Ozzie makes it easy, White Sox hire a Paddy

Ozzie makes it easy, White Sox hire a Paddy
These bottles of water are just going to get thrown in the trash // Walter Michot, McClatchy-Tribune

It's still kind of weird to read a story about "manager Ozzie Guillen", and realize it's not White Sox-related, but rather pertaining to some strange southeastern franchise that has Chris Volstad on it.

Luckily, there's a feature with ESPN the Magazine where Tim Kurkjian seemingly allowed Guillen to speak extemporaneously on the often-addressed topic of himself, and it catches Guillen sounding as detached from and not missing the White Sox as he could be while staying within the bounds of good taste.

Well, mostly good taste.  It's also features a picture of him letting his pet bulldog kiss him deep in the mouth.  That's not really relevant, but it's fairly obvious, and you'd probably wonder how I could go through this without mentioning it otherwise.

Anyway, I need to pack-up this computer so it can be repaired for its bourbon-spilled-on-the keyboard related maladies, so let's fire through Ozzie quotes FJM-style, and call this one a night.

"If you are engaged to a girl for eight years and she asks if you're going to marry her and you say no, then it's not going to work. I wanted to stay with the White Sox, but they didn't want me. The Marlins wanted me. They are a young team I can mold, and that really matters to me. I expect it to be fun, and I expect to win."

If we want to extend the marriage metaphor, perhaps one would be wise to ask if while in the midst of a 16 month period where you drank heavily, belittled your significant other in front of their friends, and regularly left the house in disrepair, is really the best time to inquire about spending the rest of your lives together.

More interesting is the comment about wanting a young team to mold.  Perhaps that's just Ozzie's desire to instill Ozzieball in young minds, or perhaps he's genuinely interested on principle.  It's easy to think of Guillen as a veteranophile, but how much of that is the organization?  Chris Sale, Gordon Beckham, and Alexei Ramirez all provide examples of newbies who got all the run they could want right away.  Then again, who the hell would have kept those three on the bench?

"My relationship with White Sox GM Kenny Williams? On the field it was good. But the last two years, off the field, it was not good. It was unhealthy for the team. It was unfair to the players because we put ourselves between them."

I'm not sure what "on the field" could be referring to, seeing as in eight years as the skipper, Guillen couldn't find it in his heart to give Williams even a single plate appearance.  Furthermore, it's hard to imagine how their feuding could be simultaneously detrimental to the team, but not detrimental to the team on the field.  Everyone was bummed out, but still played awesome?  Then it didn't really hurt the team, right?

I'm pretty sure if he's saying leadership and clubhouse environment are irrelevant to performance, that Robin Ventura should immediately be fired and replaced with the simulation engine in High Heat Baseball '04.

"I want everyone with the Marlins to know I'm not who people think I am. People say, "Ozzie Guillen is the guy who throws players under the bus." I never throw a player under the bus if he's playing the right way. If he isn't doing the job, don't blame the player, blame me."

Will do.

"I am a fun guy to play for. I'd like to play for me. If the players hate me so much, then why did Paul Konerko re-sign twice with the White Sox when I was the manager? Why did Mark Buehrle and A.J. Pierzynski re-sign? If I've had 1,000 players and only 100 of them hate me, I'll take that."

This would seem to pretty much be a truism.  Because he's divisive in the press and his kids can be trusted to make any feud he does have into Mt. St. Helens, I imagine that the national perception is that Guillen is hard to deal with, and it will be a mild surprise to Miami fans that he's pretty clearly a players' manager.  One of the first televised images of Guillen after his resignation was Mark Buehrle lining up his entire family to say goodbye and hug him outside the clubhouse.  It seemed telling at the time, and still does.

"When I negotiated my contract with the Marlins, there were no guarantees about payroll. I never stick my nose into that business. Just give me 25 players, and I'll make it work. Don't just spend money for the sake of spending money. Don't throw money at a player because he has a big name."

This "money for the sake of money" and 'throwing money at big names" bit is either a hyper-vague platitude or some sort of total strawman critique of the Adam Dunn signing. However, it's amusing that if any team were to actually spend money for the sake of spending money, or throw it at a player just for name value, it's probably the one he just joined.

"I've never managed without a designated hitter, but I'll get used to it. I don't like the DH. I have a bulldog and named him DH because he is so lazy. He just sits there, eats and sleeps."

