Guillen successors would abound

But White Sox should stick with feisty manager

May 08, 2011|By Phil Rogers

Firing Ozzie Guillen isn't going to fix what's wrong with the White Sox, not in 2011 and certainly not in future seasons. To sack him and leave general manager Ken Williams in charge would be a mistake, as Guillen consistently has found a way to stay competitive without the homegrown studs who ruled Comiskey Park when Ron Schueler was the GM.

But there's no easier "fix'' for a team than changing its manager, and in the Williams era too many things have been done the easy way, through free agency and short-sighted player moves. So let's say the subject of a manager change does come up between Williams and Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

This would make many fans happy, as they are clamoring for a change, any change. But it's always pointless to fire someone if you don't have a strong replacement lined up.

There appear to be two internal candidates for the White Sox: bench coach Joey Cora, who some say is tied too closely to Guillen, and Triple-A manager Joe McEwing. The latter is 38, learned much of his baseball playing for Tony La Russa and Bobby Valentine and has been identified as a guy with a big future. It may not hurt that farm director Buddy Bell endorses him, and Bell has had Reinsdorf's ear for a long time.

Two guys who have White Sox ties, Indians first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, head the list of external candidates who could be considered.

Alomar, one of the game's smartest players during his 20-year run as a catcher, was a Williams favorite during parts of five seasons with the White Sox. He commands a ton of respect in the clubhouse. He is on Manny Acta's staff, and it might be hard to let him take a job elsewhere with the Indians unexpectedly leading the American League Central.

Martinez, a fourth outfielder who started his career with the Cubs and spent three seasons with the Sox, is Joe Maddon's bench coach. He's bright, well-liked, has a big personality and, like many of the other top candidates, is untested as a manager.

Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale and longtime Giants bench coach Ron Wotus head the next tier — strong candidates without ties to the White Sox.

Manager Terry Francona recommends Hale highly, and players hold him in high regard. He was believed to be a runner-up to John Farrell for the Blue Jays job last winter.

Wotus, 50, seemingly has been around forever. He managed seven minor league seasons after his playing career and has been a coach for the Giants since 1998, working under Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou and Bruce Bochy.

Few potential candidates are more intriguing than Scott Ullger, who has been on the Twins' coaching staff since 1998 and is Ron Gardenhire's top lieutenant. Would the Twins let Ullger talk to the White Sox? Would Ullger want to?

The list of potential candidates, in no particular order, also includes Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, Royals bench coach John Gibbons, Orioles bench coach Willie Randolph, Blue Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu (a disaster as a manager in Seattle), Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, former Mariners and Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, long-ago White Sox manager Jim Fregosi and Mets first-base coach Chip Hale.

Then there's the ultimate wild-card candidate.

How about Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Ryne Sandberg? The Cubs passed on hiring their Hall of Famer when they stuck with Mike Quade over the winter. Sandberg has been successful in the minor leagues, and with a few well-chosen words White Sox fans could embrace him, especially if he found a spot on his coaching staff for Carlton Fisk.

Disappointing debut: The Brewers and their fans view Zack Greinke as a game-changer, but his debut Wednesday, delayed a month because of his basketball injury, was underwhelming.

Greinke struck out six batters but lasted only four innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits and one walk to the Braves.

"I guess the end result was bad, but for the most part I pitched decently," said Greinke, the 2009 Cy Young Award winner acquired from the Royals last winter.

"I don't remember anyone putting a ball in play early in an at-bat, which takes its toll after a while. All of my pitches were decent. Nothing was amazing."

This includes the Brew Crew fielding behind him. Forecast as a problem, it has manifested itself recently by its contributions to a stretch in which the Brewers had lost 13 of 19 games entering the weekend.

"We're not playing good baseball," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We're not doing anything well right now."

Beefed up: Tim Lincecum believes his steady diet of In-N-Out Burger's Double-Double cheeseburgers is paying off. He still was throwing 95 mph on his 127th pitch Wednesday in New York.

Lincecum struck out 12 in seven innings, including the last five he faced. It was his 29th double-digit-strikeout game in 129 starts and broke Christy Mathewson's franchise record, which was set over 551 starts between 1900-16.

"It's cool, I guess," Lincecum said of taking a record from one of baseball's legendary figures. "I have a lot more pitching to do. Hopefully these will keep on coming."

The last word: "His future is unlimited. You don't find guys like that too often. It is really impressive. The swing was like 6 inches. He could play for the next 25 years with that body and the physical stature he has. … I think he is just a born home run hitter. … I can only imagine what his numbers are going to be 10 years from now.'' — Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire on the Marlins' Mike Stanton.

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