I feel bad writing this after a win (the White Sox won today, 7-6 over the Yankees), but there is indeed no rest for the wicked, and this is a question that needs to be answered.

Let me get things started with this: I’m not an Ozzie “fan.”

I think he is one of the more overrated managers in baseball, still riding high from can’t-miss pitching and power hitting in 2005.

His blowups in the media are infamous, ranging from derogatory terms used to describe hometown sportswriters to his now-tired “blame me, fire me” routine.

Truth-be-told, though, I was willing to give Ozzie one more shot in 2010, I really was.

This was finally going to be his team, and we as fans were going to be able to see him actually manage a ball club, hopefully to victory.

And so, with a roster primed to twist the “Ozzieball” knob all the way to “11,” I have kicked back and watched Guillen “lead” (if you want to call it that) the White Sox to a 10-14 record through the month of April.

However, after a month of baseball, I can confidently say that this has to stop, because the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the glimmer on a World Series trophy, it’s the Cellar Express, and the White Sox have a one-way ticket.

That is, if things don’t change, and soon.

Of course, Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, and John Danks could all wake up tomorrow and decide to have a triple-threat match for the AL Cy Young, with the main event being a TLC scrum for the AL MVP, with Andruw Jones and Paul Konerko duking it out for the top prize.

However, given what we have seen thus far, the former match could be an all-out stinker and the latter may be snubbed due to an injury during last week’s house show.

But whether the pitching picks up or Konerko and Jones can stay healthy and productive will be of no consequence if Guillen is still filling out the lineup card and making in-game decisions.  His work thus far has been nothing short of brutal.

Let’s start with the “small ball” tactics Guillen has sworn by for this season.

The Sox stand at an unimpressive 74 percent stealing success rate, just barely above the average break-even point, garnering an extra 0.01 marginal runs for their cause.

Indeed, for all the running done so far, Ozzie has garnered just one one-hundredth of a run for his team by signaling for an attempted swipe of a bag or giving his players the “green light.”

What about bunting?

This team was assembled with the idea of “manufacturing” runs being a big part of the offense, of which bunting plays a large role.

According to Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs (a look at how many runs a team gained or lost advancing runners along via bunts and other situational hitting), Ozzie’s continued implementation of one-run strategies in situations not conducive to increasing the likelihood of any amount of runs scoring has cost this team 0.22 runs.

Hardly the mark of a team creating runs efficiently.

Furthermore, the team’s run scoring has oft been in spite of Ozzie’s attempts at moving runners along, with a hand-full of the team’s 30 home runs (second-best in the AL) being reduced to two-run or solo blasts thanks to erroneous strategies implemented by Guillen.

Lineup construction is another area in which Ozzie is either ignorant, stubborn or both.

Mark Kotsay started ten games in the month of April (not to beat a dead horse, but he’s really bad at baseball), many times while resurgent-star Andruw Jones sat on the bench. Juan Pierre has had 94 of his 100+ plate appearances come from the top spot in the order despite a horrendous OBP of .260 through April 30.

In fact, Juan Pierre, Alexei Ramirez, and Mark Kotsay have all received too much playing time.

VORPr is the rate-based relative of Value Over Replacement Player, telling us roughly how many runs a player is contributing per game over a replacement player (waiver wire acquisition or a lifetime AAA hitter). The three aforementioned players, according to VORPr, are costing the Sox almost one whole run per game, yet have received roughly one-fourth of the team’s PAs.

Add in struggling catcher AJ Pierzynski (whom Ozzie insists on starting over the out-of-nowhere Donny Lucy), and the four starters are costing the team 1.42 runs per game, yet have gotten 34 percent of team PAs.

However, perhaps it is unfair to criticize Ozzie for playing regular starters early on in the season. It is, after all, not Ozzie’s fault that he put regular starters, novelty of all novelties, in starting spots in the lineup at the beginning of the season.

Since April 21st (15 games into the season), the four players highlighted above received 101 of the team’s 328 total PAs through April 30, or roughly 31 percent of the playing time.

For a team that has dreams of October baseball, such a percentage of playing time given to such struggling or all-out bad players is unacceptable from a managerial standpoint.

It is not as though Guillen is without options, however. Backup catcher and minor-league journeyman Donny Lucy has been turning heads with a whopping .733 slugging percentage in 18 PAs.

Mark Teahen has been performing well with an OBP of .357 so far, yet he can’t seem to buy his way into the leadoff discussion, batting higher than fifth in the lineup only once all season (he hit in the fourth spot in a pinch hitting role).

And a quick note on the pitching staff, if I may: Randy Williams (and his 2.586 WHIP) has received 15 percent of the relief work done by the bullpen thus far.

So, given all the evidence—the overused “small ball” tactics and the myriad of bad lineups and horrible playing time distribution, horrible pitchers getting too many innings—should Ozzie Guillen be fired?

It is a simple question, with a surprisingly simple answer: yes; with a pink slip containing bold-faced type the likes of which no one has ever seen, yes.


-Jonathan Platek

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