Ozzie Guillen eyes end of line with Sox, says he’s ready for anything
JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org September 13, 2011 10:58PM
Ozzie Guillen has a genuine admirer in chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, but general manager Ken Williams is the bet to stay. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 10, 2011 9:41AM
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf still hadn’t answered an e-mail sent two weeks ago.
General manager Ken Williams never responded to a text message sent Tuesday morning.
And on Monday, all manager Ozzie Guillen could do was put his hands up and shrug when asked if he’s heard anything new about his future.
But the answer has been there since June 2010, on display for all Sox fans to see.
It was on a Saturday in Washington, D.C., last season that Reinsdorf was asked about the power structure of his organization, and it was very clear then who he deemed in charge.
‘‘Well, that’s my history,’’ he said then. ‘‘The biggest mistake I ever made, but I would make it again, is I let [then-GM Ken] Hawk [Harrelson] fire Tony La Russa. I would hope Kenny would never come to that conclusion [with Guillen]. But you can’t make a general manager have a manager he doesn’t want.’’
Williams no longer wants Guillen.
According to two sources, Reinsdorf wants Williams, already informing him he’ll be brought back next season despite the $127 million wreckage he built for 2011.
Sent a text to confirm or deny what those sources indicated, Williams did not respond.
But at this point, it’s likely we’re seeing the final days of Guillen in a Sox uniform, as well as most of the current coaching staff.
The Sun-Times reported last week that Guillen had met with Reinsdorf on Sept. 1 in the wake of airing his feelings about entering the final year of his 2012 deal without an extension. Guillen left that meeting with little clarity about what’s next, according to one of the sources.
Guillen was told Williams will return, sources say. But when asked about it Monday, Guillen again shrugged, seemingly in limbo.
On Tuesday, he seemed to be bracing for the worst.
‘‘My family is ready for everything,’’ he told reporters before the game against the Detroit Tigers. ‘‘It’s like when a hurricane is coming and they say, ‘Hey, it’s Venezuela now, and it’s going to be in Miami in seven days.’ We pack everything, we have everything set up, for good or for bad.’’
It might be the latter.
Still, one source stressed that removing Guillen remains a sticky situation. Reinsdorf knows this could be a messy divorce involving a man he adores. There could be fallout on several fronts.
Money, mouth concerns
If he fires Guillen, Reinsdorf must pay him $2 million for 2012. Plus, Guillen can accept the Florida Marlins job that’s waiting for him or even choose the television route for a year. Money isn’t as much a concern for Reinsdorf as the flame-thrower that Guillen could become should he feel slighted by the organization he loves.
Guillen was asked Tuesday about trashing the Sox on his way out the door, and said: ‘‘A lot of people think, ‘Oh, when Ozzie leaves here, he’s going to have a press conference on Michigan Avenue and blast the White Sox.’ No. That doesn’t do any good. I live in Chicago, and I want to walk with my head up and not regret what I say.’’
Asked the same question two weeks ago, Guillen told the Sun-Times, ‘‘To be honest, I don’t know, I don’t know what I would do, how I would leave. I always say in the past I will call [clubhouse manager] Vinnie [Fresso], tell him [to] pack my stuff, and I will leave. Never gone through my mind if I would make a big deal. It depends on how it happens.’’
With that in the back of his mind — and maybe in the front — Reinsdorf could offer Guillen an extension much lower than the rumored four years, $16 million the Marlins have waiting. Making it even less comfortable to stay, Guillen also would have to move on without trusted coaches Greg Walker, Joey Cora and Jeff Cox, whom insiders have said Williams no longer wants around.
The Sox likely would hope for Guillen to reject those terms but sign off on a mutual agreement that allows him to accept the Marlins job and leave quietly. That would keep the Guillen bus from backing up all over the Williams regime through the media.
Nothing scary about Loria
What Reinsdorf has in his corner is that he’s very persuasive and genuinely cares about Guillen. He was able to convince Guillen and Williams to put aside their disdain for each other last winter and go for another run in ’11. Though the two began the season able to have friendly conversation, the distrust now might be unfixable.
Guillen addressed recently the idea he would somehow learn the grass is not greener in Florida, where he’d have to deal with an unpredictable owner in the Marlins’ Jeffrey Loria.
Not so fast.
‘‘The relationship I have with him is pretty good,’’ Guillen said. ‘‘But when you talk about relationship and work . . . Look, I’m not afraid of anyone. I’m going to tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. I can work for anybody else. The last few years here have not been easy, and I handled that. That shows me I can manage in anyplace that wants me there to work.’’
So by next month, Guillen could indeed be shaking hands with Loria as the Marlins’ new manager.
What does that leave the Sox shaking hands with?
Irrelevancy, meet the White Sox.
White Sox, this is irrelevancy.
I think you two have already met.