White Sox GM Rick Hahn spins another tale about a lost season

As the Sox wave a white flag, Hahn sticks to a familiar script that has us all trusting him to get it right next year.

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White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, right, sits with executive vice president Ken Williams, watching batting practice on May 19, 2023.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, right, sits with executive vice president Ken Williams, watching batting practice on May 19, 2023.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

This has become a comfort zone for Rick Hahn. Another disappointing season comes crashing down around the White Sox, and the veteran general manager shrugs it off nonchalantly. He coolly tells us what we want to hear as his sleight of hand kicks into gear.

Hahn’s post-trade deadline Zoom news conference Tuesday was barely seconds old, and there he was, giggling as he prepared to enter another breezy session with reporters that has become the norm.

Sox fans are irate, and Hahn is giggling?

The script is familiar. The Sox stink. They underperformed — again. Major talent was traded away. He mentions that chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is fuming. And Hahn — biting his lip the whole time — wants you to believe he’s working hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Let Hahn spin it for you the way only he knows how.

“It was very clear that 2023 wasn’t going the way any of us intended,” he said of his deadline fire sale. “None of us wanted to be in this position, but we all felt very good about what we were able to accomplish.”

What they accomplished in the last few days was trading pitchers Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Reynaldo Lopez, Kendall Graveman, Keynan Middleton and Joe Kelly, plus power-hitting infielder Jake Burger. They got prospects — plus 32-year-old outfielder Trayce Thompson, a .155 hitter — in return. We must believe the Sox will turn each prospect into a star. Hahn seems to believe that. He expects Sox fans to be gullible enough to believe that because they believe everything he says.

Hahn always feels good about what he believes he’s capable of accomplishing. Remember the post-Tony La Russa news conference in October? Hahn assured us he was the right man to right this listing ship. He will hire a manager with experience and grit who will make everyone forget about the La Russa debacle.

And then he unveiled Pedro Grifol, who fit exactly none of the qualities Hahn said he was seeking.

This is not to say Grifol is entirely to blame for the white flag being waved in the way that only Reinsdorf can appreciate. He hasn’t inspired confidence or rage. He’s almost invisible. His roster, stocked with talent, didn’t work. That’s partly on Grifol and mostly on Hahn, who assembled this mess.

Does he accept blame?

“I already did that several months ago,” Hahn said, reminding us that he’s a master at accepting blame for his disasters and last did so back in the spring.

Hahn can comfortably accept blame because he knows Reinsdorf — no matter how much his GM paints him as a man tortured by this losing — won’t fire him. Look around Chicago’s major-league landscape. The Cubs, Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Sky and Fire have all cycled through GMs during Hahn’s tenure. Hahn survives, without a single title to tout.

With that knowledge, Hahn can say things like this: “What we’ve put out there hasn’t worked the last couple of years, at least since 2021.”

It hasn’t worked because Hahn clearly can’t construct a roster that can not only win more than it loses but do damage in the postseason.

So what does Hahn tell fans who feel like they’ve been burned every step of the way during his tenure?

He has a ready answer for that, starting with the fact that the Sox are blessed to reside in an awful division that masks their shortcomings.

“Most of the fan interaction that I’ve had in recent months is fan question-and-answer sessions,” he said. “You can feel the frustration, and you can feel the disappointment. They feel better for having been heard. At the same time, it’s my experience that we need to win ballgames.”

And when you don’t? Just spin another tale.

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