One could probably guess that Guillen had an aesthetic distaste for DH's and their slow, plodding ways just from how much he loved labor-intensive players like Juan Pierre.  Obviously this distaste wasn't a serious issue when Guillen had no wiggle room (Thomas, Thome, and the issue with Dunn certainly wasn't Guillen benching him too much), but I tend to reject the notion that "the rotating DH idea of 2010 wasn't a bad idea, just the wrong personnel".  The flaw of that idea is that it's generally doomed to not jive with the personnel readily available.  To get the most value out of the DH position, you want the best hitter.  The best hitters combine great contact and discipline with power, and power generally requires a larger frame, which generally precludes you from defensive excellence...or even major league capability.

Take a look at the top 10 hitters in wRC+.  Half of them are 1st basemen (and that's giving you David Ortiz), one is only playing corner outfield (poorly) because Albert Pujols is on his team.  Braun and Bautista probably aren't much longer for the outfield, Holiday is average in the corners,  and Kemp is actually a centerfielder (though, again, not for much longer).  It's not that there's no such thing as an elite hitting, good-glove player, it's that a set-up where the DH can be swapped around regularly without significant defensive drop-off, while not limiting the caliber of hitter that can be pursued for the role, is pretty darn idealistic.

"I'm not an easy guy to like sometimes, but I said what I felt, not what you wanted to hear."

He's gotta stop stealing lines from Jim Rome.  He just has to.

 

Paddy, Paddy, Paddy (I'm out of ideas, as you can see)

The White Sox hired Marco Paddy to serve as Assistant to the General Manager.  Paddy spent the last five seasons working as the director of Latin American operations for the Toronto Blue Jays, so it's not a wild assumption that he'll be serving in a similar function for the White Sox.  It's a little too soon to point to a wave of player success stories with Paddy's fingerprints all over them, but he's headed up a crucial element of an extremely well-regarded farm system, and should be able to help improve the Sox moribund record of signing Latin American free agents.

It's interesting that the White Sox are waiting till now to get serious about Latin American operations, when it's no longer an avenue to get a huge leg-up on the rest of the league.  But one of my continuing joys in writing about the White Sox is discovering how delightfully weird and unique they are.  Rather than be forced to try to make typical activities that every team goes through seem novel, this team is a charred piece of metal wreckage, twisted into the shape of a blooming flower.

 

Goodbye, computer.  You served me well.  Then you got drunk.  Now your spacebar doesn't work.  Into the box you go, hopefully you come back with a new video card too.

 

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  • You did not even note the inconsistencies of what you said. Your take on the "off the field" is inconsistent with the statement about he gets along with the players even though he is divisive with the press.

    Other than that, you wouldn't be critiquing what a Marlins manager said, say, if it were Fredi Gonzales. Maybe what happened to him and Girardi in Florida might be of more concern to Ozzie.

  • In reply to jack:

    You're right. I was making more of semantical quip, but it muddled what I was saying about his relationship with players. What I meant, is that it seemed like an odd distinction to make (on the field, off the field) with Kenny Williams, because they don't interact during game-situations (unless they do, in which case the blame would be with Williams for disturbing Guillen during games). It seemed like he was trying to say that while Williams and him had problems, it didn't affect the on-field product, and maybe it didn't, but it's hard to seem like it's an issue for the team if it's not significant enough to affect their play. It sounds more like he just didn't enjoy working with Williams anymore, and wanted to leave. Maybe he thinks that sounds selfish, but it seems like a perfectly good reason to take a job elsewhere to me. He's been surprisingly consistent in his efforts to not burn bridges on his way out.

    Fredi Gonzales is a good point too, as a lot of the hope that Guillen works out in Florida is dependent on Loria being an entirely different person than he's been for the last 5 years.

  • Awesome. I laughed out loud. It's people like you who make laundry day tolerable.

    Incidentally, at the bottom of that wRC+ ranking for all of MLB in 2011: Alex Rios, and it's not even close. For those who meet the minimum PA qualification that is. If you include players with 450 PA, Dunn is right there with Rios. 5th from the bottom? Gordon Beckham. 10th from the bottom? Juan Pierre. On most nights, these players made up 4/9 of the White Sox lineup.

    I'm not pointing out anything Sox fans don't know (or care to revisit). But it's easy to hack on Ozzie for 2011 disproportionately because he is out there being nonsensical, making out with his dog, and inspiring Joe Cowley to tweet (note: on the contrary I feel James’ hackin’ on the 2011 Sox is perfectly proportionate, witty, evenhanded, and very difficult to replicate.). And generally the criticism is warranted. But it's hard to soar like an eagle when you're working with turkeys. Sure, Ozzie mailed it in. But that wasn’t what did in the 2011 Sox. It was the last link in a chain of events more horrific and traumatic than I have ever witnessed as a Sox fan. In the end I think they fired the wrong guy.

