By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) I was wrong.
On Ozzie Guillen’s last night as White Sox manager, I wrote that the wrong guy was leaving town. I pointed out that the failings of the 2011 season were much more the fault of Kenny Williams than they were the fault of Ozzie Guillen. The failings of Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy were on Kenny, not Ozzie.
I still believe that to be true and if I went back to that same night, I would once again write that based on past performances, Kenny Williams deserved to go more than Ozzie Guillen.
What I didn’t consider in my reactionary piece last September was the bigger picture. Just because Kenny deserved more blame than Ozzie for the past, that didn’t mean Kenny wasn’t better for the franchise going forward.
Clearly — based on what we have seen from both parties since last fall — the White Sox went in the right direction. Williams went out and surprised the world by hiring Robin Ventura, who turned out to be the calming influence the clubhouse needed. There is no drama on the Southside this season — just fundamentally sound baseball, something that was absent in Guillen’s last three seasons in charge.
One episode of Showtime’s “The Franchise” confirmed that Ozzie’s act is not missed in Chicago. It had it’s time and place, but at this point, Ozzie’s Bryce Harper-directed finger-pointing could not be far enough from U.S. Cellular Field. The 97 or so F-bombs that Jeffrey Loria counted — and was so proud of — in Ozzie’s first speech to the Marlins represents exactly what the White Sox are not in 2012.
At this point, trying to convey a message that the White Sox are not better off without Ozzie looks almost as dumb as the Paterno family claiming the Freeh Report is an opinion. Any rational baseball fan realizes the White Sox are drastically better defensively and any member of the media who has been in that clubhouse this season knows the chemistry has improved. Not accepting those facts, well, that’s denial.
On Ozzie Guillen’s last night on the Southside, I asked the question: How long until the White Sox regret this?
Clearly, they don’t. And shouldn’t.
On to your questions. As always, they are left unedited:
Will the #whitesox look to trade a couple rookies/SP to get a legit 4/5 starter? – @Outlaw1092
Well, if you are giving up a starting pitcher and rookies currently on the team then you better be getting back a No. 1 starter. In fact, you better be getting back Justin Verlander. If the White Sox go the route of a back-of-the-rotation starter, then they’ll probably just be giving up a couple prospects and none of their limited big ones.
However, Jon Heyman reported today that the White Sox are interested in Zack Greinke and that might take a Nestor Molina or Simon Castro to complete. I might be willing to give up one of those guys for Ryan Dempster or Cole Hamels, but Greinke is just too risky to me. He goes from dominant to awful from start-to-start and other than his Cy Young season in Kansas City, he has never really been an ace. His 2.16 ERA in 2009 was excellent. His closest ERA to that was 3.47 in 2008 — good, but not dominant.
Swear this isn’t a meatball question. Say the Sox unrealistically snag Greinke. Too hard to find someone to take Danks’ loaded contract and extend Greinke? How absolutely unrealistic is that? Go ahead, lay it on me. – @Shane_Riordan
Hmm… Danks’ contract — the one subject that has been ignored far too much this season. Starting next year, Danks will make $14.25 million for each of the next four seasons. He’ll also have a limited no-trade clause to block trades to six teams annually, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
Danks is hurt right now, so maybe he’ll come back and regain his previous form, but honest question: was his form ever worth $14.25 million/year? This just seems like it’s going to be a hard contract to move.
And as far as Greinke goes, see my comments above. If you put Greinke on this team, he’s your No. 3 starter at best and he’s going to want No. 1 money. Good luck with that.
As much as it pains me to say this, I don’t really have a problem with the way the White Sox farm system is structured. In my opinion, the job Kenny has done acquiring major league-ready talent to compete “in the now,” has been significant enough to deal with. Although it would be nice to follow a Javier Baez or a Jorge Soler through his respective minor league journey, I’m fine with dealing lower-level guys for players ready to play immediately.
The one thing I’m NOT okay with, is Kenny’s lack of attention paid towards the catching position. Tyler Flowers is bad. That’s it. Since the acquisition of “Iron Man” AJ, a premium has not been placed on security behind the starter. They got lucky with Chris Widger, and they got lucky with Ramon Castro. And Corky Miller? Come on now. Josh Phegley isn’t performing, and Hector Gimenez and Damaso Espino are both too old to be playing at the level they are.
Do you think –at any time in the near future– Kenny will place a premium on developing the position? Even if the White Sox decide to make AJ a one or two year offer, that only sweeps the problem under the rug temporarily. – Shane Riordan
I’m allowing the rare double question from Shane this week because it’s a good one. The White Sox have a lack of organizational depth at a number of positions (middle infield for one), but catcher might be the weakest. Tyler Flowers has never shown a consistent ability to hit major league pitching and Josh Phegley doesn’t exactly look like the answer either. At this point, I would be very surprised if A.J. Pierzynski isn’t back next season and I wouldn’t rule out a two-year deal.
I disagree with you that Kenny Williams hasn’t placed a premium on the position since the signing of Pierzynski. Tyler Flowers was supposed to be the answer and I remember having conversations with fans who were worried that Flowers would push A.J. out of town too soon.
At this point, I think it’s smart to re-sign Pierzynski and re-invest in the position, possibly through trade.
Hey Adam, I asked about this earlier in the year, and now that Fukodome, and Lillibridge are gone, why are the Sox so hesitant on bring up Dan Johnson? Jordan Danks looks clueless at the plate, and he already cost us one game in LA when he dove for a ball, and it went to the wall, and the Dodgers won. – Midnight Mike
I’m with you on this Dan Johnson thing. It’s something I first brought up back in April. He’s currently batting .274 with 22 home runs and 64 RBI in Triple-A. The problem is, the White Sox don’t really have much use for him. He’s been playing first base all season and the White Sox have Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Kevin Youkilis to play first. I advocated bringing him up to replace Brent Morel at third earlier this season, but obviously the Youkilis trade cured that. And don’t count on Johnson to replace Jordan Danks. Johnson hasn’t played the outfield in the majors since 2010 and that was only for a handful of games. Danks is better defensively in the outfield and is a good late-inning defensive replacement/pinch runner for Dayan Viciedo. Plus, how clueless at the plate can Danks be considering he’s 8-for-22 (.364)?
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson involved in a trade. He’s hitting well enough that another major league team might want his left-handed bat on their bench. Remember, it was just last year when he saved the Rays season with his two-out home run in the ninth inning that set up Evan Longoria’s playoff-clinching walk-off home run.
I was thinking the same thing you think we may bring him back and DFA Hudson? Lilly would be more valuable than O Dog I think. – @DROHNSON
This was in response to me suggesting the White Sox could bring back Brent Lillibridge since the Red Sox DFA’d him today. First, he’ll have to be officially released. If he is available, however, I agree that he would have more value than Hudson. He runs faster, is better defensively in the infield and can also play the outfield. Neither one of them is hitting, so it’s pretty much a wash there. Maybe you give Hudson a slight edge with the bat.
Plus, if Lillibridge came back to Chicago, it would make the Youkilis trade even more entertaining. Youkilis for Zach Stewart straight-up? Ouch.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.