He’s only been White Sox general manager for four months, so let’s give Rick Hahn some time to make his mark.
But as the past two days at SoxFest clearly indicated, Hahn is different than his predecessor, Kenny Williams.
When he was in the GM chair from 2001-12, Williams was always “dreaming big.” And he thoroughly enjoyed adding big-name players like David Wells, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Ken Griffey Jr., Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn while also chasing the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Roy Halladay and Torii Hunter.
As Hahn advances in the job, maybe he’ll follow suit and bring big-time players to a big-market team.
For now, White Sox fans have to settle for third baseman Jeff Keppinger and relief pitchers Matt Lindstrom as new additions for 2013, although Hahn did manage to re-sign two key starting pitchers: Peavy and Gavin Floyd.
While it’s still too early to evaluate Hahn, he continually hammered two points at the Palmer House Hilton this weekend that offer valuable insight into his approach.
First, Hahn is much more concerned with substance than style when it comes to adding players.
It is well known the Sox currently have only two left-handed hitters in their regular lineup — leadoff man Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn, who is very likely to drop from No. 3 to 5 in the order this season.
If Williams was still GM, you just know he would have tried everything possible to get left-handed slugger Josh Hamilton, who wound up signing a five-year, $125 million free-agent deal with the Angles in December.
Maybe Hahn inquired on Hamilton as well, even knowing the ultimate price was prohibitive.
Then again, maybe not.
“Although we do tilt too heavily to the right side on paper, we’re not going to go out and get a left-handed bat simply because it’s going to make me look me good to address a perceived need,” Hahn said. “We are not going to make a move just because it looks good in January to say we addressed a perceived need, when in reality we know we haven’t gotten ourselves better for the stretch.”
And that brings us to point No. 2 on Hahn — the time factor.
If the White Sox indeed prove vulnerable against right-handed pitching, Hahn is not going to ignore the problem.
Pointing to last season, when the Sox plugged a hole at third base by trading for Kevin Youkilis and acquired veteran Brett Myers to shore up the bullpen, Hahn said he’s more than willing to make moves “on the fly.”
For now, he’d rather give left fielder Dayan Viciedo more time to develop.
Adding a left-handed bat would most likely force Viciedo out of the regular lineup, but Hahn is not ready to make that move. In other words, don’t expect to be seeing the Diamondbacks’ Jason Kubel in a White Sox uniform anytime soon.
“There were a bunch of rumors recently about our interest in a big power left-handed hitting former outfielder from the National League with the notion being we’re going to bring in this guy and essentially become a platoon partner with Viciedo,” Hahn said. “In theory you can see why that might make sense to make us stronger in 2013. Maybe. (Kubel) is a proven entity and he hits right-handed pitching and Viciedo struggled last year against right-handed pitching (.225).
“But if you take a step back and look at the long-term good of Dayan and the organization, this guy is 23 years old in his first full year in the big leagues, hit 25 home runs and about .260 or so. If we all of a sudden turn him into a platoon player at age 24, he’s never going to reach that ceiling.
“Not too many guys were able to do what he did at the big-league level at his age. And a short-term fix on a individual club could well stunt him from becoming that middle-of-the-order, potentially 40 home run guy that a lot of people in the organization see in him. You don’t want to just drop somebody in there that can potentially compromise a guy’s development that is important for the future.”
Dewayne Wise is a left-handed hitter that can step in for Viciedo against tough right-handed starters like Justin Verlander. Hahn said Jordan Danks is another left-handed option off the bench, and projected backup catcher Hector Gimenez is a switch-hitter.
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