View Full Version : Rick Hahn Conference Call...
Lip Man 1
11-01-2012, 01:49 PM
Had the unique opportunity this morning (my time) to participate in a conference call with new White Sox G.M. Rick Hahn. Thanks to Marty Maloney and the White Sox for inviting White Sox Interactive to participate and thanks to Rick for letting us have a few minutes of his time. I don’t think Kenny ever consented to doing something like this, so the chance to be involved was very worthwhile.
A number of questions and issues were brought up in the 25 minute call. Here is a summary of them.
** When did the talk of transitioning to a new front office structure actually begin?
Rick answered that if he remembered correctly, Kenny first started mentioning it around 2008-2009. Kenny is an excellent talent evaluator and part of the reason for this was to put him in a position where he can best utilize that ability. Discussions about this got real serious about a year ago. Each person (JR, Rick, Kenny) had to be in a position where they were comfortable with the changes and most importantly to make sure that these changes were going to be good for the White Sox franchise.
**Now that you’re the G.M., does the position feel any different to you?
Rick said “other than the fact that I have to wear more ties, and I don’t like that” he said that in fact it does feel different, more than he originally anticipated. He said he still has Kenny around to discuss things and he was talking with him just before the conference call. He said he now understands how all encompassing the position is, that he’s trying to be even more diligent right now. In time he’s going to spread some of the responsibility around but at this point he’s trying to shoulder most of the work.
**You had discussions with the Mets and Angels about their G.M. positions, did you ever go into those with the idea the Sox position was your ‘fall back’ position, like your ‘ace in the hole’?
Rick said that he respected the process and didn’t feel he should comment on any talks he had in the past and because of that the media was free to speculate. He thought some of the comments about him with other organizations were exaggerated. Rick said he had a “fair amount” of informal meals with other people about openings but only once back in 2007 did anything get serious. Rick reiterated that he never assumed he was going to get the Sox G.M. position and that he’s working in his hometown which had more appeal for him and his family and that he’s got a real chance to win. Being here was better in his judgment than making a move someplace else.
Part - 2 coming right up.
Lip Man 1
11-01-2012, 01:50 PM
**There are holes on the roster; can you discuss the positions where you want to improve?
Rick said (and I was struck by this comment) “third base is a priority because there isn’t a clear answer on the roster right now.” He also said obviously that depending on what happens with A.J. catching is an issue, he also mentioned (and again I was struck by this because I hadn’t seen this anywhere else) the bullpen, that he wanted to explore some “opportunities” involving some of those players and he specifically mentioned a “backup infielder and a backup outfielder .”(i.e. improve the bench if you will…) He also mentioned that depending on who might be re-signed they have to be careful that the lineup doesn’t become to right handed.
**The “second half blues” syndrome has impacted this team for a decade and cost them playoffs spots in 2003, 2006, 2010 and 2012. Eight times in the past 10 seasons the Sox had a worse win percentage after the All Star break than before it. Six times in the past 10 years they’ve had a worse win percentage in the second half of the season than the first, if you break the season into equal parts. Do you have any reasons for why this keep happening and how do you stop it?
Rick said that if there was an obvious solution it would have already been fixed. He also said this tendency is on the agenda this upcoming week in the organization meetings going over every aspect of the team. It will be discussed by everyone. Specifically for this past year he thinks the fact that some pitchers were extended to a physical point where they hadn’t been before had an impact. He also said that perhaps the slump which happened after September 15th might have been exaggerated somewhat because of the timing of it; the inference that, if say, it had happened for two weeks in May it might not have received as much scrutiny. He did say that the Sox have seen this before and that it merits discussion and will be discussed in an effort to find a reason. They will look at game preparation, off season training, whatever they can but that fixing this is “easier said than done.”
**The past few years the emphasis seemed to be on pitching at the expense of hitting, will that continue?
Rick disagreed saying that the re-signing of Konerko and getting Adam Dunn on board shows that to not be, completely accurate. However he did say that the building of the team will always involve pitching and defense as the keys to winning. He is cognizant though of not wanting to “overdue it.” He also acknowledged that the Sox are going to have to make offensive adjustments.
**When dealing with potential free agents like A.J., Myers and Youkilis what are going to be the most important factors?
Rick said that from the Sox standpoint it’s going to be the money asked for and the years of the contract. He also said that from the player’s standpoint he expected it to be, years of a deal, money as well as the role of the player on the team. He mentioned that with Myers, he’s been a starter, a closer and a middle man and those roles impact the amount of money offered. Rick also said that he and the organization have to be careful that in making one move for this year it precludes them from making future moves not only this season but in the future.
