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updated: 3/31/2014 8:10 PM

Hahn resembles GM of old

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  • Alejandro De Aza points to the ball after hitting a 2-run home run off Twins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco during the second inning of Chicago's victory Monday.

      Alejandro De Aza points to the ball after hitting a 2-run home run off Twins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco during the second inning of Chicago's victory Monday.
    Associated Press

 
 

Rick Hahn was asked early Monday afternoon whether he ever heard of Frank Lane.

The White Sox general manager thought a split-moment, his eyes widened a bit and he answered yes.

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Then Hahn might even have uttered, "Trader." Or maybe "Trader" is just what I was thinking.

Either way, many of the transactions Hahn made the past 10 months to reshape the Sox were reminiscent of Frank "Trader" Lane.

Hahn was pleased with the comparison and even more pleased that the earliest return on his moves was a 5-3 victory over Minnesota in the Sox' home opener.

White Sox general managers have a history of attempting to rebuild in a rush as opposed to embarking on long construction projects.

Kenny Williams, Hahn's predecessor, essentially won the 2005 World Series title with a flurry of moves during one off-season.

During the late 1980s, Larry Himes swept out the old and brought in the new to set up the Sox for a nice run through much of the next decade.

In the early 1950s, however, Frank Lane was the architect of the White Sox' school of architecture.

So far, Hahn resembles him more than the others as he trades major leaguers for younger, presumably better, hopefully major-league-ready youngsters.

Trader Lane dealt vets, too, in exchange for the likes of Sox legends Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso and Billy Pierce.

Among Trader Hahn's trades so far has been Jake Peavy for Avisail Garcia, Hector Santiago for Adam Eaton and Addison Reed for Matt Davidson.

Hahn also traded $68 million for Cuban import Jose Abreu, another relatively young player ready for the big leagues.

The idea is the same as it was in the early 1950s, late 1980s and mid-2000s: Establish a foundation for the near future.

"We feel we've made a lot of progress," Hahn said before conceding, "We're not where we want to be."

The process isn't a five-year plan but does take longer than 10 months. Longer, that is, unless you're Williams and all the replacement parts fit nearly from the start.

It won't happen that soon for these Sox, or even as soon as Lane's Sox took to begin challenging the mighty Yankees.

Times are different. Under baseball's system back then, Lane could make 241 trades during his seven years as Sox' GM.

Now, clumsy contracts, free agency and baseball's entire economic system too often get in the way. Not to mention an entry draft that didn't exist back in Lane's day.

Trader Lane could wheel and deal to the point that as St. Louis' GM he almost traded Stan Musial to Philadelphia, only to be overruled by Cardinals owner Gussie Busch.

Hahn will need more time unless he can be a quick-change artist next winter in Williams' image.

"For now," Hahn said, "we're going to roll with some of the young guys and see how long it takes for them to fulfill their potential."

The victory over the really bad Twins was like a blueprint of what the Sox would like the finished product to look like.

Chris Sale pitched like winning pitchers pitch, yielding 5 hits and 3 runs with 8 strikeouts over 7⅓ innings.

Sox' manager Robin Ventura settled on Matt Lindstrom as the closer for now and he saved Sale's victory.

Eaton, Abreu and Garcia combined for 6 hits while giving the Sox' offense a supply of energy and urgency.

Finally, it didn't hurt that holdover Alejandro De Aza contributed 2 home runs and 3 runs batted in.

"I like RBI," De Aza smiled.

Sox fans must like what Trader Hahn is doing, too, because it served them well in the past.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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