White Sox extend Guillen's contract through 2012 season
CHICAGO -- Ozzie Guillen took the Chicago White Sox to a World Series championship two years ago. Now he's trying to keep them from having the worst record in the major leagues.
Sounds like a strange time to give him a new contract, but that's what the team did Tuesday when it announced Guillen had agreed to an extension through the 2012 season. Guillen's previous deal ran through next year, with a club option for 2009.
"The problems that we are having right now, I simply do not believe that they are problems that are with our coaching staff or with our manager," general manager Ken Williams said, calling the contract extension an easy decision.
"I already said previously that I put all that weight on my shoulders. I'm the one that has to put them in a better position to win baseball games and that means going out and making the necessary adjustments to get this team where we are better and get guys back up to their normal level of production."
Williams said he wanted the players, Guillen and the fans to know that the White Sox -- who had 99- and 90-win seasons before this year's debacle -- would engage in an offseason plan to ensure there would not be a repeat of this year's record.
Guillen's made a name for himself not only for his managing style and success but for controversial comments and opinions that often have caused controversy.
Guillen said he's tried to say out of the headlines this year and that may have been part of the problem -- Ozzie wasn't being Ozzie.
"This is the worst summer I've had in all my career because I was too soft. I was kind of worried about what people were going to say about me," Guillen said. "I could care less what people say about me as long as I win."
Guillen was voted AL Manager of the Year in 2005 but the White Sox slid from contention early this season and are 61-84 after an 8-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, tied with Tampa Bay for the poorest record in the major leagues.
After a 16-year playing career, the first 13 with the White Sox, Guillen coached with Montreal and Florida before he was hired as manager in 2003. Two years later he managed the team to its first World Series title in 88 years. The White Sox went 11-1 in the postseason and appeared poised to be a contender for years.
"When you are winning, you are king. When you're losing, you are nobody," Guillen said.
"I appreciate they still believe in me, they still believe in what I can bring to this club and believe I can have a lot of success running this club," he added. "It feels good that somebody believes in not what I did in the past, but what I can do in the future."
Guillen said one of his sons joked with him about his new deal, telling him that not only was he the first native Venezuelan to manage in the major leagues and win a World Series, but he's probably the first manager to sign a new deal when he was in last place.
"Obviously you've seen the high end of what he's capable of doing and pretty much, as players, we didn't get the job done this year," said Darin Erstad, in his first season with the White Sox. "You got to take the good with the bad."
Guillen, who in 2005 talked about quitting if the White Sox won the championship, went into a rant over his team's poor play during a recent trip to Texas. The collapse came despite a season-opening $110 million payroll.
Now Guillen will be a major part of the restructuring and there certainly will be some criticism of his new deal after such a horrible season.
"I respect that because everybody has their own opinion," Guillen said. "I think I should be criticized for the way we played this year. ... Believe me, after this year and last year what I went through, I'm bulletproof. I've been taking a lot of heat. I don't blame people for putting me on the spot because of the way played."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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