White Sox

Kenny Williams, Ozzie Guillen's troubles a thing of the past


Kenny Williams, Ozzie Guillen's troubles a thing of the past

Kenny Williams vs. Ozzie Guillen is apparently water under the bridge.

The executive vice president and former manager had an infamous falling out that led to the end of Guillen's tenure as White Sox manager.

But after being spotted chatting ahead of Friday's home opener on the South Side, Williams was asked about the status of his relationship with Guillen. And Williams said any disharmony is a thing of the past.

"We were 18 years old, so 18, it’s a 30-year friendship and a lot of laughs and a lot of good times. We suffered through some bad times together and still managed to have some laughs along the way. We both got together and decided, listen, whatever transpired over the last couple of years really had less to do with he and I and more to do with some things on the peripheral that some were just, created I won’t say falsely, but certainly created with ill intentions," Williams said ahead of Saturday's game against the Twins. "We’ve chosen to focus on all the years we had a great positive relationship and accomplished something very special than some of the other things."

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Williams and Guillen teamed to help guide the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005, Guillen's second season as manager. But after that, the famously opinionated Guillen led the South Siders to just one postseason appearance over the next six years.

Guillen's departure from the franchise was tied to discord between he and Williams' front office. And Guillen had little luck in his lone season managing the Miami Marlins in 2012, infamously complimenting Fidel Castro in the Marlins' new ballpark in the heart of Little Havana.

Though Guillen's personality hasn't always had beneficial results, Williams said that type of personality is what's missing from baseball today.

"I feel like baseball is missing something. I think misses personality and characters," Williams said, "and a guy who has had as much success as he has and has much baseball knowledge as he has and has a desire to be in uniform should be in uniform somewhere. Hopefully he gets another chance to show it.

"As we talked about yesterday, he says, ‘Kenny, I was in my late 30s when all this started. I’m 51 years old now, and I have mellowed.’ I looked at him and said, ‘You’ve what?’ I’m not completely buying it, but I know what you are talking about. I hope he can get in position again to get another opportunity, and there’s no doubt that if he does, he’ll be successful and a little more mellow."

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So Williams thinks that Guillen deserves to be managing somewhere. But that doesn't mean he's surprised Guillen hasn't gotten another gig since he left Miami.

"I’m not," Williams said. "One thing that he has, I think, grown to appreciate — and he’s said it directly multiple times is — he appreciates my honesty and continued honesty, because he hadn’t always gotten that elsewhere. That’s nice on my part to hear. And I’m not going to change, so I told him, I said. ‘Listen, a lot of what you’re going through now was self-created. And in order to have that turned around, you’re going to have to show people that there is that more mature, 51-year old man who’s ready to employ a different strategy.’”

When it comes to that strategy, Williams pointed it out as one of Guillen's better attributes.

With all the focus on analytics in the game these days, the hot managerial hires are the ones who utilize the data to their advantage. Look at Joe Maddon and the buzz he's created on the North Side of town. Williams said Saturday that Guillen, for all his comments over the years and his status as a former player, is far more in tune with the new style of the game than many think.

“He sees positioning, he sees first step quickness, he sees swings and one of the things I don’t think he gets credit for ... we as a whole were always perceived as a scouting and just old-school baseball organization, but he does factor in all of the new-fangled stuff that people talk about, with the sabermetrics and all that," Williams said. "He puts it to good use as well, so hopefully he’s not just considered by the old-guard general managers for another opportunity, but from some of the young guys who employ a different set of strategies.”

It's been 10 years since Guillen and Williams both lifted the World Series trophy. It's been three and a half since Guillen managed his last game for the White Sox.

But anything that happened between the two has apparently been put to rest. These longtime friends — before they were building and managing rosters, they were White Sox teammates in the 1980s — have, according to Williams, put bad times in the past and are focusing on the good.

White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits


White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

When the White Sox drafted Nick Madrigal with the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft he was known as an elite contact hitter who could play good defense on the infield.

