White Sox

As an 11-year-old Cubs fan, Rick Hahn wrote GM Dallas Green suggesting some moves — and Green wrote back

As an 11-year-old Cubs fan, Rick Hahn wrote GM Dallas Green suggesting some moves — and Green wrote back

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Rick Hahn spends just about every waking moment trying to rebuild the White Sox. As the team’s general manager, his mission in life is to bring another World Series title to the South Side.

Growing up in Winnetka, Hahn had a much different desire.

He wanted to see the Cubs win a championship, and as an 11-year-old kid, he went to great lengths attempting to make it happen.

In 1982, as the Cubs were in the midst of an 89-loss season, young Hahn wrote to Cubs executive vice president and general manager Dallas Green with ideas of how to improve the ballclub.

“I actually wrote a number of letters to Dallas, and out of the kindest of his heart and perhaps mistakenly, he wrote me back,” Hahn recalled in an interview with CSN. “There were a plethora of things ranging from trade ideas — I was a big Leon Durham guy. I wanted him to move (Bill) Buckner from first to make room for Durham at the time. I had some lineup ideas. (Green) was kind enough to write back a couple of times. The first time he responded very favorably, so me and my buddy Rod Blunck (who now works in athlete representation in Chicago) sat down and wrote a few more letters.”

Green wrote back.

Dated Sept. 14, 1982, it read:

Dear Rick and Rod:

Thanks for your recent letter regarding your thoughts on our players and suggested trades.

During the offseason we will make some changes to improve the Cubs for 1983. We will work hard to develop a team our fans will be proud to support.

Keep rooting!

Sincerely,

Dallas Green

The Cubs executive would soon back up his words, getting the Cubs to the NLCS in 1984.

“The (Ryne) Sandberg trade was that offseason and that obviously got him going, so he was very much true to his word,” Hahn said.

More than 30 years later, Hahn recognizes that seeds of him becoming a baseball general manager were being planted back then. Now whenever he receives a letter from a young White Sox fan, he thinks back to what Green did for him.

“Anytime I get a letter similar to that, I try to sit down and respond, trying to pay it forward, so to speak. Dallas is the originator of that,” Hahn said. “Anyone who has received a letter from me is because Dallas Green was kind enough to do the same when I was a kid.”

Hahn’s youngest son, Charlie, a diehard White Sox fan, is 11 years old, the same age Rick was when he sent those letters to Green.

Like father, like son, Charlie is not afraid to give the general manager of his favorite team some sharp criticism about the job he’s doing with the White Sox.

“He hasn’t written any nasty letters, but at the breakfast table he can tell me directly and voice his displeasure,” Hahn said laughing.

The White Sox rebuild won’t happen overnight. There are tough times ahead at the ballpark — and as Hahn’s son learned this past fall — at the playground, too.

“He gave a lot of (his classmates) grief at school during the postseason because the Cubs hadn’t won the World Series yet. We had a ring in his lifetime, albeit he was six months old, but he counts it,” Hahn explained. “And then when the Cubs were down three games to one, he started ramping up the crap he was giving his friends. During Game 7 when the Cubs were up 5-1, it was time for him to go to bed and he couldn’t sleep. He was pretty distressed. I think because he was going to have to pay the piper for all the smack he talked about at school.”

As we know, Chicago is a divided baseball town. There always seems to be an ebb and flow with the White Sox and Cubs. One is up, while the other is down — and often times both have been down. We have the scars to prove it.

But the night the Cubs won the World Series, it immediately tested the mettle of every White Sox fan, including Hahn’s son.

“As he and I sat there for about 45 minutes being happy for other people having success, wanting to get to that level ourselves, he was pretty pointed in saying, ‘How long is this going to take, because I want to know when the White Sox are going to be back in the playoffs, why and how?’”

Hahn won’t publicly answer that question, but if it’s any consolation, he does admit that the two big trades they made this winter has sped up the process.

“We have in our minds how long we think it’s going to take. In all candor, if I had answered that question transparently as possible prior to the winter meetings I would have given you a timeline a little farther out than I would have given after we made the Sale and Eaton trades,” Hahn said.

When will the White Sox start spending big money on free agents? Hahn says not until the White Sox are within striking distance of being a championship-caliber team. But the hope is that time will arrive in the “near future.”

Green promised young Hahn that he would “work hard to develop a team our fans will be proud to support.”

Hahn has the same promise for White Sox fans. The rebuild has started. More changes are coming.

And if your son or daughter have some questions for Hahn, you know how to reach him.

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.


What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

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