SI Vault
 
Kenny Williams
Ben Reiter
April 03, 2006
At a time when front offices are infested with Ivy League-- educated sabermetricians, Williams, entering his sixth season as White Sox general manager, is an anomaly--make that an anomaly with a World Series ring. Williams, who hit .218 in six years as a journeyman outfielder (including three with Chicago), is one of only four current G.M.'s who played in the majors.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 03, 2006

Kenny Williams

View CoverRead All Articles

At a time when front offices are infested with Ivy League-- educated sabermetricians, Williams, entering his sixth season as White Sox general manager, is an anomaly--make that an anomaly with a World Series ring. Williams, who hit .218 in six years as a journeyman outfielder (including three with Chicago), is one of only four current G.M.'s who played in the majors.

That's not the only thing that sets Williams apart. For another, he isn't afraid to take chances. His 2005 title team was populated with players whom other clubs had given up on for reasons such as poor performance (righthander Jose Contreras), poor attitude (DH Carl Everett, catcher A.J. Pierzynski) and poor decisions off the field (closer Bobby Jenks). "The people here have all benefited from a second chance to correct a mistake in our pasts," Williams, 41, says. "Who are we not to afford someone else that same opportunity?"

But his goal isn't to build Chicago's answer to Boys Town, it's to win another World Series--and in so doing prove himself to be more than a one-hit wonder. For that he's better qualified than the average fan might think. He spent two years as director of the White Sox' minor league operations and four as V.P. of player development; he has a keen eye for coaching talent (in addition to manager Ozzie Guillen, pitching guru Don Cooper has worked wonders with the rotation); and he shrewdly weighs his instincts against the input of his more statistically inclined assistants, Rick Hahn and Dan Fabian.

Success hasn't made Williams averse to controversy or change. This winter he severed ties with franchise icon Frank Thomas, calling him "an idiot" afterward; dealt 28-year-old Aaron Rowand, a stalwart in centerfield, for Jim Thome, a 35-year-old slugger with chronic back problems; and traded for righthander Javier Vazquez, 29, an enigma in the mold of Contreras. Is it too much tinkering? Williams doesn't think so. "This is 2006," he says, "and I didn't think the team we had in 2005 could win in 2006."

1