Flag half-mast, White Sox coaching staff half-hearted

The season might be over, but it ain't over. Still, that's not stopping Ozzie Guillen and Greg Walker from openly pondering their futures despite having a year left on their contracts.

A.J. Pierzynski has no idea where he’s going to end up next year, and Paul Konerko is holding off on addressing the issue. Their uncertainty is understandable, because their contracts expire in a matter of weeks.
What’s harder to understand is why Greg Walker and Ozzie Guillen are unsure whether they’ll be part of the White Sox coaching staff.
Obviously we know why Guillen might ponder a change, but the timing is especially strange with Walker, who’s having maybe his most triumphant season as a hitting coach. Getting a league-average offense with a disaster of a DH situation, question marks in three of the four corners and Omar Vizquel pressed into everyday action is a noteworthy achievement, and Walker should get a share of the acclaim.
According to Joe Cowley, Walker said he was especially exhausted after taking a beating the first two months of the season. But it’s not like that was unwarranted, because it was the fourth straight year the Sox failed to hit at the onset of the season. Walker might not be to blame, but when the faces change and the results don’t, it seems only fair that the incumbents get the heat.
I thought this quote was more interesting, though, in terms of sheer bluntness:

”My skin has gotten very thick in that regard, but at times you wish that you would have built up a little more goodwill because we have done some pretty neat things here over the years,” Walker said. ”And I think at times — I don’t know if it’s to sell tickets or what — we’ve told people we were a little more talented than what we were in a given year or maybe we just misjudged it. I know last year you looked up at a given time, and we had Chris Getz and Josh Fields hitting 1-2 a month into the season and Brian Anderson and Dewayne Wise [in the lineup]. Nothing against those guys, but they just weren’t ready to handle those roles. … I don’t know if we were that good a team last year.

This is a classier variation of Von Joshua’s “can’t make chicken salad out of chicken poo-poo” line, and he has a point in terms of the overall offense. But when guys like Jermaine Dye, Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez endure prolonged slumps, those are the ones that ultimately get the attention. There are points being missed here.
And after a day of speculation, I think I’m seeing what the point of Ozzie Guillen’s sustained hemming and hawing. It started with a USA Today report:

Two weeks ago, Guillen privately informed several people within the organization that he might announce his resignation effective at the season’s conclusion, according to three club officials with direct knowledge of the conversation who could not comment on the situation because it is ongoing.
Later, Guillen changed his mind. “I want people that want to be here,” White Sox general manager Ken Williams says. “He was hired because of his passion for the White Sox. If he wants to go, he can. If he wants to see if there is another situation better than this, I won’t stop him.”

Which leads us to Guillen’s pregame comments before another flat showing:

But Guillen still wants some answers about his future. And he wants those answers quickly.
If he’s in the Sox’ plans, then it’s time for an extension. If he’s not, then it’s time to say their goodbyes now instead of waiting for the final year of his deal to run out.
”I never talked to them that I don’t want to come back,” Guillen said. ”First of all, I don’t have the power to do it because right now they don’t want to hear that s—. They don’t want to hear me … if I don’t want to come back. I know the answer, ‘All right, have a good one somewhere.’ But I want to know where I stand in this organization. I don’t want to come here and work day-by-day. I’m better than that. I give this organization more than that. I deserve — I’m not going to say respect — but [I deserve] more consideration about yes or no.

