Earlier here today on NBC Chicago, my friend and fellow baseball enthusiast Eamonn Brennan said that Kenny Williamswon't say the "R" word. That word being "rebuilding." Eamonn said that the reason Kenny wouldn't dare utter the word was because of the reaction it might bring from the White Sox fan base, and due to the success -- welcome to Chicago, the only place on Earth where 100 years of futility can be considered a success -- of the team's neighbors to the north, the Chicago Cubs.
Let me say that Eamonn is right. If the White Sox were rebuilding, Kenny wouldn't use the word publicly for those exact reasons. The problem with Eamonn's argument, though, is that the White Sox aren't rebuilding. They're re-tooling or re-loading. Yes, in the last few weeks the team has parted ways with high priced veterans like Nick Swisher and Javier Vazquez in exchange for a lot of young prospects, but there's a very good reason for it.
Kenny didn't make those moves because he wants to slash the team's payroll to a Minnesota-esque $40 million, he did it because in recent years Kenny has sent all the organizations top prospects to other teams around the league in exchange for veterans. Hell, half of the White Sox farm system went to Oakland in the Swisher trade. Not to mention, there's another motive Kenny may have for these moves, just look at all the salary he's cleared off the books for next season.
On Monday the winter meetings will start in Las Vegas, and there will be many discussions amongst teams and one of the best free agent classes that's existed in recent years. When Kenny shows up on Monday, he's going to have between $20-$30 million to play with. Sure, there's a bit of a youth movement going on with the White Sox, but do you really think that means Kenny isn't going to bring in some free agents? Really, even though the team has said goodbye to a couple of vets and may part ways with more before spring comes -- sorry, Jermaine Dye, I love you but I'm pretty sure you're gone -- this team is still fully capable of competing in the AL Central next season.
To be honest with you, this offseason reminds me a lot of the winter after the 2004 season. During that offseason the White Sox let Magglio Ordonez leave via free agency, and sent Carlos Lee to Milwuakee for Scott Podsednik. They were moves that were criticized harshly by the team's fans -- including myself -- as Ordonez and Lee made up most of the White Sox offense. Then, with the money he saved by moving those two, Williams brought in a couple of free agents like A.J. Pierzynski and Orlando Hernandez. All those two did along with Podsednik was help the team win it's first World Series in 88 years the following season.
The truth is that until the winter meetings come to an end next week, nobody has any idea what any team or general manager is planning on doing. Only Kenny Williams knows what his plans are, and he's keeping his lips sealed and choosing to let his actions at the winter meetings do all the talking for him.