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As trade talk grows, White Sox have decision to make

Jose Quintana could be on the market if the White Sox decide they want to be sellers at or prior to the trade deadline. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

CHICAGO -- Over six weeks still remain before the arrival of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but if the Chicago White Sox decide they want to be sellers sooner rather than later, it sounds as if there are buyers out there getting prepared to make a deal.

As of now, general manager Rick Hahn is not ready to sell off the pieces of a disappointing White Sox team that enters Wednesday's home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates a season-high seven games under .500 (28-35).

And he isn't considering a change at manager just yet, saying of Robin Ventura that, "we are all in this together."

But other teams can see the White Sox failing to live up to their own expectations and could be willing to take a part or two off Hahn's hands.

"We just haven't had guys perform at the level that one, they're capable of, and two, more importantly, than we've seen out of them in years past," Hahn said Wednesday, before the start of a brief five-game homestand. "It's getting to the point where it's not early anymore."

The White Sox's first checkpoint to get a realistic snapshot of the club came at the 60-game mark. The team was 28-32 at that time and has managed to lose the three games since. The next checkpoint will come at the 100-game mark, two days before the trade deadline arrives.

Hahn said he feels "there is ample season left," and the White Sox were just 5½ games out of a wild-card spot at first pitch Wednesday. But even the 28-39 Oakland Athletics were 7½ games out of a postseason qualification spot in a bunched-up American League.

The White Sox have hardly shown themselves to be a playoff-worthy team, though. They are last in home runs in the American League with 45, and if that isn't bad enough, they are last in stolen base percentage (52.20) and on-base percentage (.293), two areas that could potentially make up for a lack of power.

It has presented Ventura with lineup challenges every night.

"You want a little more pop in the lineup," Ventura said. "I think when we played against Houston you saw a little bit of that. In the last five games there hasn't been much of it. You have to be able to get guys on base. You have to be able to be a threat and be able to answer back quickly. We did that against Houston, but we haven't done that lately, especially in the last couple of days."

As the season rapidly approaches the midway point, the White Sox are going to have to decide which way they want to head.

"The organization absolutely believes in this team," Hahn said. "I'm talking more in the focus of the matter at hand in terms of trying to win a ballgame. The belief that we are going to be in a position to win a ballgame is there and good.

"I realize and completely understand and have heard from outside the ballpark the frustration. We share that frustration. Our focus has to be on what the commitment is inside that clubhouse and their focus, their belief and their efforts to win that ballgame on any given night."

Much of that fan frustration from outside the ballpark has to do with Ventura, and the lack of inspiring play from his roster. As far as communication with the players and the information given to them in order to have success, Hahn seems satisfied. How long he remains satisfied remains to be seen as the White Sox entered the Pittsburgh series without having scored a run in 25 consecutive innings.

"Ultimately, it is the players between the lines who bear the responsibility for their own performance," Hahn said. "We need to make sure we are giving them everything we can from a coaching standpoint and from a scouting standpoint and from an objective analysis standpoint to succeed. We don't have a lot of control over what happens between 7 and 10 (o'clock), but we have a great deal of control over putting these guys in position to fulfill their potential and we’ve got to make sure we are doing that."

While the White Sox don't figure to listen to offers for players such as Jose Abreu, Chris Sale or Carlos Rodon, there could be a match in other areas of the roster. Alexei Ramirez, Jose Quintana, Adam LaRoche and Adam Eaton could all potentially get valuable pieces in return.

Hahn isn't ready to deal just yet, but those trade winds are starting to blow.

"I will say that since the draft is now behind us, the trade chatter has picked up a little bit over the last several days or week or so," Hahn said. "That's certainly going to continue over the next few weeks heading into July."