Once again, the timing is odd, with Guillen quasi-demanding a contract extension as the Sox were set to lose their seventh straight and all mathematical hope. There is no doubt the Twins are the better team, but it’s gotten to the point where self-respect is questioned. That doesn’t suggest the Sox have an indispensable leader on their hands, regardless of 2005.
Most people have to see their contracts all the way through before getting another one, unless you’re Mark Teahen. But Guillen wants more than a contract, I reckon. He wants to know if he’s winning the fight against Kenny Williams, and I’m not sure that’s the behavior of somebody who deserves a commitment.
It’s one thing that he disagrees with Williams, who has made some questionable decisions as of late, and very well might be running on fumes. Ten years is a long time for a general manager, especially somebody who is mentally unable to cut his losses.
But anybody who replaces Williams is likely to construct a team against Guillen’s wishes. They may have disagreed on the value of Jim Thome, or how much strikeouts and basecloggers hurt, but Williams invested heavily — and I mean heavily — in starting pitching, which Guillen appreciates. And he emphasized toughness and clubhouse fit, which is why they ended up with Darin Erstad and sent Nick Swisher packing.
No, the next GM, if there is one, will probably have a more dissonant philosophy when it comes to roster construction. Let’s use Rick Hahn as an example, since he’s the most obvious replacement. When Hahn talked to us bloggers in March, casually dropped the phrase “runs over replacement” in response to a question about Rotating DH. I don’t think that term is in Kenny Williams’ vernacular.
If the Jim Thome decision were in his hands and Guillen had to justify his preference above the numbers — how do you think that would go? How would Guillen respond to hearing “marginal wins” when sticking with Daniel Hudson instead of getting outside help like Edwin Jackson? Williams probably has a more commanding and controversial presence, but Hahn isn’t some namby-pamby numbers geek who Guillen can shove into a locker.
Making a move to placate Guillen only goes so far. People like Cowley will point to the 2005 trophy and ask who put the franchise on the map. But one could easily wait for the Sox to return home and point to all the empty seats. Guillen might be the face of the franchise, but he doesn’t sell tickets.
Losing Guillen would be a hit to the team’s stock, but letting him build a roster would really hurt the team financially. When he sits down with Jerry Reinsdorf (and maybe Williams), this is what needs to be addressed first and foremost. Maybe it’s gotten too personal with Williams for that relationship to continue, and maybe both sides are to blame.
However, if personnel decisions are what lead to personal beefs — with his son stoking the flames again (Hahn is one of the  “geeks who never played baseball a day in there (sic) life”) — that’s going to undercut relationships with all future GMs. Guillen is a fine manager who needs moderation from above, and that’s the lesson everybody should have learned from this season. We should discover shortly whether it’s sunk in.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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drlingerie

Plausible explanation with regard to the bizarre timing of Walk and Ozzie’s “Do You Still Like Me Yes/No/Maybe” notes: Kenny’s done, and they know it, and the organization knows it. And it seems like there’s at least a litle fear that the new boss may not be so much like the old boss. It’s a public appeal of sorts, and it’s aimed directly at JR.
(This would also lend a little context to noted professional ballplayer (?)/esteemed video coordinator/inexplicably self-important coattail-surfing asswipe’s tweet about Hahn.)

expatnyc

So, what think you, Jim? Should he stay or should he go? These recent quotes from Ozzie only solidify my opinion that it’s time for him to move on. The man is not terribly professional. He can’t handle his family business. And he has a major blind spot when it comes to assembling an AL roster. He’s not a GM, and if he wants to play GM, then he has to do it somewhere else.
You raise an important point: what would Guillen do if he had a pushover for a GM? I have to think it would be pretty ugly. Kenny Williams has been making noises about leaving (the way a professional does, not by making threats and fantastic statements about his own worth). I don’t think I’d want to see that show, especially not after the failure of 2010. The Sox are in deep shit right now. What can they throw out there next year to compete with the dynastic Twins? All that fucking money they have now…

Doctor Memory

There are several expressions like “has worn out his welcome” that would seem to fit the Sox’s field manager situation.
What Ozzie brings is a kind of zany competitiveness, and this works well – until it ceases to work. Then, what remains is a pervasive exhaustion: it just takes too damned much energy to play the season when the personality of the nominal leader is mercurial. Winning makes this largely irrelevant, but contending brings it to the fore.
Billy Martin led teams much in this style. Dick Williams and Earl Weaver also come to mind – but more in the realm of sarcastic interaction than “zaniness”.
The single difference I see in Ozzie, when contrasted with any of the above, is that his zaniness is not baseball-necessary.
I think he lost them in early August, and that we are simply now witnessing the inevitable unwinding. It’s not that the Sox have lost interest; they have lost the energy required to act out their interest. This condition is the born of clubhouse vibe.
Ozzie’s run has been a good one, and he has ascended in reputation as a big league manager – but he’s not a fit for every team, and he’s seems to me to not be a guy who will go all Walter Alston and work for just one team for his entire career.

