Guillen's sound and fury signifies a BS-L

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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
CSNChicago.com

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.

How the White Sox and Tim Anderson came to their creative contract extension

How the White Sox and Tim Anderson came to their creative contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Among the many complex elements involved in getting a deal done, timing appears to have been the most critical for Tim Anderson and the White Sox.

Even though Anderson has less than a year of service time, both sides felt it was imperative they complete a six-year pact during spring training that could pay the shortstop upward of $50.5 million.

With Opening Day rapidly approaching, neither the White Sox nor Anderson's representatives at Reynolds Sports Management had any interest in allowing talks to extend into the season for the player's sake. And when it comes to why now -- whether it was eliminating risk or assuming it, the years of control on the back end or the dollars and cents — it was clear to all parties that the present was the only logical time to finalize a deal that could keep Anderson in Chicago through 2024.

"We felt now was the right opportunity to get the length of control we were looking for and we were comfortable with," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "I think the fact that it is an aggressive move on our part is probably not a surprise given what you've seen us do with some of our other players, which took people by surprise. But again, we view him as a premium talent who's going to be an important part of what we're trying accomplish for the next several years."

To complete a deal like this, one that members of the White Sox front office often refer to as "win-win contracts," both sides must make significant concessions. Anderson's extension is the fifth long-term deal completed by the White Sox in four years, starting with Chris Sale's contract in March 2013.

The team benefits by locking up the first two seasons of Anderson's free agency at an affordable rate. The White Sox used that additional control to their advantage this offseason when they traded Sale and Adam Eaton for seven talented prospects.

But to gain those benefits, Hahn and Co. must be comfortable enough with the expected performance, the potential for injury and the person to assume the risk created by guaranteeing $25 million.

On the other side, Anderson's representatives must potentially concede the front end of free agency in order to gain security.

Even then, the deal isn't complete unless the player is satisfied.

"There's a lot of things that have to line up for a deal like this to work," said White Sox assistant GM Jeremy Haber.

When the two sides first made contact several weeks ago, Anderson's management team was skeptical.

The club's first offer was rejected.

Similar to the White Sox, Anderson's agent, Larry Reynolds, sees a star in the making. Not only does he possess the tools and work ethic necessary to become great, Anderson's reps believe he also has the drive necessary to make further progress. Given Anderson produced 2.8 Wins Above Replacement in his first season, Reynolds' team needed to be convinced to sacrifice valuable front-end years on the next contract.

Once the White Sox adjusted the proposed arbitration numbers, the likelihood of an extension increased.

When he has one-plus year of service time in 2018, Anderson will earn $1 million — exactly $50,000 shy of what Kris Bryant is making this season after he already won a Rookie of the Year award and a Most Valuable Player award. In 2019, Anderson's $1.4 million salary will be $400,000 more than Mike Trout — already a two-time AL MVP runner-up — earned with roughly the same amount of service time. The $4 million Anderson is set to take home in 2020 is $400,000 higher than Jackie Bradley is earning this season in his first year of arbitration eligibility and $1.275 million more than Lorenzo Cain earned in his in 2015.

Those figures as well as a $7.25 million payday in 2021 and $9.5 million in 2022 were enough to convince Anderson and his team to concede his first two years of free agency.

"This deal was a challenging one, particularly when you have a special talent like Tim's to consider," said Reynolds Sports Management COO Patrick Murphy. "The length of the contract and the club options were concerning, but as the negotiations progressed, Larry (Reynolds) and the group got more comfortable. In the end, what really mattered was the fact that Tim wanted to do the deal, so we pulled the trigger."

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To arrive at the point where they wanted to lock down Anderson, the White Sox had to feel comfortable assuming risk. If anything goes wrong, they'd be on the hook for half of the contract. According to Hahn and Haber, there was never any doubt about pushing forward. Hahn said the White Sox initially discussed the possibility of an extension a year ago.

The ease with which they decided to move on that idea only grew the more they knew Anderson, whom they selected with the 17th overall pick of the 2013 draft. Not only is Anderson athletic, the White Sox have found him to be a quick learner who’s motivated to prove his doubters wrong.

