September 17, 2014
General manager Rick Hahn couldn’t have had a worse beginning to his job at the helm of the White Sox.
“I’m no different from any fan or anyone in the front office or player who’s suffered through a season that’s been gut-wrenching,’’ he said Monday. “It’s been very difficult.’’
A team that was supposed to contend is heading for last place in the American League Central, with only the Houston Astros likely to finish with a worse record in the league.
Hahn got past the “denial’’ phase of how bad things were when trade time came in July.
The business of remaking the team began then, and it is the job he continues to think about now.
“I’m not spending a lot of time thinking about what could have been. Our focus is more on hopefully getting the most out of the next 20 games, seeing some of the young guys contribute and put in position to demonstrate what they’re capable of doing — and then hit the ground running once the offseason begins.’’
Hahn admits that as positive as the team is about its young pitching corps, there are questions about position players.
Outfielder Avisail Garcia will be part of the team next season, and infielder Leury Garcia could figure into the infield.
But Hahn will be shopping in the trade and free-agent markets for answers to the Sox hitting and fielding woes.
“We have work to do, especially on the position player side of things,’’ Hahn said before his team chased Detroit ace Max Scherzer after four innings and took a 5-1 win for Chris Sale (11-12), who fanned eight and has 207 strikeouts on the season.
“The two main avenues outside of the farm system [to help a team] are free agency and trades, and given our expectations and the amount of work we have to do, we’ll be active in both of them.
“Unfortunately, we have a number of areas that we need to upgrade — where we’ve performed offensively, obviously being at the bottom of the league in runs scored; how we’ve performed defensively and how we’ve performed on the bases has been well below our expectations and well below acceptable. We were able to do some [things] at the trade deadline, and hopefully come October and November, we will continue down that path.’’
Hahn knows the cost of “getting something’’ might mean giving up something in the way of the team’s pitching.
“At the trade deadline, we heard a lot about our young pitching, and I would suspect that would continue in the offseason,’’ he said. “We’re going to remain open-minded about all of it.
“Again, it involves a strength, and it might be a strength we can dip into a little bit to help augment some other needs. It’s not one we want to compromise too greatly because that is ultimately how we feel we’ll be able to compete [again].’’
Hahn said he is trying to take a “glass half full’’ approach to the job ahead.
“I try to look at it from the perspective of what we have in front of us is a tremendous opportunity and a chance to address some of the issues we have and areas we need to get better in,’’ he said. “Frankly, we’re starting with a little bit of an advantage given the pitching, as well as a bit of a blank slate in terms of a lot of areas that need to be improved.
“We have a lot of different avenues and routes we can go down to get better, so I view this as obviously a difficult season, one that’s hard to sit through, and certainly it’s been trying. But it’s going to provide us with some opportunities to get better in the near future.’’