It's time to step to the plate, Rick Hahn. Batter up.
Trade early, trade often, trade (just about) anyone. About the only way you could upset your fan base is by doing nothing.
If there was any doubt about the direction of the White Sox — and isn't there always? — it has come crashing down in an 8-23 stretch that started when they couldn't beat the Cubs. The weekend beatdown administered by the Indians, including a 4-0 loss Sunday with Sox ace Chris Sale throwing 123 pitches, pounded home the point.
Luckily, the view from Hahn's box at U.S. Cellular Field is no better than the one from your seat. The rookie general manager admits he has experienced "frustration, disappointment and, at times, disgust'' while watching his $119 million team continue the slide that began in September. He is engaged in active trade talks that could end with the team's biggest midseason sell-off since 1997.
"Obviously, we've seen everything you've seen,'' Hahn said Sunday. "We've felt the frustration that the fans have felt. The players have felt the disgust that the fans have felt at times, and we're very cognizant of how we've played. So if that (continues), you will see some changes.''
Oh, it's going to continue. The Sox were designed to win 5-4 and 3-2 games but don't have the pitching to do that, not with Gavin Floyd and Jake Peavy out, not with a fielding funk expanding to include Alexei Ramirez, and not with the schedule getting tougher.
There will be no miracle cures for this team. It doesn't have a strong enough farm system to overcome injuries or diminished performance in the big leagues, and Hahn's No. 1 challenge is to change that.
He inherited a tough situation from Ken Williams, who swung for the fences in the big leagues while waiting far too long before addressing the talent shortage that resulted from not spending in the draft. Nothing's more important to the Sox than repairing the supply side of the organization, and Hahn can give that process a major boost with a series of smart trades this month.
While Hahn says he would love to see a winning streak that puts the Sox in contention, he knows that's highly unlikely with the Orioles, Rays and Tigers scheduled over the next two weeks. He's ready to move.
"We aren't going to delude ourselves,'' Hahn said. "We're going to respond to our performance to date and make adjustments when the time calls for it."
Under Williams, the Sox were often guilty of basing decisions around best-case scenarios. That's how they talked themselves into trading Daniel Hudson for Edwin Jackson and claiming Manny Ramirez on waivers, among a lot of other wasteful moves.
Jake Peavy could become the Sox's biggest chip, but he has to get healthy first. It was the availability of guys such as Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton, Ramirez, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn that brought scouts from the Rangers, Cardinals, Giants and others to the Cell for the Indians series.
Hahn says there's no timetable for moves, but sources suggest some could be made before the All-Star break.
"It's been a pretty healthy pace (of conversations) right now, and it has been for the last few weeks,'' Hahn said. "That's part of the reason you're seeing the rumors out there, some more accurate than others.''
Hahn is willing to discuss trades of anyone, including Sale and Paul Konerko. But he would have to be blown away to deal the 24-year-old Sale, who is under contract through 2019. That's not going to happen. Nor will he find a taker for John Danks, signed through 2016. But pretty much every other possibility is in play, including a Konerko deal.
Konerko could use his 10-and-five rights to block a trade, but why should he? The Sox are his third team, not his first, and a lot of ballparks will be more fun in August and September than the Cell. If there's a fit out there for him, it should be explored.
Nothing's out of the question in this exercise. Here's hoping Hahn hits for a better average than his team.