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Williams promises an all-out assault
General manager Ken Williams doesn't envision a mass overhaul of a White Sox team that will finish in fourth place in the American League Central when the season concludes Sunday.
But he expressed the pursuit of a player who could provide more than just a fit to a team that fell well short of expectations.
"I'll put it to you this way," Williams said during a 35-minute interview with reporters Saturday. "There isn't one player out there who will be available that we will turn away from. If that player can help us, we're going to go down that road to see if the fit is there and the economics match."
The Sox won their fourth consecutive game Saturday night as shortstop Juan Uribe's single scored Darin Erstad with one out in the ninth inning to beat the Tigers 3-2.
Gavin Floyd yielded one run over seven innings and finished with a 3.19 ERA in five September starts.
Despite an offense that is in danger of not having a player hit .280 for the first time since 1988 and/or drive in 100 runs since 1990—Jim Thome leads both at .274 and 96—Williams stressed his faith in his core players even as he vaguely referred to any "untouchable" players as those with no-trade clauses.
"You never know when something may be so appealing to you that it makes your entire team better," said Williams, who has 13 players under contract for '08 at about $94 million.
In an interesting development, Williams said third baseman Josh Fields would be excused from playing left field in the Instructional League because of sore legs. That raised the question about the future of third baseman Joe Crede, who is recovering from season-ending back surgery.
But Williams insinuated that financial moves made to improve the team could dictate whether Fields stays at third and leaves Crede, who is arbitration eligible, exposed to a trade once he's healthy.
"Josh is not Joe Crede just yet," Williams said. "But in talking to my staff, they believe he can play some championship third base. So now we look at the offensive side of it and the pluses Josh can bring to it, as well as the clutch hitting of Joe Crede. There are some decisions that we have to come to."
Williams also called for more players to display the desire that Ehren Wassermann, who won his first major-league game, displayed in ascending from a non-roster player to a serviceable reliever.
"We need more guys like that because there were times this year where our intensity was lacking and our full effort to turn our season around was not there," Williams said. "Simple and plain."
Williams hasn't been afraid to make changes and reiterated his blame for a retooled bullpen that imploded. He appreciated the fans' support but wondered whether that would continue.
"Will they continue to have faith in us?" Williams said. "I hope they do because we are going to do what we always have done to try to make this thing happen. We are going to have to see how that plays itself out. If it turns out there is a drop-off, there is not going to be any 'woe is me, woe is us' around here. We're just going to go out and be creative, as we have done in the past, to try to make it happen."
Williams said rookie leadoff batter Jerry Owens had exceeded expectations and was firm in his support of the mercurial Uribe, on whom the Sox hold a $5 million option for 2008.
"He's not the reason we did not play very well this year," Williams said. "Can he be better? Absolutely. Just more focus and more dedication to getting himself prepared to play in the off-season, and he can be even better than he is out there."