"One of the things we talked about before engaging was if there was anyone in the organization who felt that Tim got guaranteed money that it would change how he approached the game and how he prepared," Hahn said. "Everyone I had that conversation with immediately to a man said no. He's about trying to be great and trying to win championships. He's not doing this for the money. He's not going to change his work ethic or who he is in the clubhouse or the field just because he has guaranteed cash in his pocket now."

All it took was the time to hammer out the deal.

But with the team's April 3 opener nearing, both sides hoped to have an answer by Sunday. They didn't want Anderson, who said he was surprised the team wanted to extend him, to be worried about his status as the regular season approached.

Whereas the two parties spoke about once every four days at the start, Reynolds and Haber were in contact 2-3 times per day on Friday and Saturday as negotiations intensified. After it was finalized, Anderson said he could feel the weight of it all. The sides agreed to the deal late Saturday and Anderson took his physical on Monday.

While stressful at the time, Anderson is pleased to have security and a home for at least the next six seasons.

"It's life changing," Anderson said. "For me to go out and perform the way I did and for them to reward them the way I did, it's such a blessing. Especially for someone like me from where I come from. It's just really an honor for me to be able to do this.

"That speaks highly of them, for them to believe in me like that. Just from 115 days in the big leagues last year. I'm very thankful and forever be humble and just keep moving forward with this."

Prospect Zack Burdi's focus in White Sox camp: 'Act like you belong'

Prospect Zack Burdi's focus in White Sox camp: 'Act like you belong'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — He already carries the confidence of someone who throws 100 mph. But Zack Burdi felt even more secure entering camp after receiving sound advice from his older brother, who also happens to play pro ball.

Burdi — selected with the 26th overall pick of the 2016 draft — hasn't felt too overwhelmed over the past five weeks even though he's experiencing big league camp for the first time. A process-oriented pitcher, the White Sox prospect said he owes his comfort to the guidance of his brother, Minnesota Twins farmhand Nick Burdi. 

"Act like you belong," Burdi said of the advice. "Don't make it out to be something it isn't. It's still a game. You're still going out there and playing a game you've played for the last 19 years. That was the big thing."

If it weren't for a gaggle of talented, newly acquired prospects alongside him in camp, Burdi might have been the hot topic in camp this spring. He features a fastball that rates 75 on the 20-80 scouting scale, a 60-slider and a 55-changeup, according to MLB.com. The arsenal has many of the belief Burdi could one day be a stalwart in the back of a major league bullpen. The Louisville-product is also very advanced compared with most 2016 draftees and was considered to be the most major league-ready player at the time of last June's draft.

But until the club made a series of moves Tuesday, Burdi, who has a 2.70 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 10 innings this spring, was just one of a bevy of talented prospects in the White Sox clubhouse. Of the team's top seven prospects, five are right-handed pitchers. Burdi is the team's No. 7 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. 

Armed with his brother's advice, Burdi has focused on keeping his head low and his eyes and ears open this spring. He said one of the best parts about the advice that Nick Burdi — who also went to Louisville and was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft — offered is that he had a sense of how the camp would be run. Though no two camps are alike, having a sense of what the day-to-day operation is like gave Burdi comfort. 

"Nick's someone I've looked to in countless situations in baseball or outside of it for advice," Zack Burdi said. "It has been nothing but good advice throughout it all. To come to camp and kind of have a little insight of how it's going to go, how it's going to be, was a huge personal advantage for me because I like to know how certain things are going to go. I don't like going in too blind."

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Burdi is in an enviable position as his first big league camp is coming to a close. He's the highest-rated prospect left after a series of moves Tuesday sent second baseman Yoan Moncada and pitchers Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer to minor league camp. 

The White Sox head back to Chicago next Wednesday.

General manager Rick Hahn said the White Sox merely want to give the Downers Grove-product a little more time to soak up the big league atmosphere. While its more likely he begins the season at Triple-A Charlotte, Burdi ranks high on the team's depth chart and could be in line for a late-innings role were the White Sox to trade a reliever. Either way, Burdi isn't worried about anything but his own performance and conduct. 

"I'm confident with where I'm at," Burdi said. "I'm just excited to see where the season's going to take me. If it's Triple-A then that's awesome. Going to go there and do my best to help the team. if it's the big leagues then it'll be the same thing: go up, do my best and keep learning day by day and just trust the process and keep growing."