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.