Hahn ready for his shot at building winner

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- On a sunny but cold February day, the realization that he was actually in charge of an entire organization began to sink in for new Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn.

“Everything is a little different,” Hahn said. “I frankly thought that given I have been here 13 spring trainings with the White Sox and a lot of the players and coaching staff has been the same, that it wasn’t going to be that much different. The last 24 hours or so I have felt a little more on my shoulders. This is one of those times like the (first) GM Meeting or Winter Meeting that it really sinks in a bit.”

The team Hahn inherited won 85 games last season, but faded miserably in the last three weeks, blowing a three-game lead to Detroit. Hahn talked Tuesday about his blueprint for success for the upcoming campaign.

“I hope we lead the league in runs scored and ERA,” he said. “That would be my best imprint. My personal preference would be to emphasize pitching and defense in any given year. If it makes more sense in the future to (do) more on the offensive side we will adapt when that time comes.”

Going into the new season the AL Central appears improved after both Cleveland and Kansas City made aggressive additions in an attempt to get back into contention. Detroit added Torii Hunter to a team that not only won the Central, but the American League pennant in 2012.

“Our division is going to be tough,” Hahn said. “Cleveland has improved over the 68-win team they were and Kansas City has improved over the 72-win team they were. I think it will be tough for one team to run away with it in the Central this year and I think it will be a fun summer.”

Hahn astutely pointed out that although it will be tougher for the Sox to win intra-division games, the same can be said for the Tigers. Detroit didn’t really gain any steam toward winning the division until late August last season.

Hahn believes the Sox’s evolving young pitching staff, led by veterans Jake Peavy , Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain, will keep them in contention all season.

“From our standpoint, none of the other moves change the fact that we are going to compete and plan to compete with our pitching,” Hahn said. “We feel we can measure up 1-12 with any pitching in our division. We feel that will be the key to our success going forward this year.”

Hahn, a 39-year-old Winnetka native, seems to love the challenge of being his own man at the top of the White Sox organization. That said, he will continue to rely on the sage advice of Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and executive vice president (and former GM) Ken Williams. At Hahn’s request, Williams got more involved in offseason moves in early December.

Hahn insists that any contract talks with iconic first baseman Paul Konerko will be done behind closed doors with Konerko and his agent Craig Landis. Konerko can become a free agent after the 2013 season and will decide if he wants to continue keep playing or call it a career sometime between now and next winter.