Monday, September 26, 2011

The Wizard Gets Kicked Out of Oz

Nick Miller

The Chicago White Sox have finally severed ties with their often controversial, flamboyant, foul mouthed ex-manager Ozzie Guillen. Ken Williams, GM of the White Sox, has released Guillen from his contract. The GM-Manager tandem were at one time revolutionary type playboys that had the game in the palm of their hands, but over the past few seasons drifted apart because of the teams' decline even though the payroll continued to increase. They peaked in 2005 when the White Sox won their first World Series championship in 88 years, completing an epic playoffs in astonishing style with an 11-1 record, with a streak of four consecutive complete games by their starters, and topped off by a four game sweep in the World Series against the Houston Astros fuelded a high powered offense driven by the long ball and their "Win or die trying," attitude. However they could never recapture the magic of that season and "The Grinders" became "The Underachievers."

 Now with Guillen demanding more money it seems as if Ken Williams did not feel it necessary to pour more gasoline on the fire, refusing to give Guillen a raise for repeated sub-par seasons with a payroll exceeding $129 million dollars. Ozzie's antics had obviously grown old and the team was no longer responding to his controversial managering style. It also did not help that many of the staples from their championship seasons are aging, gone, or unproductive. Injuries and slumping productivity doomed the White Sox 2011 season, finishing third in arguably the weakest division in the American League with a below .500 record.

Guillen never seemed to try to adapt and survive, continuing to rely on players that could not meet their contracts worth and continued to put the teams' failure souly on the players. Although Adam Dunn was threatening to set the all-time lowest batting average for a regular player, he could still be found hitting fourth in the line up. Williams repeatedly tried to change the recipe in order to please Guillen's taste but it has obviously become apparent the common denominator is Guillen himself.

There are rumors that the Florida Marlins may be interested in obtaining Ozzie Guillen despite his prickly personality and the possiblity of having to compensate the White Sox for his services to replace the recently retired interim manager, Jack McKeon. There are several reasons why this would be a bad pairing. Guillen is somewhat a player's manager but he is demeaning and offensive, not a good combination if he is controlling a young team who would not know how to react to his antics. A veteran team would be more suited to handle his constant tirades on and off the field.

Another reason is Guillen is a spoiled brat. Ken Williams always met Guillen's demands on bringing in new talent, reguardless of price, in monetary wealth or with prospects. The Marlins are notoriously cheap although they continue to cycle talented prospects through their system. They may trade to get better talent but not if the talent comes with a hefty contract. A large market team would be better to suit his needs, and personality.

The highest paid player on the Marlins is short stop Hanley Ramirez. Whether the Marlins will admit it or not, Hanley has already had one manager fired, Fredi Gonzalez--now the manager of the Atlanta Braves, who are contending for the national league wild card in his first season.  The organization sided with Hanley in a feud between him and Gonzalez over Hanley's work ethic, firing Gonzalez at the end of the season to please their best player.

And finally Guillen's attitude would clash with ownership. Jeffrey Loria, owner of the Marlins, has already forced the firing of Joe Giardi over personnel and clubhouse access issues, along with personality clashes. Three years later, Joe Giardi raised a championship trophy as the New York Yankees' manager.

Basically talented and controversial managers are not well recieved in the Marlins' clubhouse.

The only thing going for Guillen in this is the fact that Marlins will be opening a new stadium and he has name recognition. He would be the biggest free agent, possibly a "restricted" free agent, on the managerial market with his championship ring from Chicago and the attention he brings to his club, good and bad. But the Mets would be a match made in journalism and baseball heaven for Guillen.

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