Rick Hahn knows he'll have to answer questions about A.J. Pierzynski at SoxFest next month. Pierzynski, who was mildy pursued, at best, by the White Sox in free agency before he signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, was extremely popular on the South Side. His departure leaves Paul Konerko as the only holdover from the 2005 World Series champions.
"I get it from a fan's standpoint,'' Hahn said. "I've been a fan myself. I was upset when Wilber Marshall left the Bears for the Redskins and when Horace Grant left the Bulls for the Magic.
"At the same time it's incumbent for our department to make the best decisions for the long-term health of the organization and put us in a position to win the most games going forward. And in this instance it came down to two primary reasons:
"The first being we believe in is Tyler Flowers' ability. We're not going to lose anything defensively. He's proven to [manager] Robin [Ventura] and the staff and his teammates his ability to call a good game and stick to the game plan. Our pitchers are very comfortable throwing to him. Offensively he has tremendous upside with ability to get on base and hit for power. He's obviously a different type of hitter than A.J. But when we acquired him there was very little question about him being an impact offensive player. The catching and throwing skills have really improved to where it has become one of his strengths.
"The second factor is we had more pressing needs that had to be addressed. That's in part because we believed Tyler's ability to assume that role. We had to bring Jake Peavy back and the pitching staff to continue to be one of our strengths. The way the market has gone, had we not brought back Jake it would have been a battle to replace him whether from inside the organization or through a trade. Additionally we had to acquire another infielder capable of playing third base and [Jeff] Keppinger [three years, $12 million] filled that need. So it comes down to a belief in Tyler and having to prioritize our needs. We're fortunate to have someone who is able to step into that spot vacated by A.J. and hopefully not miss much of a beat.''
On the market for Pierzynski, Hahn said, "All we can control is where we're willing to go. We can't influence what the other 29 clubs or what a guy's market is going to be. When we entered into this process we did not, and I'm not sure A.J. had a sense for how thin or robust the market would be. He ended up with a healthy one-year deal on a good team so it worked out nicely for him. At the same time it wouldn't have shocked me [if he signed] a multiyear deal. I don't know if that was because of age or what.''