Ozzie Guillen's request for an extension is unwanted, and unwarranted

Ozzie Guillen's request for an extension is unwanted, and unwarranted
Lots of pictures of White Sox players staring skyward this year // Chris Sweda,Tribune photo

Q: What would be the benefit of ensuring a manager--or a player, or even a groundskeeper--is never on the final year of his contract?

A: Well, one would suppose that there would be the benefit that his contract status would never become an issue

Q: Would that benefit be cancelled out if the manager complained whenever he got close to his final year?

A: Yeah, pretty much

 

For the second-straight season, Ozzie Guillen is making the same plea.  He's asking for more years, and more security than is offered by a contract guaranteed that he'll be paid to be the manager of the Chicago White Sox next year.

He's even dusting off the longevity argument from last season:

“Eight years with this organization, I’m guessing I — we — did a pretty good job. The players did it for me. We deserve more than [a lame-duck contract].”

And using the same tact:

"If I said I want to meet with Jerry tomorrow, that's no respect to the owner and no respect to the organization," Guillen said. "The first thing he would say would be, 'Shut up and keep managing, win some games.' That's why I'm not going to put my decision in that spot. I want to wait and see what happens. Hopefully a great thing happens."

He's not asking for extension, or laying down an ultimatum, just letting everyone know how unpleasant things will be if he doesn't get what he wants.  Enough that it won't be worth having him around.

It's easy to see why this gambit paid off last season.  The in-fighting between Guillen and Kenny Williams was seen as a factor in the slow start of 2010, and the front office didn't want a re-hash of such foolishness to derail one of the most expensive teams in franchise history.  They didn't want to fire Guillen, so they had to bend to his will or risk his ineffectiveness.

Ozzie brought it up while the Sox were playing out the string after being beaten to hell by Minnesota last season, and his timing is even more bizarre now, with the team 5 games back and going through the motions of contention during as disappointing of a year as Guillen has ever piloted.

Kenny Williams' initial retort seems to indicate this trick isn't going to work twice.

"We're underachieving," Williams said. "That means players, coaches, the manager and myself, we're all under review."

There would be the disconnect.  Guillen is not only balking at the concept of working in a situation where his immediate performance would determine his job status, not only seeking a a performance reward in a dismal season for the franchise, but doing so when his own performance is the most questionable.

He asked for security during the same question and answer session where he explained why he's been hitting the worst hitter on the team in the cleanup spot for the past week and a half because of his "experience".  Goodness gracious.

It's notable that Guillen cited his reputation as justification for an extension.  There's always been talk of a 'buffer period' from doubt and criticism for management after winning a championship, with the length of its duration a subject of debate.  Personally, I have never seen it as a period where the responsible parties could just do whatever they want, but simply a period when their ultimate triumph is too recent to think they're not still capable of their previous levels of performance.

Ozzie hasn't had a 90-win team in five years, and he's riding vets whose names similarly outstripped their production to his demise in 2011.  Rather than reflection, or re-calibration of his strategies while the most expensive car he's been handed yet sits smoking on the side of the road, he's pointing to his once gaudy resume that he keeps dog-earring, and bemoaning why someone like him should ever have to manage with his job on the line.

If anyone could use the jolt of having to produce in their contract year, it's Ozzie.

*If you want to argue that managers have little significant effect on team success, I'm sympathetic.  But as a manager arguing for more security, that's what his case is inevitably built on.

 

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  • "he explained why he's been hitting the worst hitter on the team in the cleanup spot for the past week and a half "

    ?????????????

    According to the link and common knowledge, the worst hitter on the team is DH Adam Dunn.

    Fortunately, with De Aza and Tank up, he doesn't have to hit Dunn. So, I guess all the talk about if Dunn hits .300 for the rest of the season, he can get up to .200 won't happen.

    If one wants to question someone, it is Kenny going all in with Dunn. It appears that Paulie and A.J. sort of worked, although Flowers may now have made A.J. dispensable.

    Basically, it is up to Jerry to decide whether the Kenny/Ozzie drama is worth keeping, or Jerry tells Ozzie that he has permission to negotiate with Florida or Florida has to offer a trade for him. I'm sure Florida had another broken down hitter the Sox can use as a DH.

