Chicago White Sox

Sox Drawer: Ozzie Guillen Exclusive Interview

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Sox Drawer: Ozzie Guillen Exclusive Interview

Monday, October 5th
Theres a clubhouse filled with more boxes than humans.

Theres an outfield without any grass, just layers and layers of dirt.

This was the U.S. Cellular Field Ozzie Guillen entered on Monday morning, there to visit his office one final time before going home for the winter. His White Sox season over. Speculation for next season just beginning.

And he had a lot on his mind.

Fortunately, we brought along a camera and microphone.

Before his team took the field on Sunday, Guillen had two overwhelming thoughts.

One, he didnt want a front row seat to the Tigers celebrating a Central Division title. And two, he was concerned about one of his players who wouldnt, or should I say, couldnt even look at him.

That was Jermaine Dye.

Over the last two months, Guillen has repeatedly said that Dye is one of his all-time favorite players. But the soon-to-be-free agent likely will not be re-signed.

Ozzie knows it.

So does Jermaine.

And considering their tight relationship over the last four years, they were both having trouble coming to grips with the painful reality that Guillen was probably managing Dye for the very last time.

It was kind of hard when I was thinking about JD, Ozzie told Comcast SportsNet. And I dont think JD wanted to have eye contact with me. I dont think it was one of the hardest things I ever went through with the players, because I went through a lot, but when JD said to me before the game that this might be the last game Im going to play for you, I dont want to say that it was creepy, but kind of. I got a lot of feelings out there.

So in your gut, has Dye played his last game with the White Sox?

Yes, because our budget is going to be pretty tight. Thats the only reason. Do we want JD here? Of course. Kenny Williams loves him. Jerry Reinsdorf loves him. The fans ... hes one of my favorite players. The relationship between JD, his family, and myself was pretty special. And thats why it was kind of hard for me to maybe not see him again in a White Sox uniform.

Dye might be gone, but after Sundays season-ending defeat, Guillen was impressed by several players who are coming back.

Jake Peavy walked into Ozzies office, and even though it was completely out of his control, he apologized to Guillen for not being able to pitch when the Sox traded for him, and promised that hell be ready when Spring Training begins in February.

Paul Konerko also offered a mea culpa, telling Ozzie, sorry we let you down.

Gordon Beckham thanked his manager for giving him the opportunity to play 103 games, less than a year after being drafted by the White Sox out of the University of Georgia. Guillen said he told his rookie phenom, I didnt give you the opportunity, you did it yourself.

His players humility left a deep impression.

That was the first time Ive ever felt that way with the players because they expressed themselves, Guillen said. They expressed themselves about the way they felt about the season, and it's something I will talk to Kenny and Jerry Reinsdorf about what they say and youre always pleased by the way they were thinking.

Whos Guillens MVP?

We can talk about Scott Podsednik. But I think its DJ Carrasco. A lot of people say, 'Well the MVP is the person who has the best numbers.' Well, the managers MVP is the guy who helped him out the most. When I said in 2005 that Tadahito Iguchi was my MVP, people didnt believe me. Carrasco was picking garbage from everybody.

Guillen and Kenny Williams will speak frequently over the offseason. They had a 15-minute conversation inside the Sox lunchroom on Monday. Fans have a laundry list of players they want the Sox GM to sign for next year, as we saw by all of your comments here last week.

Sign Chone Figgins.
Trade for Carl Crawford.
Add Matt Holiday.
Deal Bobby Jenks.

Etc, etc, etc.

But when I asked Guillen if he could go to Kenny and say, I need one thing this offseason, what is it? he replied:

Sign Mark Kotsay.

But what about from the outside? What else do you need?

I dont have the title, but there are two things. If we sign Podsednik, then were almost set. If we dont sign Podsednik, then well need speed at the top of the lineup. A lot of people think about Chone Figgins. Well, Figgins is going to cost a lot of money. Behind Figgins there are going to be 30 teams. And when you have 30 teams, its like going fishing and there are 30 boats out there to catch one fish. Well, good luck.

