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White Sox front office turnover continues as others churn

Dave Dombrowski enters free agency without an explanation, giving Kenny Williams potential competition

Leon Halip/Getty Images

With a little distance from the Detroit Tigers' decision to ditch Dave Dombrowski, the reasoning behind it should have become a little easier to understand.

Instead, it only gets stranger. Catherine Slonksnis at Bless You Boys has a good rundown of the fallout:

  • Dombrowski says he was given no explanation, and that he was notified after his replacement, Al Avila, signed his own contract.
  • He says that the possibility of a contract extension for himself was never discussed.
  • He expressed "no hint of animosity," perhaps because he's been in contact with a number of teams.

So he's now one of the most fascinating free agents available, and it has a couple of implications for the White Sox.

The first is that Dombrowski becomes a distinct possibility for the Toronto Blue Jays, whose current club president, Paul Beeston, is stepping down at the end of the year. The Blue Jays had previously contacted Kenny Williams about it, but they did so before asking Jerry Reinsdorf for permission, and before they even had a vacancy. That rankled Reinsdorf, both because of the tampering and because he's a friend of Beeston's.

The missed opportunity caused Williams to consider resigning, so it seems like the executive vice president structure is too confining for him. If Dombrowski slides into Toronto's front office instead of Williams, I imagine Williams will hunt for opportunities elsewhere. Larry Lucchino stepped down as president of the Red Sox last week, and the Angels still need a GM (or more?), to name a couple others.

Paul Sullivan tried to figure out how to bring Dombrowski back into the fold with the White Sox (Hawk Harrelson fired him during his reign of terror in 1986):

Just make Ken Williams the president and CEO, Dombrowski the president of baseball operations and keep Rick Hahn as GM. Or if Williams interviews for the Blue Jays presidency — a job in which he was interested over the winter — and leaves the Sox, let Dombrowski replace him.

The odds of this happening are slim. The Sox don't have a president, with Williams the highest-ranking official under Reinsdorf as executive vice president.

But Williams says he is on the same level as Cubs President Theo Epstein, and only the structure is different.

"The president of baseball operations doesn't fit (here)," he said last winter. "So those are equal positions, equal titles. The CEO position as it's laid out in different organizations means different things to different people."

That seems like wishful thinking, if only because there are more ready-made opportunities available elsewhere, and sooner. Regardless of what happens to Dombrowski, the element of time-biding with Williams remains detectable, so I'm preparing for this story to resurface in earnest early in the offseason.


There's already a natural transition taking place in the White Sox office, though. There was Williams handing GM duties to Rick Hahn (and Hahn might graduate to being directly under Reinsdorf soon enough). There was the hiring of Marco Paddy to revamp the international scouting scene.

The latest change: The White Sox promoted Nick Hostetler to director of amateur scouting, with Doug Laumann moving up to a senior advisor position.

First off, Laumann fulfilled the Boy Scout rule of leaving the place in better position than he found it, picking a more ambitious direction than Duane Shaffer did in his last days of 2006 (with help from the Sox-friendly draft system instituted with the most recent CBA).

Now it's Hostetler's turn to put his spin on the job, and in an interview with Future Sox, he pointed to his days with the Atlanta Braves as inspiration:

I have a lot of the Atlanta Braves scouting in me. I learned a lot from Paul Schneider and Roy Clark and I got really close with Dayton Moore of the Royals. Those roots and the foundation are there for me. I have been around a lot impressive people. In terms of me personally, we’re not going to switch and go high school, high school, high school. I am big believer in best player available. The others in the organization feel that same way. I am believer in what the analytics prove and to ignore them would be doing a disservice to the organization. Instead, I think we should incorporate them more and more with what our eyes see. We can only move to be better and get ahead of the curve instead of being on the curve. I am going to use everything possible and look for advantages to get a more productive staff.

As I wrote earlier this week, Trayce Thompson was the first position player since 2003 to make it to the 25-man roster after being picked out of high school, so it wouldn't take much to increase the emphasis on prep picks.


Getting back to upcoming storylines -- and time-biding, too -- there's the matter of Steve Stone's expiring contract. There hasn't been much speculation about it, but I'm reminded of it since Scott Podsednik will take his place in the broadcast booth during the weekend series against the Royals.

Podsednik is a soft-spoken guy, so I imagine the dynamic won't be much different from Aaron Rowand's guest stint with Harrelson -- a heaping helping of 2005 nostalgia, except you'll also hear Harrelson desperately working to make "Kansas City Special" the latest craze.

(If anybody wants to count how many times Harrelson uses that phrase, go for it. I would, but I'll be in and out this weekend, and also getting KC broadcasts.)

Perhaps the biggest departure will be Podsednik talking more than Stone does. He pretty much has to, even if by accident. The percentage of dead air on White Sox broadcasts is reaching staggering levels, as is the percentage of times I jump into a game during work and wonder if something's wrong with my headphones.