Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
With rumors, whispers, and team sources ever swirling through the offseason, turn to the BBQ to provide a bit of a reality check. First up, the rumor that Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams was on the verge of trading manager Ozzie Guillen to the Florida Marlins.
As tweeted last week, it didnt take long for sportswriters to get bored this Chicago White Sox offseason, what with the doozy of an exclusive that put forth the proposition, straightfaced, that Williams during the 2010 season was on the verge of shipping Guillen to the Florida Marlins for 20-year-old batting brute Mike Stanton (.833 OPS and 22 dingers in just 100 games in 2010). This episode of Writers Gone Wild captivated the world of baseball for about a day, in addition to providing twitterpating White Sox conspiracy theorist Oney Guillen a new round of I Told You So's.
OK, so this rumor was outright dumb?
Dumber for the White Sox or the Marlins?
Hard to say. Williams main response: I thought this was over with. But the Marlins, not wanting to appear like the absolute idiots this supposed swap paints them as, issued vociferous denials as well.
Did anything revealing come of the rumor or denials?
One interesting nugget came from comments Williams made to MLB.com, that the report isnt completely accurate. So Williams, in the midst of utter frustration over the stoked and restoked rumors that he hates Ozzie and his manager wishes to poison him in his sleep, did acknowledge some truth in the manager-for-slugger swap.
What part is accurate?
Lets apply some basic powers of deduction to the rumor. Williams surely wasnt on the verge of trading his manager for Floridas Baby Bambino. But the GM is just clever enough to listen to any offer, to push the envelope a step farther than anyone expects. He probably also realized that Marlins owner and apparent Guillen confidante Jeffrey Loria is prone to bouts of loco. So Florida did probably float a trial balloon up north, even to the point of asking for official permission to talk with Guillen.
My guess is that Williams, brash as ever (and, oh, incidentally, because he does love Ozzie and believes hes the best fit for the White Sox), said, well, talking to Ozzie costs you Stanton. Or, at his most generous, Williams wanted a guarantee hed get the slugger if Ozzie surprised the GM by asking out of Chicago. And thats where the discussion ended.
So, if Florida had agreed to swap Stanton, were talking about new White Sox manager Joey Cora?
Not so fast. Had the Marlins agreed to send Stanton north in exchange for an Ozzie chat, Williams likely would have had a frank talk with Ozzie himself -- the same one the two men ended up having at seasons end, anyway. Basically, Williams would have asked: Ozzie, do you want to be in Chicago? That way, if Ozzie had contradicted everything hed ever said about the White Sox being the only place he ever wanted to manage and told Williams, hey, yeah, I want to shift to the Marlins, at least the GM had his rear-end covered.
If this is all smoke and mirrors, why did the White Sox grant Florida permission to speak with Ozzie?
So says Ozzie, at least. Guillen apparently confirmed that the Marlins had been granted permission to speak to him about being their next manager, but the two parties never spoke. Besides, its doubtful -- and bad business -- to grant another team the chance to negotiate with arguably Chicagos most important asset for free. Hence, the genesis of the Guillen-for-Stanton rumor.
Yeah, wait a minute, Ozzies moving out of Florida, right?
Dousing the flames indeed is the fact that Ozzie put his Miami home up for sale during the season, expressing his desire for the first time to spend his entire offseason (aside from days spent in Venezuela) in Chicag -- its where both he and his two oldest sons have put down roots.
What was all that stuff at the end of the season about Guillen managing elsewhere?
Call it a public-relations mishap. Guillen was not above a bit of late-season media posturing, going so far as to acknowledge hed even talk to the crosstown Cubs about managing if it came down to it. But Ozzie did paint himself in a corner with generalities about where he stood with the team -- when I asked specifically what he wanted to hear from the White Sox about his status, he could only crack a joke about a lifetime contract. Its fair to assume that Ozzie and Ken let their relationship lapse -- in fact it came as a surprise that at first hint of Guillens insecurity, Williams didnt immediately patch it both privately and publicly.
So Ozzie is happy with the White Sox?
He always has been. This is a man whos done nothing short of continuously proclaiming himself the consummate White Sox, with black and white pinstripes tattooed down his torso. The weight of Chico Carrasquel and Lou Aparicio expectations has been on his shoulders for 25 years and counting.
What was Williams take on all of this?
Expletives aside, not much. The GM would sooner cancel his NFL Season Ticket than address myriad Ozzie rumors further. But one day, well sit a spell and chat over this tumultuous time in the Ken-Ozzie partnerships history, and boy is the truth going to be bland. Williams (hopeful) final text on the matter was concise: Ozzie is the manager of the White Sox next year and I hope the next 10 years after. How many times do I have to bleeping say it?
So all is well?
All is well, White Sox fans. Rest easy. Ozzies not going anywhere.
BBQ Verdict: Overdone
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.