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Making Sense of Ozzie Guillen: an SSS Roundtable

This should end well.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
This should end well. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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To save you, the ever important reader, from having to read a feature length article by each of our esteemed writers/moderators/internet folks, I decided to put together a roundtable discussion involving four questions about some major White Sox topics from the past week.  This may become a semi-regular feature throughout the winter to help bide the time.  TDogg, KenWo, Jim, larry, and E-gus were kind enough to answer my mass email, so I will now treat you to their (and my) opinions.  Colin, of course, missed out.  Way to be Colin.

1.  Do you agree with the team's decision to get rid of Ozzie Guillen?

TDogg: Yes. Though allowed to walk away might be a better way of describing it because according to Williams they would not have necessarily fired him. I've defended Ozzie Guillen for a long time. His handling of the pitching staff was enough to erase his obvious lineup and game strategy flaws, elevating him to a Top 10 manager, but lately Ozzie's tendencies and allegiances to veterans have become even more maddening. I believe his 2nd half (more like from June) management of the squad this year was his worst job since taking over. Either he's gone completely mad or succumbed to indifference which is just as bad. Winning a World Series in Chicago carries a great deal of weight and it is certainly a fact that Guillen made the Sox relevant but how much is enough? He will always have a special place in the hearts of most Sox fans but every coach has an expiration date.

KenWo: Absolutely.  In my opinion, Ozzie Guillen checked out on the Sox long before he finally got his release.  He made that official when he mentioned in his Marlins press conference that he and his family have talked about this move for a few years.  Ozzie has cemented his spot in team lore with his World Championship and length of his coaching tenure, but it was clear that the current arrangement was not going to work.  I also believe he let the team down with the timing of his request for a contract extension.  The Sox were in the midst of a winning streak and heading into a crucial series against the Tigers when he made his request.  It was at best "bad timing" and at worst his final attempt to sabotage the season and eventually get to the job he had coveted for "a few years". 

larry: Yes.  I would have fired him two or three months ago.  He certainly should not have lasted past the Yankee series debacle in the first week of August.

Jim: Yup. Although now that he's fired, I'd've loved to see how he would've managed 2012, after he spent September trying to turn sentiment against himself so he could exit. What's sad is that the Sox didn't need a new manager as much as they needed an adult. I know Paul Konerko is the captain, but it shouldn't fall on him to not only keep the clubhouse in order AND mask the stink in management.

E-gus: Absolutely. I commented on sss before that he didn't want to be a lame duck manager next year, so instead he was a lame duck manager this year. I agree with larry that it should have happened sooner. Even with historically badseasons from Rios and Dunn, I still feel like the Sox had a chance at the central if they simply addressed the obvious flaws.

U-God:  Completely.  At least when I hated my job this summer, I still showed up and did what I was supposed to.  If he was somehow still at the wheel next season I would be questioning my sanity.

2.  Do you believe that Kenny Williams should be replaced this offseason as well?

T: If Williams were replaced I wouldn't squawk.He certainly has made some questionable to downright awful moves lately. I don't blame him for making the Dunn acquisition but you can't throw out the results either. Ultimately my biggest beef with Williams is his failure to "act" like the GM at various points over the past couple years in regards to roster construction. The Thome departure, 2nd Swisher trade and Viciedo handling in particular spoke volumes about letting Guillen have his way in the face of hurting the team. I can live with giving Williams one last chance. If he has a different manager maybe his decisions change a bit. He's unlikely to encounter as much resistance (certainly not publicly.) However the main reason I'm okay with a Williams reprieve is what it likely signals. The White Sox are not devoid of talent. The central division is not so stacked that competing is out of the question. Williams return indicates to me the chairman's decision to actively go for the division in 2012 even with a few rollbacks. I always thought there was a 2 year window. A new GM (even Hahn) may be more inclined to totally rebuild.

K: Indeed.  Ozzie was set up in front of the firing line on a daily basis, but he wasn't the only one that played a part in the debacle known as the 2011 White Sox.  As much as people liked the moves when he made them, Kenny Williams brought in three guys with huge contracts and none of them have produced anywhere close to the levels they were expected to.  There shouldn't be a winner in the "Team Kenny" vs. "Team Ozzie" debate.  They were both losers and Jerry should have cleaned house and started from scratch, with a fresh set of ideas that could get the organization back to the level that we could all be proud of.

l: He should but, of course, he won't be.  He's just made too many moves/non-moves recently that haven't worked out.  We can speculate as to why this has happened but, simply, the performance isn't there anymore.  The team has a real uphill battle to be relevant in the Central next season and, if they aren't, I think Williams will be gone one way or another.

J: Yes. It doesn't make sense to leave the task of slashing payroll up to the guy who has disregarded the value of cheap talent.  Scientifically, I can see why they wouldn't. It makes sense to change one variable, then change another. Given Konerko's reaction to Ozzie's departure, who knows -- maybe Ozzie's middle-finger to the fans also took its toll on the players? Watching Baseball Christmas unfold kinda-sorta highlighted how little fun the Sox seemed to have this year, even in victory. They made everything seem like work. Can a simple tone shift make a difference in the standings? I have no idea, but just based on what it felt like watching them plod through the season, I'm interested to see if it feels any lighter next year.

