DETROIT—While manager Ozzie Guillen and thousands of disappointed White Sox fans examine their wish list for 2008, general manager Ken Williams asks for some patience until mid-October.
That's when the Sox's front office and talent evaluators will share their rational—and unemotional—assessments on players and personnel needs to correct flaws on the club.
The Sox had more to digest Thursday after Detroit scored twice off closer Bobby Jenks in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss. Those were the first two runs Jenks has allowed Detroit this season and his first runs surrendered since his last blown save July 17—a span of 18 games and 17 innings.
"It's just one of those frustrating days where you know you made the outs, but they just somehow did enough to get guys over," Jenks said after Placido Polanco singled in the winning run.
The loss assured the Sox (59-81) of their first non-winning season since 2002.
With or without marquee free agent center fielder Torii Hunter, the Sox realize they must improve from within their 25-man roster and minor-league system.
The Sox will have to act quickly, considering they hold options on shortstop Juan Uribe ($5 million) first baseman/outfielder Darin Erstad ($3.5 million) and reliever Mike Myers ($1.1 million) with 12 players already guaranteed about $95 million for 2008.
Decisions on those options will be made shortly after the World Series, with the free agent filing period arriving at the same time.
Hunter, who leads the Twins to U.S. Cellular Field for a three-game series starting Friday night, could determine the direction of the Sox's off-season.
But landing him won't be so easy, which is why the Sox know they must get better from within their organization.
Hunter reportedly has turned down multiyear offers of around $14 million annually from the Twins.
"If there's an opportunity to add an impact player, creatively we can get it done with our present resources and maybe a small buck here or there," Williams said, speaking in general terms. "I don't know what's going to present itself on the trade front, so that may lessen the need on the free agent front, depending on what you get back. Better maturation and growth of the young guys, that has to be factored too."
Guillen says he always "dreams," but that everyone associated with the Sox must be realistic. That's another reason he and Williams haven't made any wild declarations about 2008.
"It's easy when you're out there saying, 'Oh, they should bring in Hunter,' " Guillen said. "Well, New York, Boston, all those guys think about the same [stuff] we think about. Then we have to be realistic. We have to think how much we're going to give and how much we have to spend."
Guillen warned about having to overpay for free agents and emphasized the need to lean on a fortified farm system.
"If we're going to put a team out there and we know we're not going to win, we're better off telling the fans," Guillen said. "I will say it, and I might get in trouble. … I'm not going to be in the same position now I was in the summer. I'm not going to put myself in the position to lie to the fans."
Williams gave first-year farm director Alan Regier an "A-plus" grade but expressed his degree of urgency.
"I'm here to win, man," Williams said. "That hasn't changed. There were some people who made fun of the first time I sat down with the media when I was hired for the job [in October of 2000] that I started speaking of winning championships, and that was with a plural. I'm just as serious about that now as I was that day, but the only way you can convince people is to bring it to the table."