White Sox

Guillen's sound and fury signifies a BS-L


Guillen's sound and fury signifies a BS-L

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Posted: 4:34 p.m Updated: 6:14 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini

CHICAGOGames like these, they challenge a managers soul.

This afternoon, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was full of sound and fury, and in a rare case of wheel-spinning and foundation-collapsing, he was signifying nothing.

In truth, Guillen doled out one notion with crystal clarity in a brief postgame session that was scarred by ferocity and found him linguistically leaping like a leopard from a bush before physically standing up and storming out of his own press conference, swearing and toppling his chair.

The message to take from the White Soxs dastardly 7-4, fall-from-ahead loss to the Oakland As on Wednesday, wherein Guillen lit the match of a full-blown closer conundrum that threatens to hang over Chicago all season? Its simple.

This aint on me.

Guillen tackled a first, tenuous question about bullpen dj vu, and set off on a rant: When you have a bad bullpen, thats what happens. Thats what happens. Thats the third time a big blown lead has happened. I wish I knew who I could bring in the ninth. I mean, today we tried everyone in one inning. No more excuses.

Guillen then proceeded to throw 21-year-old reliever Chris Sale under the bus, accepting no responsibility for running the lefthander right back out after having thrown 34 pitches in two innings just half a day earlier.

We had a three-run lead, and he said he could go, was Guillens explanation for plugging Sale right back into action.

While on the surface Guillen appeared to be enraged by his media session and furious at his cowardly lion of a bullpen, it was clear he was growing increasingly angry at himself for precipitating the situation.

Asked for his opinion on his wheezing pen, Guillen took a seat in the stands, or press row, rather than the dugout, where he was tossing cups full of water as his team melted before him: I see what you guys see. Next. What the hell am I going to see? I see the same sh-- you guys see.

Drunkenly descending into a spate of postgame madness, Guillen became increasingly blinded by rage, hopping from excusing Sergio Santos from the debacle (ignoring the fact that the righty threw just 24 pitches yesterday vs. Sales 34) to an offhand joke about calling in ex-Sox closing ace Bobby Thigpen now Single-A Winston-Salem pitching coach to help out before a final, ranting meltdown against his own pitchers, a scene almost frightening to witness.

When we play good, they send those guys to this g-damn table and talk to them like heroes, Guillen spat. When we f--- it up, Im the one who has to go-damn sit here and talk to you guys.

With that, Ozzie flew the coop.

Team security offered a pat on the back during the death march back through the tunnel, which Guillen pulled away from, too sensitive to touch.

The White Sox headmaster too often spins vitriol into poetry, keeping the 24-hour sports media industry awash in cash. Today, his daggers were better disguised, surprisingly turning inward.

An off-day, and a trip to Miami to visit youngest son Ozney, await. The timing could not possibly be better.

The dirty details

In truth, it had been a nice run for Guillen early in the season, navigating the Chicago White Sox to a 7-4 record in spite of dealing with a struggling bullpen, Adam Dunns cranky appendix and some chronically-leaky outfield D.

Dropping to 7-5 has never seemed so precipitous.

John Danks threw eight sparkling innings, notching seven strikeouts against five hits and two walks. After a solid first start and a throwaway second, Danks tossed a gem to put himself in line for his first win of the season, giving the White Sox four well above-average starts in their last five.

But in the ninth, Sale came on to relieve Danks after having thrown 34 pitches a half a day earlier, and the rookie lefty threw gasoline on embers, surrendering a double, single, and single to pull Oakland within two. Jesse Crains attempt to rescue Sale was mixed, walking the bases full before striking out Kurt Suzuki.

Closer Matt Thornton came on and quickly Ks Ryan Sweeney, but surrendered a two-run single to Cliff Pennington tie the game. The Pale Hose, surely the most booed and mocked 7-5 team as the 2011 season gets underway, again had to open the umbrellas on a storm of boos.
John Danks left with a 4-1 lead after eight innings of work, but is still in search of his first win this season. (US PRESSWIRE)
Unfortunately for the embattled Thornton, Guillen has already burned two relievers, meaning hed have to ascend the bump for the 10th. Once there, the towering lefty retired Mark Ellis but successively walked Conor Jackson and Josh Willingham, setting the table for safeties from Coco Crisp and Daric Barton. In a sneeze, the As were up for good, 7-4.

