New White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn was very busy on Thursday. He did an interview on The Score, Chicago Tribune Live, and this conference call with us White Sox bloggers. It was all about getting the message out. He’s also been busy with transactions- re-signing Jake Peavy to a two year, $29 million dollar deal, and re-upping on Gavin Floyd.
I still question the Peavy move, with his injury history…anyways, Hahn has been very busy since taking over for Kenny Williams, one of the most successful GMs in Sox history. People are of course interested in the moves he hasn’t made yet- third base and catcher. And yes, those questions came up in conference call.
Thanks to those who participated, especially Rick Hahn and Marty Maloney.
Jim Margalus: You said that the idea first game up in 2008 or 2009. In between that, you interviewed with the Mets and Angels. When you were interviewing with those clubs, did you have the idea of the White Sox in your back pocket as a fallback plan or was it so vague that you didn’t know what your future would be with the White Sox?
RH: Out of respect for the processes over the years, I never really commented on how involved I really was or how all in I was in these GM searches. I think a lot of it got exaggerated because it’s a horse race. People hear a name that may potentially be involved and debate it without a comment from the individual and it’s left to the media to speculate how close someone is to becoming GM of another club.
Over the last few years, I’ve had a fair amount of informal meals with various owners around baseball just sort of to get to know them better and the opportunities they have, but I’d say there was only really one instance going back to 2007 that was really serious about potentially leaving. It was important to get to that point so that I could parcel through “Why was I doing this?” Was I doing it for the cool job title and more money or was I leaving because it was truly the best opportunity for me and my family?
When I would go through these conversations over the past couple years and meet with these other clubs, it wasn’t with knowing that I could be the White Sox’ GM at some point so I would weight this against that. It was more that I was in a place I was happy and had a chance to win and am in my hometown which means a lot to me. I would weight the role I was playing with Jerry and Kenny as assistant GM against those opportunities and being here and in this organization had more allure to me, regardless of if it was going to lead to me being GM.
Guy from Sox Talk: Other than third base, what are some places on the roster that you’re looking to make some enhancements?
RH: Third base is obviously going to be a priority as there is no clear answer for that on the roster right now. I’m a little surprised we’ve gotten four questions in without any question of A.J. We’ll look at the bullpen, trying complement what we have with some different types of relievers. We obviously need to figure out what we’re going to do with the backup infield and backup outfield positions.
If A.J. were not back, if Youkilis were back at third, we may be a little too right-handed and we need to look out for that. There are some moving pieces involved. Third base is probably the one getting the most attention as the positional need to be most addressed.
ML: I hate to use the term “stat guy”. You’re old school and new school. Let me give you a stat and I’m curious as to what you make of it and how you fix it. In the last ten years, the White Sox have had a worse win percentage after the All-Star Break as opposed to before it eight of the ten seasons. That’s obviously cost the Sox. Would you comment on what you think is causing it and how do you fix this?
RH: If there was an easy solution, it would have been addressed already. We’ve seen it and felt it just like you guys have and it is quite literally on the agenda to discuss this weekend as a group within our full organizational meetings. I do think this past year you can look to the fact that we took some pitchers beyond their traditional innings levels and therefor it is possible that there was a decline in their effectiveness from that.
It’s also feasible that a slump that happens from September 15th through the 30th gets a little over-magnified as opposed to one from May 15th to May 30th. And there’s also just a bit of bad luck. Given that this is something we’ve seen before over the last decade, it is something that merits further discussion and if there is a solution, it is something we’re going to try to address. That’s probably easier said than done though.
Paul Banks: Was there any advice Kenny gave you about this job and if so what was the best?
RH: I suspect that I’ll continue to get advice from Kenny over the upcoming weeks and months and almost all of it welcome. Having the benefit of the guy who was probably the most successful general manager in franchise history around as a sounding board was a big part of the allure of me taking this position. Had I gone somewhere else, someone who views the world as Kenny does would have been one of my first hires that I would have wanted to complement myself with. We have very different backgrounds, we approach problems differently. I want someone who has that complementary point of view that can challenge my convictions. The best piece of advice he gave me was to keep my sense of humor about me and that there is always going to be an argument for the other side and you have to trust the tools that got you here.
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