Ken Williams should use power to fix White Sox, not deflect blame
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com June 30, 2011 11:42PM
Ken Williams has a chat with former interim manager John McLaren of the Washington Nationals last week at U.S. Cellular Field. | Nam Y. Huh~AP
Updated: October 27, 2011 12:29AM
Memo to Ken Williams: You still are the general manager of the White Sox.
It says it right here on Page 8 of the team’s media guide: “Senior Vice President/General Manager.’’ It has your name in all caps, and there’s even a picture of you smiling. Maybe the most recent picture caught of you smiling, but definitely smiling.
Last time I checked, it’s not a part-time job, either.
You can’t play GM when it comes to claiming the hefty contract of Alex Rios off waivers, then all of a sudden not have the intestinal fortitude to tell Jim Thome that he’s done with the Sox.
You can’t flex your GM muscles in persuading board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to sign Adam Dunn for four years and $56 million in free agency, then run around town the last two weeks crying that Dayan Viciedo would be on the roster if only the big, bad coaching staff would allow you to play savior and bring up the rookie from Charlotte.
“Ozzie [Guillen] is not ready to change the mix he has right now, and that has to be respected,’’ Williams said recently in his usual Morpheus tone, describing the apparent roadblock in adding Viciedo to the mix.
So Williams is responsible for a franchise-record $127 million payroll, but he’s bowing down to Guillen on minor-league call-ups? Are there any clear-thinking people out there who actually believe that to be true?
I’ll hand it to “Hollywood’’ Williams. I thought his acting on the MLB Network reality show “The Club’’ last summer was a bit dramatic at times, but this year’s sequel? Wow. David Hasselhoff thinks Williams is over the top in his latest role as woe-is-me-GM, held prisoner by the Venezuelan tyrant named Ozzie.
Second verse same as the first
Brass tacks time: This latest song and dance is as transparent as the one that took place last season. Different year, same cold war with Guillen.
Those three or four classes Williams took at Stanford before leaving to chase his major-league dream must have made him real smart because now he’s a lot more calculated.
The days of running to Reinsdorf for Guillen’s head and expressing his anger publicly are over. The new tactic of pretending all is well with Guillen is saying that it’s Guillen’s stubbornness with the roster that’s killing the team. Brilliant!
Williams is playing magician, using the distraction of a Viciedo-for-Juan Pierre swap to steer attention from the 500-pound slumping gorilla in the room named Dunn.
The same Dunn who Williams thought would solve all the offensive woes but is the main suspect in the hitless-and-run crime spree overtaking the South Side.
I’m sure the clubhouse would love the news that a popular player such as Pierre is out of a job, despite other guys being in bigger holes than the leadoff hitter.
Look, Williams is a swing-from-the-hip GM. His strength is also his weakness, and there have been a lot more misses than hits lately.
With advice from Guillen, Williams had a formula in 2005 and built a World Series winner, but since then the GM has lost that identity. Each year it’s a new theme for Williams. In 2006, it was out with the grinders, headlined by Thome replacing Aaron Rowand. Looking back, maybe that was a bigger mistake than realized.
Rowand, Carl “The Truthosaurus’’ Everett and Orlando “El Duque’’ Hernandez were foxhole guys. Some had to be replaced, but they should have been replaced with grinders.
Excuses are wearing thin
“That mentality of leaving it all out there every day over the course of 162 games, that wins you games,” Rowand, now with the San Francisco Giants, said Thursday. “That mentality of never quitting, even when you’re down late in games … I mean, we had a lot of comeback victories [in ’05].’’
In ’07, Williams went with the hard-throwing-bullpen theme. Disaster. In ’08, it was the on-base-percentage guys such as Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera. Now? Heck, I don’t know what they are, and they play like they don’t know what they are.
But at least in the past, Williams would own up to his mistakes. The last two years, not a peep.
Maybe he’s feeling the pressure. Maybe the jealousy of Guillen being the face of the club is too much. What he needs to know is Guillen will get another job. Williams? Another GM job is questionable.
On the eve of Round 2 of the crosstown showdown with the Cubs, what is apparent is Williams’ excuse-making is hurting the product more than helping it.
The media guide says Williams is the GM.
Time for him to start acting like it again or exit stage left.
Page 8 can always be rewritten.