A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call with White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn. The range of topics discussed varied, ranging from reliever Scott Linebrink to top prospect Jared Mitchell.
The White Sox, historically, have rarely gone beyond three years with any relief pitcher, but changed their policy when they went out and signed Scott Linebrink to a four year deal. Linebrink, coming off a 3.71 ERA in 71 games with the Padres and Brewers, was one of the best pitchers on the market.
Since his deal with the White Sox, Linebrink has posted a 4.18 ERA and has gone 5-9 W-L. He posted his highest WHIP of his career (with at least 25 innings) at 1.66.
"[The Linebrink deal] hasn't gone as well as we hoped," assistant GM Rick Hahn said.
In hindsight, one can see some of the trends Linebrink posted in the three previous seasons. His WHIP was on the rise, strike outs on the decline, and his home runs were uncommonly high in '07.
"From a 'stuff' standpoint, there was a degree of confidence... our scouts in the organization felt strongly [about him]," says Hahn.
This season, Linebrink hopes to have similar first and second half splits, especially after posting an 8.49 ERA after the All-Star Break last season.
Next topic on the agenda was Andruw Jones, who signed with the team on a minor league deal. Jones showed up to camp 25 pounds lighter, which Hahn says translate into increased bat speed. With a .345 spring batting average and 2 home runs, he appears destined to be the teams DH.
The White Sox certainly needed another bat with Jermaine Dye not returning, but why did they settle on Jones?
"He's making less than DeWayne Wise when we had him last year and is still only 33 years old, even though it feels like he's been around forever," Hahn said. "He is extremely motivated."
The White Sox also settled their third base situation this offseason by acquiring Mark Teahen from the Royals. Teahen has been one of GM Kenny Williams' targets for sometime, and according to Hahn, an "opportunity came to us, and we jumped on it."
The team could barely wait to give him an extension, locking him up to a three year extension worth 14 million dollars. On the open market, it is hard to see Teahen getting a deal like that, but the White Sox had their reasoning.
"From a scouting standpoint, in our ballpark and in our lineup, he would not be required to be a main fixture, he could just go out and play...If we went to arbitration with him, he would have had significantly higher pay than a set salary."
On Dayan Viciedo's position situation:
"We are committed to trying him at third and first. He has played a little bit of both this spring, but there are disagreements on both sides as to where he should [ultimately] play."
On the Omar Vizquel signing:
"[His signing] was very much both [an on and off the field move]. Omar brings the ability to mentor, not to mention plus defense capabilities. He has a real on-field role, but you can't discount the impact he will have on the infield and off."
On Tyler Flower's future as a catcher:
"Tyler is a catcher. We're not ruling anything out, but long-term we want him to be a catcher," Hahn said. "A guy of his size, there are challenges he will face. He's made a great deal of progress."
On Jared Mitchell's future:
"Really excited about this kid, he is very coachable, the perfect player...The outfield is well set for three years or so, but he's talented enough to force the issue."