Ken Williams (regarding Kevin Youkilis trade)
Can you talk about the completed deal?
Very simply — I must commend the spirit, and the job that Orlando Hudson has done up to this point for us because we needed to fill the position. He came in admirably and really went after it. And he’s made some great plays over there. In terms of wanting and needing a little more stability at the position as well as providing a little bit of offense in the form that Kevin [Youkilis] can provide. Another on-base percentage guy, another guy that’s not afraid to get a big hit. We just felt at this time it was necessary, and necessary to do it sooner rather than later.
What does your scouting report say about Youkilis at this point in his career? He was a big power-guy earlier in his career before injuries…
That is something that obviously you check into right away. We were given a good bill of health from him; it’s been described that he hasn’t felt this good physically in a long time. I just got off the phone with him and he’s very excited to join our club, he’s got a little edge to him, which I like. I think he’s going to fit in just fine with our ballclub.
What does “got a little edge” mean?
I can’t tell you exactly what he said, but he wants to come in and he wants to prove some people wrong.
Did this come together pretty quickly or was it a long process?
Well, quickly in the sense that in the last 24 hours we were able to consummate a deal when we had been going back-and-forth for a number of days. I wasn’t really sure whether or not this was going to materialize.
How much of the deal had to do with getting the money right?
Well, a lot of it. I don’t want to get into dollars and cents because you guys bury me when I do that, so I think we’ll just say that the deal made sense from a player standpoint – a talent standpoint – and a financial standpoint for us.
Do you see yourself making further moves this season?
I think at this point in time, we owe it to our fans and the men in that clubhouse in uniform to try to exhaust ourselves to try to be the best possible team we can be. Often times it’s determined that it means bringing veterans into the equation, and I don’t necessarily believe in that. Sometimes it’s pulling the youth that you have together, both in terms of talent and the spirit that they bring, and the energy that they bring. So I think it’s something that you have to be very careful to – that’s why you have a lot of conversations, because you don’t want to disrupt that mix, you don’t want to disrupt that chemistry. That’s why I lean on the coaching staff and Robin quite a bit in terms of what we’re dealing with in terms of the makeup of the club. And we’ll cross those bridges when we get there and determine whether it’s a veteran or a young guy. But I think our young guys have risen to the occasion on darn near every level, and I think they deserve to be given at least the benefit of the doubt. It wasn’t too long ago that we took a guy from Double-A in Bobby Jenks and put him right in the mix of things, and that helped us win a world championship. So we’re not afraid to go with the young guys.
What does this mean for Brent Morel this season?
All Brent can do right now is focus on his health. And we’re focused on getting him the best possible medical care that we can give him and get him back on the field. So right now he’s not really a factor in terms of the major league team. We’ve got to get him healthy so he can get back on the field, number one.
With Quintana pitching so well recently, does it take pressure of needing another starter right now?
Well there’s no doubt that he’s shown himself to be a major-league pitcher. And I think he’s shown the type of quality that he brings to the table. But we have to assess our entire situation; we have to be patient in some areas. The great thing is we’re getting a lot of quality pitching right now and we’re not completely healthy. So once we get healthy, I think there’s room both offensively and on our pitching staff for this team to grow. And it’s exciting to watch.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Looking To Monday
Scouting director Doug Laumann met with the media Saturday before the game and discussed his team’s general plans for Monday night’s First-Year Player Draft. The Sox pick 13th in the first round and then have the 48th overall pick as compensation for losing free agent Mark Buehrle.
Here are some of Doug’s comments:
Are you prepared for Monday or do you still have a lot more work to do?
We’ve got a lot more work to do, but we’re in pretty good shape. We came in on Wednesday, did some video work on Wednesday and Thursday; just breaking down the upper portion of the draft the last couple of days. Kenny [Williams] and Mr. Reinsdorf are going to come in and spend a couple of hours with us today to help us get prepared for that first pick, and along the way we’ll get the rest of them lined up. So we’re in pretty good shape right now.
Some drafts are deeper than others. How would you characterize this year?
Probably as thin as I’ve seen in a decade. A lot of different factors play into it. I think personally one of the biggest ones is, as of about two or three years ago – and I don’t know if people were anticipating the CBA changing a little bit with the amount of money people were allowed to spend – but teams started spending a lot more money on high school players a couple of years ago and I think that’s really kind of depleted the college ranks. A lot of the good high school players over the past few years have been signing, and we see that it’s pretty thin right now in the college ranks.
Is pitching usually your focus?
Yeah, typically it is. I’ve commented before that Kenny and Jerry have always said that pitching is where it starts. And we kind of feel that way, although you certainly have to have people that can catch the ball and throw it across the infield and stuff like that. But we always look to see if there’s pitching; if we’re going to break a tie, we’ll usually break it with a pitcher. But at the same time it’s important just to see who the best and most impactful type of player is out there.
Your last No. 13 pick was Chris Sale. Do you think there’s a guy in this draft that could help your team quickly?
There may be. The thing about Chris that was so interesting was a couple things: number one, he was able to help quickly, and we recognized that; we knew that. But at the same time, teams have done that in the past. And those types of guys didn’t particularly have a high ceiling. They were guys that you thought maybe could get there quickly, but they kind of were what they were.
With Chris we recognized that he could get there quickly, but also that there was something beyond that with him. I can’t speak highly enough about the minor league system and the way we handled him. We kind of had a career path set out for him, and that was that initially he was going to go ahead and get some innings in the bullpen to get accustomed to the professional life; and that at some point in time he would develop into a starter. Thank goodness that everything has worked out that way so far.
