Chicago White Sox

Kenny gets his Dunn: White Sox sign slugger

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Kenny gets his Dunn: White Sox sign slugger

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
Updated 8:16 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

When the season ended, Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams threw his boss, team owner Jerry Reinsdorf, a bit of a curveball: Instead of the usual four budgetpersonnel recommendations for the next season, Williams offered just two.

As Williams extrapolated during a teleconference on Thursday, one was a young team, and the other was adding to the mix with top talent. We didnt want to be in the middle.

If youre going to be all-in, you go all-in.

As such, Thursdays signing of free agent first baseman Adam Dunn to a four-year, 56 million deal represents just the tip of the offseason, according to Williams.

News broke of the Dunn signing, setting Twitter aflame, directly in advance of Williams conference, initially scheduled to discuss the re-signing of shortstop Alexei Ramirez and non-tendering of closer Bobby Jenks.

And as much as Williams deferred comment on Dunn winding up an initial question with, Ah, since its out there, why dont we talk about that tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the ballpark the GM was in an uncommonly impish mood.

He praised writers for making it easy on him with their questions, and at one point acknowledging with a hearty laugh that not only would a Dunn type (Im not going to speak on something that hasnt happened yet.) help invigorate his fan base and drive sales, but it might be important to the general managers health and his long-term employment prospects.

Amazing what signing a fella who averages 40 homers every 162 games and answers to the name Big Donkey does to lighten an outlook. In fact Dunn has hit at least 38 homers in each of the last seven seasons during time spent with the Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds. That includes 38 home runs and 103 RBI last season with the Nationals.

Indeed, the underpinning of the day wasnt the non-tendering of Jenks but the newfound aggressiveness of a White Sox team most felt would be too busy pulling hair out trying to balance the books all offseason to ink front-line free agents.

If you take the initiative and make a statement by signing top talent, Williams said, hopefully your fan interest follows.

Williams will not stop with inking Dunn, he asserted. Next up though not in the 1-2 fashion thats been speculated is the re-signing of Paul Konerko.

Ive made no secrets that we have strong interest in bringing him back, Williams said. Theres payroll room, and it would be the ideal fit, from my perspective.

Williams added that at the end of the season he assured Konerko of his desire to bring him back, but that he wouldnt hurt his team by endlessly waiting: Its a fine line I have to walk right now where I am respectful of his process, but were also putting the best baseball team on the field.

Nonetheless, the unofficial agreement between the two men was to give Konerko a chance to shop himself at the Winter Meetings next week, so its unlikely the White Sox make another major free agent move before then.

The Dunn signing bears a close resemblance to the last time Konerko was a free agent, in the afterglow of the 2005 World Series win. Williams aggressively swapped Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome, who promptly all but begged Konerko to come to Chicago so the two sluggers could play together. Surely, Dunn will be slipped Paulies digits over the next few days.

Reportedly in too late or reacting too slow to the Detroits wooing of Victor Martinez, Williams pounced to acquire Dunn, amounting to a counterpunch and TKO of the aggressive Tigers.

The 31-year-old has a career isolated power (batting average subtracted from slugging average) of a riotous .271. Bill James projects 39 homers and an .844 OPS for Dunn in 2011, but you can bet your fanny such projections will skyrocket with the prospect of Dunn treating U.S. Cellular Field as his own personal bandbox.

And while Dunn bears distinct similarities to Thome, the Big Donkey arrives in Chicago four years younger and with a much healthier history.

Prioritizing Dunn and Konerko could well cost the White Sox A.J. Pierzynski, who is rumored to have lost patience as a lower priority and is on the verge of inking with the Toronto Blue Jays.

As much as Pierzynski is beloved on the South Side (Williams today saying, I value A.J., as another important piece to a championship and winning a division in 08. Hes an important part of our clubhouse and an important part of Chicago. I would love to have him back.), he is an expendable piece on the whole, and the savings on his 6.75 million deal can be plugged right into Dunn-Konerko.

Williams was also very soft on Jenks, speaking of his pride in the burly fireballer and complimenting his work as, of all things, a father.

The GM explained that the decision to non-tender had almost nothing to do with Jenks himself but that the White Sox couldnt afford another arbitration award of 7 million-plus (Jenks briefly set a record with his 7.5 million award last season.)

Bobby helped bring a World Series to Chicago and I will never forget that, Williams said. And I havent closed the door on bringing him back.

Still, Williams said he was perfectly comfortable with Matt Thornton as his closer for 2011 and would be willing to kick the tires on Sergio Santos or even Chris Sale in the role.

Sales position this season appears entirely dependent on Jake Peavys readiness without Peavy, Sale is the teams fifth starter, and with a healthy Peavy, Sale is the No. 2 lefty in the bullpen.

And finally, while its been assumed that Carlos Quentins role on the White Sox will shrink with the acquisition of a new primary DH and CQs defensive ability being best suited for that position, Williams was having none of it. Quentin is decidedly not on the trading block.

