Ozzie Guillen Loves His Rotation, Wants Better Defense Behind It
Don't mistake Ozzie's usual bluntness for overconfidence, though, because he definitely thinks the team needs to improve in other areas -- one specifically.
"Defense," he said without a hint of hesitation.
"Last year we was very, very, very bad defensively. Very bad," the mercurial manager continued. "I always preach pitching and defense win baseball games. It gives you a better chance. When you have good defense your pitching staff is going to be better, and last year our pitching staff was good, but our defense don't help them to be better. Our defense was very, very bad."
The White Sox have done a lot of moving around to improve the defense already this offseason. They've said goodbye to Jermaine Dye and will likely be moving Carlos Quentin to right field.
"That's his natural position," he said of using Quentin in right. "That's what I think. He grew up playing right field. He couldn't play right field for the White Sox because of (Dye). But we've got right field and left field. He can play whatever he wants, wherever he feels more comfortable. And we're waiting to see."
Guillen was very adamant that Alex Rios will be their everyday center-fielder and said Andruw Jones has no choice but to learn to play left field if he wants to get in the lineup with any sort of frequency. Mark Kotsay -- of whom Guillen spoke incredibly highly -- is also in the left field mix.
The infield also has already undergone a bit of a face-lift. Mark Teahen is penciled in as the starting third baseman and Guillen is counting on that spot, in addition to Alexei Ramirez growing more comfortable at shortstop, to shore up the left side of the diamond. Guillen also wisecracked that Omar Vizquel is still a baseball player, not a coach, but later stated he believes he'll help in bringing Ramirez along. Then getting Gordon Beckham acclimated at second base -- a much more natural position for the phenom -- will further solidify the defense.
Of course, this discussion of pitching and defense is all a moot point if the Sox don't find more ways to generate offense. Only the Royals and Mariners scored fewer runs than Chicago out of American League teams in 2009. But look deeper, the White Sox had several players either fall drastically short of expectations due to various circumstances and several endured dreadful starts. With full seasons of Quentin, Rios, Beckham and Kotsay in addition to Ramirez getting off to a better start and it's easy to see the offense waking up without many more tweaks.
If one thing emerged from Guillen's session with the media, it was that he's definitely confident in the guys he already has. He stated several times how much he liked his team and thought they had potential to win a lot of games.
Of course, as Ozzie himself told us, that's only on paper.