    If anything this offseason I've gained more respect for what was a solid yet unheralded pitching staff that helped a team with two below replacement level everyday players and one historically bad DH win 79 of 162 games, half of them played in a hitter’s paradise. Ozzie deserves some credit for that, as much as he deserves for sending Juan Pierre up there 700 times.

    Anyways, go ahead Kenny, trade all ‘em pitchers! I’m all for it, but heaven help us.

    Sorry about the long comment. Like I said, laundry day. Good luck with your battle-weary computer.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    If you're using FanGraphs WAR, Pierre's end-of-season funk gave them 3 sub-replacement players. Given the way the Tigers finished, you can pretty firmly say that the performance of that triumvirate + Beckham was too much to overcome. Most of the ire for Guillen needs a lot of context to be explained. Throughout July, and even early August, there was the general perception that the Sox were immediate striking distance, and that because a lot less committed to the Opening Day lineup, and splicing in hot bats (De Aza, Viciedo, even a smidgen more of Lillibridge, OR EVEN benching Morel and hoping Teahen could hit 'reasonably close to average'). Guillen remained obstinate, even dismissive. The continuing tension between him and Williams lent itself to the idea that he wasn't fully engaged, and everything that's come out since then has supported that.

    I get less mad about it by the day. I've worked under bosses I didn't like, even with jobs that I'd otherwise greatly enjoy, and it's a completely justified reason for pulling away. And certainly Kenny Williams is the type of guy I could find myself saying "What the hell, seriously?!!" too, even if it's probably for different reasons than Guillen. It's pretty clear that when you no longer feel like giving it your all because of your situation with your boss, that things are probably broken beyond repair.

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    In reply to James Fegan:

    Most of us know when we're not wanted, I wish KW would get a clue. His stubborn insistance to play Dunn and Rios when they both should have spent months in Charlotte, killed any will to win for the rest of the team. It was sad to see Ozzie go, he will be missed. I just don't have much hope for the future as long as Kenny won't fess us to making poor investment decisions. If he doesn't learn to cut his losses, the Sox should cut him.

  • In reply to Notacubfan:

    KW said he offered to step aside and was refused. That's just his account, and I assume you don't take him at his word, but I think it made it pretty clear he knows he's embattled.

    Dunn and Rios are way past the cutoff where they can be sent down to Charlotte without their approval. The Tigers got Brandon Inge to do it, but to call that case "rare" is an understatement. It wasn't an option. If you really think that Williams forced Guillen to start Dunn and Rios repeatedly while saying otherwise in the press, then yeah, I guess it's no surprise Ozzie forced his way out. As disgruntled as I am with KW, I can't really go off much other than what's said in impugning him.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    Oh, and thanks! Glad you liked it.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    I was including Pierre with Rios in the category "two below replacement level everyday players," but didn't think below replacement level said enough about Dunn's season so I went with a more pithy description: "one historically bad DH." So yes, 3 negative WAR players. . . 4 terrible hitters. . . . 5 golden rings!!!

    C'mon winter meetings.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    Well yes, perhaps it's better to leave Rios and Pierre separate, for they are merely horrible hitters who are significantly below-average outfielders, where as Dunn is a horrible hitter with no other utility. He is the first person who's made me think "He needs to be taken off of 1st base, IMMEDIATELY" since Frank Thomas, 2 minutes before he tore his triceps in 2001.

    So let's try this for size "Sure, Ozzie mailed it in, but he was saddled with two sub-replacement everyday players, as well as Charybdis, the mythological sea-monster who takes the form of an all-encompassing maelstrom, dragging many a hopeless sailor into a watery grave. The very same Charybdis whom Odysseus chose to sacrifice the lives of six of his men rather than to face. Charybdis slashed .159/.292/.277 in 496 PAs, and is under contract for three more seasons."

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    No kidding, six men? Then I guess De Aza, Viciedo, and a chance at a division title is as little as we could have expected Ozzie, or any mere mortal, to sacrifice.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    Most would consider a manager boasting about not having a six-headed monster from Greek mythology eat his players outside the realm of possiblity, but Ozzie says what he feels, not what people always want to hear.

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