Close your eyes and imagine Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams sitting at a poker table.
Strong hand. Intentions hidden behind a pair of dark sunglasses. Cooler than the other side of the pillow's super-cool cousin.
Now, imagine him saying: "All in."
You don't have to imagine such a scenario, for Williams took advantage of a bit of extra spending money from owner Jerry Reinsdorf to turn the White Sox from a fringe American League Central Division contender, to a probable favorite.
The only thing keeping the term probable in front of favorite is the old adage that suggests you have to beat the man to beat the man. Ron Gardenhire's Minnesota Twins have been a thorn in the side of the White Sox, seemingly always playing their best ball when the White Sox played their worst.
But with the Twins in flux and quiet during the winter meetings in Florida, Williams picked an opportune time to strike some fear in the defending division champs.
While most upstarts run their mouths to get attention, Williams is just showing up door-to-door announcing his presence subtly.
He moved under the radar two years ago to acquire starting pitcher Jake Peavy for a set of prospects that would have had a better chance to see U.S. Cellular Field 81 times during a season if they ordered season tickets.
In 2010, the White Sox wanted both Edwin Jackson and Adam Dunn. Williams swooped in to bring Jackson into the fold, and rather than deal him for Dunn as many predicted would happen, the White Sox GM held onto Jackson and ended up with Dunn anyway.
With the pieces being put together at such a hectic pace, it should come as no surprise that the White Sox have already begun to market their product.
"We're All In" reads a billboard in downtown Chicago, letting the general public know that Chicago's South Side team is ready to take the field.
Funny how it comes during a time where the Cubs are anything but.
New owner Tom Ricketts has handcuffed general manger Jim Hendry to the point where a one-year contract to first baseman Carlos Pena had to be back-loaded in order to make it fit on the payroll.
Meanwhile, Pena is nothing but a punchline for rival fans to use because of a cringe-inducing .196 batting average in 2010. Mind you, that batting average is an out-dated, archaic stat analysts use because they would rather not spend time learning that on-base plus slugging percentage is a better metric to judge a player's productivity at the plate.
The Cubs' next move will likely be to add a reclamation project pitcher on the mend looking to rebound.
It's almost as if roles have been reversed for Chicago's baseball teams.
From 2006 to 2008, Hendry roamed the halls of the winter meetings with an open checkbook, a fat contract and a no-trade clause for anyone who dared to ask for one.
And while Williams' tactics won't get many (if any) die hards to abandon ship, the White Sox look to be poised to take advantage of a golden opportunity to win fence-riding fans.
Then again, it's not the only thing the White Sox might win in 2011.