At a time whenfront offices are infested with Ivy League-- educated sabermetricians,Williams, entering his sixth season as White Sox general manager, is ananomaly--make that an anomaly with a World Series ring. Williams, who hit .218in six years as a journeyman outfielder (including three with Chicago), is oneof only four current G.M.'s who played in the majors.
That's not theonly thing that sets Williams apart. For another, he isn't afraid to takechances. His 2005 title team was populated with players whom other clubs hadgiven up on for reasons such as poor performance (righthander Jose Contreras),poor attitude (DH Carl Everett, catcher A.J. Pierzynski) and poor decisions offthe field (closer Bobby Jenks). "The people here have all benefited from asecond chance to correct a mistake in our pasts," Williams, 41, says."Who are we not to afford someone else that same opportunity?"
But his goalisn't to build Chicago's answer to Boys Town, it's to win another WorldSeries--and in so doing prove himself to be more than a one-hit wonder. Forthat he's better qualified than the average fan might think. He spent two yearsas director of the White Sox' minor league operations and four as V.P. ofplayer development; he has a keen eye for coaching talent (in addition tomanager Ozzie Guillen, pitching guru Don Cooper has worked wonders with therotation); and he shrewdly weighs his instincts against the input of his morestatistically inclined assistants, Rick Hahn and Dan Fabian.
Success hasn'tmade Williams averse to controversy or change. This winter he severed ties withfranchise icon Frank Thomas, calling him "an idiot" afterward; dealt28-year-old Aaron Rowand, a stalwart in centerfield, for Jim Thome, a35-year-old slugger with chronic back problems; and traded for righthanderJavier Vazquez, 29, an enigma in the mold of Contreras. Is it too muchtinkering? Williams doesn't think so. "This is 2006," he says, "andI didn't think the team we had in 2005 could win in 2006."