despite the raucous ovations Ozzie Guillen receives at the stadium for his appearances, the team will not bring him back as manager ever. He's closing the book on the possibilty of a comeback as the masses are expecting a change in the managerial role come 2016.

Well, that change may not come according to Nightengale. The same sources tell him that the team doesn't put the blame on Ventura for the team's woes and he expects Ventura to continue being manager in 2016. That will frustrate fans as many expect changes after a disappointing 2015 season, starting with Ventura. His questionable in-game decision-making, along with letting poor play linger, has played a hand in the team's woes. It is difficult to measure the exact impact, but the White Sox could do better than Ventura.

Another issue that fans bring up often is the lack of accountability. If it's not Ventura's head, then who will go to the chopping block? They demand blood for what is shaping up to be a third straight losing season, and even if managers don't impact the win-loss column as significantly as many think, a change in the guard could instill hope that things may change for the better in 2016. Remaining with Ventura, even if Hahn is active again in the offseason, will be a hard sell to fans by the front office. The SoxFest Q&A session with Hahn would be interesting.

Speaking of Hahn ...

Nightengale: White Sox would bring somebody in to be the buffer between Jerry Reinsdorf and Rick Hahn.

Currently, the decision-making structure within the White Sox goes a little something like this:

  • Hahn is the one making the phone calls, designing trades, and receiving offers from other teams.
  • Williams receives Hahn's reports on impending transactions, and has the power to approve or nix any move.
  • If the move requires a large amount of money, Williams approaches Reinsdorf for approval.

This buffer is in place because Williams doesn't believe that Hahn hasn't graduated to the point of working directly with Reinsdorf. Even if Williams does depart, Nightengale believes that Reinsdorf would bring somebody in fill the void. It's certainly debatable if this is really needed, or why Hahn just doesn't fill that void himself. Bringing somebody from the outside to oversee all baseball operations and Hahn could be awkward. A good foundation is being built and that should continue, but if somebody new steps in they could have their own thoughts of how the White Sox should be built. Those ideas could conflict with Hahn's and may limit progress.

Or, they could be aligned, and, with previous experience enhance the progress if the Sox brought in somebody like Mark Shapiro to work with Hahn. If Reinsdorf wants to continue having a middle man between him and Hahn, adding Shaprio makes sense with his baseball background.

If Nightengale's hunches are correct, change is coming in the management sector. Just not in the areas that fans are hoping for.