GM Ken Williams says simple philosophy serving White Sox well
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org June 4, 2012 8:44PM
GM Ken Williams says manager Robin Ventura deserves a lot of credit for the White Sox’ recent success. | Getty Images
The facts: 7:10, CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.
The pitchers: Ricky Romero (6-1, 4.04 ERA) vs. Philip Humber (2-2, 5.37).
THE REST OF THE SERIES
Wednesday: 7:10 p.m., CSN+, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Brandon Morrow (6-3, 3.28) vs. undecided.
Thursday: 7:10 p.m.,
Ch. 26, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Henderson Alvarez (3-5, 3.75) vs. Jake Peavy (6-1, 3.05).
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:32AM
Since 1995, 70 percent of baseball teams holding at least a share of their division lead on June 1 have reached the playoffs. The White Sox did it three of the four times they led the American League Central — in 2000, 2005 and 2008.
But the 2012 Sox, who have been in first place since May 29, aren’t thinking about October. They are thinking only about today.
‘‘Since the opening day of spring training, we have simply been focused on that day’s work,’’ general manager Ken Williams said. ‘‘We’ve focused on how we can give the players the best opportunity, the best information, the best work that day to make a player better.’’
It’s a simplified philosophy Williams and rookie manager Robin Ventura conceived from the start — and not just because of Ventura’s status as a first-time manager.
‘‘Robin and I talked about it when we first started talking about the possibility of him assuming this role,’’ Williams said. ‘‘It was paramount, in our minds, to get to a level of a team we admired. We simply don’t allow anyone to veer from that.’’
Williams credited Ventura with guiding that goal through a rocky first month and through the successes of May that brought the Sox to the top of the AL Central.
‘‘If you didn’t know how long he’d been managing, how long would you think?’’ Williams said of Ventura. ‘‘There’s nothing he will run into that he can’t navigate on the spot.’’
That said, Williams knows two months don’t necessarily make a season. Can the Sox’ recent stretch of strong pitching hold up in the rotation and the bullpen, where young arms dominate?
‘‘I wouldn’t have put those [young pitchers] there if we didn’t think they could do the job,’’ Williams said.
Nonetheless, he admitted pitching remains every GM’s biggest concern.
‘‘I don’t think there’s a day I’ve been in baseball — from minor-league player development to this job — that I haven’t worried about pitching,’’ he said.
Will Williams have the means to make trades, if necessary, as the July 31 non-waiver deadline approaches?
‘‘No. 1, we like what we have going on here, both in terms of our veterans and our young players and ‘the fits,’ ’’ he said. ‘‘So there are times . . . it’s best to simply get out of the way. As time goes by, maybe that’s not the case. But as we sit here now, let them play.
‘‘But No. 2, it is what it is,’’ he said of the Sox’ finan-
cial constraints. ‘‘Times being
what they are, I can’t even have a conversation [about possible costly trades. There’s no crying about it. Some want to posture about it that way, but all I’ve ever done is answer the question. I’ve never wanted to mislead our fans.’’
Asked whether he has been surprised by anything the Sox have accomplished so far, Williams said: ‘‘No. But that said, there is a certain amount of humility that’s warranted when you reel off a [winning] streak as we have because it doesn’t happen often.
‘‘You try to ride it as long as you can because you know it’s not going to last. This game will humble you, so you appreciate the game.’’