Hahn foresees quick turnaround following transition
Pitching remains core of general manager's rebuilding plan for White Sox
CLEVELAND -- Sitting in a Dallas hotel suite a little less than two years ago, general manager Ken Williams uttered a word to the assembled media that White Sox fans neither wanted to hear or accept.
Make that modified rebuild, as Williams clarified following a trade of closer Sergio Santos to Toronto and throughout a successful 2012 season.
Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon, approximately 45 minutes after the non-waiver Trade Deadline had come and gone, and present general manager Rick Hahn was asked about the "R" word again during a conference call to summarize his team's actions over the past few days. White Sox fans now are hoping for a rebuild, almost pleading for that sort of action with the squad entering Wednesday's contest against the Indians sitting at 40-64 and 20 games behind the American League Central-leading Tigers.
But Hahn would not go there, at least not specifically, even if the team's actions over the past few days would indicate a new vision in the works.
"I don't think we need to put a title on it or print up T-shirts," Hahn said. "But people need to understand that we're obviously not satisfied with what has transpired in the first four months of the season. We've seen what they've seen, and it's got to the point where we're starting to transition this club to a new core."
That transition hit full throttle late Tuesday night, when veteran starter Jake Peavy was sent to Boston in a three-team trade also involving the Tigers that brought back outfielder Avisail Garcia, Minor League infielder Cleulius Rondon and Minor League pitchers Francelis Montas and Jeffrey Wendelken. Despite Montas having hit triple-digits with his fastball, the White Sox centerpiece of this deal becomes the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Garcia.
Garcia figures to emerge as an everyday player for the future version of the White Sox, although he will be stationed in center field with Triple-A Charlotte for the immediate future. In Garcia and Brandon Jacobs, whom the White Sox acquired from Boston in the Matt Thornton deal, the White Sox added power-hitting, versatile outfielders who can help the South Siders find sustained success.
Sustained success remains the goal, and the White Sox now have some financial flexibility to potentially use in the free-agent market this upcoming offseason or even leading into the 2015 campaign. They also could choose to use it for international spending, as they did this year with outfielder Micker Adolfo Zapata.
Add a solid young pitching staff to that ability to spend, and the White Sox rebuild mode actually hovers at something only slightly more than modified.
"This offseason will tell the tale of what they really want to do," said White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham. "You have too many good arms in the rotation and in the 'pen that are young and that are controlled for a long time. That makes me think you can't say rebuilding. I think you can just say emerging or something like that."
"We're in a very good position with our pitching that that's going to allow us to be competitive in the very near future," Hahn said. "But we need to make improvements offensively. We need a more diversified offensive attack. We need better defense. We need a core athletic combination of position players on our roster. And we'll get there."
Although no names were provided, Hahn stated that more of the future will be on display with the White Sox and arrive from the Minors in August or as September callups at the latest. The White Sox could have sped up the process if they were able to move right fielder Alex Rios or even shortstop Alexei Ramirez before Wednesday's Deadline, but Hahn didn't express any disappointment for what they were able to accomplish in movement within their overall plan.
Sitting last in the AL Central stands as Hahn's primary disappointment regarding the 2013 campaign, marking his first at the helm after working 12 years previously with the organization. But now the club has a chance to study and evaluate players such as Josh Phegley and Andre Rienzo before going forward. So, even this year's dark cloud has a silver lining.
"One thing that hasn't changed around here certainly is the desire to win," Hahn said. "We're never going to write off a season, especially when you have the caliber of pitching that we feel we have. So the notion that anyone would be less than enthusiastic about what lies ahead is not entirely accurate because our intention is to win again, win consistently and make that happen as quickly as possible.
"Our goal is going to be for sustained success to get us on the level where we're in the playoffs or contending for the playoffs for an extended period of time. Obviously, based on the first four months of this season, we have some work to do. That work has begun and we're going to continue on it."