Kenny Williams offered a harsh assessment Tuesday when he said, “this is not White Sox baseball in no way, shape or form.”
As bad as the 90-loss club of 2007 was, the team’s former general manager and now executive vice president said the 2013 group is much worse.
The White Sox haven’t hit well and probably need more left-handed bats next season. The defense has been just as poor. Williams also thinks the team is missing an edge in the clubhouse.
But as difficult as 2013 has been, Williams doesn’t believe the situation is as calamitous as some.
He also doesn’t subscribe to the idea he handed first-year GM Rick Hahn a lemon of a franchise, one short on prospects and rife with bad contracts.
While this season has caught Williams and the rest of the organization by surprise, he believes the White Sox aren’t far off.
“People didn’t see this coming,” Williams said. “How seriously can I take it when people say I left this organization in a dire situation, but in the next paragraph it says but their pitching has been solid? These contracts we were supposedly saddled with, we were able to use them, which was always our plan if we had a situation such as this, that we could use what we had and replenish things that way. … Sometimes if people aren’t in to you they’re just not into you and they’re going to find a reason to step on you.”
[More: Hahn has White Sox moving in right direction]
Williams has tiptoed past the office of team owner Jerry Reinsdorf most of this season.
“He’s not a happy man,” Williams said. “He’s as competitive as they come.”
Williams described the White Sox as “very” hard to watch, but remains optimistic about the future based on how many teams inquired about the team’s players at the trade deadline.
Though the club is on pace to draw roughly 1.85 million fans and reduced payroll by roughly $10 million this season and $27 million in 2014, Williams also expects the White Sox to be active, whether in free agency or trades, this offseason.
Whether or not they’d pursue soon-to-be Cuban free agent Jose Abreu, Williams wouldn’t commit.
[More: Viciedo would help White Sox recruit Abreu]
But the White Sox aren’t willing to sacrifice next season just because of a poor 2013 campaign.
“We’re still a very aggressive organization,” Williams said. “We want to win. 2007, as bad as it was, we came back and we won in 2008. … For whatever reason, it didn’t come together or hasn’t come together up to this point. But we’re not again starting from scratch.”
Asked about next year’s lineup, Williams said the team is evaluating “who is going to deserve from this group to be asked back.”
Williams believes outfielder Avisail Garcia should provide the organization and its fans with excitement for years to come. When it comes to the future of Paul Konerko, a free agent after this season, Williams said it's “premature and disrespectful” to the captain to speculate.
[More: Beckham thinks Konerko has 'got a lot more left in the tank']
He also said the free agent signing of Adam Dunn, who signed a four-year, $56 million deal in December 2010, hasn’t panned out to this point. But Williams likes how the slugger has begun to hit to the opposite field with more frequency.
“Sometimes you’re just flat wrong in your evaluation, whether it be in a free-agent signing or a draft pick or whatever,” Williams said. “You do the best you can and when you’re wrong you get up and you keep pushing.”
Williams said he has done the best he can to aid Hahn in his job but at times has had to remind himself to let the first-year GM have the reins. Williams recently scouted teams ahead of the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline and enjoyed that aspect of his new position. Nine months after he was elevated to his new role, Williams admits he’s still adjusting to his new job but feels like he’s living a healthier lifestyle because of the switch.
As for his critics, Williams is confident in what he accomplished with the White Sox.
“If you give it everything you have and leave nothing on the table then I think you can walk away with your held high,” Williams said. “You have to be comfortable with that and know that you’re in the business where even when I was right I was wrong to a certain segment of the population. I was never too busy not to hear some of it, but I was always certainly too busy to pay too much attention to it.”