White Sox GM has head start on rebuild
General manager Rick Hahn won't be starting from complete scratch when attempting to build the White Sox back into a contending team for 2014.
He already has a solid pitching staff -- headed by ace Chris Sale -- and trading veteran players Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and Matt Thornton has allowed Hahn to add some promising offensive pieces such as right fielder Avisail Garcia, who sat out Monday night's game against the Tigers after having a double root canal, and infielder Leury Garcia.
And with the Sox being at least 10 games out of first place since June 28, minor-league players including infielder Marcus Semien and pitchers Andre Rienzo, Erik Johnson, Charlie Leesman, Jake Petricka and Daniel Webb have gotten an early jump on making a good impression for next year.
For now, that will have to do.
"I'm no different from any fan or anyone in the front office or player who's suffered through a season that's been gut-wrenching," Hahn said Monday before the White Sox opened a 10-game homestand.
"It's been very difficult. I'm fortunate and try to look at it from the perspective of what we have in front of us now is a tremendous opportunity and a chance to address some of the issues we have and areas we need to get better in.
"Frankly, we're starting with a little bit of an advantage given the pitching, as well as a bit of a blank slate in terms of a lot of areas that need to be improved.
"We have a lot of different avenues and routes we can go down to get better. I view this as obviously a difficult season, one that's hard to sit through. Certainly it's been trying, but it's going to provide us with some opportunities to get better in the near future."
Look for Hahn to be very busy revamping the offense during the off-season, and don't be surprised if the first move is firing hitting coach Jeff Manto or reassigning him to a position in the minor leagues.
Jim Thome is the logical replacement, and he'd instantly breathe life into a stale offense.
After that, Hahn needs to evaluate the production of every position with the exception of right field, where the 22-year-old Garcia looks like a star in the making.
"Unfortunately, we have a number of areas that we need to upgrade," Hahn said. "Where we have performed offensively, obviously being at the bottom of the league in runs scored, how we've performed defensively and how we've performed on the bases has been well below our expectations and well below acceptable, so we have a fair amount of work to do, and we realize that.
"It's something that because of the way the season has gone we have had a little extra time to prepare for what we wanted to do. We were able to do some of it at the trade deadline, and hopefully come October and November we will continue down that path."
As for first baseman/designated hitter Paul Konerko, who isn't likely to be back with the Sox next season, Hahn is taking a wait-and-see attitude.
"I think we'll sit down once the season is over and he knows what he wants to do," Hahn said. "We will have a conversation in private about the future and how everyone fits.
"Until the season ends there's really nothing to talk about there."
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