Though different, White Sox’ Hahn shares Williams’ passion to win
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com March 7, 2013 9:34PM
Updated: April 9, 2013 11:55AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Rick Hahn took the job knowing what to expect. Sitting alongside Ken Williams as the White Sox front office’s No. 2 man for 12 years, he had a pretty good idea what being the general manager would be like.
Still, there’s nothing like actually sitting in the chair. After four months on the job, he admits that it’s not as easy as it seems.
“The one thing I didn’t expect, maybe naïvely or being idealistic, was that I wanted to [and didn’t] make the perfect moves,’’ Hahn said. “I was looking for the perfect move, the one that made us obviously better now, obviously better for the future that the scouts were all in favor of, that the objective analysis and numbers supported. A move that resonated with the fans.’’
Try as he might to pull the trigger on such a deal, it just didn’t happen. And Sox fans were left to be excited about free agents Jeff Keppinger (a good hitter) and Matt Lindstrom (a proven relief pitcher) as Hahn’s first acquisitions on the job.
Not the big splash Hahn hoped to make.
“Quite frankly, even sitting next to Ken for the last 12 years and knowing it’s rare that you’re able to find something even close to that, my expectation early on was that we’d make a few moves along those lines,’’ Hahn said. “The fact is, those are few and far between.’’
Hahn did re-sign Jake Peavy, whom he accurately says was one of the two or three biggest free-agent pitcher prizes available last offseason. Peavy signed with the Sox for less than he could’ve received with another team before he hit the market.
That was big, but it didn’t create a buzz because Peavy isn’t a fresh face. It wasn’t a Williams-style signature move, the big-splash acquisition from the GM who always seemed to get his guy. It was simply a solid, prudent, beneficial move.
Maybe that type of move will be Hahn’s signature move as GM. This is what he wants to be known for:
“We want to be nimble and smart enough to take advantage of the opportunities to get better that the market presents. Other than re-signing Jake, the trade market and free-agent market didn’t present us with impact opportunities we felt would make us better with a reasonable cost to our future. But we’re not going to shy away from those opportunities when they present themselves. The first three months of putting this roster together doesn’t mean there won’t be opportunities going forward.’’
Hahn, who was the point man in contract negotiations as the assistant GM, worked out what potentially could be a good deal for the Sox on Thursday. All-Star Chris Sale, 23, agreed to a five-year, $32.5 million contract that, with club options, could keep him in a Sox uniform for the next seven years.
Hahn said the Sox will operate as they have recently, when they traded All-Star Carlos Quentin, closer Sergio Santos and proven reliever Jason Frasor before last season for prospects with value.
“That didn’t stop us when we had the opportunity from getting [Kevin] Youkilis, [Brett] Myers and [Francisco] Liriano” when the Sox were in contention last season, Hahn said.
“So we’ll continue to be flexible and aggressive.’’
Hahn said he almost pulled off a big trade or two this past offseason. Without naming names, he said, “We had conversations for players that if the [deals] had gone through, they would have been sort of a ‘wow,’ an impact acquisition that did not happen because the cost was not worth it from an economic or talent standpoint in the final analysis. We’re going to continue to pursue them as we did this past offseason, and when things line up, we will be aggressive for them.’’
Hahn said he knew he was ready to be a GM in 2007, when other clubs started calling him to interview for jobs. He and Williams aren’t as different as some would think, Hahn said.
“Fundamentally, Kenny is viewed as somebody who shoots from the hip more and goes from his gut, which lends itself to that aggressive persona,’’ Hahn said. ”I’m perceived as someone who is more analytical and deliberate, spending more time explaining the rationale behind the decision. But I’m not sure that does either of us a lot of justice.
“The first thing Kenny did was promote Dan Fabian to head our analytics. The first thing I did was add a half-dozen more scouts internationally and domestically. So he had a strong facility with the objective side; I think I have a strong grasp with the subjective side. The key is to be well-rounded in how you pursue acquisitions. We still take on some of each other’s style as we go about pursing a player. We may have a different opinion of a player’s value or who fits, but we’re not different when it comes to taking advantage of opportunities to win.’’
SOX 8, CUBS 3
FOR THE RECORD: The White Sox improved to 6-3-2 as Paul Konerko belted his second and third homers of the spring and Adam Dunn hooked his second around the right-field foul pole. The Sox outhit the Cubs 14-6.
Q NOW 2-FOR-2: Left-hander Jose Quintana struck out four and allowed one run over 32/3 innings in his second consecutive strong start. He was perfect in three innings against the Reds his first time out.
HE’S HOT: Konerko (.368) went 3-for-3 and has six hits in a row, including two against the Cubs’ Carlos Villanueva. “Konerko, what can I say?” Villanueva said. “I thought that first hit he got [a single in the second] was a very good pitch down and away, and the homer he hit, I was very surprised it went out, but I threw the ball exactly where I wanted to throw it. It was up and in on his hands.’’
BUT HE’S NOT: Going to the World Baseball Classic to play for Team USA. Konerko wasn’t asked and said he wouldn’t have gone if asked because he committed in the fall to spring training only with the Sox.
GIVE ME A DOUBLE:Jeff Keppinger, Tyler Flowers, Conor Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham doubled. Flowers’ bounced off the center-field wall.
PROSPECT WATCH:Jared Mitchell raised his average to .438 with two singles. After giving up a homer to Christian Villanueva, Leyson Septimo left a game in the ninth inning with an injury for the second time. Manager Robin Ventura said the lefty had a sore arm.