Friday, June 01, 2007

He Gone?

The White Sox have now lost five games in a row, slipped below .500, and appear headed down the slippery slope so many of us feared before the season even began. The Sox are hardly out of it -- the Twins, for example, were in much more dire straits (Brothers in Arms is now stuck in my head) last year at this point -- but the situation is grim. The Indians are really good. They've opened a seven game lead on the Sox. And, perhaps most disturbing, there are two other teams who seem better equipped to contend with the Tribe than the Sox are.

So, naturally, speculation is beginning that Ozzie Guillen may not be long for his job. Normally, I don't take that stuff too seriously. I'll think about when it actually happens. But when the Great Peter Gammons says it may be coming, as he did on the radio this morning, I take notice.

So, should Ozzie be fired? Well, on the one hand, Ozzie is obnoxious, arrogant, homophobic, and a dinosaur when it comes to offensive baseball. I don't think managers have too much of an effect on a team's performance, so all things being equal, I'd rather have the team be managed by someone I respect as a person -- *cough* Harold Baines *cough* -- than someone I don't like. I don't like Ozzie. Plus, he really is in the dark ages offensively. Last night, for example, the Sox ran themselves into out after out in an effort to manufacture runs. I thought we had crossed that threshold where everyone realized that outs were the most precious commodity in baseball. You don't give them away.

On the other hand, as Gammons said, Ozzie only gets fired if the team believes that their performance is not matching up to their talent. He's not sure that's the case. He's not sure the team thinks that's the case. I'm almost certain that's not the case. This is a .500 team. In fact, they've won more than their fair share of games this year. They're 24-25, but based on peripheral stats, they look more like a 21-28 team according to Baseball Prospectus. That's starting to look an awful lot like the 72-90 team PECOTA thought the Sox would be before the season started. Based on performance so far, BP says the Sox have about a 4% chance of making the play-offs. But if you adjust performance the rest of the year for what PECOTA expected of guys before the season started, they have a 1.6% chance. In other words, any way you slice it, the Sox are over-achieving this year. Yikes.

And, as archaic as Ozzie's offensive attitudes are, he's pretty creative in player usage, finding ways to get the guys he believes are his best players on the field. I may not always agree with his analysis of who to get on the field, but getting his guys out there is a skill. And Ozzie is usually pretty good at managing his pitching staff. He has certainly demonstrated a willingness at times to use his best pitchers in the highest leverage situations, even when "The Book" might suggest something different. And, as I mentioned, I'm not sure that any manager has much of an impact on team performance, so what exactly do the Sox accomplish by firing Ozzie?

I don't like Guillen. I'm tired of his act. But, truthfully, I think it's unlikely he'll be fired. Even with Gammons's speculation, I'll believe it when I see it. And even if it does happen, I don't expect it to make any difference in the Sox slide into temporary irrelevance in the AL Central.


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