June 16, 2010
On the Beat
Ozzie Guillen and Ken Williams sat together on the White Sox' charter flight from Chicago to Pittsburgh on Monday night and discussed various matter concerning their team. There was no arguing, yelling, or fisticuffs. It was just a manager and a general manager talking baseball.
Normally, that would be a good thing in light of the reports last week that Guillen and Williams nearly came to blows during an argument. The White Sox drafted Guillen's son, Ozney, who recently graduated from high school in Miami and has a baseball scholarship to the University of South Florida, in the 22nd round. The lateness of the round rankled Papi Ozzie.
"We started winning after that," Guillen said with a smile. "Maybe we shouldn't get along. We win when we don't get along."
The White Sox did win four games in a row in the midst of the turmoil before losing 1-0 on Sunday when they were almost no-hit by the Cubs' Ted Lilly. That represents the longest winning streak in what has been a disappointing season for the White Sox, who bounced back with a 6-4 victory over the Pirates on Tuesday night to improve to 29-34, good for just third place in the American League Central, 7 ½ games behind the division-leading Twins.
It certainly wasn't the first time Williams and Guillen, whose relationship goes back nearly a quarter-century to when they were teammates with the White Sox, have butted heads. However, this seemed to be the most serious confrontation with some speculation that owner Jerry Reinsdorf might have to step in and fire one of the two in order to keep peace. If one of the two would have gone, be sure it would have been Williams, as Guillen is the king of the South Side and like a son to Reinsdorf.
Alas, Williams and Guillen have reached a truce. They didn't kill each other on the plane and there were no signs of hostility before Tuesday night's game at PNC Park as Guillen held court with reporters at one end of the dugout and Williams sat quietly at the other end.
"Everything's fine," Guillen said. "We don't have to be best friends to do our jobs. Things don't have to be happier. The biggest thing is that we've moved forward from it. We had our say and it's the past. As long as you're moving forward, everything is OK. If you are moving backward, then it's a problem. We have no problem. We're fine."
The White Sox players are certainly used to the frequent bouts of drama, and a couple of them just laughed off requests to talk about any effects the Guillen-Williams showdown had on the team. The shrugs of the shoulders made it clear that it was no big deal.
"We have a good group of guys; they are good players and good people, too," Guillen said. "They don't let anything bother them. They just go out and play. What happens off the field with me or Kenny or anyone else has no effect on them."
How much longer Williams keeps the group intact is open for a debate. Earlier in the month, he said he felt it was time to make changes, not so much to go into rebuilding mode but just to shuffle some pieces.
However, the White Sox' run of five wins in six games has Guillen hoping that Williams changes his mind. Guillen would like to at least keep the team as presently constituted together through the end of the month.
"I still believe," Guillen said. "I see those guys every day, I talk to those guys every day, I say yes we have a chance. But if you look at the game from the stands, you look at the game from any part of the ballpark or listen to the radio, you've got different ideas than I have. I don't blame those people. But I think we've got a pretty good team; we just don't perform. Hopefully we make Kenny change his mind."
Guillen is even hopeful that the White Sox make a big enough push toward contention that Williams will be looking to be a buyer at the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
"Players dictate what the general manager is going to do," Guillen said. "Don't blame the general manager, in general, not just Kenny. Baseball period. The fans can blame any front office people when they make moves, but they make moves for a reason. If we were playing good, we wouldn't be talking about that. We might be talking about adding people. We might ask Jerry for money to get somebody else, because I know what Kenny wants, I know what Jerry wants, I know what the White Sox fans want, I know what I want."
The Angels have been the subject of numerous trade rumors in recent weeks, all involving first basemen since Kendry Morales suffered a broken ankle during a celebration at home plate following his game-winning grand slam against the Mariners on May 29. However, the Angels say they aren't actively seeking a first baseman.
"I don't consider us to be over a barrel," manager Mike Scioscia said. "If there's something out there that makes sense, (Angels GM) Tony (Reagins) will act on it and act quickly. But I think we have a little more depth than people perceive. Hopefully we can keep moving forward."
Catcher Mike Napoli has started six times at first base since Morales was injured, utility infielder Robb Quinlan has gotten five starts, and outfielder Michael Ryan has made four starts. In a surprising departure, backup middle infielder Kevin Frandsen has started at first base the last two nights after having never previously played the position in the major leagues.
Brandon Wood could also be added to the mix when he comes off the disabled list. Wood has been seeing action at first base during his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake as the Angels prefer to stay with Maicer Izturis at third base. That could very well be Wood's last chance to prove he can be an everyday player with the Angels, as he had a .113 TAv in 128 plate appearances before being injured and is out of minor-league options.
There is more information available than ever to help a major-league pitcher prepare for a start. Yet Nationals rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg has yet to take advantage of any of the data. He has not read a scouting report nor studied an advanced metric.
It is not that Strasburg is lazy or anti-information. This is the path Nationals management has decided to take with Strasburg in the early stages of his career.
"He's a young pitcher who is still getting his feet wet at the major-league level," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "We just feel it's better not to overload him at this point. We just want him to concentrate on making his pitches and pitching to his strengths. The other things can come later."
Strasburg is fine with the Nationals having him take that approach to his starts.
"Scouting reports and the statistics can only tell you so much anyway," Strasburg said. "How a hitter reacts to my curveball might be totally different than he reacts to another pitcher's curveball because they might have different types of breaks or be thrown from different arm slots. I really believe the only way I'm going to learn the various hitters in the major leagues is by actually facing them and seeing exactly how they react to my pitches."
MLB Rumors and Rumblings: The Reds are scouring the trade market for bullpen help but are going to resist the temptation to call up left-hander Aroldis Chapman from Triple-A Louisville and convert him from a starter to a reliever. … Shortstop Edgar Renteria is expected to be activated from the DL today and it appears that catcher Bengie Molina's playing time will be most affected as the Giants plan on playing Juan Uribe, who has been filling at shortstop, at third base, with Pablo Sandoval shifting from third to first base and rookie Buster Posey, who has been playing first, becoming the primary catcher. … A source with direct knowledge of the situation says that Braves third baseman Chipper Jones will not retire during the season and reports that he is set to walk away from the last two years of his contract are overblown. … The Rangers have talked to the Astros about right-hander Roy Oswalt and will make a strong pitch if Major League Baseball gives them permission to add a significant contract to their payroll. … The Nationals plan to give Roger Bernadina a long look as their starting right fielder.
Three series to watch: