Saturday, September 19, 2009

Giving up

"If they give up on me, then I give up on them." --White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, after Thursday's 4-3 loss to Seattle.

If you are the type who believes that Guillen is a great manager because he "tells it like it is," then you may be getting a little bit of perverse enjoyment of the Sox' current late-season implosion. The vitriol spilling from Guillen in the last few days rivals anything he's said this season and perhaps any of the toughest lashings he's administered in his time leading the team.

His answer to the loss in Seattle was to beat up the team after the game and to do it again before last night's game against the Royals, which the Sox eventually lost 11-0, and in which they didn't even look as good as the "0" suggests.

Perhaps they are as terrible as Guillen has repeatedly said, but at what point is he going to try a tactic other than magnifying how bad things are going? It may be too late now, but perhaps Guillen should try (or should have tried) some different motivational techniques, like reminding the players how close they are to 1st place, reminding the veterans that they never gave up last year and won Game 163 and reminding all of them that the core and spirit of a World Series Champion lives on in this group. In short, issue a wake-up call instead of a beating.

Meanwhile, though Guillen finally moved the slumping Jermaine Dye and Alex Rios out of the line-up Friday night (though it didn't seem to help), he previously had complained a lot about the limp line-up without really doing anything to change it up.

Finally, though the line-up is the glaring disappointment, the bullpen has been pretty bad, pitching the Sox out of many games recently. The bullpen's make-up has changed a lot, and recent acquistions and call-ups haven't worked out, but the real disappointments there have been Scott Linebrink and Bobby Jenks. Linebrink really seems to fall off his game as the season progresses--he showed it last year with the Sox and in Milwaukee before that. Jenks has as many blown saves as Kevin Gregg, the guy who lost his closer's job across town. There may be few other options for the Sox, and that's why Guillen and Ron Cooper need to figure out what's really going on with those vets.

Maybe the Sox have problems that only off-season personnel changes can fix, and that Guillen ultimately can't affect the necessary change on his own. But, I think there's a good debate to have about who's giving up on whom. This is the same song we hear from Guillen every time things get tough, and the players either have tuned it out, or no longer automatically respond. So, maybe Guillen needs to re-think his approach. If the players give up, or appear to, that's when the manager really has to earn his keep.

Guillen will have a Cy Young winner, Jake Peavy, starting for him tonight. I wonder what Peavy, the notoriously tough competitor, will think about his new manager's attitude.

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