While the White Sox do not have the most plentiful season ticket base, the team does everything they can to reward those season ticket holders. Prior to Tuesday’s game, the White Sox offered their season ticket holders an hour seminar with their boisterous, and always entertaining pitching coach, Don Cooper. Unfortunately, Cooper is in the midst of battling his most recent bout with vertigo, and the Brooklyn native was unable to make the seminar. The White Sox told the season ticket holders to come in anyways, as they would have a surprise speaker in his place.
I was delighted to see Rick Hahn sitting and laughing with fans as I walked into the White Sox media room and it was clear that the floor would be his. In his short time at the helm, Hahn has stolen Cuban slugger Jose Abreu’s services from the rest of MLB, locked up starters Chris Sale and Jose Quintana on long term, team-friendly contracts, and improved a once-barren farm system quite dramatically. While he may not even be the most popular General Manager in Chicago, those in the know will tell you that the White Sox are in good hands moving forward.
Hahn fielded questions from the White Sox’s most committed fans ranging from the trade deadline to the bullpen to the team’s organizational-wide philosophical changes. The following quotations are directly from the mouth of the sharp-witted Hahn sans any conflicting media presence.
On the July 31st deadline “This year is by far the lowest percentage of accuracy in White Sox rumors. Less than 30% of the rumors I hear are accurate this year. So while I would usually say don’t believe everything you hear, this year, that would be especially true.”
On drafting Carlos Rodon “Carlos was the guy we wanted when 2013 circled away from us. You”ll hear a lot of guys in baseball say they got “their guy” but I really mean it when I say Carlos was the guy we were focused on… Although it took several hours of communication with my close and personal friend Scott Boras, we think Carlos is well worth whatever it would take to get him signed.”
On AA pitcher Mike Recchia “Recchia is a guy that I signed out of the independent league and we think his stuff is strong enough to make the MLB. Pedigree does not matter to us. If you show the stuff to make it, there’s a good chance we’ll need you at some point. Recchia reminds me of Axelrod because he came from the independent league but his stuff is better than Axelrod’s.”
On the slow pace of MLB “This is a topic the MLB is most definitely addressing…The MLB has sent questionnaires to all MLB teams. TV and their commercial breaks force a certain amount of time and that won’t change. Nationally televised games have, I believe 2:30 commercial breaks, whereas local games have 2:10 breaks. This is not going to change. However, when I go to the ballpark, the game can go as long as possible and that’s fine as long as we win. I really think offenses are operating differently now. Grinding at bats, working walks, forcing pitches changes and that hurts the visceral appearance of the game but it’s something that will make a team better.”
On umpires’ accountability “Every umpire gets a DVD nightly that shows where they messed up. They are being reviewed and reviewed extensively.”
On the struggling bullpen and the idea of Carlos Rodon closing “Carlos is going to start. He will not be the closer. There is simply too much value he can provide as a starter. As far as the closer moving forward… Is there a 2015 closer right now? I am not sure. Could it be Daniel Webb? Petricka? A guy not on the team? Yes. All of the above. Regardless, when we’re in a position to compete, we are going to have a great bullpen. Look at Oakland, Los Angeles and Detroit, those are the three best teams in the AL. Oakland traded for Jim Johnson and his 10 million contract to be their closer and he was off the job almost instantly. Joe Nathan has had more trouble in Detroit than we have had here. The Angels traded their closer a few weeks back. So I don’t that a closer is the key to success, rather the overall product.”
On the idea of doing an Astros style rebuild “There was a thought about it, absolutely. However, Jerry Reinsdorf has seven championships and wants an eighth so that’s not his mentality. I think that is also Kenny Williams’s mentality as well as my own. We are not an organization that can tear things down, for an unguarenteed chance to win in 5 years. We value our fan base too much for that.”
On the minor league hitting “Steverson’s unified approach is going to facilitate an organizational change in hitting. We are just in the beginning of this.”
On the acquisition of “extreme” tool players like Adam Engel, Micker Adolfo, and Cleuluis Rondon “I don’t know that these targeted acquisitions come from me personally, but there’s always a reason to look at guys that excel in one aspect of their game. Especially in the backend of a trade we definitely look at a guy with a tool that is glaring particularly in the lower levels. That’s what’s we saw with Cleuluis Rondon. Doug Laumann may have seen the same with Engel late in the draft last year. There’s something in the organization that has us moving away from the Broadway/McCulloch types and Doug Laumann is a big part of that change.”
On who was going to be the closer to start the year “Jones was probably going to be the closer, yeah, but we were more than happy with Lindy at the end of Spring Training.”
On the idea of Garcia and Abreu as the 3-4 punch moving forward “I am not sure about that. We need a left-handed bat in middle of the order. Were going to try and beat you in different ways but we play in this ballpark and we are going to hit home runs even if we are trying to move away from the station-to-station teams of years past.”
On scouting and potentially signing Rusney Castillo “He’s a good, right-handed hitting defensive centerfielder who can run. We have scouts everywhere, so yes, we have seen him. I don’t think he’s the best fit for us. If he were left-handed maybe but we are very comfortable with Adam Eaton in centerfield.”