Is it safe to say that the relationship between the White Sox and its manager Ozzie Guillen was completely broken during the 2011 season? I feel that it is.
Guillen left after a bizarre contract dispute, his worst season in terms of job performance, and curiously bolted to his next position instantaneously. The pure swiftness with which Guillen was yucking it up at a Miami Marlins press conference, and his mistimed blog post suggests the writing was probably on the wall at 35th & Shields about where Gullien wouldn't be on Opening Day 2012.
That in mind, while the first thing to figure out when reading Joe Cowley's piece on how Don Cooper betrayed Ozzie Guillen was where Cowley's admirable sourcing ended and his notorious admiration for the Guillen family began, the second thing was to figure out was why I should care.
If taken at absolute face value, we have Cowley identifying Cooper as angling for his own job security as early as June in anticipation of Guillen getting the boot. This is painted as an act of betrayal by Cowley, which is debatable given that Cooper has pre-Guillen standing with the organization. (On the other hand, Greg Walker also had previous standing with the organization, but certainly wasn't in the position to act separately from the regime).
As much as he and Guillen appear to be resentful of Cooper for such an action, that's irrelevant to Cowley's main point; that it's problematic to have coaching staff members "who care about making sure their own paycheck clears and they stay on the job for as long as possible."
The problem with this conclusion is that if there's a White Sox employee who exemplified letting personal concerns get in the way of the larger good of the team, it's Guillen.
It's Guillen who is said to have "checked out" for half the season out of dissatisfaction with his contract, it's Guillen who set up his departure for Florida before the close of the year, and it's Guillen again who chose to enter his contract situation onto the public record back-to-back years. If we want to attribute the blame onto Cooper for Peavy's handling while ignoring his work with Humber, Santos, and even Dylan Axelrod, we'd have to work even harder to see what objective success Guillen was still able to scrounge up while his attentions were divided.
If the most important element is how the team fares from going forward, it's hard to see how the team made the wrong decision even in the face of a Cooper power-grab.
Perhaps just axing Kenny Williams and shifting away from built-on-the-fly pseudo-contenders would have been beneficial, but that was never on the table. They retained a coach who remained productive (The White Sox pitching staff finished in the top 5 in fWAR for the 7th straight season) and jettisoned one who let his sensitivity to the words of others interrupt his responsibility, to where even Cowley and Cooper seem to concur that he checked out, and cost the team production when he played inferior players for no reason other than perhaps spite.
Would the White Sox be better off without Cooper managing the pitching staff? Absolutely not. Will they be better off without Guillen at the helm? He offered it into question.
So to the question of whether to believe a wild tale of Cooper engineering the demise of his mercurial and discontent manager, sending him hurtling into an incredibly easy landing in Florida, I'd say he might as well have.