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Sox' Williams assesses damage, looks ahead
By Scot Gregor | Daily Herald Staff

White Sox GM Kenny Williams

 

Mary Beth Nolan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/23/2009 9:53 PM | Updated: 9/23/2009 11:19 PM

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Scot Gregor's game tracker

Twins 8, White Sox 6

Far from perfect: Starter Mark Buehrle allowed 5 runs (4 earned) in 31 innings while absorbing his 10th loss of the season. Since his July 23 perfect game, the lefty is 1-7 with a 5.18 ERA.

Dye sighting: Jermaine Dye ended a 58 at-bat homerless skid with a 2-run shot in the sixth inning. Dye hit another 2-run shot in the eighth, his first multihomer game since Aug. 23 of last season.

Rolling along: The Twins earned their first sweep over the Sox at the Cell since July of 2006.

Where do the White Sox need to improve the most next season to avoid a repeat of 2009?

General manager Kenny Williams offered the obvious answer before yet another loss to the Twins, 8-6 Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

"In the win column," Williams said. "Plain and simple, in the win column."

Williams still believes enough talent was in place this year to lift the White Sox to their second straight AL Central title.

But those hopes were quickly dashed when the Sox went 2-8 on a late August road trip to Boston, New York and Minnesota and never recovered.

While he's still sifting through all of the evidence, Williams pointed out some of the problem spots while sticking to his guns and again deeming the White Sox "underachievers."

"We're somewhere around the 70 unearned run mark," Williams said.

The total actually jumped to 69 Wednesday when the Twins scored an unearned run in the second inning on third baseman Gordon Beckham's 14th error of the season and another in the seventh on shortstop Alexei Ramirez's 19th fielding miscue.

"That's disturbing," Williams continued. "It's certainly disturbing how we've run the bases. The decisions that we've made, not thinking in advance defensively, prior to the ball being put in play."

And don't forget about the White Sox' bullpen, which hasn't been able to overcome off years from closer Bobby Jenks and right-handed veterans Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel.

"The names are good," Williams said. "They haven't performed up to expectations, and they know that. Sometimes with relief pitching, the ebb and flow of it is ridiculous."

Jenks is out for the season after pulling his right calf muscle during batting practice Tuesday.

Already passed over in spring training when the Sox offered multiyear contracts to starting pitchers Gavin Floyd and John Danks and left fielder Carlos Quentin, Jenks is rumored to be on the trading block.

"Bobby Jenks is under contract right now and he's here," Williams said. "It's not something I need to discuss or entertain right now."

The White Sox' offense has been the biggest downer of the season.

In addition to being shut out a league-high 13 times this season, the Sox headed into Wednesday's game ranked 12th in the AL in batting average (.259) and runs scored (679).

"Offensively, we've virtually gotten shut out in the second half," Williams said.

Williams admitted the disappointing season has left him in a sour mood, but he did turn optimistic when looking ahead to 2010.

"Some of these things are growing pains, and we have left some of them behind us," Williams said. "We're certainly getting a much better defensive effort of late, knock on wood. There are many positive signs around this ballclub."

After trading Jim Thome to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 31, Williams intimated he'd be looking for another left-handed power hitter this off-season.

He altered that stance Wednesday.

"I don't know that we need left-handed pop," the White Sox' GM said. "I think we're entering into an era where 30 home runs starts to mean something again.

"So it's important for us to get our players to higher on-base percentages as a team, like somewhere in the .350 range. That seems to be a playoff type of number.

"I'd also like to get our extra-base hits up. But that doesn't necessarily mean home runs. If they happen to go out of the ballpark, great."