Widely regarded as one of baseball's top assistant general managers for some time now, Rick Hahn will be much more than a No. 2 man as the White Sox new GM.
Hahn was officially promoted to White Sox senior vice president and general manager on Friday. The promotion, which had been reported in September, changes Ken Williams' title from the one Hahn now holds to executive vice president.
While touting Hahn as "one of the most respected young executives in baseball,'' chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement that Williams would "maintain oversight and final approval on major baseball decisions." But make no mistake: This won't be the same management tandem that has operated effectively for 12 years. Williams will be doing other things -- he was vague when asked about specifics -- and Hahn will be making baseball decisions while conferring with Williams and Reinsdorf when necessary.
"That was an important part to me," Hahn said. "There were a lot of factors involved, but one of them was making sure that it wasn't going to be an escalation of titles and sort of 'business as usual.' "
Williams, 48, growing weary at times from the stress of the job, has talked about this move for years. He held the GM job since 2000, the fourth-longest tenure of any GM in baseball.
"You cannot say enough about Ken Williams' value to the Chicago White Sox, his contributions to our success and the passion he brings to the ballpark each and every day," Reinsdorf said. "Kenny raised the idea of promoting Rick several years ago, and we all have agreed that this is the right time to increase the scope and range of Kenny's involvement while he continues to maintain oversight and final approval on major baseball decisions."
The Sox finished .500 or better nine times under Williams. Citing Hahn's "new ideas," Williams said he won't "get in his way" on a job that "has to have a certain amount of autonomy."
"It's not any different than what I had to do with regards to when I had an idea before we made that particular deal, or started down a path to acquire a player via free agency,'' Williams said. "I had to go have that conversation with Jerry. And ultimately, he would weigh in. You generally go to a consensus."
Said Hahn: "If at the end of the day I want to make a move they disagree with, we're going to have to get in a room just like we have the last 12 years and hash it out and come to a decision for our organization.''
Williams, who badly wanted a second title to go with the 2005 World Series championship, has mixed feelings about leaving the GM chair, but one side is there's a lot he won't miss. He has been transferring calls from other GMs to Hahn.
"He has been doing the job for a number of weeks," Williams said.
The promotion of Hahn, 41, a Winnetka native, Michigan graduate and holder of degrees from Harvard Law School and Northwestern's Kellogg graduate school of management, "is very well deserved," Reinsdorf said. His duties will be expanded to include all player personnel matters, coaching staff decisions and player development and scouting operations.
"He is one of the most respected young executives in baseball today and that reputation is well earned given his relationships with other team executives, players, agents, manager Robin Ventura and our coaches, members of the media and White Sox fans. Kenny and Rick together have worked very successfully over the past 12 seasons, and I am excited to see this dynamic grow and expand as Rick assumes more day-to-day authority and responsibility while Kenny is allowed to focus even more on macro issues, talent evaluation and long-term planning for the organization."