White Sox never stop talking
Despite inactivity in Vegas, club always looking to improve
LAS VEGAS -- The words "slow day" rarely, if ever, have been attached to describing any sort of time period spent in the city of Las Vegas.
But that precise phrase was how general manager Ken Williams referred to the White Sox itinerary on Wednesday at the Bellagio during the final stages of the 2008 Winter Meetings.
"We're a club that is very proactive during the season ... there really isn't an offseason for us," Williams said. "We don't have to come to these meetings to schedule meetings because we've had those conversations with people through the course of the year, and as soon as the offseason starts, through the General Managers Meetings, so there is no script that we have to follow. I don't take meetings simply because. I don't take meetings that haven't already produced some substance in conversation.
"Give me an idea on what you want to do, and I will tell you if there is a need for us to sit down. I think it's false hustle."
With no plans to select a player in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, at least as of Wednesday evening, Williams will depart for home Thursday with his words from Monday's first interview session trailing behind him. On that opening day, Williams stated how he would be surprised if there were any surprises on the horizon in regard to possible deals.
Instead, Williams had a little fun in talking about his day's worth of activities.
He avoided the gaming tables but did watch a movie earlier, followed by the viewing of CNN and the WGN News, catching up on the trials and travails of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Reports of the White Sox and Reds once again talking about a Jermaine Dye-Homer Bailey swap were dismissed as nothing more than Williams talking to Walt Jocketty, the Reds general manager and Williams' friend, at a social gathering on Tuesday night.
One more question did pop up regarding Dye, using an apropos betting theme to ask if Williams thought Dye would be his right fielder at the start of the 2009 campaign.
"I thought I was going to escape that question today," said Williams with a laugh. "Jermaine is still on the club and on the board and in the lineup. I don't have anything different to tell you guys than anything I told you yesterday."
Earlier offseason trades involving Nick Swisher and Javier Vazquez, along with the free-agent signing of Dayan Viciedo probably set to be announced at the end of this week, have Williams excited with the necessary blend of youthful talent and dependable veterans he now has in place. He also has infused speed and aggressiveness into a previously home run-based attack.
These deals might not have brought a high-profile return such as Cleveland's apparent signing of free-agent closer Kerry Wood, as an example. Yet, Williams feels comfortable with having the right overall blend to defend the team's 2008 American League Central title and beyond, not to mention putting himself in position to add valuable pieces down the line.
"Obviously, the plan was to fortify our Minor League system. We were well on our way with the last two Drafts [White Sox scouting director] Doug Laumann and his crew have put together," Williams said. "We just added nine guys to our system, whether it be trade or Viciedo, we added nine guys, nine plus-type, high-ceiling type guys.
"Part of the plan with that is the extra two picks we're getting in next year's Draft for [Orlando] Cabrera's free agency. That was a necessity, that had to be done, and was part of the plan. Now, as you sit, take a step back and look at the Major League team, you say, 'OK, what now do we have to do that's consistent with our long-term plan, what can we do for the short-term to make sure we are leaning in a better way toward a championship?' That's kind of where we are right now."
Manager Ozzie Guillen expressed the same sort of optimism in Williams' work before departing for Venezuela on Wednesday night. In past Winter Meetings, Guillen's exit somehow has translated into big White Sox moves to follow. But if Wednesday's silence was any indication, that trend will not continue on in Las Vegas.
"Some of that is by design, but no, I can't remember ... I was commenting to my staff upstairs that I can't remember this little dialogue," Williams said. "It's just a departure to a certain degree of what we're used to. It doesn't stop us from playing the games internally about who is out there, what can we potentially do to make an impact. It will be a little bit of a later offseason, maybe."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.