The White Sox still are lacking in proven bullpen arms behind Matt Thornton, Chris Sale, Pena and Sergio Santos, and if 2007’s relief debacle proved anything, it would be how they need another two reliable relievers to help make ’11 an elite campaign.
With Williams having stated how the payroll is tapped out as of the end of the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., a trade becomes the only option available. On Saturday, though, Williams presented a small hint how that spending increase might possibly extend into the free agent bullpen pool including plus-arms such as Kerry Wood, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, to name a few examples.
“I’m encouraged by the excitement from our fans,” said Williams, who reiterated how he is not looking for a pure closer as much as a versatile late-inning type like the role J.J. Putz held in 2010. “Perhaps if that excitement manifests itself into turning out to more ticket sales, perhaps that might free up some more cash to do something.
“I’ll listen to anyone,” added Williams of trade possibilities. “But I said it right there up on the podium [for the Konerko signing], how I’m not really motivated to take anything away from what the Major League roster looks like, from what the everyday roster looks like.”
Kenny, also, says he isn’t looking to trade Carlos Quentin:
“I did not have one single conversation about Quentin at the Winter Meetings,” Williams told MLB.com on Saturday afternoon. “I have not had any discussions with anyone about Carlos since the General Managers Meetings, and it could never have been described as we were shopping him.
“That’s incorrect. I fielded some phone calls, but that was it. I’ve not had a single conversation about Carlos, and I don’t plan to. I’ll listen, but I’m not terribly interested.”
… One other problem in exploring a trade for Quentin is finding a natural right-field replacement. Jordan Danks seems to be the next internal option, with his defense more than Major League-ready but his offense not quite there. When asked if there was anyone in the organization who could take over for Quentin if he was hypothetically traded, Williams simply responded, “No.”
Despite finishing with 110 hits and a .243 average in 2010, Quentin produced 87 RBIs and scored 73 runs. He also featured a .342 on-base percentage, down from his .394 finish in 2008, but up from .323 in an injury-plagued 2009.
“Carlos Quentin is going to have a big year,” Williams said. “He has big talent, and even in a down year average-wise, he is very valuable.
“No matter what his average is, he picks it up with on-base percentage. Then, if he has a good year, it becomes a great year.
“He plays hard and has the ability to set the tone for a game with a hard slide into second base or taking first to third aggressively. There’s much more to Carlos’ overall game than just hitting for average.”
The problem with the slide Kenny is Carlos will not play for a week after it.
White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said that while individual tickets aren’t on sale, season ticketholders responded positively.
“Phones are ringing off the hook to the point that the sales department canceled its holiday party tonight to stay late and field all of the calls,” he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.