It was a first-pitch fastball. I just dropped it in, Thornton said with a muted laugh. After that, I didnt do anything right. I walked two guys. Oh, man. Theres no way to even describe it right now, frustration is pretty high. Just keep on working and battling and get back to what I do best, going out and attacking hitters and making pitches. Right now, Im not making good enough pitches.

Confidence isnt the problem. Its frustration right now. This is the most frustrated Ive been in a long time. I cant remember a run of games like this where I havent gotten the job done this many times in a row. So, Ill get out of here for a day, clear my head and come back strong on Friday, ready to go.

Similarly Danks, despite all he lost in the gameand yeah, this marks three lost opportunities to stack winsstood tall, wearing beard scruff and John Wayne swagger.

Obviously these are games we should win, and we feel like were gonna win, Danks said. With that said, we know were gonna win these games over the course of the season. Were gonna win these games. It sucks now, butWere gonna win these games.

Better days

Before this worst ninth inning of the season, the first eight featured all the hallmarks of an ideal Guillen game: terrific starting pitching, solid infield defense, and smallball aggressiveness.

Danks was simply delicious, dancing through eight innings and 108 seemingly effortless pitches.

I felt good, I really did, the lefty said. I made a couple of bad 0-2 pitches early in the game that fortunately B-mo Brent Morel over there at 3rd base made some good plays on and Carlos Quentin made a helluva play in right field in the fourth. But once I got settled into the game, I felt real good.

As Danks alluded, Morel provided outstanding defense, and Chicagos infield turned in two double plays to keep Danks on cruise control late.

After the fans base howled that Mark Buehrle should have been allowed to finish the game on Tuesday night, thereby rendering Alexei Ramirezs heroics unnecessary, the thought that Danks should finish what he started has been raised.

Danks dismissed that without undue delay.

No, no, no, I was done, he said. If I hadnt have gotten the double play in the eighth, I might not have finished the inning. So there wasnt even a thought of me going back out in the ninth.

Another positive for Chicago was its abundant smallball, most significantly in the form of multiple bunt hits and sacrifices, including Morels safety squeeze to plate Chicagos third run. And Juan Pierre committed his third error of the young season on a base hit to left, but reached base all five times in the game with his usual assortment of scrappy, scratchy play.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?

What’s there to know about the Houston Astros?

They’re the best, that’s what there is to know.

The Astros are the defending world champions for a multitude of reasons, and it’s all those and more that will have them as a favorite to repeat in 2018. Yes, the Cubs and New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians will all have something to say about that. But right now, no team is better on paper than the team the just won the big enchilada not five months ago.

The best 1-2 starting-pitching in combo in baseball? It belongs to the Astros. Justin Verlander was sensational for them after coming over in a late-summer trade with the Detroit Tigers. All he did was post a 1.06 ERA in five regular-season starts and a 2.21 ERA in six postseason outings. Justin Verlander. Again. And then there’s his running mate Dallas Keuchel — who doesn’t like the Cubs very much, apparently — has been just as good. He had a 2.90 ERA last year and won the American League Cy Young in 2015 with a 2.48 ERA and 20 wins.

Get past those guys and you’ll have to face the new guy. Gerrit Cole is now an Astro, as well, the reigning champs bolstering their already excellent rotation by importing one of the National League’s best pitchers. Cole saw his numbers jump last year (4.26 ERA) but still almost had 200 strikeouts and now has a much better roster around him than the one he left in Pittsburgh.

Charlie Morton? He threw four one-run innings in Game 7 of the World Series. Lance McCullers? He had 2.1 shutout innings in Game 7 of the World Series. This rotation is a force that could mow down the AL. There are questions, sure, but this five is entering 2018 as the best collection of arms in the Junior Circuit.

And we haven’t even gotten to the hitting. Oh, the hitting! The Astros scored 34 runs in seven World Series games. They banged out 56 hits. They hit 15 home runs. This after they were baseball’s best offense during the regular season.

The names are obvious to anyone who watched the postseason. Jose Altuve, surely tired of all the short jokes, is arguably the best player in baseball, and he won the AL MVP last season with a ridiculous .346/.410/.547 slash line. Carlos Correa, perhaps baseball’s best young shortstop, had a .315/.391/.550 slash line. George Springer, your World Series MVP, hit 34 regular-season home runs and got on base at a .367 clip before hitting five homers and slashing .379/.471/.1.000 in the Fall Classic.