Carlos Quentin is playing right field for us, and Ozzie Guillen will decide where he hits in the lineup, said the GM as he turned deadpan.

Fridays presumed press conference will give the giddy side of Ken Williams another chance to surface. If the player next to him being introduced as the newest member of the White Sox is indeed Dunn, you can bet that the hardliner will turn to grins and giggles once more.

Tim Anderson wanted chance to lift White Sox to victory

Tim Anderson wanted chance to lift White Sox to victory

Tim Anderson has dealt with so many teachable moments this season that an enjoyable one was long overdue.

It arrived in the form of several freezing cold Gatorade showers late Wednesday night following the first walkoff hit of the White Sox shortstop’s career. Grinding through the final six weeks of a sophomore slump, Anderson shook off three hitless at-bats to single in the game-winning run and set off a raucous celebration as the White Sox topped the Minnesota Twins 4-3 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Anderson’s game-winner off Twins reliever Trevor Hildenberger was set up an inning earlier when rookie Yoan Moncada doubled in the tying run while batting right-handed against Taylor Rogers.

“I think it’s a big lift,” Renteria said. “We were talking about how they were trying to be able to do something with the secondary pitches. Obviously, they did both. Obviously, it’s a confidence builder, both of them getting big hits, one to tie and one to go ahead. We were sitting in there today in the last at-bat going, ‘Man, we really want this for Timmy right here.’ Big situation, see how he does and fortunately he was able to get it through the infield.”

Renteria and the coaching staff weren’t the only ones who wanted to see how Anderson would fare in the moment. The second-year player had a sense from the dugout how it all would play out after Avisail Garcia led off the inning with a single to right field. Renteria had Kevan Smith bunt Garcia into scoring position, which led to an intentional walk of Yolmer Sanchez. Sanchez’s free pass brought up Anderson, who had one hit in his last 20 at-bats, including a bases-loaded strikeout in Tuesday’s loss.

“I wanted that moment,” Anderson said.

Before the game, Anderson had a lengthy conversation in the tunnel between the clubhouse and the dugout with hitting coach Todd Steverson. Anderson said much of the discussion surrounded his season and the ways he could benefit from everything he has endured.

Anderson struggled early this season and then battled some more as he dealt with the sudden death of close friend Branden Moss, who was killed in May while trying to help an assault victim. With the help of a counselor, Anderson began to rebound in August, posting a .976 OPS in the first 16 games of the month.

He followed that with another downturn that carried into Wednesday’s game.

“We really were just figuring out who I am and kind of learning from this year,” Anderson said of his discussion with Steverson. “Talking overall about everything that has been going on this year and kind of how I’m maturing as a hitter, just to really get better.”

Anderson shook off three hitless at-bats when he stepped up in the ninth. He had struck out on three pitches in the third inning before, grounded out in the fifth and popped out on the first pitch he saw with the tying run aboard in the seventh.

But Anderson made sure none of that mattered in the ninth.

After he took a first-pitch changeup for a ball, Anderson ripped Hildenberger’s next offering, which caught too much of the plate, into the hole. Running all the way, Garcia raced home and scored when Eddie Rosario’s throw went offline. White Sox players then chased down Anderson and Jose Abreu dropped a full bucket of Gatorade on Anderson’s head with the help of Sanchez, who held him in place.

“I put the first three at-bats behind me and came up big,” Anderson said. “It was an exciting moment. I’m going to enjoy it and wear it until tomorrow.”

Ditto for Moncada, who produced only his second extra-base hit from the right side all season long. While Moncada entered the contest with an .886 OPS against right-handed pitching, he had just a .327 OPS against southpaws. But Moncada took advantage of Leury Garcia’s one-out double even after he fell behind in the count 0-2. Moncada worked the count even, fouled off a fastball and then ripped a curve from Rogers inside the third-base line to tie the game.

“I like the pressure,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “I like being in some at-bats with the game on the line, because that’s something that you can change the course of the game. I like to be that guy, and I like to be the guy to help to win games. I like to get those chances.”

WATCH: Tim Anderson records first career walk-off hit in White Sox win over Twins

WATCH: Tim Anderson records first career walk-off hit in White Sox win over Twins

Wednesday night featured another edition of #RICKYSBOYSDONTQUIT, and a rally unicorn!

Tim Anderson completed the White Sox comeback by recording his first career walk-off hit — a single — in a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field.

With the White Sox trailing 3-2 in the eighth inning, Yoan Moncada tied the game with an RBI double.

In the ninth, Avisail Garcia opened the inning with a single. Kevan Smith's sac bunt moved Garcia to second and Yolmer Sanchez was intentionally walked. 

With two on and one out, Anderson hit a grounder past the shortstop and the 26-year-old All-Star got on his high horse to come around and score, securing the White Sox 49th win of the season.

The comeback actually started with the presence of a rally unicorn, when the South Siders were down 3-2 in the eighth.

Hands down, the rally unicorn beats any rally animal.

And get that girl some season tickets, White Sox.