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Kenny Williams Needs Pre-Emptive Strike In Deadline Deal

George says the time is right and the time is now for Kenny Williams to make a deal that could help propel the Sox into the playoffs.

The frustration enveloped Jim Leyland like the humidity would later outside Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

A call went against Leyland's Tigers Monday night when video replays showed a Rays stolen-base attempt at second had been thwarted, but the call was "safe." The Tigers have had a miserable post-All-Star break and have lost three lineup regulars -- Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge and Carlos Guillen. Plus fireballer Joel Zumaya once again has broken down. And then they suffered the ultimate indignity, being no-hit by the Rays' Matt Garza.

The Twins are winning a few games on fumes, seemingly, with Justin Morneau still suffering from concussion syndrome, Joe Mauer a sub-.300 popgun hitter and Nick Blackburn banished to the bullpen.

The American League Central race will still be close, but White Sox GM Kenny Williams should launch a pre-emptive strike to at least incrementally improve his first-place team while his division foes get increasingly desperate and overpay for a player, or move someone they don't want to.

Williams had one of his longest bull sessions with reporters before Monday's Sox-Mariners game. Normally CIA-secretive in his trade discusssions, he talked long enough to scatter tea leaves all over the home dugout about his intentions.

Summing it up: He'd prefer not to trade top prospect Dan Hudson, now in the Sox rotation. You can be certain he talked to the Diamondbacks about Dan Haren before the Angels -- whom Williams figured would jump into the fray -- swooped in with lefty Joe Saunders as bait. And he admitted some personal second-guessing about not finding a left-handed bat after Ozzie Guillen talked him into letting Jim Thome walk away during the winter.

“In hindsight, it’s probably something I should have addressed,” Williams said. “I didn’t. So that’s why you’re sitting now and everyone’s talking about it. However, we’ve accomplished some things without that piece.

“If that player comes in and that’s not the way Ozzie wants to play, then it creates a problem. It’s got to be the right guy for the right price. And if it’s not the right guy for the right price, I don’t think you drop down to another level just to do something so it looks like you’ve done something.”

Williams will start a final canvass of his scouts on Tuesday to see if a consensus exists on a deadline deal.

"I'm going to get all the information and all the possibilities," he said. "I'm going to sit down with my staff and my scouts. Sit down with everyone and get everyone's ideas. I'm going to tell them what the real possibilities are, not what the 'rumor central' possibilities are.

"Then I'll meet with the coaching staff. I ask the questions of the coaching staff: How does a guy fit into our equation? If I get the right answers from them and the price is right and it's not too disruptive to this team here or our future, then you go down the road and you try to solidify a deal. It is a process that you've got to go through and you've got to go down your checklist before a deal comes together."

The hope here is Williams' conferences move quickly and he can in turn strike as only he can. The Sox don't need dramatic upgrading. Incremental is fine, too, but a deal nevertheless should take place. And none of the Sox brain trust should be too in love with every last player on the 40-man roster or the minor-league system organization to start branding absolute untouchables.

Williams himself talks about the stars aligning to make a trade. That's the micro situation. The macro aligning is a winnable division and beyond. The Sox can take measured action compared to their rivals. You don't have that very often. Jump on it.