How have Ozzie Guillen's mistakes cost the White Sox?

How have Ozzie Guillen's mistakes cost the White Sox?

My gut reaction to this question is to say "not nearly as much as Mark Teahen's".  But because the hot topic in White Sox land is whether to blame Kenny Williams or Ozzie Guillen--two guys who didn't see a single pitch this season in a sport determined by players almost always acting independently of coaching staff instructions--I will oblige.  So here's a laundry list of thing's Guillen had erred in doing, and a few things that only seem like mistakes.

Gotta say, these aren't in order, and a lot of these are just listed so I can refute the idea that they're mistakes

Here are the Ozzie sins....Ozzisins?  Ozzins?  Ozzinks?

No Jim Thome - Ozzie was on the record early in the season saying that the White Sox might not necessarily have a role for the ancient slugger, threw his full support behind the Jones-Kotsay rotation/platoon/maelstrom, leveraged his job on it, and never wavered.  But seriously, if Kenny Williams passed on Thome, when he wouldn't have cost much and he wanted to sign him, because Ozzie told him to, that's some Darwin Awards level of stupidity


Something about this swing does not look quite right....and this is a home run swing

Mark Kotsay at DH - If there's one thing Ozzie can be taken to task for in the year of 2010, it's resolutely sticking with guys who were putting up numbers worse than the Icelandic economy.  I can't say I had complete faith in Andruw Jones every coming around during his lean months, and the common logic is that we needed a left-handed bat of some kind, but come on, 300+ at-bats to a sub-replacement player?  I wonder how long it would take the hospital I work at to figure out if one of the maintenance workers was so incompetent that he was actually worse than if we just replaced him from someone from another unrelated department.....probably not 6 damn months.

Starting Hurt Jake Peavy - Clearly this where I'm just going to defend Ozzie.  Guillen listened to Peavy and his scary as hell descriptions of his shoulder pain, and argued to put him on the DL.  He lost out, and was left to chew on his fingernails while Jake strung together his best starts of the year (further fueling the conception that he was fine), before a muscle in his back ripped off the bone.  I'm sure Guillen will feel as guilty as anyone if Peavy can never hit 90mph again, but there wasn't really much he could do differently

Wearing Down Thornton - Surely motivated by Randy Williams-inspired night terrors, Guillen leaned heavily on Thornton early in the season, and Matt responded by going through a period of arm soreness, before the forearm injury that finally wound up putting him on the DL in August.  11-12 innings a month for a 34-year old seems a little heavy, until you check the game logs and see that these are about the numbers he went at for the last two seasons.  Maybe the accumulated work wore him down, maybe the rest of the bullpen on his back hurt him.  But Guillen sat him at the first sign of danger


When bunting goes wrong....way wrong

Over-Bunting - I don't give too much credence to manager strategy significantly altering the fate of an entire season, but it was well-documented by Sox Machine that Ozzie was not only flouting the stathead axiom that moving the runner over is never worth an out, but often bunting Juan Pierre--the most prolific base-stealer in the league--over to 2nd base.  Pierre ran a hell of a lot, so perhaps Guillen was trying to keep opposing catchers on their toes.

Carlos Quentin in Right - Because of the resourcefulness Carlos showed in a few early season diving catches, I got lulled into the notion that Quentin was playing a half-decent right field.  Then I checked his UZR, which probably represents a fundamental disconnect between Ozzie Guillen's approach to evaluating performance and mine,  But it wasn't just a sabermetrics conflict, as Carlos' UZR continued to plummet to the point where it was the worst of any regular player in the league, his gaffes came via an extremely noticeable supply of misplays, drops, and flat-out baffling throwing errors.  And yet, CQ has played 99 games in right.  Quentin's UZR is -17.6, so if he's really too keyed up to DH because it means he'll stew in the dugout all game, go crazy, and throw himself off at the plate, then he's not a major league quality player
Pierzynski over Castro -
This decision seemed a lot more dubious when A.J. was flirting with falling under a .600 OPS and Ramon Castro was raking.  But now A.J, might have not-totally awful stats at season's end, and I recently watched Castro trying to field a bunt in front of home plate....un-awesome.  Still, for the lionshare of the season Ozzie was starting the worst hitter in the lineup over a man who was over .900 OPS in limited at-bats and matching him for percentage of base-stealers thrown out.  I'm guessing Guillen is one of those guys who thinks 'calling a good game' is an actual skill.
Running All the Time -
The White Sox are 2nd in all of baseball in stolen bases with 145, that's one ahead of Oakland, but a pretty sizable 19 behind Tampa.  But in times caught stealing?  There's no one close.  The Sox have run into 73 outs on the basepaths in the name of aggression, in lieu to compiling the 6th-worst steal percentage in MLB.  Alex Rios and Juan Pierre combined for 32 times caught stealing on their own, but the real inefficiency comes from guys like Gordon Beckham (4 for 10), Alexei Ramirez (12 for 21), Mark Teahen (a miserable 3 for 8), A.J. Pierzynski (3 for 7), and Mark Kotsay (1 for 4).  I think they see it coming, Oz.

It seems like Guillen's problems can be broken down into two categories: stubborn adherence to his aggressive small-ball approach, and sticking with proven veterans, even when all they're currently proving is that they're the veterans of a few too many seasons. 

On the small ball side, fretting with Guillen over all his bunting and running is complaining about a strategy that Ozzie always promised he was going to employ ad nauseum.  We wanted a crazy-aggressive game-meddler in 2004 to be a tonic to the Jerry "is he dead?" Manuel days.  Now, if the team wants to change approaches, then by all means move on from Guillen, but not on the notion that this is some new wave of wild decision-making.  Guillen's only running more because he's actually in possession of a great base-stealer for the first time since the 1st half of '05.

As for the crappy veterans, it seems like Guillen has a policy of giving guys who have been productive starters in the past as long as they need to come around.  Hence the long leashes for Quentin, Beckham, Pierzynski, and shorter ones for Swisher and Anderson.  This approach clearly screwed us over in some cases, and provided reward in others this particular season. But it's also part of the larger idea that Guillen is a player's manager who doesn't step on egos, despite giving off the vibe that he'd be an abrasive jackass that'd drive everyone nuts over the course of a season.

To blame Ozzie for this September collapse, or the late-month collapses of the five years, requires also to give him all the praise for the summer rallies.  I feel to do either is to get pretty carried away, especially if it means to say that Ozzie Guillen made the White Sox 12 games worse than the Twins.  That takes the work of someone a little more powerful than Ozzie.

More on that later.

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