White Sox preserve core at deadline

White Sox preserve core after deadline

BALTIMORE -- Oh, if only the rumors and gossip presented during the past week or two could have played out in reality for the White Sox before Sunday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline.

Not only would the best team in baseball have made a significant upgrade for their push to the franchise's first World Series title in close to 90 years, but it also would have become the most talent-laden crew short of an All-Star team.

The rumor mill began churning full force last weekend, when one Chicago daily newspaper cited sources close to the situation in a story that a trade for Florida starter A.J. Burnett was imminent, with the South Siders giving up left-handed reliever Damaso Marte and Minor League phenom Brandon McCarthy. Versions of this move from two or three weeks earlier had Mike Lowell, Joe Crede, Jose Contreras and even Carl Everett also involved at one point or another.

By the day after this story was published, a snag popped up that all but squelched the major transaction. Burnett's reported unwillingness to negotiate a new multi-year deal with the White Sox, not to mention the Marlins staying in post-season contention, were part of the problem.

Talk also centered on Philadelphia closer Billy Wagner and Tampa Bay closer Danys Baez, who reportedly would have been part of a deal that also brought along outfielder Aubrey Huff to Chicago. Pittsburgh's Rob Mackowiak, a South Side native, also got into the White Sox mix, and one Eastern-based newspaper even went as far as to write about general manage Ken Williams being an interested party as part of a possible Manny Ramirez deal.

Ultimately, when the clock struck 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday in Baltimore, the White Sox had added only utility player Geoff Blum in a trade with San Diego. And when you have a 68-35 record and a 14 1/2 game lead over the Twins and Indians in the American League Central, that minor improvement really doesn't qualify as tragic.

There certainly wasn't any remorse on the White Sox's part. The players were more than amenable to Williams searching for some level of increased strength, but they quietly voiced their opinions of not wanting to break up a very good thing. In their estimation, the talent and cohesiveness already is in place to win the World Series.

"I don't know how we can't think we can win it," said starting pitcher Mark Buehrle of his team. "With the way we've played to start the season, we haven't gone through that big of a struggle.

"When the playoffs get here, anything can happen. It doesn't matter if you won every game of the season or win the division or win the Wild Card. Once you get to the playoffs, all that gets thrown out and it's a whole new ball game. But I know we have a chance to do well."

Buehrle admitted to hearing a couple of teammates' names consistently popping up as trade possibilities. Those players most likely would have been Marte, Contreras and Crede. But Buehrle didn't see an ounce of difference, in terms of clubhouse demeanor, from those veterans as they waited to find out their fate.

He then flashed a wry grin and added that his name was never thrown into consideration so he was fine. Ozzie Guillen continued the light-hearted approach for a tense time by mentioning that he never worried about this period as a player because nobody ever wanted him. He added that staying part of a winning team always was a main goal, and that he always hoped the new guy didn't take his roster spot.

Don't worry about what you can't control was Guillen's basic message. It was a sentiment echoed by his players in question.

"Whatever they want to do, that's what is going to happen," said Marte in a succinct statement, which hit the mark directly.

Those who believe that Williams and Williams alone makes the trades, from some baseball bunker in U.S. Cellular Field with empty coffee cups strewn about and color-coded note cards for each player close by, are missing the mark a bit with the White Sox. Williams is as prepared as any general manager in the game, but according to Guillen, the decision comes through a committee involving these two leaders, assistant general manager Rick Hahn, Minor League director Dave Wilder and Guillen's coaches.

So, it was no surprise that Guillen had talked with Williams as recently as Saturday and told him that "Right now, what he has, I don't like it and I don't need it." Guillen also advised Williams to get some sleep and not to make a major deal just to make a deal.

He then reiterated the parameters for the type of player he wanted to be added.

"The thing about deals with Chicago White Sox now is I don't want names. I don't want superstars," Guillen said. "I want baseball players to get along with the guys over there. I want them to do what we have been doing all year long.

"It's not easy to find those kind of people," Guillen added.

There also are no guarantees for success. It doesn't matter if you possess the best regular-season record in franchise history or pull off a blockbuster trade along the lines of the Freddy Garcia deal from last June.

If the White Sox still need to find a piece for the bullpen or an offensive upgrade, Williams will find a way to get this player through waivers-although his team's success leaves it with last right of refusal. If not, then the White Sox simply hope to maintain their control and daily focus. This high level of success through 103 games is heavily steeped in fact, not some second-hand piece of information.

"Everybody didn't expect anything, the way we are playing," Buehrle said. "It's not like we are chasing after someone. We didn't need that one big trade to push us over the top. We are doing well with what we got here, and it shows that [Williams] doesn't want to mess with what's going on here."

"We get to this point right now and if that's the team I'm going to take all the way, then I'll take my chance with this team," Guillen added. "I'm happy with the players we have."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.