Ozzie Guillen's Quick Hook Costs Sox

It says a lot about the year Ozzie Guillen is having as a manager that I don't think I have complained loudly about his decision making in a single recap this season. I might have voiced a difference of opinion on occasion, but until tonight, the most egregious decision I've seen from Guillen was over the use of Pablo Ozuna, whose presence alone was questionable. Perhaps I've mellowed, or perhaps, Guillen should be in contention for manager of the year honors. (He's not. The award already has Joe Maddon's name engraved on it.)

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This is going to be one of those entries. Ozzie's decision to turn to Ehren Wasserman and Horacio Ramirez in the 7th inning was the defining moment of the game. While he didn't guarantee a Sox loss with the move, it set into motion a series of events that made a White Sox victory extremely unlikely.

I didn't listen to Ozzie's post-game press conference--I switched the TV immediately to Monday Night Football--so I don't know what his rationale was for turning to double barreled suck, as 3e8 put it, out of the bullpen in the 7th. Buehrle was only at 101 pitches through 6. Based on my best estimate of the Sox rotation picture, he only has 2 guaranteed starts remaining (@ KC & @ MIN), with the possibility of throwing on short rest in the makeup game with Detroit.

I'm not even going try to make the argument that Ozzie turned to the wrong reliever, because let's face it, they've all been various degrees of terrible lately. Though I have to admit after Mike MacDougal failed to appear in Sunday's doubleheader, I thought Monday would be a good opportunity to roll the dice by giving him some high-leverage work. I'm simply going to ask this; how bad does Mark Buehrle have to be feeling, how many runs does he have to give up, how many pitches does he have to throw to make the decision to pull him in favor of Wasserez?

Wait. Don't answer too fast. Keep in mind that there are (12 or) 13 games remaining on the season, and that a run here in the 7th all but guarantees your offense will have to face the two-headed monster of Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera for the final 6 outs. Don't forget Wasserman entered the game with a WHIP of 2.05, and Ramirez has been even worse (2.23) while in Chicago. Oh, and Buehrle has thrown over 110 pitches 42 times (only 2 this year) with Guillen as his manager, so there's a precedent for letting him work a high pitch count.

If ever there was a reason to ride your starter deep into a game, this was it. The entire complexion of the game changes if the Sox are able to get out of the bottom of the 7th unscathed. I'm not quite sure of the bullpen tendencies of Joe Girardi, but I have to believe he'd be much less inclined to turn to the Joba-Mo tandem in a tie game, even though that would be the right call.

I could go on and on about the suck that is the White Sox bullpen right now, and especially Ramirez, whom I greeted to the south side noting his special variety of suck, but I'm not a masochist. If the Sox are going to win this division, it's going to be on the strength of it's starters, with some strong performances by the offense (You're doing great Dewayne.) and maybe a surprise arm out of the bullpen (I'm still looking at you, MacDougal.). Now is not the time to count on the bullpen, let alone the back of the bullpen, late in a tie game.

I missed the first 5 innings of the game, so if it seems like this recap focused only on Ozzie's bullpen management, it's because that was the game for me.

Staters Games w/ 110+ pitches

Year Games
2004 53
2005 37
2006 40
2007 36
2008 13

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I was about to post this as a comment, but it's too important to the discussion at hand to hide from our RSS readers or those who don't bother to venture deeper than the front page. Ozzie Guillen has become more dependent on his bullpen in his tenure as White Sox manager. He used to let his pitchers get over 100 pitches regularly, but rarely let them top 115, and almost never 120. Now 100 is the rarity, with 110 being the "almost never." It's quite obvious that he Sox would be a better team right now if he reverted to his '04-'07 hook.

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