Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
Updated 11:41 PM
By Chuck Garfien
Dating back to last spring training, if you asked Kenny Williams about his team, he wouldnt lie about his number-one concern: lack of a lefty power bat in the middle of the White Sox lineup, and it was gnawing at him.
The decision not to bring back Jim Thome left them vulnerable on that side of the plate, so Williams tried to sign Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon before the 2010 season, but swung and missed.
Before last summers trading deadline, he went after Adam Dunn. Missed again.
But this time, he didnt. Nope, instead Williams knocked it out of the park, which is what the White Sox are hoping Adam Dunn does again and again in 2011.
Thursday, the Sox struck a deal with the number-one slugger on the free agent market - reportedly a 4-year, 56 million dollar contract, pending a physical. Dunn, a beast of a hitter who not only stands 6-foot-6, 285 pounds (dont you dare pitch inside), is one of the most consistent and feared home run hitters in the game.
Since 2004, he has smashed 282 home runs. The only hitter who has more? Albert Pujols.
Also since 2004, Dunn is second in the majors in games played. Whos first? Ichiro Suzuki.
Speaking on a media conference call Thursday, Williams wouldnt comment on Dunn, only to say that hell share his thoughts at a press conference at U.S. Cellular Field Friday at 2:00 p.m. Chances are this wont be a media get-together to announce a contract extension for Southpaw the mascot.
What is Dunn like as a teammate? Reliever J.J. Putz, a free agent who played on Team USA with Dunn in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, gave Dunn the ultimate compliment.
Hes the best clubhouse guy to build a team around, Putz said. Oh yeah, and he rakes.
"Adam is gonna bring us a much needed left-handed power threat to the middle of the lineup," Jake Peavy told CSNChicago.com late Thursday night. "Adam is a good friend and I'm glad to have him as a teammate."
"I'm happy to have a guy that is not only a great baseball player but also a great person," Gordon Beckham said. "The White Sox are really making a commitment to the chemistry of a team which makes winning that much easier. Adam will fit right in with the pulse of our team."
With Dunn aboard, the next question is obvious: What does this mean for Paul Konerko?
Dunn, not the most nimble of defenders, has stated that he doesnt want to DH. He played 153 games at first base last season for the Nationals.
Is there room for both of them?
Not only is there room for it, but it would be the ideal fit from our perspective, Williams said.
Apparently the Sox envision Dunn and Konerko splitting time at first base and DH, and re-signing the White Sox captain is Williams' number-one priority right now. But hell have to be patient.
Weve tried to intiate (signing Konerko) on a couple of occasions, Williams said. We respect Pauls decision and his agents decision to try and take Paul to the winter meetings (next week) and flush out all of the interest and all the offers. Were trying to be patient and respectful of his process and also mindful of lost opportunities, or potentially lost opportunities if were not able to bring back Paulie, but Ive made it no secret. We do have strong interest in bringing him back.
After last season, Williams met with Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to talk about 2011. Normally the Sox GM presents his boss with four different plans. This year, Williams had only two.
One was a young team and the other was we were going to add to the mix. We just didnt want to be in the middle. If youre going to be all in, you go all in.
With Adam Dunn aboard, the Sox have just upped the ante.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.