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Hahn looks ahead to turn White Sox around

CHICAGO -- The trade of Jake Peavy became official late on the night of July 30, but White Sox general manager Rick Hahn didn't face his toughest critic until the next morning.

It wasn't anyone from the media, with Hahn speaking to reporters via a conference call following news of the deal. Instead, it was Hahn's youngest son, who called into question his father's motive for moving one of the White Sox veteran leaders and one of their top starting pitchers.

"He did literally say the morning after the Peavy trade, 'Why are you making the team worse?'" Hahn said. "I tried to explain to him sort of a longer-term view and the benefit of what we were getting back and some of the flexibility. He was like, 'I thought your job was to win games.'

"Sometimes they boil it down to the barest essence," added Hahn with a laugh.

Hahn's two young sons are not the only ones watching the first-year general manager's actions or wondering about the White Sox ability to rebuild into a contender. With only 10 games left on the schedule, classify this season as disappointing and sometimes bordering on painful.

Now the focus falls on Hahn's next move, or moves, which take on the description of rebuilding, reshaping or retooling. It might be better to term it as renewing the faith in a critical fan base that was as disappointed with this current campaign as every member of the organization.

A plan has been put in place by Hahn and his staff. As he spoke about earlier this season, it's one featuring a greater scope than the success of this team in 2014 but certainly isn't sacrificing the upcoming season. It's about building a foundation, addressing the many shortcomings and trying to find sustained success.

During a recent sitdown with, Hahn was asked specifically about the White Sox blueprint.

"How long do you got?" Hahn quipped.

Long enough for Hahn to point out that the reshaping must be fluid with plenty of contingency plans, because as the old Rolling Stones classic states, "You can't always get what you want." All options to improve the team will be explored, including free agency.

Catcher Brian McCann would be a good fit, as would outfielders Shin-Soo Choo or hometown product Curtis Granderson. Hahn didn't offer a hint about targeted players, but he strongly believes that it wouldn't be tough to convince players on the open market to join the White Sox.

"Yes, it has been a rough year, but we still play in the city of Chicago. We still have an extremely supportive fan base. We still have great coaches and a great environment to come join," Hahn said. "No one who talks to any player who has been through this season is going to get a negative review about playing here.

"They are certainly going to see what the season was and hear about the struggle it has been. It's not because of anything that's an indictment of playing here or the organization or impact anyone's desire to come here.

"You know, there's a lot of upside for players who come here in terms of exceeding this low bar that we have set for this season. There's opportunity for us to recraft this thing. There are opportunities for certain players to come and be a part of it."

The payroll stood roughly at $112 million for 2013 prior to the in-season trades, and the White Sox have somewhere around $48 million in pre-salary-arbitration commitments for 2014. It's too early to discuss the full White Sox payroll for next year, but Hahn reiterated that two of the more significant line items are spending on the First-Year Player Draft and international spending.

Because of the 92-loss and counting season, the White Sox Draft bonus pool will be eight figures, and the international spending will be 2 1/2 times more than what the team had last year, per Hahn's estimation.

"Spending to our max in those two areas is important to the long-term sustaining of our success that we are trying to build to," Hahn said. "Those will be kind of the first two items, and [they will be] significantly more than the past.

"As for the Major League payroll, it's going to be the same process I imagine we've had in the past. [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] is going to take a look at the revenues and allocate what is left after the fixed costs and, as I mentioned, the amateur spending, and tell us that's the big league payroll."

A primary hope for Hahn is that the sum of all parts making up said payroll leads the White Sox in a much better direction than the pothole-filled road traveled this season. It would be happier times for Hahn, his family and the fans who offer up their own suggestions on how to fix the team.

"I get everything. I get emails, calls, unsolicited help at virtually every restaurant we go to," a smiling Hahn said. "Earlier in the season, I had more people coming up to me, and then I think people sort of backed away. They were afraid of my reaction or felt bad for me or something. So they left me alone for a little stretch.

"Right after the [Trade] Deadline, I heard from a lot of people. The people that come up to me, they tend to skew more positive and supportive than negative. The people who call and leave me voicemails at two in the morning, they tend to be on the negative skew.

"Most of them are Sox fans who have suffered through the year, and they understand to a degree what we are feeling. They just want to express support and share some optimism going forward."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.

Chicago White Sox