**Kenny is still going to offer advice, how will you handle that?
Rick said it’s a great benefit to him to have someone involved like Kenny with all the success that he’s had. Kenny is still going to be involved in the process but Rick said that he’s going to do what he thinks is best for the organization and will make his feeling known.
Part 3 coming up
Lip Man 1
11-01-2012, 01:51 PM
**How often have you and Kenny come up with differences that were irreconcilable?
Rick said that “I’m not going to lie, we have had our disagreements” and that was “likely to continue.” But he reiterated the two men work very well together and that he’s actually been most bothered when Kenny came up with a very good idea and Rick has castigated himself for not thinking of it first.
**The Jake Peavy deal surprised a lot of people because two years was a concession on his part. How often does concessions and compromise come into play?
Rick said that the deal wouldn’t have happened if Jake didn’t feel as strongly as he did about wanting to stay with the White Sox. That he and his agent did compromise. Rick mentioned that he’s heard from other G.M.’s since this was announced and that they all thought Peavy could have gotten more years and more money, that he would have had a “robust market” for his services. Rick said that Jake understood the risks for the White Sox if they were to go to a longer agreement… that the Sox had to maintain payroll flexibility. (My impression from the sound of Hahn’s voice as he was talking about this was that Rick, Jake and Jake’s agent seemed to genuinely get along and they all had mutual respect for each other which seriously impacts deals like this)
**How careful do you have to be in negotiations like this when you feel you have to offer or can only offer something that might be ‘below market’ value?
Rick said you do have to be aware of it, that you don’t want to insult the player or the agent or poison the atmosphere to the point where nothing can get done. He said when you are dealing with a player like Jake you can have a discussion like that. He said there can be times when you can’t even make an offer because the other person involved could possibly be insulted. He said agents exist for a reason and one of those is to temper expectations to be realistic. He said better agents always try to find common ground in discussions.
Submitted for all comments and discussions. It was very enjoyable to speak with Rick today!
11-01-2012, 01:54 PM
Thanks for taking your time to sit on the call and recap for all of us. Nice write-up.
Lip Man 1
11-01-2012, 01:55 PM
No problem. Happy to do it and get the chance. Was struck by some of Rick's comments. The Sox could be more involved in trades this off season than many anticipated.
11-01-2012, 01:56 PM
Lip -Thank you very much for summarizing all of this for us!
11-01-2012, 02:05 PM
Thanks for summarizing all of this Lip. Much appreciated! :tiphat:
11-01-2012, 02:09 PM
Tell me more why you think the Sox will be involved in more trades than expected.
Thanks, Lip. Good summary.
Lip Man 1
11-01-2012, 02:14 PM
Rick's specific comment on the 3rd base situation, his comment about the "bullpen" (which was stunning to me) using the word "exploring opportunities" (Thornton, Crain, one of the kid pitchers???) and of course the gaping holes on the bench.
I just get the sense from my observations and comments from other who have knowledge of things and baseball in general that Rick is going to be more of a 'trade guy' for wont of a better word than a 'let's go out and spend a billion dollars getting a bunch of free agents' type-guy.
It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out. This year for example the free agent crop is pretty thin at the positions Rick mentioned. Trades might be a better way to acquire better talent.
11-01-2012, 02:16 PM
Thanks, Lip. Great stuff!
11-01-2012, 02:40 PM
I was also on the call and it was great. I was really impressed by Rick Hahn.
11-01-2012, 02:49 PM
I just wonder how many tradeable assets the Sox can afford to give up. We know their bench is bare and the minor leagues are not well stocked. I think he has a rough road ahead, if this is the means to improve this club.
11-01-2012, 02:52 PM
Good write up. Thanks. I get the impression that the handoff to Hahn will be relatively seamless.
11-01-2012, 03:18 PM
I'm hoping there will be a nice blend of KW's creativity and Hahn's pragmatism.
11-01-2012, 04:30 PM
Thanks, Lip! Reading that was encouraging on several levels. It's good to know he's got a strategy and an approach to make a strategy happen.
11-01-2012, 05:11 PM
Thanks Lip, great insights of the type we never really got in the past from the team.
I would have asked him if he was aware that many people at WSI were dead certain in their assertions that Peavy would, in no possible combination of facts, be in a White Sox uniform next year.
Thanks, Lip. Lots of good information there.
11-02-2012, 10:25 AM
Let me add my thanks. Your work is much appreciated.
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