Monday, September 26, 2011
It was time for Ozzie to leave Chicago
By David Schoenfield
In 1917, the Chicago White Sox won 100 games and the World Series under manager Pants Rowland. A year later, he was fired, unable to get along with owner Charles Comiskey, which is about as surprising as not getting along with a rabid pit bull.
The White Sox ran through 32 managers before hiring Ozzie Guillen in 2004, including some big names, guys who had success before coming to Chicago or would have success after leaving Chicago: Jim Fregosi, Tony La Russa, Bob Lemon, Chuck Tanner, Eddie Stanky, Al Lopez, Paul Richards, Jimmy Dykes … none of them could win the World Series. Ozzie, of course, did it in his second year, managing the Sox to 99 wins and a dominant 11-1 postseason in 2005 that included a sweep of the Houston Astros in the World Series.
But reports out of Chicago indicate Ozzie has managed his last game with the White Sox, as he’ll be “traded” to the Florida Marlins and become their manager as they move into a new ballpark in 2012. Considering this is the organization that sent down Logan Morrison for his tweeting activities, it should prove to be an interesting relationship.
It was time for Ozzie to leave Chicago. He guided the White Sox to another division title in 2008, but finished under .500 in two of the past three seasons. The offense collapsed this season, and while Ozzie can’t be completely blamed for the disastrous seasons from Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, he can perhaps be faulted for the regression of Gordon Beckham, his insistence on batting Juan Pierre leadoff, and his inability to find better solutions other than keeping Dunn and Rios out there day after day. When things go wrong, the best managers show some creativity; Ozzie seemed unable to come up with or try a Plan B.
A change will be good for Chicago. It needs a new skipper with perhaps a more objective assessment of the current personnel, or at least one who isn’t willing to give Pierre 700 plate appearances. General manager Kenny Williams needs to evaluate the current roster and invest in some hitters; Paul Konerko can't be expected to carry this team again.
As for the Marlins, the question: Will Ozzie be a good fit? While he had the “Ozzieball” label from his World Series-winning season in Chicago, that’s not really the way he managed through the years. The White Sox were generally a team that lived and died with the long ball and good starting pitching. His big wins in player development: John Danks and Gavin Floyd became solid major league starters, Bobby Jenks was a rookie closer in 2005, and Alexei Ramirez developed from an error-prone second baseman into a solid shortstop. But for the most part, the Sox relied on veteran players during his tenure.
As a player, Ozzie was one of the greatest hackers in major league history, and the White Sox never finished higher than seventh in the AL in walks under Ozzie. It’s hard to score enough consistently if you’re not getting on base. That’s the issue I would be most concerned about as a Marlins fan. Mike Stanton has a chance to be one of the great hitters in the game, but will he become too aggressive under Ozzie? Morrison is a patient hitter with a lot of upside. Hanley Ramirez needs to get his career resurrected. Is Ozzie the right guy to turn those three guys into an elite 3-4-5 middle of the order?
We'll find out; odds are it will be entertaining either way.