To Ozzie Guillen's credit, he'll often cast himself in front of the mob when it's not necessary.
But I think it's funny that one day after he said this:
"A lot of people talk about we pitched well. Yeah, we pitched good. Because our offense was so bad out pitching looked very good. It's difficult to point fingers here. I want people to point them at me."
"I will criticize my players if they don't work hard; I will say, 'That's his fault. They did this, they did that.’" Guillen said. "The reason I blame myself is because I'm not going to let anybody else do it. I've never been afraid to blame myself because I'm the one who puts those guys out there, even when people were looking for my head, to kill me, because I was continuing to play those guys."
"Their fight left three days ago," Guillen said. "I don't care what they say. We've got coaches and all this stuff, we're still out there and hopefully win some games. You know what's funny? Some coaches might need the $5,000, $3,000 to be in second place. The [players] might not. But the [coaches] do. They can buy Christmas gifts for their kids.
"... But the fight? No, I don't see it."
And it just so happened to be in a game where Jim Leyland -- who isn't the best X's-and-O's manager himself -- outmanaged Guillen in the late innings. He throws himself on most grenades, but he let this one skip right past him when it had his name all over it.The Brandon Inge-Alex Avila rope-a-dope, the sacrifice bunt to move Juan Pierre to second in order to take the bat out of Paul Konerko's hands in the ninth ... those are on him.
It all doesn't matter much -- especially when Konerko agreed that the air had been let out of the tires -- but it reminds me of what Chris Jaffe wrote about Guillen in his book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers:
Also, when the Sox hired Guillen one anonymous baseball official said Guillen would help a good team win some more games, but cause a bad one to lose more. Guillen demonstrated the veracity of that statement in 2007, when the Sox went 72-90. He did the same things that he normally did, but with a very different effect. He sought to light a fire under his team with outrageous comments, tried building rivalries with other teams – all the button-pushing tricks that previously worked. Alas, the team did not have the talent to rise up. Guillen resorted to the same dramatic maneuver he made in 2005: holding himself accountable, he said the team should fire him if he could not make the squad win. Saying this once or twice, as in 2005, gets people’s attention. However, because the team kept losing, Guillen spent all summer repeating it. A motivational technique transformed into a cry for help. Instead of buckling down, the team flailed about. When a team lacks what it takes, sometimes the best course for a manager is to be patient and try to get the team ready for the next year. Guillen does not take it easy; patience is not his virtue. It is win or die trying, not win or die waiting.
The last two years, Guillen's White Sox have curled up and hibernated after losing the game everybody marked down as a must-win. Last season, the series-opening loss to Minnesota on Sept. 14 started an eight-game skid. This time, the loss to Detroit on the Sept. 2 put the Tigers on a path for two straight sweeps. They've now swept the White Sox in three straight series, and have taken 12 consecutive September games against the White Sox overall.
There's no one person to blame, and while Guillen tries to absorb most of it, stopping at times like this seems to remove the significance from the whole approach. Now he's out of ideas, the White Sox are out of life, and a bunch of people are out of money.
Sergio Santos doesn't come out looking smart either after giving up the two-run homer to Alex Avila. Here's what he's done since he basically complained that Guillen didn't give him every save opportunity:
- Aug. 16: Blown save.
- Aug. 18: Scoreless inning in defeat.
- Aug. 20: Perfect save; pitched around an error.
- Aug. 29: 1-2-3 save.
- Aug. 30: Save, struck out the side, walked a guy.
Sept. 3: Horrific blown save, loss.
- Sept. 5: Entered save situation, retired one of three batters, Chris Sale finished game.
- Sept. 6: 1-2-3 save.
- Sept. 10: 1-2-3 10th, picked up win.
- Sept. 14: Sad blown save, loss.
Divide it however you want: 4-for-7 in save situations, 4-for-8 in finishing saves, 5-for-9 in high-leverage outings, or 6-for-10 in doing his job. It's ugly no matter what, especially considering that Santos got his wish and knew when he was going to pitch, unlike every other reliever in the bullpen.
Perhaps not by coincidence, most of these outings have taken place after he eclipsed his 2010 inning total. If physical and/or mental endurance concerns were at the heart of Guillen's strategy, Santos is proving their validity. Hopefully he can see it for himself.