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Sunday, December 5, 2010
Konerko the Sox's top priority at meetings

By Doug Padilla

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- White Sox general manager Kenny Williams has landed the big bat in Adam Dunn, retained catcher A.J. Pierzynski and freed up some salary by trading Scott Linebrink and non-tendering Bobby Jenks.

So does he like strutting into the winter meetings, which begin Monday in the Orlando area?

“Yes,” he said.

But has he accomplished all he wanted to do this offseason?

Not even close.

Paul Konerko
Even after signing Adam Dunn, the White Sox believe they can re-sign Paul Konerko.
Next up on the agenda is a meeting with Paul Konerko’s representatives on Monday. Then there is the matter of shoring up a bullpen that is without a closer -- although Matt Thornton and even Chris Sale would be aimed toward that role if the White Sox needed to go that route.

White Sox's needs

  • First base: Konerko is Williams’ top priority. By creating some salary space, having Dunn and Pierzynski divert some salary, and doing some funny math in the marketing and accounting departments, Williams is confident he has a solid offer waiting for the veteran team leader. Dunn has been told he will only play first base one or two times a week, so if the White Sox whiff on Konerko, look for them to add a mid-level first baseman instead.

  • Bullpen: If Konerko is the No. 1 priority, putting together a gang of relievers is 1A. Free agent J.J. Putz remains a possibility to be re-signed. If Putz is back on the South Side, he would probably be the leader to assume the closer role. If Konerko doesn’t re-sign, it is likely that the money set aside for him would be put into acquiring relievers. Rafel Soriano has already been rumored as a free-agent option. If Thornton closes and Sale starts, another left-hander would be desired.

  • Bench: Technically the White Sox already have backups at each position. Omar Vizquel could handle shortstop and third base. Brent Lillibridge could handle second and center field. Mark Teahen could offer his services at third base, first and corner outfield. Ramon Castro returns as Pierzynski’s backup. But a fourth outfielder with some power off the bench could help. Andruw Jones had his moments in the role last season, basically giving no more and no less than what is expected of a backup.

    So how will the White Sox pay for it all, especially if Konerko returns?

    “We’re already looking under couches, the cup tray, everything [for spare change],” Williams said. “We’ll have the guys in spring training passing the hats. You think we’re kidding. We’re looking under couches.”

    It appears as if Williams is trying to split the difference as the guy who struts around while still remaining humble somehow. It will be interesting to see how long he is able to strut this week at the winter meetings.

    “Well, I love waking up in the morning after getting something done,” Williams said. “It’s not easy to get things done, to get better in this league. A lot of things have to fall your way. Just because you want a player, have an eye set on a trade or anything, doesn’t mean it’s going to work out. There’s only one team that if they want a player, they’re getting him. There’s only one team.”

    Fortunately for Williams, the New York Yankees don’t seem to be interested in acquiring Konerko.