Defending Kenny Williams

By Joe Tichy

Aggressive.  Passionate.  Hard-working.  Dedicated.  Using those words to describe someone would lead you to believe this person was a guy you want on your side.  CEOs and chairmen want charismatic, passionate, well-spoken people on their side when trying to run a successful business.  I’m a few credits shy of my business degree, but all those adjectives fit the ideal candidate for a position within a company.  Chicago fans see it the other way.  Kenny Williams has done nothing but prove he wants to make his mark on Major League Baseball. Kenny Williams gets things done whether they pan out or not.  He wanted Ken Griffey, Jr.  He got him.  Anyone miss Nick Masset or Danny Richar?  Didn’t think so.  He wanted Jake Peavy.  He got Jake Peavy.   Williams took a risk on an injured player and Peavy has at times shown flashes of his 2007 Cy Young campaign.  Do you miss Adam Russell, Aaron Poreda, or Clayton Richard?  He wanted his power hitter and he got Adam Dunn.  His first season was about as far from good as you can get unfortunately, but he has three years left to redeem himself.  Daniel Hudson turned out to be a good pitcher- a good NATIONAL League pitcher.  His stint as a starter on an American League franchise did not go as the White Sox had planned.

The 2011 White Sox put together by Kenny Williams looked solid on paper.  Dunn, Konerko, and Quentin in the middle of a lineup with guys like Alexei Ramirez, A.J. Pierzynski, and Alex Rios surrounding them looks like a lineup of veterans prepared to win.  What ended up happening was a catastrophe.  Adam Dunn hit well below .200, Alex Rios almost as bad and looked lost in center field, and Gordon Beckham has yet to return to his rookie year form.  Are those reasons to dismiss Kenny Williams?  Last I checked, he has no input on hitting.  Nobody could have foreseen Adam Dunn’s issues.  If you did, you may be in the wrong profession.  Beckham may not be able to be a .280 hitter because of the hitch in his swing.  Can you deal him?  Yes, but the risk in losing one of the best defensive second baseman in baseball isn’t worth the reward unless you’re getting Robinson Cano or Brandon Phillips.  The hitting coach is gone.  With the exception of pitching coach Don Cooper and first base coach Harold Baines, there will be some fresh faces and a new outlook on hitting to hopefully get these guys back on track.  Kenny Williams is attempting to do what he can to fix the problem.  His solutions in years past have been to make a large deal or two in July in hopes he could fix the on-field problems with better on-field talent.  His new approach has been to fix the on-field problems with better and more positive off-field personalities.

Williams has White Sox blood in him and is the epitome of what White Sox fans are.  White Sox fans are grinders.  The grinder rule campaign in 2005 and 2006 epitomize White Sox baseball, White Sox fans, and Kenny Williams.  Rule number one was win or die trying. It was a little more appropriate when Jermaine Dye was on the team since he was pictured along with it.  I think that rule applies now more than ever though.  Williams would die trying in hopes to raise another trophy as White Sox general manager.

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf has been called loyal to a fault.  Reinsdorf’s and Williams’ relationship goes beyond loyalty.  Reinsdorf trusts and has faith in Williams that he is doing what he can with what he has to work with to put a quality team on the field and in the dugout.  Assistant general manager  Rick Hahn wouldn’t be a sought after general manager if he didn’t learn the ropes of the title from Kenny Williams.  He can’t be doing that bad of a job.

Baseball is an ever changing game.  Just when the home run was becoming the way of life, the total number of home runs went down league wide.  Winning teams do it with the proper mix of speed, power, and pitching.  Williams attempted to add the power with Adam Dunn and re-signing Paul Konerko.  This team is officially Williams’ now.  With Guillen in the dugout, it seemed there were too many chiefs and not enough indians.  Williams can put the puzzle pieces together and get the mix of power, speed, and pitching he wants in an attempt to win the division.

My request to Sox fans is to give the guy a break.  If anyone eats, sleeps, and breathes Chicago White Sox baseball, it’s Williams.  You are in good and capable hands.  The on-field struggles have nothing to do with the guy upstairs.  It may have had something to do with the media asking players about their manager’s contract extension requests in the beginning of September.  It may have had something to do with a hitting coach doing nothing but shrugging at what to do with Beckham, Dunn, and Rios.  It may have been the mishandling of Peavy that led to his proneness to injuries.  It could be all of those or a combination of those.  I can assure you it isn’t Kenny Williams.  He would not drive a team he loves into the ground.  Would you?

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