BBQ: The truth about Kenny vs. Ozzie rumors

230427.jpg

BBQ: The truth about Kenny vs. Ozzie rumors

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
9:19 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

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?
Yes.

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.

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

kenwilliamssox.png
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As he surveyed the landscape this offseason, Peter Bourjos thought he and the White Sox would make for a good fit.

Adam Eaton had been traded and Austin Jackson departed via free agency, leaving the White Sox with Melky Cabrera and several young players to man a thin outfield. Bourjos, who lived in Chicago until second grade, pursued the White Sox and last month agreed to terms on a minor-league deal in hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Bourjos, who was born in Chicago, hit .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 383 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I always liked playing in Chicago,” Bourjos said. “It was a good fit and then spring training is here. I have two young kids. So packing them up and going to Florida wasn’t something I wanted to do either.

“We definitely look at all those options on paper. Evaluate what might be the best chance of making a team and this is definitely one of them. It seems like a good fit on paper.”

If he’s healthy enough, Charlie Tilson will get the first crack at the everyday job in center field. Tilson, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring, is currently sidelined for 10 days with foot problems. Beyond Tilson, the White Sox have prospects Adam Engel and Jacob May with Cabrera slated to start in left field and Avisail Garcia pegged for right. Leury Garcia is also in the mix.

But there still appears to be a good shot for Bourjos to make the club and manager Rick Renteria likes his veteran presence for the young group. Bourjos has accrued six seasons of service time between the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

“Bourjy has been around,” Renteria said. “He knows what it takes. He understands the little nuances of major-league camp and how we have so many players and we want to give them all a look. We want to see Bourjos, we want to see him out there.”

Bourjos, who turns 30 in March, has an idea what he wants to do with his chance. A slick defensive outfielder, Bourjos wants to prove he’s a better hitter than his .243/.300/.382 slash line would suggest. He said it’s all about being relaxed.

“Offensively just slow everything down and not try to do too much,” Bourjos said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it hasn’t translated. I think last year I got in a spot where I just tried to relax in the batter’s box and let everything go and what happened happened. I had success with that.

“I now realize what that feels like and it doesn’t work. Just take a deep breath and be relaxed in the box and good things are going to happen.”