  • We as die-hard Chicago baseball fans are now beginning to lose repect for the ownership in allowing this three ring circus to continue. Will somebody just send Ozzie and his reality show to Florida already and get this team back on track.. Can't believe that a professional organization has allowed this for - not just a few months - but for a couple of years; and including even letting Ozzie's son grab headlines TOTAL EMBARRASMENT!

  • He's doing pretty good with what he has. Only 5 out? With 28 to go?
    Where are the Cubs?

  • Whoa, three comments on one post! I'm overwhelmed.

    @Jack

    Dunn has the awful batting average and the insane strikeout total, but all his walks gives him a higher on-base percentage than Rios, and a higher OPS, wOBA, wRC+, etc. It's not really important who's the worst in the end, they're both sub-humanly awful

    There were certainly drawbacks with Dunn coming in, but the risk of the signing weren't supposed to show up this year. There were some downward trends in performance, but nothing suggesting a rapid decline. I don't see how you could have predicted this, it can only be reacted to. Rios was a huge, aggressive risk with red flags all over, however.

    @kram Public embarrassment has been almost a constant component of Guillen, yet when you win the World Series in your 2nd year, it's not going to be viewed as a problem. But now he's working on a three year playoff drought (the past two years with big payrolls), and the public incidents are still there.

    @Aquinas wired He's certainly had a LOT of unexpected struggles this year. I genuinely don't think he should be fired, just not extended, and not retained if he's going to demand an extension to stay on. The Cubs and the AL Central race are both pretty weak standards this year. In a vacuum, this team was supposed to make a push at 90 wins, and they're not going to get all that close.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you all for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    I see I posted about 2 hours early. I was working in the afternoon, but turned on The Score at 4:55, to hear Bernstein say "Why did he pinch hit Dunn for Lillibridge? Don't ask me."

    Then, on CTL, the consensus of the conversation seemed to be "is Ozzie trying to make a point at Kenny's expense?"

    The other consensus, on CTL and Ben Finfer was that Williams has a lot of explaining to do with regard to Rios, Dunn, and Peavy, and they threw in a few others, like not getting any real return on trading Geo Gonzalez and Daniel Hudson.

    So, whatever analysis you put on the numbers, the screws are starting to turn. People are now starting to talk about "would Jerry get rid of both" and "are the Sox going to have their Christmas Eve surprise" as Jerry's Bulls twice did.

  • In reply to jack:

    It seems unfathomable that Ozzie would stick it to Kenny at the cost of the season, but when there's no explanation for his actions, the situation lends itself to that kind of speculation.

    Kenny certainly has fouled up plenty in recent years in trades, maybe ordering him to dump salary at the deadline was the start of reeling him in

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    But then you had the prior reply to me about Dunn's metrics.

    Was Ozzie thinking about that as he later claimed? Nah.....

    But as previously mentioned with regard to clutch hitting, they had runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, and guess which two come to the plate?

  • In reply to jack:

    Ozzie really seems to lean heavily on career trends for veterans, is really untrusting of Lillibridge and his approach, and generally just goes with opposite-handed hitters whenever possible.

    Otherwise, it just seems like he's forcing Dunn and Rios in any way he can. For the life of me, I can't figure out why that is such a priority for him.

  • Hold on a second. Ozzie has been doing the same thing the same way all along. Dunn and Rios have been disasters this season, but in MLB, benching your best-paid players is de facto throwing the GM under the bus. It's just not done. The person who needs firing here is Williams.

    I'm trying to think off a single good position player move Williams has made since 2005 and I can't do it. The Sox were never built to bring in old guys to 'compete now'. I laughed and laughed at my Cubs fan friends over Soriano's contract, but now they're laughing right back.

    Jerry needs to fire Kenny and hire someone to bleed off payroll fast. Trade AJ (sad, my favorite player) to some other team trying to 'compete now' and suck it up for a couple years while rebuilding the farm system. It doesn't matter who wins the AL Central now or for the next X number of years because whoever does is going to get slaughtered in the playoffs.

    The Sox are a .500 ball club. If Rios and Dunn had had even average seasons, we wouldn't be having this discussion, because the Sox would have been way out in front all year. Dump Williams, clear the payroll, and reboot the team.

    Ozzie is an excellent manager, but when he can't play the best players as opposed to the highest paid ones, he can't do squat. If we were going to go with old guys we should have kept Thome and Swisher and maybe Rowand.

