White Sox' Ozzie Guillen: 'I can leave Chicago with my head up'
By Joe Cowley firstname.lastname@example.org August 29, 2011 11:00PM
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen (from left), assistant GM Rick Hahn and GM Ken Williams talk before a game on Aug. 12. | Getty Images
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:44AM
These are strange days on the South Side.
Days that are only getting stranger.
And as September draws near, there’s growing suspicion the curtain is about to close on either manager Ozzie Guillen or general manager Ken Williams — or maybe both.
A major-league source told the Sun-Times that the fragile relationship between Guillen and Williams is now beyond repair.
Not that the Guillen-Williams saga is anything new.
What is new? Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and the Sox are feeling pain in the pocketbook during this frustrating season. Whether it’s because of the drama doesn’t matter anymore. Lost money is lost money.
A year ago, Reinsdorf was willing to play peacemaker, put a Band-Aid on the wound and let it heal over time. It seemed like it did when Williams announced at SoxFest that Guillen’s 2012 club option was picked up. Hugs and kisses for everyone.
That was almost seven months ago, but it feels more like seven years.
There have been at least two known heated blowups between Guillen and Williams, according to sources. But even more significant is the recent talk in baseball circles that the White Sox have been getting a feel for managerial candidates. Sources said that also included renewing talks with the Florida Marlins about compensation for Guillen with the team set to open its new stadium next season.
News to him
Guillen wasn’t shocked to hear that being discussed last year, especially because it was leaked. This time, however, it was somewhat surprising for the eighth-year Sox manager.
“I hadn’t heard anything about [the latest talk], but I’m not really paying attention to that,’’ Guillen told the Sun-Times on Monday. “Like I keep saying, whatever they do, that’s up to them. I have a contract, so my hands are tied. I want to stay here, but only if they want to keep me here. This is a business, so if they want to talk to other teams or talk to others about managing . . . I know it’s not what I want.’’
A team spokesman was unable to reach Reinsdorf for comment.
Guillen, however, was full of comments, especially when he was asked if he had a gut feeling on whether Reinsdorf was poised to separate his manager and general manager.
“Who knows?’’ Guillen replied, sounding exhausted by the entire situation. “To be honest, it’s pretty good money for him to just let me go. If they don’t think I’m doing my job and all this s---, they think Ozzie f----- this up, fine, let them think that.
“This Florida talk, every option is there, but I don’t know if they can do that without getting in trouble by MLB. If they want to try and trade me, there’s all these rumors out there, but maybe I have to accept a trade. If it’s not a situation that’s comfortable for me or for my family, maybe I won’t.’’
What has Guillen fired up is the idea that he was making decisions to sabotage the season in hopes of making Williams look bad.
“Let’s get this straight: I’m the face of the franchise,’’ Guillen said. “People can say what they want. There’s a lot of blame going around out there, but I blame myself because I guess I’m the one with the balls around here. It’s not because I’m cocky or an arrogant guy, but I can leave Chicago with my head up. That’s what’s important to me.
“Jerry is the one that has to decide on if [Kenny and I] can make it work. We’re doing it, getting by. We’re not best friends, but we make due. We’re professional. We do what’s best for the ballclub. Our job is more important than our friendship.
“I do know I’m trying to win games, period.’’
It’s all an act
Which might be the biggest reason for the disconnect between Guillen and Williams this season. Guillen’s focus remains on winning games. Williams’ seems to be on saving his own butt.
For the first time since the 2007 season, Williams took responsibility for putting the roster together. The entire $127 million wreck of it. But that’s because he had no choice but to do so.
Where he continually has failed is in acting like a GM regarding personnel decisions. Even going back to the Jim Thome drama in 2010, Williams has been painting a picture that he allows a certain amount of responsibility for roster decisions to fall on his coaching staff and Guillen. One big happy family.
The same coaches he won’t extend contracts to beyond this season, and a manger he’s willing to trade? No one is buying that attempt to pass the buck under a veil of responsibility.
This isn’t going to end well.
And at this point, maybe it shouldn’t for one of them.
The ball is in the chairman’s court.
Strange days, indeed.