Ozzie Guillen threw not just his players, but his general manager under the bus Sunday after the White Sox were swept by the Rays in Tampa Bay, suggesting he didn’t like his roster and that major changes needed to be made. But come on: the White Sox were still in first.
True, for anyone who remembers the 2005 Sox, this year’s team did not look like championship contenders; there were holes, quite obvious to the fan, and therefore glaring to the opposition. True too, this year’s Sox were not built to play “Ozzieball,” not after GM Kenny Williams extended Jermaine Dye’s contract last year. Considering the Sox were already committed to Paul Konerko and Jim Thome, it left them with a slow (if sometimes powerful) middle of the lineup prone to double plays. True again the team was not equipped with a true leadoff man: Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera have both failed in the uncomfortable position. So what’s a manager to do?
Deal with it, dude. The GM traditionally sets the roster, and the manager has to put it to the best possible use. Look at what the Cubs’ Lou Piniella did with a bulbous, misshapen, corner-heavy roster last year: he played Jacque Jones in center, shifted Ryan Theriot to short (both of which the experts said couldn’t be done), and generally found a way to put the best eight players on the field.
So look, Ozzie, do the same. If you’re not scoring runs, stress defense. Put Brian Anderson in center and leave him there. Play the three hot hands (or not-so-cold bats) between Dye, Swisher, Thome, and Konerko between first, right field, and designated hitter. If you want to run more, by all means put in someone like Alexei Ramirez and run and hit-and-run. Yes, it’s a bulbous, misshapen roster, but the Sox are in first place — remember? — and it’s your job to find a way to keep them there as long as possible. Given the roster, stress defense, on-base percentage, and power — in that order — and you’ll get the most out of the players Wiliams has given you. And if wholesale changes are made and the Sox drop from first place? It’s all on you, Ozzie.