September 16, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers (17) during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The White Sox defeated the Twins 9-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Hahn readies for SoxFest


It’s amusing to hear Rick Hahn talk about being geared up and ready for a sprited SoxFest discussion with fans. Amusing, because every public statement and press conference given by Hahn so far has been all about avoiding the type of sound bites that could stir strong emotions. He passes on opportunities to commit to confined answers, gives weight to all possibilities, and generally diffuses all the tension, and excitement, from any question.

No one leaves a conference call with Rick Hahn under the impression that the White Sox make impulsive decisions, or even normal ones, free from laborious measurement.

That’s a useful tool, since the panel discussion with fans that the GM gives on the Saturday of SoxFest (Jan. 25-27 this year) is the closest that Hahn will come to having to actually having to answer to fans for his decisions. Of course, the price of the event usually restricts attendance to absolute die hards,  and the crowds are so friendly that even Kenny Williams only received a smattering of boos last year–despite being fresh off a 79-win season, the departure of a popular, world series-winning manager, and letting one of the best players in franchise history trot off with him.

After a surprisingly competent season, the only real ire that can be expected to be directed toward Hahn is over the decision to allow A.J. Pierzynski to depart, the assertion that Tyler Flowers can be a capable replacement despite his unappealing low-average approach, and perhaps the perception that the Sox opted for the fairly loathed Gavin Floyd in favor of Pierzynski.

By themselves, the concepts are easy enough to give reverence to:

Pierzynski was a great member of the franchise–can’t thank him enough–but we feel that Flowers is ready and will benefit from consistent playing time…

Gavin pitched very well when he was healthy in September, and with John Danks and Jake Peavy coming back we feel very confident about our rotation…

It won’t take much to turn lemons into lemonade, but for an event that’s goal is to generate enthusiasm for the new season, Jeff Keppinger is pretty sparse material to try to talk up. Maybe Hahn won’t even try.

Between their adherence to $110 million budget, a reasoned and restrained approach to plugging holes on the roster, and a concerted effort to stamp out ideas that there will be any big get for the 2013 season, White Sox management has indicated that they do not want to overreach before they are into the season and can view how the team really fits into the AL playoff race. The team as is should be competitive, but even the Chairman wants to see more before he jumps in with both feet.

It’s all well enough tactically, but how such a peculiar perch will be marketed is my greatest curiosity for this SoxFest, which will be the first I will be able to attend, cover, and hopefully provide some engaged content for the site from. Stay tuned; if you’re still even interested.

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

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