Then there’s Alex Bregman and Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez, who were all very good to great in 2017. They shouldn’t all be expected to do what they did last season — you need look no further than the Cubs to see what a deep World Series run can do to a team, especially early. But is there a better lineup than this in the AL? Anyone? Bueller?

It’s hard to repeat, and “hard” is becoming one heck of an understatement considering no one’s repeated in almost two decades. The Yankees last did it when they beat the broken-bat-throwing Mike Piazza and the New York Mets in the 2000 World Series. Since then, no one’s done it twice in a row.

Last year, most of us looked at the Cubs and said, “They have the best team, they are favorites to do it again.” And then they were not even in first place in the NL Central at the All-Star break. A similar fate could await the Astros. But right now, they look like the best team the AL has to offer.

Houston, you are clear for takeoff ... again.

2017 record: 101-61, first place in AL West, World Series champions

Offseason additions: Gerrit Cole, , Joe Smith, Hector Rondon

Offseason departures: Carlos Beltran, Cameron Maybin, Mike Fiers, Tyler Clippard, Luke Gregerson, Francisco Liriano

X-factor: The Astros now count one-time Cubs closer Hector Rondon among their relievers now, but the X-factor pick here is Bregman. After a fine but nothing special first half, he was one of baseball's best after the All-Star break last year, slashing .315/.367/.536 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 71 games in the second half.

Projected lineup:

1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Josh Reddick, RF
6. Marwin Gonzalez, 1B
7. Brian McCann, C
8. Evan Gattis, DH
9. Derek Fisher, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Justin Verlander
2. Dallas Keuchel
3. Gerrit Cole
4. Lance McCullers
5. Charlie Morton

Prediction: First place in AL West

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: How many members of the bullpen are long-term pieces?


Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: How many members of the bullpen are long-term pieces?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

White Sox fans playing the 2020 projection game likely aren't spending too much time on the relief corps.

It might be fun to pick out five names for a potentially elite starting rotation. It might be fun to go around the diamond and place the name of a top prospect at each position. It's probably far less enjoyable to predict which pitchers won't make it as starters and which middle relievers might hit the free-agent market after the 2019 season.

But the bullpen will be a valuable part of any contending White Sox team of the future. And just like everywhere else on the roster, its construction starts now.

The question is, though, after selling off most of the bullpen last summer, how many members of the White Sox bullpen in 2018 will be a part of it in 2020?

Rick Hahn's front office could use a similar strategy this season as it did last season, when Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and Dan Jennings were all traded away to acquire prospects that might or might not end up helping the team's rebuilding efforts. This offseason has seen a lot of additions to the relief corps. Luis Avilan and Joakim Soria were acquired in a three-team trade, and there were a bunch of veterans signed to minor league deals that could end up on the team. Those older relievers fit the bill of trade bait, potential sign-and-flip guys that could be used to acquire more minor league talent.

But at the same time, there are young guys who will be a part of this 'pen, guys who could show they belong for the foreseeable future. Juan Minaya, just 27, was the White Sox closer at the end of last season and could very well start this season with that job. He picked up nine saves over the season's last month and a half and didn't give up a run in his final eight outings. The 24-year-old Aaron Bummer pitched in 30 games with the White Sox last season and is still ranked as one of the organization's top 20 prospects. Gregory Infante is 30 but put up good numbers in 52 big league games, finishing the year with a 3.13 ERA.

And then there's Nate Jones. He's pitched in parts of six seasons with the White Sox and just turned 32 years old, but the key word there is "parts." Jones hasn't been able to stay healthy, pitching in just 11 games last year and only 21 combined games in 2014 and 2015. But when he has stayed on the field, he's been very good. Look at 2016, when he turned in a 2.29 ERA and struck out 80 batters in 70.2 innings. Jones is under contract through as long as the 2021 season and has the stuff to contend for the closer's job at some point this season.

While Soria and Avilan look like guys who could be moved should they pitch well enough to draw midseason interest — a reason Soria could potentially get a look at closer at some point, that and his wealth of experience in the role — there are a few names that could be pitching for their long-term futures with the team. Outside of Zack Burdi, there isn't a highly touted prospect that currently projects to be a bullpen guy. That leaves opportunity for some of the guys on this year's roster.