12/04/07 9:48 PM ET
Sox remain patient at Winter Meetings
GM Williams undeterred by Detroit's deal with Florida
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
"Yes," served as the one-word answer from the White Sox general manager when asked if he not only was disappointed the South Siders didn't pick up Cabrera, but that he went to a prime American League Central contender.
"More. Next question," said Williams, when asked how much tougher this move made his division.
Of course, this interview session wasn't nearly as surreal as Rosenhaus' dealings with the media during the Terrell Owens saga two years ago, and truth be told, Williams was just having a little fun with the Chicago scribes and radio reporters. But for the second time since Thanksgiving, the White Sox missed out on a big-ticket player who they aggressively targeted.
Despite reportedly pitching a package to Florida including third baseman Josh Fields and pitchers such as John Danks and Gio Gonzalez, Williams wasn't nearly as confident in his pursuit of Cabrera as he was in his pitch to then-free-agent center fielder Torii Hunter.
"I'll be honest with you. I did not have a lot of optimism," Williams said of acquiring Cabrera. "I will acknowledge, yes, we did make a play for him, but that's not inconsistent with who we are. We go out, and if there are impact type guys out there, we go after them. But the package that ultimately it was going to take to get him, we didn't measure up to what their particular needs were.
"Not that they didn't like our players, but sometimes it comes down to a position ... Again, it's timing. When do you have the player the other club needs and can you make a play on him?"
If Cabrera's 2007 availability came through free agency and not via the trade route, then the White Sox figured to be one of the favorites in this particular sweepstakes. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has talked over the first two days of the Winter Meetings about his close relationship with one of the game's top talents, a sentiment he echoed from during the regular season, when Florida visited U.S. Cellular Field as part of Interleague Play.
But this Cabrera/Willis deal was based on offering up a group of top young talent in exchange for what turned out to be a pair of accomplished young veterans. Detroit simply had the better fit.
"In my mind, I never thought we were going to get him, because what was out there was better than what we had," said Guillen of Cabrera. "They turned down the Dodgers, the California Angels, the White Sox, and all of a sudden, the Detroit Tigers pulled the right trigger and the right people at the right time.
"They did it. Right now, I'm not disappointed because I never counted on Miggy. I was a little disappointed with Torii Hunter because I thought we got him."
Losing out on Cabrera, if this particular terminology could be considered accurate, was not the only interesting and ever-changing White Sox news of the day. During his 30-minuted slotted interview session at the Winter Meetings Tuesday afternoon, Guillen causally included free agent Andruw Jones as one part of the plan the team was studying in regard to a center field upgrade.
Guillen even went so far as to explain how the strained past relationship between the White Sox and Scott Boras, Jones' agent, would not serve as a deal-breaker if the team really needed him. Guillen also referred the ultimate line of questioning concerning the bottom line for potential additions to his general manager.
Williams, in turn, stated definitively later in the day that Boras was not an overriding issue, but Jones also wasn't anywhere on the White Sox radar.
"Because of his representation, he's not automatically off the list," said Williams, carefully choosing his words when asked about a Jones-White Sox fit. "He's a lot lower -- a lot lower. He would be a lot lower, but he's not on the list. Andruw Jones is not on our list.
"Andruw Jones is a great player. For our particular situation, to deliver some of the things that I wanted to get us to, that is reducing the strikeouts and getting our guys on base more, fighting through at-bats and driving up pitch counts and getting to the underbelly of the opposing pitching staffs, in this particular case, [Jones] doesn't help us."
Bringing free agent Aaron Rowand back into the mix also doesn't seem to be the next step for Williams because of an impasse in regard to the sort of long-term deal each side desires.
"You try to do things that make sense," said Williams, speaking in general terms regarding Rowand. "I can't give you a dollar if I only have 50 cents. Some decisions are made awfully easy for you."
When asked if he could dole out 50 cents over five years instead of four, Williams responded that the move depended on the player being talked about. When Rowand was loosely described, Williams added "I wouldn't count on it."
On the first day Rowand filed, Williams sent a message to him joking about how he was willing to spend as much time with Rowand at home in Las Vegas as needed in order to sell the White Sox. That sale appears to have been presently negated.
Situations can change, though. Just a couple of weeks ago, neither the Angels nor the Tigers looked in prime position to land the top players on the open market. The White Sox, meanwhile, move forward with confidence, even after their big fish was caught by a division rival.
"We have some things in mind that hopefully will satisfy the position," said Williams of the continued search for an outfield upgrade. "We have to try to be the best team we can be, and again, it isn't always the team that has the most stars, the best offense or what have you in a particular area that is the team that is the best baseball team and will bring it to the field every day. We showed that a few years back and have the ability to show it again.
"If it came down to talent on paper, then some of the bigger-market teams that annually spend upwards of $150 million would win it every year. There are still some impact guys out there in our opinion.
"For us, it's not as much about impact superstar guys we are looking for," Williams added. "It's a baseball player, another player who can give you quality defense and hard-nosed at-bats."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.