Are there any other positions that you’d especially like to improve upon?
Buddy Bell, who’s kind of in charge of the minor league system right now – Buddy and I are really close, we’ve been friends for 30 years – we communicate very well with each other. I’m cognizant of always talking to him about, ‘do we have needs; do we have certain areas that we have to get stronger in?’ There’s always that need for pitching, like I said, but if perhaps I’m thinking about taking a catcher in the first couple of rounds, I’ll ask Buddy: ‘how is our catching? Where do we stand with that?’
So we’ve identified a few areas; we’re always looking for middle infielders, those skill type of players. Hopefully with what we’ve got going on in Latin America as well, we can go ahead and fill those needs. But you don’t really start filling needs until a little bit later in the draft, you try to get the best players initially.
How important is it for the top picks to make an impact in the near future?
I kind of view myself as a purchasing agent. I have my own personal views, and sometimes they may or may not line up with what the organizational views are. Typically they do, that’s why I’m in the position that I’m in. But it’s Kenny’s philosophy that you win championships with Type-1 players; with impact types of players. We have good discussions, healthy discussions, about whether or not, ok, well this guy can get there, he can get there quickly, he’s not going to be a great player but there’s a high percentage that he can get there. Take that versus this other guy that, it may take him awhile, but ultimately he could be that impact player. And we’ve always opted for that impact-type player.
Are there any high school players on your draft board?
This year more than any, there’s a chance that a high school kid could be considered with that pick.
With where you’re picking, do you worry about signability at all?
Well hopefully the way the new CBA was set up – we’re always going to do our homework – but I think agents, players, families and everybody is kind of aware of exactly where it is. At this point you identify that we pick at 13, this is what we’re going to spend and are you willing to take this? If you’ve got a guy that you think is worth way more than that, then you’ve got to get creative and get some other things done. But I think we’re confident that the guy we get is going to be somebody that’s going to take the type of money that we have.
Going into the draft, do you have a list of potential players and cross them off as the day unfolds?
We probably have 20 names on that list for the 13th pick right now. There are probably about eight-10 of them that we know are going to be gone, and then we’ve got a list of about 10 that we’re kind of putting in order. Would we take them if they got there, wouldn’t we?
Then we have those philosophical discussions: ‘Ok, we have a college right-handed pitcher that could maybe help you here pretty quickly. Or we’ve got a high school left-hander that might take three or four years, but when he gets here, this guy could be dominant.’ And those are the types of things that we discuss.
Quite frankly – I won’t run or hide from it – we weren’t sure where we were going to be at this point. Through the offseason with all the naysayers, some people had us losing 100 games. So are we in a rebuilding mode, or are we in a mode that we’re going to do this and that? As we sit here today we’re in first place and have a six-game lead on the team that was going to run away and hide. So does that then change our philosophy a little bit? Well, those are the kinds of discussions that we have.
Had we been 15-30 and not where we are right now, the mode might’ve been that: ‘hey, let’s start building a little bit. Let’s start taking some guys that are a bit further away.’ Versus right now, where maybe there’s someone out there that can contribute fairly quickly.’
All of those questions haven’t been answered yet, but we certainly go through all of them.
Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday at 5 p.m. CT on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and compensation rounds (best guess is the Sox picks will fall around 7:30 p.m. and 9 pm). MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and Day 3. You can also keep updated by following @MLBDraft on twitter and #mlbdraft. You also can follow @whitesox Monday evening. Ron Karkovice (the Sox first-round pick from 1982) and Kevin Coe, Sox manager of youth baseball initiatives, are attending the draft as representatives of the White Sox.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Any Publicity is Good Publicity …
I kidded Hawk today that it’s a pretty good sign when your photo on this back page is bigger than the President’s photo on the front page of the newspaper (I couldn’t tell if Hawk liked my joke or not) …
On A Roll
Always amazing how many great stories and stats get produced when your team is winning.
- The White Sox nine-game winning streak is the longest since 7/4-15/10. We won 11 in a row from 6/15-27/10.
- Our 30-22 record is the team’s best after 52 games since 2006 and 6.0 games better than last year.
- The Sox have won seven straight over Seattle.
- Sox are hitting .312 with a 3.78 ERA on this nine-game winning streak.
- The Sox have been in first place 10 days this season compared to four in 2011, 33 in 2010 and 13 in 2009.
- The Sox lead the majors in avg, HR, runs, runs/game, OBP, SLG and avg with RISP over the past 17 games.
- Since 1995, 72 of the 102 teams (70.6 percent) who have held at least a share of the division lead entering June have reached the playoffs (Sox are three of four, missing in 2004)
- Sox have outscored the opposition by +40, the third-largest gap in baseball behind only Texas (+77) and St. Louis (+57).
- The Sox have won six straight at home.
Guest coach Art Kusyner on seeing Harold Baines and Robin Ventura sitting together at a table in Tampa’s clubhouse:
“Look at those two working each other up into a frenzy.”
As told by Tom Paciorek during the game broadcast.
White Sox pitcher Philip Humber was gracious enough to autograph a mini poster of his Perfect Game for Sox front office staff and even some members of the Seattle front office who helped out with his Perfecto on April 21. It’s a tradition started by Jim Thomas (500th home run) and continued by Mark Buehrle (Perfect Game) and now Humber. Very cool.