White Sox going 'all in' with recent moves

White Sox going 'all in' with recent moves

CHICAGO -- Ken Williams has always lived by the theory of "If you are going to dream, you might as well dream big."

So, when the White Sox general manager presented his plan for a significantly increased 2011 budget to chairman Jerry Reinsdorf at the start of the offseason, Williams humorously reached for the highest limits and beyond.

"Well, I suggested we go to the level of the Yankees," said Williams with a laugh, speaking Friday at the U.S. Cellular Field Conference and Learning Center following the introduction of free-agent signee Adam Dunn.

"I can't even repeat the words that were uttered," a smiling Williams continued. "I can say that we are stretching it, and we are going on faith for the type of ballclub we are going to have and excitement to be built off it. I must really like putting myself out there on that limb.

"It's uncomfortable sometimes, but you either are all in or you are not. And if you are not, then present that message to your fans. Be straight and say, 'I don't think we are going to do very much and here's the plan going forward.' If you are in it, stand up and show you are."

Williams certainly did not stand alone on Friday in the team's early pursuit of its second World Series title since 2005.

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Dunn was right there with him, as the four-year, $56 million contract agreed upon Thursday became official. Manager Ozzie Guillen also made his way to the news conference, as did a host of other White Sox front-office personnel.

Before the question-and-answer portion of Dunn's introduction to the media even began, the return of catcher A.J. Pierzynski was also announced via a two-year, $8 million deal. But here's the truly interesting part concerning these two:

Adding Paul Konerko to the mix certainly has not been hidden as the White Sox next goal on the offseason agenda, with the club meeting Monday with Craig Landis, Konerko's agent, at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. In order to help facilitate this move, Dunn and Pierzynski back-loaded their new contracts.

Pierzynski receives $2 million in 2011 and then $6 million in 2012. Dunn earns $12 million, $14 million, $14 million and $15 million over his four years.

"They literally put their money where their mouth is so we can put a better offer on the table for Paulie," said Williams.

"Hopefully things will work out, because I would love to have Paulie back," Dunn said. "I know how much he means to the White Sox organization and the clubhouse and the city and everything else. He's a great person and a great guy, and I think he is needed just as much off the field as on the field."

At that point, Dunn offered to call Konerko or do whatever he can to help the process. His contractual gesture was a great start, one pointed out by Guillen as going against the notion of how people don't want to play for the White Sox or for their energetic, but sometimes, controversial manager.

"You don't see that many people do that," Guillen said. "But they are putting money away for their teammates. They want to win here."

If Konerko eventually goes elsewhere, the White Sox will move slugging youngster Dayan Viciedo into a more prominent role. But that role figures to come off the bench at first base or designated hitter. Williams still would target another hitter, and with the addition of Dunn and Pierzynski, that bat can come from the right or left side.

One priority for that Konerko replacement would be strong defense at first base. Of course, Williams won't just settle for a partial skill-set as he tries to build another champion.

"Do I want defense or hitting from that player? I want both," Williams said. "Why should I set my sights on something lower? And we can get both. There are guys. ... If Paulie doesn't work out, we'll be OK."

They will be OK with a payroll close to $120 million for 2011, and Williams said Friday the team won't have to make any cost-cutting moves unless they make good baseball sense. There was a good chunk of time during the early part of the offseason when much debate went on within the White Sox organization as to whether they were better served going young and sort of building up again.

Instead, as Williams pointed out, the White Sox went all in. It's a credit to Reinsdorf, whose bottom line simply stands as winning titles, giving Williams and Guillen the opportunity to mold this talent into champions.

"We were having dinner [this week], and Kenny told me what we might be doing," Guillen said. "I started sweating and said, 'Well, we got money now.' It was a very pleasant surprise."

"Yeah, I make [Reinsdorf] uncomfortable a little bit sometimes," said Williams, who quipped the White Sox were looking for money under couch cushions to pay for the budget increase. "Hopefully we can continue to build the best team possible and people will get excited and support us, and then I get to keep my job."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen and follow him on twitter at @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.