cushinglee

I think it may be time for both Ozzie and Kenny to leave. All White Sox fans owe Kenny and Ozzie for 2005. But there is way too much drama surrounding this organization, and I think it does have an effect on the field. Both Kenny and Ozzie seem more concerned with proving that they are right instead of doing what’s best for the team.
I hate to bring up the Twins, but does anyone even know what Billy Smith looks like? Has anyone actually heard the sound of his voice? One big factor in the stability of the Twins is that any “drama” gets put down real quick.
That reflects on a team’s ownership, and that brings us to Reinsdorf. Is Reinsdorf more comfortable with people who are loyal to him, or would he be willing to bring in outsiders that would make major changes to the franchise? We have all seen what has happened with the Bulls the past decade. We can talk about Ozzie and Kenny all day long, but ultimately it is Reinsdorf who will have to put the White Sox on a different path then just a 80-win team.
And I don’t see that happening.

knoxfire30

I’m a fan of both Kenny and Ozzie, really wish they could get past their egos and work this thing out but if they can’t I would have to side with Kenny as the man I want moving forward. Ozzie is pretty replacalbe everything well he does in terms of keeping a tigh clubhouse and motivation ect ect he seems to throw away with in game decesion making and the odd ball way he formulates lineups. While he typically handles the staff well that could also be a byproduct of Coopers wisdom.
Replacements for ozzie? Joey Cora, Freddy Gonzalez, Ryne Sandberg (that would be hilarious), Torre, Girardi, Cito Gaston some big names circling around.
Replacements for kenny? Probably has to be Rick Hahn at the top of the list right?

bigfun

Pretty sure Gaston is retiring.
And yeah, I would be very surprised if the club went outside for someone like Kevin Towers (if the Diamondbacks haven’t hired him already, that is). The club hasn’t been bad enough W/L-wise for the sort of front office shakeup that implies. Handing the reins to Hahn would be smoother transition and would probably suit Reinsdorf more.

tompope

From my experience in the “real world,” it seems to me that when silly and counter-productive drama like this is going on among important members of the leadership team of a company, it’s most often actually the result of the corporate culture and tone set by the upper management or ownership. Do you think it’s fair to infer that in the case of the Sox? Looking also at what’s gone on with the Bulls’ GM/coach circus over the past twelve years, you think the real problem may be lack of leadership coming from the Reinsdorf group?

Shinons

You know, the only coach who I can think of who combines Ozzie’s off-field distractions and verbal diarrhea who stayed with the same team for over seven years is Bobby Knight. And that didn’t end well. Everyone knew it wasn’t going to end well. I like Ozzie, but this season made it clear that if they try force-fitting this it’s not going to end well.
I don’t think the problem with this is Williams. He’s handled Guillen for seven years – that’s 6 years and 51 weeks longer than I could – so I think that’s commendable. If you keep Williams, I think he does great with the next manager. But Ozzie with Hahn? It’ll just be more of the same – maybe even worse, since Ozzie and Family will feel even more entitled/vindicated.
Ozzie knows how to be a professional, he shows at times he knows when to shut up. And equating the lack of an extension and having to finish out your contract to “respect” is just bull, especially with Konerko and AJ handling their expiring contracts (and in the case of AJ, trade rumors to go along with it) like real pros.

As Cirensica

I believe Ozzie is not going anywhere. Ozzie loves the WhiteSox too much. Perhaps KW is the one going. I would like Ozzie to stay, as it’s very difficult to find good MLB managers these days.

