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If GM Ken Williams wants to keep Sox in first, draw fans, he needs to make some moves

Sox starting pitcher Philip Humber gets ball back after one his three walks given up first inning as Chicago White

Sox starting pitcher Philip Humber gets the ball back after one of his three walks given up in the first inning as the Chicago White Sox take on the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday June 5, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 9, 2012 6:15AM



Clergyman likely never came up as part of the job description for Ken Williams when he became the White Sox’ general manager.

Psychiatrist? Politician? Gambler? Those all go without saying. That’s the GM gig.

So excuse Father Kenny if he does his best to find new ways to disguise the fact he’s passing the plate around again.

“Times being what they are, I can’t even have a conversation [about possible costly trades],’’ Williams said this week. “There’s no crying about it. Some want to posture about it that way, but all I’ve ever done is answer the question. I’ve never wanted to mislead our fans.’’

Not exactly as catchy as the “I can’t spend a dollar if I only have 50 cents’’ refrain Williams used to throw around in his early years. As for misleading fans, that’s a little tougher to get away with on the South Side than it is, say, 9.88 miles north.

That’s why there are still some reservations from a fan base that’s willing to date this team, even hold its hand and give it a kiss, but marry it? Not yet. This will have to be a September wedding at the earliest.

It’s not skepticism as much as a certain reality Sox fans can see on the field.

First-place team or not, there are flaws that can’t be overlooked. Maybe it’s good enough to win the Central Division. But good enough to reach the World Series? As Hawk would say, “Stretch!’’

Williams often talks about “being creative,’’ and now it’s time for him to once again show it. That plate he’s passing isn’t filling up any time soon.

The Sox can embrace a one-two punch in the starting rotation that is as good as any in the division. Yes, every pitch thrown by Jake Peavy and Chris Sale comes with a cringe, a deep breath and an “OK, he’s not grabbing anything in pain’’ exhale, but after those two, there’s a big drop-off — and that gap’s widening each week.

Philip Humber was a great story, becoming the 21st major-league pitcher to throw a perfect game, but his next accomplishment could be the first pitcher to toss a perfect game in April and be in the bullpen by mid-June. Rookie Jose Quintana is a better pitcher than Humber now and should be treated as such.

Then there’s Gavin Floyd, who should’ve been traded yesterday. Floyd hit his ceiling two years ago and is now just a study in frustration. Hector Santiago and Floyd to the Cubs for free agent-to-be Ryan Dempster and some cash? Get it done.

John Danks hasn’t pitched like an Opening Day starter, but as a No. 3, most teams gladly would take him.

Then there’s third base. Williams dropped the ball in not signing Brandon Inge when he cleared waivers, especially because the Sox knew that Brent Morel’s back wasn’t improving, and now it looks like they’re stuck.

The hope is that when Morel returns from his rehab assignment, he hits like the guy who homered eight times last September.

Finally, the Sox want to really dazzle the fans? Win the rest of June and into early July. As good as the Sox have looked the last month, there’s really only one signature series that screams, “legit contender.’’ That was the sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Starting next week, the Sox face the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers on the road, then close out the first half with four games in New York against the Yankees and a six-game homestand with the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.

If they’re still standing atop the Central at the All-Star break, Williams shouldn’t have to beg fans to flood the Cell.

No, the fans will have something to truly believe in. Their prayers will have been answered.



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