E: The Sox are stuck with the monster he created for 2012, so I'd give him one more season to shoulder the load. I don't have high hopes for 2012, so if we see more of the same as I suspect, he can leave then.

U: I think he should be let go after next season.  The 2012 roster is his cross to bear and there is very little another GM could do with it.

3.  Who do you think should replace Ozzie?

T: Everyone has heard the names at this point. Martinez is becoming the sexy pick for good reason. After all, sitting on Maddon's bench is a pretty good reference and yet Alomar is starting to grow on me. Not because of the normal baseball thought that catchers make good blah blah blah......but I kind of view this as a judge appointment issue. What are some things that may have influenced him for future decisions? How about witnessing a well oiled offense for many years in Cleveland? Yes I realize they had very good players but I still like the fact that he had a front row seat to this concept of "run scoring". I get the impression he can handle a staff and not strive to win every game 3-2, 4-3.

K: My personal pick for manager is Dave Martinez.  When we looked a couple of months ago at possible guys that could replace Ozzie, I singled him out as my pick.  I think he has learned from a quality manager and a quality organization and could help usher in a new team philosophy that might be conducive for long term success.  Unlike most on here, I wouldn't mind if Tony LaRussa was brought in.  I think it is extremely unlikely, especially after this recent run by the Cardinals, but the guy wins.  I don't care what kind of person you are or philosophies you have, if you can get my team to be a contender year in and year out, I am all for it.

l: I really have barely a clue on who should.  Ideally, get Joe Maddon.  That guy is magic (writing this during the 12th inning of their game; if magic wears off, disregard).  Realistically, Sandy Alomar is my guess.  It's just a base instinct for Williams to acquire an Alomar when he's available.

J: BUDDY BELL! I like what the idea of Dave Martinez represents, which is all anybody can really say about candidates at this point, but I think whoever gets the keys better be able to bench Dunn, Rios, or any other veteran underachiever. That's more important than whether he calls for the bunt too much.

E: Paul Konerko. Not really, I've just always been in love with the idea of a player-manager. Ideally they find someone aware of modern statistical analysis who is willing to put that knowledge into effect. I'm just not sure that person exists in the close knit world of baseball retreads. Really anyone will be better as long as they are willing to read what is happening and react to right the ship. Ozzie just wasn't willing to do that at the end.

U:  I want Martinez, but I wouldn't be upset with Alomar.  Basically, I just don't want a retread or another manager insistent on playing 1970's era Nationa League baseball.  We know Martinez is a fan of advanced stats, which would be a nice change.  Alomar could be a very capable manager and is familiar with the franchise.  Whichever one doesn't wind up here will be a manager somewhere. before the 2013 season starts.

4.  How long do you think Ozzie is going to last in Florida?

T: So its now confirmed he has a 4 year deal. Split the difference, add some time for the Ozzie exposure and you come up with 2 and half years. Ozzie is canned just after the all star break in 2014. Ozzie's operated with a sense of entitlement the past few years in Chicago. Few managers would have had the juice to influence some of the roster decisions that he did. The "noise" that accompanies Guillen plays much better when winning. When he's not you've seen the other side. 

K: I think Ozzie will last his entire four year contract.  Miami is a perfect landing spot for him.  I do believe he has the ability to get people to notice the organization and that is extremely valuable for a team that even after 18 seasons and two championships is still trying to find its footing.  He will be the toast of the town for two seasons, people will start to get tired of him in year three and sometime during year four they will be looking for a replacement.  At present though, I couldn't think of a manager for that team that would have been a better hire than Guillen.  I have mentioned this before, I fully expect Ozzie to make a return to the White Sox in the future.  If the Sox are unsuccessful for the next 7 or 8 seasons, whoever is in charge will look to make a splash.  What bigger splash could be made here than the guy who managed the team to its only world series in 100 years?  We haven't seen the last of Guillen. 

l: It's Loria.  He's not going to eat much of Ozzie's salary.  Three years minimum.  That's going to be a pretty bad team for awhile.

J: There are a lot of signs pointing to failure. He's guaranteed to be paid the next four years, and he likes to talk about how he'll get paid no matter what happens. The one time he managed a batch of younger players, 2007 happened (not his fault, but still). The last time he managed a cocky player, Nick Swisher happened. Can he handle Logan Morrison and Hanley Ramirez without a Konerko around? And then Loria is just about the opposite of Reinsdorf when it comes to manager tolerance.  Given that he won't have another safe haven if things go south, I'm guessing they're stuck with each other for at least half the contract. Probably three and a half years.

E: The only way he doesn't make it through that entire contract is if Oney does something incredibly stupid. So 50/50 chance I guess.

U: I hate Jeffrey Loria.  With almost every fiber of my being.  The Marlins have gone through five managers since we won the World Series.  Five (granted one was very interim).  Loria is the unlikeable baseball version of Mark Cuban.  He likes being vocal and in on everything.  This screams personality clash to me.  I'm thinking he gets canned in June of 2014.