MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin might be known for its cheese, but when he arrived here for the GM Meetings this week, Kenny Williams suddenly found himself surrounded by some very hungry fish.
"There are some sharks kind of circling the waters," said Williams, referring to some of his fellow general managers who came to the meetings and immediately expressed interest in the likes of John Danks, Carlos Quentin and Gavin Floyd, players under contract with the White Sox for 2012, but could be available if the price is right.
Williams has been in these waters before listening to deals for his veterans but has rarely acted on them. He might do more than listen this time around.
To a greater degree, I am more willing to talk about maybe some of our veteran pieces, whereas past practice has been we were looking for those kind of pieces and not as ready to listen," Williams said.
If the Sox do deal any of their veterans, Williams says hed want either impact players or impact-type players in return, meaning guys with big upsides who can contribute right away or might be one year away.
Were more open to making potential moves that take us a little younger, take us a step back and live to fight another day if we can get what weve identified the type of targets you want in such a deal, Williams said. But whether you can get those targets or not remains to be seen. So were more open.
The Sox GM acknowledged that a trade proposal had already surfaced at the meetings that he had not considered.
Would you like to know what it is? he playfully asked a reporter.
Well have to use our imagination.
But no need to guess who will likely bat leadoff for the White Sox next season. The job seems to belong to Alejandro De Aza.
If I was making the lineup out, De Aza would be my leadoff hitter, Williams said. But Robin Ventura makes the lineup out and I have to respect that. He will be given a suggestion though as to the Opening Day lineup.
Williams says he plans on speaking with Adam Dunn sometime during the winter about his approach for next season. When Dunn arrived at spring training, he admitted that he didnt swing a bat during the winter, a routine of his that had worked in the past.
Thats expected to change, Williams said.
The struggles of Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham in 2011 have made Williams job more challenging for 2012, because hes not sure which players will actually show up next season. So as he charts a course this winter, the White Sox ship could be headed in any number of directions.
Its the most difficult offseason that weve had because I dont have a clear-cut direction where were going, and I wont until probably the winter meetings starting December 5, or maybe even after the first deal comes along that we like, he said.
Some might refer to this movement as rebuilding, others might call it retooling. Either way, changes are coming. Its just a question of who and how many.
Were going to explore all possibilities," Williams said. "Just because youre contemplating going young doesnt mean that you wont be talented, doesnt mean that you dont think you still have the necessary pieces to win if things go right and you get bounce back years from certain players.
That, in essence, would be the perfect storm, which is not easy to do, but something the Sox experienced in 2005. Who predicted them to win the division, let alone the World Series? Find the right crew members, get a nice headwind and who knows where youll end up.