    Ozzie wants to go to the Marlins because there he would have a free hand with the team. And if he does, they will be in the playoffs within three years. Good luck getting the Sox there by then, no matter who manages them.

  • In reply to Charlemagne:

    Alexei Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Carlos Quentin are all sulking in the corner after that position player diss.

    So I take you don't take Kenny at face value when he said that Ozzie didn't need to worry about the contracts when making his lineup. Guillen bowing to Williams' wishes and tanking the season to play useless veterans sounds way more meek than I ever figured Ozzie for.

    While I'd certainly be down for some limited rebuilding, the problem is that they can't cut salary fast. Rios and Dunn are on the book for 3 more seasons, and those contracts would be hard to move even if they weren't having such awful, awful years. Even getting rid of Pierzynski would only cut $6 million.

    I thought the team would need a reboot after 2007, and Williams scrapped together a division winner right after that. He can build a competitive team on the fly, but has been treading water with that approach for a while now.

    If they wanted to tear things down, it would take a while, it would take a different GM, and that GM would probably want his own manager anyway.

    Ozzie is very good at managing the clubhouse and the pitching staff, but is at his best when he can pencil in the same lineup every day (like he did for every game of the '05 playoffs). With the offensive troubles the organization currently has, they need him to be more flexible, and making him more secure won't accomplish that.

    ...and anything can happen in the playoffs.

    Thanks for reading and the comment.

  • All good points...except the only 'anything can happen' is going to be whether the Tigers get swept by the Red Sox or the Yankers. Well, Verlander should be good for one win unless he's up against CC and it turns into a 57 inning scoreless game.

    Then again, get out the brooms this weekend and who knows? It's never too late, and we can always go on a tear against Detroit these last six games. Although I think the production from Flowers, De Aza, and now Viciedo has been several times what anyone expected. The good news is we're playing the best division possible the last month - ours!

    We're hosed on salary, though, which is what I was trying (badly) to express when I said rebuilding through the farm system. The division is so weak that Kenny can do the pennant shuffle here and there, but it's going to be a few lean years on the South Side.

    Just to show you my heart's in the right place - I've lived all over America and watched the Cubs in countless hotel rooms. I even used to drink Old Styles with an elderly Cubs pitcher in a Cubs bar in Cedar Rapids. But once I moved to Chicago and caught the vibe I became a Sox fan. Go figure.

    I will follow you the rest of the season as the Sox pull it out in September and save Ozzie and Kenny both. They HAVE to, I called them back when I thought Rios and Dunn were going to light anything but the bench on fire!

  • In reply to Charlemagne:

    Oh, that would certainly be my prediction, I'm just the playoffs are such a small set of games, it's always worth it to make it there and hope to get hot.

    That's also why, yeah, a sweep in Detroit changes the complexion of things if they can pull it off. I'm just not feeling too great about it, especially with Ozzie saying things like "As long we don't get swept we're still in it"

    I'm with you on the needing to be a less top-heavy organization, I just think they'd need to patient with all the unmovable salary that will stay on the books, and this has not been a patient franchise. They've stubbornly kept reaching, and I don't know if they've been burnt enough to retreat yet. With the way Rios and Dunn cratered, they might just chalk 2011 up as an anomaly and rally up for a 2012 run all the same.

    I hope they make a face-saving push, because otherwise it seems like the off-season might have some painful departures.

    Thanks for all the reading and commenting, this has been great.

  • Dunn will bounce back next season with a good offseason and a new hitting coach, which by the way, probably would help Beckham considerably.

    Rios, I don't know. Best thing I can think is this offseason offer Danks and Thorton to the Yanks but they have to take Rios too. Too bad Hendry is gone on the north side, he may have been dumb enough to do that trade.

  • In reply to barkley pontree:

    For Dunn, it's too possible factors. He completely lost his timing and needs to regroup, or he's lost a ton of bat speed (he's TERRIBLE against heaters this year) and will never be an impact player again. So yeah, get here quick, off-season.

    I suppose I'd have to ask who'd you want in return before really assessing that trade, but Danks is the type of morsel you'd have to include to get someone to eat that contract.

    If the White Sox had to lose John Danks for the sake of undoing previous screwups, I'd be quite bitter.

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