Chicago Sun-Times
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Start spreading the news, Sox eye New York's Gardner

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brett_gardner--300x300.jpgINDIANAPOLIS - It's not a phrase that was coming out of the mouth of Ken Williams for the very first time.
Not by a long shot.
"We don't have any money," the White Sox general manager said during his Wednesday meeting with the media. "We're close to our budget right now, and that really inhibits what we can do in terms of the free agent market. So we have to get creative, and we've done that before.''
Meet the latest face of Williams getting creative.
According to a scout familiar with the situation, the Sox were one of two teams in the American League Central Division letting the New York Yankees know during this week's Winter Meetings that they covet the services of outfielder Brett Gardner. The problem is Kansas City was also sniffing around what it would take to get the promising 26-year-old leadoff hitter.
What might work in Williams' favor, however, is that he is not only friendly with Brian Cashman, but is no stranger to doing deals with the Yankees GM. Not only did Williams get Jose Contreras from New York back in 2004, but the two paired up again last winter, with the Sox finding a new residence for disgruntled outfielder Nick Swisher.
They know each other's farm system up and down, and Williams is all too familiar with the idea that New York's outfield, especially center field, suddenly got crowded with New York acquiring Curtis Granderson in a three-way trade with Detroit and Arizona this week.
What was not known, however, was who had the better package to acquire Gardner?
What they would be getting back is a left-handed hitter that many feel could be on the brink of being a special prototypical leadoff hitter.
Gardner was drafted out of the College of Charleston back in 2005, but according to the scout, really caught Williams' eye, playing in the Arizona Fall League in 2007. Gardner led the league in runs and stolen bases, getting picked off just once. He hit .343 with a .433 on-base percentage and was third in the league in walks with 17.
Williams is no stranger to falling for standout players in the Fall League and then going after them - see Gavin Floyd and Tyler Flowers.
As far as what he did in his major-league looks, Gardner has played in 150 games the past two seasons, including 108 games in 2009, going 67-for-248 (.270 average) with six doubles, six triples and three homers, as well as adding 26 stolen bases.
The Yankees are reportedly still entertaining talks with free agent Johnny Damon, as well as having Hideki Matsui in the rearview mirror, so it would seem that there is a serious logjam awaiting Gardner at this point.
On the other hand, the Sox would have nothing but open arms.
Alex Rios is versatile enough to play center or either corner spot, so Gardner would fill a hole at the top of the order, as well as make the defense even more solid.
Williams made it very clear at the meetings that with veteran outfielders Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay on the bench, he would have no concerns going with a younger player in that third starting outfield spot.
Coincidentally, the Royals - as well as the Tigers - were talking with Scott Podsednik's representation at the meetings, but again did not want to commit to the two years that Podsednik is asking. The Sox have walked away from the table twice since the end of the year because Podsednik has been anchored on getting two years in free agency.

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I like the idea of adding Gardner. young, athletic, good defensively. what's not to like? who would the sox have to give up though?

Brett Gardner is the best! Me an my family would like to get a singed Yankee ball with his name on it.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Cowley published on December 10, 2009 6:43 PM.

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