It hasn't been smiles for Ozzie in 2011.
The Chicago White Sox sit at the bottom of the American League Central standings at 8-14 and there's a sense of panic on the South Side of Chicago.
Now, there's calls for Ozzie Guillen's head after just 22 games. Yes, after 22 games, there's questions surrounding Ozzie Guillen's job security.
This is silly and the finger is being pointed at the wrong person.
The person whose job security should be questioned is Kenny Williams. While fans like his boldness and willingness to get deals done, some of his deals have massively backfired.
The biggest one? The 2009 trade for Jake Peavy.
On August 1, 2009, the White Sox were a game-and-a-half behind the division-leading Tigers and in contention to make the playoffs. The White Sox finished the season 79-83 and seven-and-a-half games behind the division-champion Twins.
The culprit? It was clearly the Jake Peavy trade, which left the White Sox without a fifth starter for the remainder of the year, as Peavy was injured at the time of the trade.
The White Sox were forced to either make four starters skip a day of rest or depend on the likes of Carlos Torres and DJ Carrasco. After the trade, the White Sox pitching staff's ERA climbed, the K:BB ratio shrunk and the losses piled up.
Who's *most* to blame for the White Sox early struggles?
It's wrong to completely blame that one trade for the 2009 fiasco.
The White Sox did have a tougher strength of schedule at the end of the year, facing the Red Sox and Yankees. Also, the offense disappeared at times, a trend that has continued to this day. However, getting rid of a reliable fifth starter affected the entire White Sox pitching staff, preventing them from competing for the playoffs in 2009.
It didn't get much better in 2010. Peavy only started 17 games after getting injured in July. He didn't even fare well in the games he pitched, finishing with a 7-6 record and 4.63 ERA. The games he did win were the results of high-run support.
It would be naive for White Sox fans to ask him to repeat his NL performance in the AL. But paying a pitcher $16 million/year to be average is asinine.
And now, we come to 2011. There are a litany of reasons why the White Sox are not winning. The obvious culprit is the bullpen. The White Sox lead the entire MLB with six blown saves and have the fewest amount of saves with one.
You can also blame the offense, which was potent at the beginning of the year, but has since disappeared. Carlos Quentin has surprisingly been hitting well and Paul Konerko has continued his nice hitting from last year. But post-appendectomy Dunn has been in a major slump, Alex Rios couldn't hit if his life depended on it and Gordon Beckham has reverted to his sophomore slump.
Was the Jake Peavy trade a mistake?
Or we can point to the atrocious defense. Juan Pierre has single-handedly cost the White Sox two games in the ninth inning by dropping balls. The White Sox have the second most (17) errors in the American League.
However, we still have to point to the Jake Peavy trade. The lack of a fifth-starter has forced some early skips in rest for the rotation and Phillip Humber has had to fill the gap. While Humber hasn't been awful, he hasn't been good either.
There are a litany of reasons the White Sox are struggling, but we cannot overlook the impact the Jake Peavy trade has had on the White Sox since the trade deadline of 2009.
But back to 2011. The White Sox are struggling and it's unbearable to watch, but there are reasons not to panic, yet:
1. The White Sox have only played 22 games.
Panicking now is like the Red Sox panic—premature. Remember, this time last year the White Sox were 8-11 at this point and wound up in first place going into the All-Star break.
I will admit I am wrong if they hold on, but I just cannot believe in career revivals of Alex Gordon and Justin Masterson.
3. Adam Dunn will figure it out. I am usually a pessimist—and I will continue to be a pessimist about Alex Rios, Juan Pierre and Gordon Beckham. But Adam Dunn is different. He is coming off an appendectomy and has struggled with his swing since.
When Dunn regains his stroke, the Quentin-Konerko-Dunn combo will get the offense rolling again.
Now, this being said, I'm not being naive and saying the White Sox are going to magically rise up the division and win it. But I am saying I think they can still compete in the AL Central.
But back to the main point of the story—Ozzie Guillen is not to blame. Kenny Williams has made a trade that has undermined the White Sox since mid-2009.
Yes, Guillen has made some questionable calls this year, especially with bullpen management. But why is he to blame for the disappearing offense, for All-Star to bum Matt Thornton and the ever-declining Mark Buehrle?
I know 2005 is six years ago and it's no longer a justification to keep Guillen on-board, but saying the disaster of what the season has started out to be is Ozzie Guillen's fault is a joke.