In nearly a year in the minors, that has mostly held true, but not exactly according to plan. Madrigal raced through three levels of the minors in 2018 and hit .303 in 43 games between those three stops. He only had five strikeouts.

This season has not gone as smoothly. Madrigal is hitting .261 for Single-A Winston-Salem, but he still isn’t striking out much at all. In fact, according to a write-up on Milb.com, Madrigal leads of all minor league baseball with a 3.3 percent strikeout rate.

“Madrigal has plus speed, and that should lead to more hits as his sample increases, but he'll have to hit a lot more to provide value from his specific profile,” Sam Dykstra wrote.

So what’s with Madrigal not hitting for higher average? How can a batter strikeout so rarely and not find more hits?

White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, one of the key decision makers in drafting Madrigal, talked about Madrigal’s progress on an episode of the White Sox Talk podcast earlier this week.

“The one thing he’s still doing is making contact,” Hostetler said. “So that is what we expected. We expected that out of him. I’m not sure he was probably expecting the streaks. I think he’s dealt with a lot of streaks in his offensive game this year. I think he had one stretch that was 0-for-16 or 17 and he came back with a couple hits. So he’s been a little streaky this year. But I think he’s starting to learn. He’s starting to develop. He’s had one home run. He’s starting to hit some doubles, but he’s starting to learn to get the ball in the air a little bit. He’s learning how teams are shifting him, how they’re playing him.”

The shifts Hostetler referred to are another interesting part of Madrigal’s unusual profile. He is actually going to opposite field more than pulling the ball down left field and opposing defenses are playing him accordingly. That could be one reason to explain why Madrigal isn’t getting more hits out of all the balls he is putting in play.

He is showing a bit more power this year as opposed to last year (11 extra base hits vs. 7 in only 10 more plate appearances). His spray charts for 2018 and 2019 show he is pulling the ball more than he used to, a sign that he is adjusting.

2018 spray chart:

2019 spray chart:

Note that Madrigal has more balls resulting in hits getting pulled down the left field side than he had last year. As defenses are shifting him to hit the ball to opposite field, as Hostetler noted, this will be a key part of his development.

He is showing progress in other areas. He is drawing more walks (14 this season vs. 7 last year) and is showing off his speed with 12 stolen bases.

Hostetler isn’t pushing the panic button on Madrigal.

“This is part of development,” Hostetler said. “Unfortunately the new wave we’re in everybody thinks ‘well, they’re a college guy and he’s drafted so high he needs to hit like this and go right away and be there in a year.’ Some guys just take a little bit.

“The one thing I’ll say is the defense has been exactly what we thought it would be. It’s Gold Glove caliber defense and he’s making contact. As long as he keeps making contact, keep fielding those balls like he is, he’ll figure out the rest.”


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Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

It appears Eloy Jimenez is heating up.

The White Sox rookie outfielder didn’t get off to a great start this season, but he showed flashes of his potential. Then, he went down with injury and missed more than three weeks.

After going 0-for-7 in his first two games back from injury, Jimenez broke out with two home runs on Wednesday. He followed that up with another bomb on Thursday in a 4-0 win in Houston.

The fact that Jimenez stringing home runs together wasn't the big story of the game is a testament to Lucas Giolito's impressive outing on the mound.

Jimenez now has as many home runs in the four games since coming back from injury (3) as he had in his first 21 games before going down. That’s far too small of a sample size to say the time off did anything productive for Jimenez, but the 22-year-old is showing the power he was known for in the minors.

Overall, Jimenez is hitting .234/.280/.447. The average and on-base percentage are lower than expected considering he was a career .311 hitter in the minors. However, eight of his 22 hits in the majors have gone for extra bases, with six of those being home runs.

Thursday’s home run went 414 feet after he blasted shots of 419 and 417 feet the night before.

He also had some fun with the camera in the dugout and then had some fun in the field by celebrating a diving catch with a laugh.

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