Notes: Trade talk with Williams
Rotation starting to turn around; Hermanson solid in rehab
CHICAGO -- Sunday's conversation between Kenny Williams and the media started off with the White Sox general manager choosing his words carefully when talking about his team's possible action before next Monday's non-waiver trade deadline.
In fact, the eloquent Williams became a man of almost no words during the first three inquiries.
"Are the phones getting busier?" one reporter asked.
"Yes," Williams replied.
"Are teams still reluctant to deal with the White Sox?" another reporter posed.
"Yes," Williams answered.
Yet a third question was asked of Williams, focusing on whether the asking prices were still too high.
"Yes, they are," Williams responded.
Of course, Williams was having a little fun at the media's expense, featuring a broad smile on his face with every response. Truth be told, Williams has been holed up with assistant general manager Rick Hahn in the White Sox war room, trying to figure out the right move to give the South Siders their best chance to repeat as World Series champions.
Bullpen help remains Williams' target. But Williams did not deny a rumor coming out of Washington on Saturday regarding the White Sox interest in Alfonso Soriano. Williams actually expected said interest to be made public.
"I knew it would come out," said Williams of Soriano. "Whoever gets [Soriano], it will be a high price to pay."
Williams clearly is focused on winning the title in 2006, and not two or three years down the line. But in the same sense, he isn't about to give up his top prospects in exchange for mediocrity. If push came to shove, Williams reiterated his fondest desire would be to have his team's needs filled from within the system.
Pitching-wise, names such as Sean Tracey and prospects such as Tyler Lumsden and Lance Broadway at Double-A Birmingham could fill the pitching gap, much as Bobby Jenks did so superbly in 2005. Williams recounted the story Sunday of how he opted for Jenks, with the strong encouragement from Minor League director David Wilder, as opposed to making any sort of trades for worn-out veterans.
It's a philosophy Williams will keep in mind this week, as he continues to make and take phone calls.
"I would always prefer to bring in someone from the organization, and fill that need in that way, than have to make a trade and give up talent," Williams said.
"With that said, time is getting short and we have to explore whether there is a possibility to get an impact type guy for that seventh- or eighth-inning bridge, or maybe there is an opportunity to get two guys and restructure the roster that way," Williams added. "I don't know. We will have to continue having conversations."
Mound mission: Despite the White Sox having lost four straight entering Sunday and posting a much-talked-about 2-9 record over their last 11 games against playoff contenders, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen senses a turnaround could be near. That optimistic attitude comes from one overriding factor -- the starting rotation is beginning to produce again.
Jon Garland, Jose Contreras and Freddy Garcia all have produced quality starts in their last trip through the rotation. Mark Buehrle and Javier Vazquez were one inning away from doing the same. These pitchers will spell the difference between success and failure for the White Sox, not situational hitting or coming through with runners in scoring position.
"The starters are getting there," Guillen said. "If the starting rotation does their job, we're going to be there. The situational hitting and the bunting and moving the guy over, I can control that. And my coaching staff.
"Anything else, I can't control. I think if our guys pitch the way we're pitching lately, we're going to win some games."
In the picture? Dustin Hermanson threw one scoreless inning of relief Saturday night for Triple-A Charlotte, dropping his ERA to 6.75 in seven games. But Williams said Sunday that the reports on Hermanson's Minor League rehab work have been about average.
"There's nothing that would lead me to believe his return is in the next week," Williams said.
Waiting for Hermanson's return would be a convenient excuse for Williams to employ if he doesn't make a deal before the non-waiver deadline. But Williams is far more interested in winning than covering his own tracks, pointing out that the right-handed veteran doesn't really fit into the overall team picture at the present time.
"He does and he doesn't fit," said Williams of Hermanson. "He does, if for whatever reason he ultimately turns out to be healthy and effective and we can fit him in. But I'm not counting on him."
Third to first: The White Sox wore throwback uniforms representing the 1908 World Series champions on Sunday. ... Buehrle (0-2, 10.80 ERA), Contreras (0-2, 3.86 ERA) and Jenks (0-1, 12.00 ERA) are a combined 0-5 with a 7.33 ERA since the All-Star break, after the trio of All-Stars finished the first half with a 20-7 record and 3.58 ERA. Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Jim Thome are hitting .236 since the Midsummer Classic, and had a combined .312 average in the first half.
Down on the farm: Corwin Malone struck out seven over five innings, and B.J. LaMura struck out four in three innings of scoreless relief, as Birmingham claimed a 4-1 victory over Mobile on Saturday. LaMura has a 0.47 ERA and 23 strikeouts in his last 19 1/3 innings. ... Brandon Allen hit his ninth home run and drove in two during Class A Kannapolis' 5-2 victory over Rome. ... Casey Rogowski extended his hitting streak to 10 games with two hits during Charlotte's suspended contest, with the game being called in the 10th tied at 3. Rogowski is hitting .385 over that stretch.
Up next: One bad pitch cost Vazquez (9-5, 5.20 ERA) during a loss to Detroit on July 19, with Craig Monroe launching a game-winning grand slam. Vazquez has a 1-1 record with an 8.49 ERA in his last four starts and is 1-2 with a 7.20 ERA lifetime against Minnesota. Vazquez remains two wins away from 100 career victories.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.