The best seminar at the Chicago White Sox winter fan fest has always been The GM and manager’s Q&A session with the fan base. Although, gone are the feisty Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen, who would challenge unruly fans who chastised their moves.
New GM Rick Hahn had to deal with the toughest question last on Friday.
“I want a one-word answer. Do you think you will do a better or worse job than the last guy in that chair?” Williams asked Hahn as he grabbed the microphone in the audience while the crowd broke out in laughter.
“That’s not a fair (question). He had a better support staff,” Hahn, Williams’ former assistant GM, ad libbed.
Williams, now a senior Vice President, seemed to enjoy watching Hahn and Manager Robin Ventura answer the tough questions.
“Why didn’t we bring back A.J. Pierzynski?” barked one fan. “What are we going to do about a left-hand hitter?” asked another. Hahn and Ventura answered all the queries with respect and a good sense of humor.
The session lasted a hour and was hosted by venerable broadcast legend Hawk Harrelson, who put Hahn on the spot from the beginning of the seminar. “ I think the general manager’s job is the worst job in baseball. I speak from experience,” quipped Harrelson, who had a stormy and failed tenure as the Sox GM in 1986 that included firing Tony LaRussa.
Hahn did promise the fans that he, like Williams, would never sit back and rest on his laurels when it comes to improving the ballclub. Hahn had his toughest moment in response a question about Pierzynski signing a one-year $ 7.5 million contract with Texas.
“I’m surprised to hear an A.J. question,” Hahn said tongue-in-cheek. “I’ll try to answer it. Let me start this by saying A.J. was fantastic for us. Year in and year out he was there for us as a tremendous representative of this organization. It’s never fun to say goodbye to someone you have that much respect for . It was not a decision that we took the least bit lightly.
“We felt we had some other pressing needs than at catcher. We used some of the cash we had at our disposal to resign Jake (Peavy) to a deal that made sense for both sides. We brought in a guy like (Jeff) Keppinger ,who fits a lot of what we want to do offensively.We were able to sign Matt Lindstom today who fits into the back end of our bullpen. Had we not done these moves we felt we would not be strong enough to win.”