We're finally done with the daily breakdown of each position, including the bench and the bullpen, we now move on to the White Sox’s decision-makers, starting with those in the dugout.
Managers and coaches
Looking back to 2010: During spring training, manager Ozzie Guillen was so confident in his squad that he said the team would be fine as long as he didn’t get in the way. Well, the failure to make the playoffs wasn't all manager influenced. While there was extreme concern over the team’s slow start, there was no panic, allowing the team to turn around its fortunes. Sustaining second-half succeess for the White Sox proved unattainable. Looking back, though, had the White Sox been about a week or two later with their revival, the team might have shed talent and payroll at the trade deadline. The club could have done without the season-long feud between Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams. The biggest criticism, though, comes with how the coaches (and Williams for that matter) handled the Jake Peavy situation. The workhorse starter insisted on pitchining through shoulder issues, even after fluid buildup was found, and just before the All-Star break he was done with a detached latissmus dorsi. Bowing to the player’s wishes of working through such obvious warning signs was an expensive learning lesson that figures to not be repeated again. After a slow offensive start, the heat was on hitting coach Greg Walker one more time and staying true to his form, he believed in the plan, stayed with the approach and helped the hitters emerge from their funk. Pitching coach Don Cooper added another notch to his belt as Edwin Jackson came to the White Sox in the midst of a disappointing season and posted a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts down the stretch, success that came mainly from making a simple adjustment.
Looking ahead to 2011: Guillen and Williams finally put aside their differences during the last week of the season and the reconciliation sounded sincere. You can’t help but think, though, that if they have more issues, especially early in the year, it could mean serious trouble. Guillen is in the final year of his contract, but a team option remains for 2012. Not only that, but that option gets triggered automatically if the White Sox win the division. Walker has contemplated starting a new chapter in his life, but the consensus is that his return still seems very likely. Cooper has a lot to work with next year, especially if Peavy is healthy, as all of the starters return. The bullpen will pretty much have to be rebuilt, though. Bench coach Joey Cora, after hearing nothing from teams searching for a new manager early in the offseason, has interviewed with the Brewers and has talked to the Blue Jays about their vacancy. The logical fit, though, was the Mariners’ opening (he played in Seattle during Ken Griffey Jr.’s heyday), but he wasn’t even considered a candidate. Cora isn’t considered the top candidate for either the Brewers or Blue Jays job, though, so it is likely that he returns as well. Getting the team on the same page early in the season, to avoid the slow start of 2010, figures to be the theme of spring training.
Key stat: On the final day of the 2010 season the White Sox’s victory over the Indians gave Guillen his 600th career win in seven seasons. Guillen’s five seasons with a winning record as White Sox manager trails only Al Lopez, who had nine. Guillen’s five are tied with Jimmy Dykes.
Quote: “I don’t have any doubt we can put this thing back in place. We’re grown men. I think our friendship got better the last couple of weeks. I think that helped. I think all that stuff outside helped to see what kind of people we are and we really care about each other. I think it was good. Even if people think it was bad I think it was good to see what kind of person we are, we are professional and we are good human beings. We talked and everything was good. I think the best thing about this situation between the organization, myself and Kenny and Jerry [Reinsdorf] is that the fans know exactly what we want.” –Guillen, on repairing his relationship with Williams and how everybody continues to have the same strategy for success in the future.
Sunday: Upper management