And good luck to Jayson Nix and Brent Lillibridge, who struggled mightily at the plate this season, and will definitely have to improve if they hope to make the club next season. Guillen said he sent messages to both rookies.

They dont play the way they have to play," he said. "They struck out too much. Offensively, they want to play a big man game when theyre little. If they do that, theyre not going to go with me, because we need those guys to be better offensively than we had this year.

Probably the biggest surprise from our 25-minute interview was Guillens admission that he doesnt just answer fan e-mails, but that he has actually used some of your ideas in ballgames.

Said Ozzie, I put Carlos Quentin third in the lineup one time because we were desperate about something. One fan wrote it in, and I put him in third. I put A.J. Pierzynski batting second. Some idiot from Joilet. I said, Maybe this guy knows more than me. And we did. And we win with him!

Did you thank him?

Ozzie answered sarcastically, No, because I didnt want to give him the credit.
Part 2 of our conversation runs Tuesday at 6:30, 10:00 p.m. and midnight.

Yoan Moncada predicts home run is 'first one of many that are coming'

Yoan Moncada predicts home run is 'first one of many that are coming'

Wednesday’s homer may only have been Yoan Moncada’s first, but he predicts plenty more are headed this way.

The White Sox second baseman and baseball’s top prospect crossed off another first when he blasted a solo home run in Wednesday’s loss to the Cubs. Moncada’s 417-foot drive to center field sent Cubs starter Jake Arrieta to the showers, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox fell to the Cubs 8-3 at Guaranteed Rate Field. The round-tripper came in the 47th plate appearance of Moncada’s young career and 27 th this season.

Acquired from the Red Sox in December, Moncada made his White Sox debut on July 18 and picked up his first hit on Friday.

“It means a lot because it was the first one of many that are coming, and I’m happy,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “It has been a nice week for me.”

Moncada had already walked and struck out looking by the time he faced Arrieta in the seventh inning. The rookie fell behind Arrieta 0-2 in the count but didn’t panic and belted an 0-2 curveball on the outside corner for a solo shot to center. The drive left Moncada’s bat at 105 mph and bounced off the green tin roof in straightaway center.

“He really put a good charge into that ball,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Right off the bat, too. I mean the ball really jumped off his bat. I think it was a breaking ball, too. Stayed on it, really good swing. I think his at-bats in general were pretty good. I think both sides probably got squeezed a little bit, but I think most of the guys put together some pretty good at-bats.”

Moncada has managed to put together a nice little memorabilia package in his first eight days in the big leagues. He received the lineup card from Renteria after he debuted against the Los Angeles Dodgers last Wednesday. Moncada also retrieved his first home run ball and hoped to get the lineup card from Renteria, too.

Arrieta was satisfied with his pitch but not the location. Still, the Cubs pitcher sounded impressed by the swing Moncada put on it and the result.

“It was a good breaking ball, but not in an 0-2 count where a guy’s in swing mode,” Arrieta said. “And he put a good swing on it, especially to hit it to dead center. Pretty balanced swing. You can tell that that guy is going to have a lot of potential. He’s pretty balanced in the box, but the pitch wasn’t supposed to be there.”

The offensive production hasn’t been there as much as Moncada would like early in the season. But, he suspects that will change.

“The results are going to come step by step,” Moncada said. “I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and try to take advantage of the experience and the opportunity to play here. I’m just happy I’m having this opportunity here.”

Turning rebuild lemons into World Series lemonade, Cubs can provide hope, if not a template, for rebuilding White Sox

Turning rebuild lemons into World Series lemonade, Cubs can provide hope, if not a template, for rebuilding White Sox

There’s nothing fun about losing, as the White Sox are finding out first hand.

Wednesday night featured another defeat, this one coming at the hands of the visiting Cubs, the North Siders taking Game 3 of this edition of the Crosstown series by an 8-3 final score.

But should the White Sox need commiserators — and inspiration — they need look no further than the team across the field.

See, the Cubs have been where the White Sox are right now. Last season’s curse-smashing World Series championship was the fruit yielded by a lengthy rebuild on the North Side, one with a similar level of minor league focus and future expectations as the one currently underway on the South Side.

