Ken Williams’ silence fuels speculation on Ozzie Guillen
JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org May 31, 2011 11:40PM
White Sox general manager Ken Williams (left) has been eerily silent this season, even after manager Ozzie Guillen’s recent tirades. | M. Spencer Green~AP
Updated: September 11, 2011 12:22AM
What does a World Series ring won more than five years ago and a career .500-plus record as a manager get you these days?
Well, it gets you a contract extension that runs through 2018 — basically a lifetime scholarship. It earns you the right to be in charge of player-personnel and coaching decisions. And it affords you a payroll that has been over $100 million seven of the last eight years.
At least it does outside of Chicago.
Right, Mike Scioscia?
On the South Side, it gets you coaches who feel like they’re dead men walking, all of them working on contracts that run out after the year. It gets you players you had very little say in acquiring. And it earns you a noose, hanging from the rafters under the guise of the “Ozzie Watch,’’ that lets you know your neck is one tug away.
So excuse White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen if he’s a little on edge this season. After all, respect is a two-way street, and there seems to be a traffic jam building up from the front offices of 35th and Shields these days.
Guillen, admittedly, is not perfect.
He pointed that out again Tuesday afternoon, just days after his latest tirade was twisted into somehow being an attack on Sox fans.
Trial by fire?
His crimes are the same ones. He’s a repeat offender. Too much passion, too much honesty, not enough of a filter. That’s the perfect storm the public and media hope for in their athletes and coaches, and once they have it, somehow it becomes too dangerous.
No wonder Guillen is feeling like he’s being put on trial these days.
“Sometimes I do [feel like that], but maybe it’s my fault in trying to be too honest and giving the people honest answers,’’ Guillen said. “The bad thing is they never print or say how I say it. When I say what I say, they pick little things and talk [about them]. They never use all my stuff, only the things I say that will make me look like an idiot, ignorant or stupid.
“But if they would use everything I say, then the people would understand what I mean. I just try to give the media and the fans my honest answers because I respect them. But I keep getting in trouble because people do not want to read or hear the truth. It’s my fault because maybe I talk more than I should.’’
And now he does so on an island.
Before the Guillen-Ken Williams cold war last season, the general manager would often appear as the safety net for the man he considered his “brother.’’ Williams seldom even speaks to the media these days.
The problem is, that leads to more speculation and questions about which direction the organization is headed.
The standings show that the $127 million payroll is failing. Still breathing but failing.
Adam Dunn falls under the free-agent-bust category through June 1, while struggling veterans Alex Rios and Juan Pierre have anchored a lineup from taking off far too often this season. At last check, Guillen wasn’t responsible for throwing Sox uniforms on any of those players.
But Sox fans somehow seem convinced that someone’s head has to be offered up for two months of failure in a season they were handed a big batch of “All In’’ Kool-Aid to slurp on.
And Williams’ stealth seems like a setup for the GM to hand over a body for the lynch mob to string up, whether it’s a coach or Guillen. Who knows? Maybe Williams will even take it out on a coach close to Guillen, knowing that by sacking one of his lieutenants, the general’s emotions will lead him to all but fire himself.
Last year at this time, the Florida Marlins were hoping Guillen would be out as the Sox’ skipper so they could throw a teal hat on him the minute he stepped back into his hometown of Miami.
Even this offseason it seemed like Florida was making itself available for Guillen, signing manager Edwin Rodriguez only to a one-year deal. But the Marlins are winning, and Rodriguez is proving to be more than capable at the helm.
So where does that leave Guillen?
He’s signed through 2012, with no promises of even getting tomorrow.
A far cry from how similar success is rewarded in Anaheim.