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X marks a tough spot for Guillen, White Sox

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X marks a tough spot for Guillen, White Sox

Friday, Sept. 16, 2011Posted: 7:50 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
READ: Six-man saving sputter out

KANSAS CITY With the Chicago White Sox finally eliminated, the reality sunk in for manager Ozzie Guillen, whose combination of head cold and depression over losing out on the playoffs stringing his pregame sessions longer and longer.

This is a hard moment, especially when your expectation was to win the division and fight all the way through it, he said. Mentally, you have to overcome whatever it is to finish strong. Me? I have a passion and love for the game. Every game to me, I dont want to say I treat the same, but I take the same approach. Im not going to change anything for whatever reason; after opening day, there are 161 to go. Same thing here.

The White Sox are measurably worse this year than a year ago, when on Sept. 16 they were 79-67 and still had a faint flicker of life in the division race. Of course, a year ago marked the finish of sweep in Chicago at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, who would go on to win the division by six games over the White Sox. The Twins wouldnt clinch over Chicago until Sept. 20.

We get paid to deal with this thing the right way and the best way we can, Guillen said. No matter the excuses, you have to perform the right way. Obviously, the drive maybe is not there. But as soon as the game starts everybody has to go about their business.

For a manager who claims to rarely take games home with him, Guillen admits to being struck by the swift elimination of the White Sox this season.

I just talked to my wife about how very tough it is to go through it everything goes through your mind, like Wow, what did we do wrong? I put a lot of questions to myself, and the front office people and players do the same stuff: What could have been better? But at 7:05 or 7:10 game time, you have to play the game right. Thats what I expect from the players; I dont care if they have the desire or not. When the national anthem is over, they should be prepared to play, and play to win.

While all players cope in different ways with losses and elimination, the customarily quiet White Sox clubhouse remained no more so before Fridays game.

It should hit everyone: Im done. Its over with., Guillen said. How do you prepare yourself for the next day? Do you want to come back to the ballpark tomorrow? We play for pride, to win, finish off strong, but when its over, its over. When the referee counts 10, you cant get up anymore, its done. Throw in the towel, take a shower, and go home.

But as Guillen points out, baseball is not a 12-round prize fight.

This is baseball unfortunately we have to play another 10-12 days, he said, calling himself 'the loser.' I wish I could keep my quotes and remember how excited I was in spring training: Look at this ballclub, wow. Look at me now, what am I talking about? Second place, third place, wow.

A guy with less love for the game, Guillen said, wouldnt go through such suffering.

If I dont have the passion and love for this organization, for baseball, bro, Id pick up my stuff and go, Guillen said. What dont I have in baseball, a Silver Slugger? Everything else, I have: Playoff experience, coaching experience, manager experience, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year, a lot of stuff, championships, everything.

Thus for Guillen, without winning, theres nothing.

Theres nothing better than winning, I dont care what people say, he said. Winning is the best thing. The accomplishment of what you went through, you dont care if the owner was mad at you in April, if you had a confrontation with a player, people dont care what I say in the paper, its all beautiful. When you lose, all the stuff comes out, boom boom. This guys fault, that guys fault, blame this guy and that guy. At the end of the day were all here together, were all pulling on the same rope.

And Guillen finished his thoughts on this lost season again by defending those who put this team together and paid the bills.

If you want to blame somebody, dont blame the man, Guillen said. Blame me, because we didnt do what we were supposed to do. A lot of people are going to say Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham, we only have two guys win 10 games but as a team, you have to blame all the Chicago White Sox. The players, coaches, were the only ones who can control winning. We didnt do that, we didnt do the job. We failed once again.

"A lot of people think Don Cooper is an unbelievable f------ pitching coach but nobody has won 15 games yet. Everybody thinks Im the greatest manager in the g----- game, but I only won once. Its about what you win, what you can do, what you bring to the table We just didnt perform the way we thought we were going to perform. Whoever was here for 162 games and whoever wrote the lineup, blame them. Dont blame Jerry or Kenny, or anybody else. They did a good job putting this team together. Whoever was wearing this uniform failed.

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

White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball

27-year-old Justin Jirschele made quite an impression in his first season as manager of the White Sox Class-A affiliate in Kannapolis. He helped lead the Intimidators to the South Atlantic League championship, and was named White Sox Minor League Coach of the Year. Jirschele came on the podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien about how he went from playing minor league baseball with the White Sox to coaching in their system. He talks about how growing up with a dad who was coaching minor league baseball helped mold him as a manager who is wise beyond his years. Jirschele also gives a report on some of the top White Sox prospects he managed last season such as Jake Burger, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and Miker Adolfo.

After baseball punishes Braves, one ranker says White Sox have game's best farm system

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USA TODAY

After baseball punishes Braves, one ranker says White Sox have game's best farm system

The White Sox farm system is baseball's best, according to one of the people making those rankings.

In the wake of Major League Baseball's punishment of the Atlanta Braves for breaking rules regarding the signing of international players — which included the removal of 12 illegally signed prospects from the Braves' organization — MLB.com's Jim Callis tweeted out his updated top 10, and the White Sox are back in first place.

Now obviously there are circumstances that weakened the Braves' system, allowing the White Sox to look stronger by comparison. But this is still an impressive thing considering that three of the White Sox highest-rated prospects from the past year are now full-time big leaguers.

Yoan Moncada used to be baseball's No. 1 prospect, and pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez weren't too far behind. That trio helped bolster the highly ranked White Sox system. Without them, despite plenty of other highly touted prospects, common sense would say that the White Sox would slide down the rankings.

But the White Sox still being capable of having baseball's top-ranked system is a testament to the organizational depth Rick Hahn has built in such a short period of time.

While prospect rankings are sure to be refreshed throughout the offseason, here's how MLB Pipeline's rankings look right now in regards to the White Sox:

4. Eloy Jimenez
9. Michael Kopech
22. Luis Robert
39. Blake Rutherford
57. Dylan Cease
90. Alec Hansen