No deals expected for quiet White Sox
Any major roster moves likely to come after new year
LAS VEGAS -- The daily briefing between White Sox general manager Ken Williams and Chicago's media contingency moved up two hours on Tuesday from its regularly scheduled Winter Meetings' time slot of 6 p.m. CT at the Bellagio.
Part of the reason for the move was that Williams already was present in the Bellagio's media workroom for a joint press conference to discuss the Spring Training relocation of his team and the Dodgers to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.
"Nothing is going to happen between now and [then]," said Williams with a laugh. "Not too many people are talking to us right now, so there's not really a need for me to do too much listening."
As Williams mentioned on Monday, no major trades or signings appear to be on the docket for the South Siders before Thursday afternoon's conclusion of the Winter Meetings following the Rule 5 Draft. That's not to say the roster in place now will hold up as the team the White Sox bring west to Glendale.
In an effort to stay in his stealth operating mode, or deep under the radar, Williams used humor and a bit of cerebral vagueness to answer a few questions that could indicate moves for the White Sox immediate future. When asked as to whether his team simply will be looking to improve through trades or could it be a player in the free-agent market, Williams relied on sarcasm.
"Well, if I answered that question, it would go against my tactics of trying to mislead you guys as much as I can," said Williams with a wry smile. "So, I just have to continue on with my pattern of dodging and weaving. We generally have more success when we are operating out of sight."
Williams was then asked if Javier Vazquez had performed better than his 0-4 finish to the 2008 season, would the right-hander still be part of the team. That piece of analysis was left a bit open-ended.
"Without knowing where we are going in the next few weeks, I can't answer that question," Williams said.
So, where will the White Sox be going? For starters, they still will listen to offers for right fielder Jermaine Dye and any other veteran, for that matter. Williams pointed out on Tuesday how his players know the White Sox aggressively pursue all ways to improve the team, but he quickly added that these same players have his cell phone and are welcome to place a call if they are uncomfortable with their name being mentioned.
Closer Bobby Jenks never took Williams up on that particular offer as his name made its way through the Hot Stove rumor mill. But Williams explained Tuesday that he felt no reason to reach out to Jenks because much of what's out there connected to the burly right-hander is "just rumor and innuendo."
A rumor linking the Braves to having serious interest in Dye on Tuesday doesn't stand up presently, with the White Sox not having talked to Atlanta since the Vazquez deal. That trade brought the White Sox four prospects, two in Brent Lillibridge and Tyler Flowers, who could help the 2009 squad. Sending Nick Swisher to the Yankees also yielded right-handed hurler Jeff Marquez, who will contend for one of the rotation's final two starting slots.
Comments from Williams on filling the fourth and fifth starter from within just might have presented a sign of things to come. As the free-agent market settles, the White Sox could move in and add a veteran arm or outfielder who remains available. With the White Sox bumping up against their payroll limit now, even with the subtraction of almost $17 million in salary through Swisher and Vazquez, Dye might have to go or the White Sox will have to get more creative.
Either way, the White Sox Winter Meetings might actually come in January without the Las Vegas fanfare.
"I'm not going to sit here and say ... this is December ," said Williams, after providing a vote of confidence to Marquez, Clayton Richard, Lance Broadway and Aaron Poreda in filling out his rotation. "Things can change.
"Decisions are kind of evolving as we travel down some roads that are a little uncertain right now. You can walk in the lobby and see how much uncertainty there is in regards to free agents or trades. All I'm saying now is that I got an open mind, and if we have to go in the season with the young guys, then so be it."
Even if the big moves don't materialize, the White Sox certainly find themselves in a position to add on where needed as the 2009 season progresses.
"We're in a position where I don't want to minimize any of the support we get because we've come a long way from where we were in fan support, and the last number of years we've been a top tier payroll team," William said. "So, it's not a matter of our willingness to spend money. It has to come within a consistency with a plan of winning, that it will help us take the next step.
"And in this particular point in time, we're in a state where we have to give some of these young players an opportunity and assess where we are. If there's opportunity, we're in position where we have enough support, we'll take advantage of it when the time is right. Don't worry about that."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.