White Sox general manager Kenny Williams was standing behind home plate with his usual intense glare, as he watched his team take batting practice Friday night before the series opener against the Los Angeles Angels. Never one to be happy with his recent trade acquisitions, he must have scanned the field wondering if there was one more move to make.
History has shown that when Kenny moves, it's in secrecy and disguise. But after the White Sox battled to a tough series win against the Angels this weekend, Kenny's fingerprints were all over it for everyone to see.
In game one, the much maligned Alex Rios went 3 for 5 with four RBI's and two home runs, the big one being a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning. Williams has been hammered by critics for taking on Rios' large salary in 2009, but Rios has been the White Sox best player this year. They wouldn't be in first place without him.
Next to take the stage was Kevin Youkilis in game two. Youkilis hit two home runs and now 9 of his 13 home runs this year have been with the White Sox. Obtaining the veteran all-star from the Red Sox -- sorry, stealing him from the Red Sox -- for a minor-league pitcher and a utility player the Red Sox soon after released, started Kenny's remarkable mid-season trading flurry.
In Sunday's game it was Kenny's newest acquisition, all-star pitcher Francisco Liriano's turn. He was pitching lights out before he took a line drive off his leg in the fifth inning. The Sox went on to win that game and take two of three in the series.
What's even more remarkable about this series was the contrast between Liriano and Friday night's pitcher for the Angels, Zack Greinke. Greinke was the best pitcher on the trading market, according to baseball experts. In two games so far with the Angels Greinke has pitched 14 innings, giving up eight earned runs. Liriano in two games with the White Sox has pitched 11 innings, giving up three earned runs and striking out 12.
This is in addition to plunking away veteran reliever Brett Myers from the Houston Astros a few weeks ago. Myers has pitched huge in crucial eight inning situations since the trade.
The Sox are in first place and have a legitimate shot at a championship. They are the talk of Chicago baseball. And to think this turn around has happened so fast after the failure of last year. After spending a record $127 million on the "All In" 2011 White Sox, the team busted. Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn, two more big acquisitions by Kenny, weren't contributing. The team was consumed with the continued fighting between Kenny Williams and his manager Ozzie Guillen. It poisoned the team.
Chicago could no longer have both Kenny and Ozzie. Many fans in Chicago wanted Kenny gone. The power struggle had reached to the point that this team was going to be either Kenny's or Ozzie's. That's when White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf stepped in, sent Ozzie off to the Miami Marlins, and kept Williams. The rest has the potential to be history.
If the White Sox win their division, don't be surprised to see Kenny Williams before game 1 of the playoffs glaring intently out onto the field observing his team. His fingerprints are all over it.
He built it. He fixed it. It's Kenny's team now.