Daily Herald
Important decisions to come for White Sox GM Williams
By Scot Gregor | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 11/1/2007 12:27 AM

A few minutes after the final out of the season, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen took his usual seat in the postgame media room at U.S. Cellular Field and aptly summed up the team's worst showing since 1989.

"Thank God we're done with this nightmare,'' Guillen said. "It was a bad dream. Hopefully, when I wake up, some good things happen.''

One month later, Guillen is still hitting the snooze button. But after the Boston Red Sox overwhelmed the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, it's time to rise and shine.

Spring training is still over three months away, but this is a critical juncture for the White Sox.

As expected, the Sox on Wednesday declined the club options they held on injury-prone outfielder Darin Erstad ($3.5 million) and relief pitcher Mike Myers ($1.1 million).

There is a very slim chance they'll try bringing Erstad back at a reduced price, but the 33-year-old veteran has spent most of the last two seasons on the disabled list.

The next decision involves shortstop Juan Uribe, and the White Sox are also expected to take a pass on his option ($5 million) for next season. They have until Nov. 7 to decide.

On the plus side, Uribe had 20 home runs and 68 RBI out of the No. 9 spot this season, but the 28-year-old infielder batted just .234 and his defense slipped.

Free agent David Eckstein is available and would be an upgrade over Uribe. So would Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson, who is on the trade block.

The Sox have already subtracted two players -- three if you want to count last week's dismissal of overmatched relief pitcher Ryan Bukvich.

And before the end of the calendar year, the White Sox are also going to cut ties with another injury-prone outfielder, Scott Podsednik, as well as utility man Alex Cintron.

As for additions, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams tipped his hand a bit during his end-of-the-season media address.

"Not as busy as one may think for a fourth-place club,'' Williams said when asked about his workload for the off-season. "Look at the base you're starting with.''

The Sox do have a solid starting rotation, and the heart of their batting order (Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, A.J. Pierzynski) is also under contract.

But if they hope to bounce back from a fourth-place finish (72-90) in the AL Central, the White Sox need to strengthen themselves at two outfield spots (left, center), shortstop, second base and in the bullpen.

Assuming third baseman Joe Crede returns 100 percent from back surgery, Josh Fields takes over in left field. So that leaves center, short and second.

At the end of the season, Williams heaped praise on two rookies -- CF Jerry Owens and 2B Danny Richar -- who got extended looks in 2007.

Both youngsters showed some positive qualities, but are they going to be good enough to help the White Sox overtake the first-place Cleveland Indians?

And don't forget about the Detroit Tigers, who just acquired standout shortstop Edgar Renteria from the Atlanta Braves in a trade for two prospects.

If that wasn't a wake-up call for the Sox, another nightmarish season is in store.