Monday, December 6, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. It was just a matter of a weekend after his triumphant signing of slugger Adam Dunn, but ebullience begat fatigue for Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams on Monday evening.
After a couple of monosyllabic responses to questions about retaining Paul Konerko (Nope. Yep.) set a tone of dread for the day, Williams did correct perceptions and acknowledge that the bloom is off the pre-Winter Meetings rose.
Maybe its just because its been a long day, but there is no reason to feel like Konerko is staying or going, Williams said. Todays talks were just an initial conversation that we had, which leads to other conversations.
As you might imagine, the GMs session was relatively brief. The blow-by-blow:
Williams laughed off the idea that Konerko might have come to terms with the White Sox before the meetings even officially began.
It just doesnt happen that way, Williams said. Certainly not in conversation No. 1, day one. Absolutely not.
Williams said that more talks were scheduled with Greg Landis, Konerkos agent, and was frank in assessing that Konerko might have to settle for less money than he originally anticipated.
Its a market that has numerous first basemen in it, Williams said. Konerko is coming off a great year, but teams have options, so I dont know that he will get to the salary level maybe he originally hoped for. ButIm surprised all the time. Ive been surprised in the last few days at some deals, so well see.
Otherwise, Williams was expectedly cloaked in his remarks about Konerko, the player hes unabashedly declared as the final big-ticket item on his wish list:
Im not going to take you through a blow-by-blow of our private conversations.
Im not optimistic or pessimistic, just going through the dialogue.
Im not leaning one way or the other on how I feel.
We always have a contingency plan.
Its business as usual at the Winter Meetings. Its 20 hours a day of dialogue with teams and agents, and so forth. You just go through it.
Conversations have to take place and representatives have to go back to him.
Its just a process.
Ive learned not to get too up or too down.
But as patient as hes attempting to be with Konerko (other people call me impatient, but Im patient, to a pointI recognize Konerko is a special case and I need to be even more patient than I think I usually am), the time frame is finite.
Theres a fine line, when you do risk losing your plan B and C in favor of trying to be as patient as you can with your plan A, Williams said. We will wait as long as we can, because Ive pretty much said on the record that Konerko is the guy we want.
Prior to Williams session, a rumor inflamed the Twitterverse, identifying the White Sox as the runner-up in the Adrian Gonzalez sweepstakesincluding the news that Gordon Beckham was the centerpiece of the proposal.
Williams was initially coy about the rumor, saying, I cant really talk about it. All I can say is that its always been business as usual for us. We try to go after impact players every year. But Im not going to get into the particulars of those types of things.
Later, Williams again underscored Beckhams untouchable status within the organization, praising the second sacker even in light of a sophomore year marked by slumps and injuries.
Im more confident in Beckham now that he has gone through some struggles as a big leaguer and come out of it on the other side, he said. Its just unfortunate that he had the hand injuryhe was having quite a second half. That Chicago tough I talk about? He showed a little bit of it in doing what he did through injuries.
Williams forecasted the news that J.J. Putz apparently signed with Arizona to become the Diamondbacks closer, saying, We wanted him back, but Putz is headed elsewhere.
As for the recently non-tendered Bobby Jenks, Williams remained open to a return by his five-year closer, with logical hesitation: Hes new to the market, and hes got to flesh some things out before he gets back to us.
With holes in the pen (just Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos, and possibly Chris Sale and Tony Pena project as holdovers in 2011), Williams knows he needs at least one recognizable addition in the trenches.
A trade is quite possibly the way we might have to go because weve taken ourselves toor beyondour payroll limits, he said. I might have to get a little creative with tradesbut I dont think a reliever is going to come at these meetings for us. That will be after.
Williams has never met a deal he didnt want to strike instantaneously, so forgive his fatigue for today.
The priority was to get as much done as we could, as quickly as we could, said the GM without remorse or rancor. Then see if I could get some sleep.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.