And as the Cubs and their fans well know, major league losing is a part of the process.

The White Sox dropped to 39-59 on Wednesday night, mired in last place in the American League Central. The Cubs spent five straight seasons in fifth place in the National League Central, methodically accruing top prospects with top draft picks.

The kind of nasty outing James Shields turned in Wednesday? The Cubs have seen that before, too. Wearing blue at the time were the likes of Rodrigo Lopez and Chris Volstad and Carlos Silva, the precursors to Shields, who hasn’t made it out of the fifth inning in four of his last six starts. The stories aren’t much different for the rest of the White Sox current rotation, with veterans like Derek Holland and Mike Pelfrey struggling most times out.

The White Sox bats did a whole lot of nothing against Jake Arrieta on Wednesday, silenced offensively the same way the Cubs were repeatedly a few years back, in seasons when guys like Marlon Byrd and Darwin Barney led the North Siders in Wins Above Replacement.

Heck, they even had the same manager. Rick Renteria skippered the Cubs in 2014, the final fifth-place finish before Joe Maddon took over.

“We’re just going to have to keep going,” Renteria said Wednesday night, sounding like an echo of himself when he used to helm the Cubs. “There’s no lamenting or anything. This is the situation we’re in, and I think the guys want the ball every time I give it to them and they want to do a good job. We’re going to try to keep it respectable as much as we can, and in some cases win some ballgames.”

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Thing is, a look across the diamond Wednesday and once more Thursday in the Crosstown finale at Guaranteed Rate Field will allow the White Sox to see something else they share with those Cubs teams of the recent past: hope.

In the same way White Sox fans are currently gobbling up minor league reports on the organization’s fleet of highly ranked prospects, Cubs fans did that, too. They did it with Kris Bryant and Addison Russell. White Sox fans are doing it with Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez. They’ll soon do it with Luis Robert and, a former Cubs prospect, Eloy Jimenez.

Yoan Moncada, the No. 1 prospect in baseball bringing Bryant-like hype to the South Side, gave White Sox fans plenty to smile about Wednesday night, smoking a 0-2 pitch from Arrieta over the center-field fence for his first career home run.

If you need a glimpse into the future of the White Sox, at what things should look like when the rebuild reaches its apex, go watch Moncada’s home run again. And again.

While the Cubs and their World Series rings own bragging rights that stand above all others, the White Sox can also look into the third-base dugout and know they’re going about things differently — and perhaps even better — than their North Side counterparts did.

While Theo Epstein built his farm system with much-hyped draft picks (in addition to a couple extremely meaningful trades) over the years, Rick Hahn has built his in what has seemed like one fell swoop. The lightning-fast pace of the White Sox rebuild could make the five years of fifth-place finishes the Cubs experienced a non-factor on the South Side. Hahn has built arguably baseball’s best farm system in a matter of months, trading All-Star caliber big leaguers to stockpile highly touted minor leaguers and acquiring other prospects through trades and the draft who provide depth to the system.

“It’s improved,” Hahn said of the depth of his farm system before Wednesday’s game. “It has absolutely been a goal from the start, not just a matter of getting as much potential impact talent as we can but trying to set up layer upon layer of that talent, trying to get to the point when inevitably some of these guys don’t develop the way everyone has projected them to develop or an injury occurs that we have other options, that we have guys that perhaps developed a little more quickly or improved beyond what we projected as their ceiling. And the only way you get there is by having a critical mass of prospect depth.

“I would say that while we are pleased with the strides we’ve made in the last year or nine months, however long you want to draw the line, we know we still have work to do. We know we’re going to have a really important draft in 2018 and before that, another few days before this (trade) deadline and then some offseason maneuvering to take place.”

The Cubs have forever been a symbol of hope for their fans, a team that no matter how sorry the finish would always have expectations and a new chance every spring.

Though White Sox fans are unlikely to embrace the team on the other side of town, they’d be well served to take a step back and look at what has happened there. Because the Cubs’ successful rebuild, one that ended in a World Series title, could provide hope for White Sox fans, too.