LS_SoX_FN

I hate to say it, but its time for Kenny and Ozzie to go.
Organizationally speaking, we are in serious, serious trouble. We have no capable or major league ready replacements for the possibly departing 1B and C.
Our top prospects can not stay healthy, or are dramatically under performing. We have no starting pitching depth, or bullpen depth for that matter.
Even if Paul and AJ resign as stop gaps, we still have massive organizational holes in virtually every single position. That is just not how you build an organization that competes long term.
As we currently stand, we have a viable SS, 2B and 3, possibly 4 starting pitchers. I hesitate to add CF to this list. Every other position requires either a trade, or significant monetary investment to fix.
I havent been this down on our team as a hole in a very long time, and i feel a stretch of uncompetitive 75-80 win teams are imminent for the next several years. If for no other reason but our clear and painful inferiority to those flippin twins… hhhhhh

dalton

I would say the Yankees have done fairly well for themselves gutting their organization (minors) year after year and yet they still compete for championships.
I feel like I just read a post from Chicken Little, and that dark days are ahead for the White Sox.
Chicago has four, possibly five (if Peavy comes back healthy, and there is no reason to think that he won’t) solid starters next year. Name another organization that goes five-deep like the Sox will (provided they stay healthy, which is a question mark for all pitchers – you never know when, ahem, that shoulder is going to stiffen on them or when they’re going to be staring at the back of their eyelids while some surgeon transfers a ligament from here to there…).
Chicago is solid at the CF position for the first time since Brian Anderson – er, I mean Aaron Rowand. Rios has proven himself, at least to me.
As for being uncompetitive, I don’t see it. Not with our rotation. Even Oakland has 77 wins and their leading run producer has 69 RBI. Alexei Ramirex has 64 – and he’s the Sox fourth leading RBI guy.
I think Chicago will resign Konerko. If not, they’ll get someone like Adam Dunn. No way on Earth they rotate Kotsay/Teahan/Vicedo/Jones at 1B/DH for 162 games. Not without me taking a shotgun to my TV.
As for our bullpen, there are more than a few teams that would be happy to swap relief pitchers with Chicago.

chisoxt

You cannot compare the resources that the Yankees have compared to ours. As far as prospects are concerned, heck, even the Yankees understand now that you occasionally have to sprinkle in youth.
Our bullpen’s success next year will depend on the devlopment of Sale and Infante. As far as who the closer will be, who knows.

dalton

The point is that our bullpen was the leagues best for much of this year. So many people are so pessimistic about this team, so negative. I understand the disappointment – I’m disappointed, too – but it was a memorable season nonetheless. Frustrating and ultimately disappointing, but memorable.
Now let’s gut the team and fire everyone in management! Wheee I’m a fan!!!

chisoxt

The problem with the makeup of the bullpen this year was that the main go-to guys are older arms that not surpisingly, broke down as the season progressed. Jenks, Thorton, Putz all have injury histories, so it was not a suprise to me that they failed in the end. Perhaps if Santo, Sale and Infante continue to develop, next year’s pen will have a stronger finish.
There you go…some sincere optimism.

dalton

Now that’s more like it. Again, the disappointment is understandable – I was annoyed with every Twins win and Sox loss over the past month.
What about Threets? What does everyone think of him?

knoxfire30

Does tony larussa have any shot of being back with the sox….
He is a world class d-bag but also a pretty good field general.

trumpd52

Interesting proposition. Maybe I’ll call up my old girlfriend, too.
But that was the in the 70’s and I think she hates my guts. Knox: I like your comments over the last couple seasons – blunt and usually on target, but this time it sounds like you’ve been in the liquor cabinet which I do not fault based on the last several days.

dalton

In this scenario with LaRussa, would your old girlfriend be coming in to take over as GM?

ricksch

KW has had $100m+ to work with since the miracle of ’05. He’s delivered one divisional crown (just barely), upon which the team was shown to be non-competitive with the more “elite” Rays.
Through this time, our farm teams have been quite nearly fallow.
Every off-season features the overhang of huge, non-performing and unmoveable contracts, which allows only for tinkering on the fringes and invariably forces Kenny to wishcast by placing two or three bums on the roster.
The Hudson deal proved KW’s short-sighted desperation. A good GM should at least know the capabilities of their own personnel before trading him for a bloated contract – especially when the team had ZERO chance of doing anything meaningful in the playoffs.
Ozzie is a public embarrassment and his talents as field manager are questionable. As a quasi-GM, he’s a joke. Enough drama. How about some professionalism? Sox need to clean out BOTH Kenny & Ozzie before any real improvement will occur.
$100m+ for a team below .500 in their own so-so division? Anyone could do better with a dart board and a blindfold.