The crazy weather hitting the southeast finally took its toll on me as I came down with some kind of nasty flu on Thursday. At least I can blame the 30 degree swings in temperature when I go in and out of buildings around Atlanta; what do the White Sox have as an excuse for their miserable flu-like 54-68 record, which is, by the way, good for dead last in the AL Central?

Well, Ozzie thinks they team ought to start preparing…

“They better start preparing because we hit the bottom already,” Guillen added. “It’s easy to prepare yourself when you are winning or the game means something. But you play to win, no matter what place you are.”

jermaine_dye.jpgSo I see. Now that we’re stuck in last place, a step below the Kansas City Royals, we should start playing like we care. Sure, it makes for wonderful drama, the team that’s 14 games out in the middle of August storms back in September to win it all. We’re this close, sez the GM:

”On the heels of a six-game losing streak, it’s awkward for me to answer the question in this fashion, but I believe we’re close,” Williams said Saturday when asked if the Sox could make a quick return to glory. ”Our starting rotation has been consistent, solid for the entire season, with the obvious exception of Jose [Contreras]. But I expect that to improve and get better.”

The good thing is Williams didn specify whether he meant if we were close this year or through 2010. Considering the Sox have done one thing different in 2007 (other than losing) in resigning their veteran leaders (Mark Buehrle, 4 years, Jermaine Dye, 2 years), my instinct is to take the news with a healthy dose of skeptical optimism.

As always, Williams knows how to tickle the fans’ big-name-free-agent bone, and he’s making sure everyone knows he’ll look to add in the offseason.

‘Obviously, sometimes you have to work within your capabilities and resources available to you, but our fans have been through it,” Williams said. ”It’s been a tough year. But our fans have been more than understanding. They’ve been outstanding in their support.

”With that comes a certain responsibility on our part to hold up our end of the bargain. As I’ve always said, I’ll let you know when we’re in a rebuilding mode. We still have far too many pieces that I consider championship pieces for us to go in that direction.”

Williams said with the players already moved this season, as well as tweaking a few spots here and there, at least one and possibly two free agents could be added.

”It’s pretty obvious what our intentions are,” he said. ”Since October of 2000, I made no secret about trying to be as aggressive — and in our quest to win a championship — as we possibly can be.”

So, who’s it going to be?

Dye not only would like to add a second World Series ring, but also bring a friend along for the ride.

Earlier this season, there were strong rumblings out of Texas that the Rangers had offseason plans to sign Dye and a certain wall-climbing Minnesota Twin free agent-to-be in Hunter. Dye expressed his excitement over the idea of playing next to Hunter — in any uniform — and the feeling from Hunter was said to be mutual.

Williams was in no position to show his hand Saturday, but he made it known that locking down Buehrle and Dye was the start of things to come.

josh_fields.jpgTorii Hunter?!?!?! Ugh, that’s no way to appease the fanbase, especially not after landing squarely in last place. We know Williams fantasized publicly about Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson in years past, meanwhile trading Carlos Lee for a disable-list-prone Playboy Model. Not saying the Big Unit or the Rocket would be enticing now (they’re not), or that the young minor leaguers (Fields, Richar, Sweeney, et al.) havenĀ“t played to their potential, but why not a bigger name than Hunter?

Perhaps it’s too early to speculate about 2008. Perhaps it’s not clear yet which free agents would be realistically within Williams’ radar.

<cynicism>Perhaps there’s one last push to make in impact this season. Perhaps. </cynicism>

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