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.
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."