Tuesday, December 7, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams was characteristically enthusiastic in his media session on Tuesday, in spite of his confirmation that talks to bring back All-Star first baseman Paul Konerko had reached the dire stage.
While that sounds like a contradiction, consider that Williams has been itching to improve his team since arriving in Florida, and has nothing to show for itheld up, in some part, by Konerko. With or without the team captain, soon the GM will be able to announce a new addition to the club (if not Paulie)opining that quite possibly there would be an acquisition to discuss on Wednesday evening.
I have other agents now calling me to find out which direction Im heading, Williams said. I was hoping it wouldnt necessarily come down to us really getting serious with our other options, but we have no choice at this point.
Theres no lack of desire by either party to get a deal done, but with just three days to substantially mold the 2011 White Sox, the clock is ticking.
You can go through Day 1 down here and try to flush some things out, but when youre toward the end of Day 2 and youre talking to other free agents and some of the more impact guys, you better get serious with them, Williams said. We have other agents we have put off until now, and they are asking me to get serious. I have no choice but to get serious with them.
The malaise Williams felt over being stuck waiting for Konerkoyesterday leading Williams to philosophize about how patient a man he washad lifted. His so-called Plans B and C are assumed to be completely intact, talks that could quickly advance as his targets likely have a strong desire to play in Chicago. Tonight, he plans to meet with his other targets with the idea in mind to get a deal done.
One option that the GM wont be exploring is keeping his wallet in his pocket. When the notion of not spending the extra cash owner Jerry Reinsdorf freed up for himor saving it for a rainy trade deadline dayWilliams dismissed it out of hand, like a teenager who was mistakenly slipped a 20 instead of a 10 for the movies: Thats not in my head. When Jerry gives me some money, Im spending it.
It was both a sobering and exhilarating media outing for Williams. There was plenty of remorse at how muddled talks with Konerko had become: I was very hopeful coming down here. Im less hopeful nowI want the man back, but you dont always get what you want.
Yet if Konerko decides to sign with another club, Paul makes his decision for his own reasons. There will be no hard feelings on our part. And out of respect for Konerko, Williams refused to identify which sticking point(s) were holding up a deal.
The sobering conclusion entering the final day of the Winter Meetings is that indeed Konerko may have played his final game with the White Sox. While Williams could do little to dispel that encroaching reality, the stolid exec couldnt help but offer a sliver of hope: I know that we did reach out one more time to see if we can have one more round of dialogue, and if it works, it works.
And if the 11th-hour negotiation doesnt work?
If it doesnt, we cant stop the train.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.