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Ozzie Guillen on bullpen’s struggles: “I don’t have any closer”

Apr 14, 2011, 10:47 AM EDT

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen walks in the dugout after the seventh inning of an MLB American League baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim

Yesterday the White Sox’s bullpen imploded again, allowing three runs in the ninth inning and three more in the 10th frame to turn a 4-1 lead into a 7-4 loss against the A’s.

Afterward manager Ozzie Guillen was understandably upset, telling reporters “I don’t have any closer” and jokingly suggesting he “might call” 47-year-old Bobby Thigpen, who saved a then-record 57 games for the White Sox in 1990.

I see the same [expletive] you guys see. Exactly same [expletive]. When we play good, they send those guys to this damn [interview] table and talk to them like heroes. When we [expletive] it up, I’m the one who has to … sit here and talk to you guys.

In other words, he’s fed up with making excuses for relievers and taking blame for the struggles of a bullpen that has a collective 6.14 ERA. Anointed closer Matt Thornton lost his grip on the job within days, Chris Sale was terrible yesterday when asked to close out a three-run lead, and free agent pickup Jesse Crain couldn’t get the job done either.

It’s almost enough to make a man miss Bobby Jenks.

UPDATE: CSN Chicago has video of Guillen’s rant/press conference.

  1. thevandalen - Apr 14, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    O hai Sergio Santos.

  2. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 14, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Let’s not forget that Jenks wasn’t very good last year for the Saaaaaax. They don’t miss him. One of those dudes (Crain, Thornton, Sale, Santos) will get their act together and close some games. Until then, we can all enjoy a fresh cup of Ozzie-ade!

    • Manni Stats - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      Yeah this isn’t exactly true, unless you’re completely fixated on ERA, which is a pretty flawed stat (especially for relievers). Jenks had a 10+ K/9 and posted a 58.3% groundball rate – he only basically got screwed by bad luck with runners on base (a 65% left-on-base percentage, which we know is mostly a luck stat and should even out around 72%) and balls in play (a .345 BABIP). Jenks had his best season since 2007, and the White Sox were silly to run him out of town.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:29 PM

        Your numbers speak nothing of the fact that he blew a bunch of key save opportunities last year, which is exactly what the problem is now for the Sox. I could give a half a nutsack about ERA. There’s no getting around the fact that he did not close games well last year. Being ‘run out of town’ is a stretch too.

        The Sox have better late innings guys than Jenks in my opinion (and they did last year too). The problem is those dudes haven’t realized which one will actually step up. Thornton is pretty damn solid, so I expect him to bounce back and start mowing dudes down and then Chicago will truly forget all about Bobby. Let’s not forget that the expectation was, and still is, pretty high for the Sox bullpen this season sans Jenks.

      • Manni Stats - Apr 14, 2011 at 2:37 PM

        He blew 4 saves. One less then Rivera. The rest of your post is just a bunch of narrative with no facts. I do think he’s worse than Thornton, but your original post is factually wrong.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:33 PM

        Here’s some more narrative w/ some facts sprinkled in:

        It takes more than stats to rate a closer b/c of sample size issues. He blew saves with multiple run leads. Did Rivera do that too? He blew saves that cost wins that may have put them in the playoffs over the Twinkies. Did Rivera do that as well? I can’t believe I’m saying this as a stat-oriented fan, but dude, take your eyes off the statistics for a sec and look at the specific scenarios of which Jenks repeatedly botched last year.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 14, 2011 at 3:35 PM

        He also blew more than a few leads where the batters saved his ass in extra innings.

  3. itsacurse - Apr 14, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    But he’s not fed up making excuses for Juan Pierre dropping fly balls, apparently? Because that’s sort of what this is.

  4. drunkenhooliganism - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Sale probably pitched poorly yesterday because he was shocked that he was called on to pitch. He ptiched two innings and 34 pitches on Tuesday and he’s like 16 years old, then he’s the first pitcher called in from the pen yesterday.

  5. The Common Man/ - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    Thornton: But Ozzie, I love you. I’m your closer!

    Ozzie: Closer? I…have…no…closer.

    /cut to horrified looking son, mother and siblings

    /cut to black, commercial

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 14, 2011 at 11:34 AM


  7. APBA Guy - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    There was a lot of chatter from the A’s announcers when Ozzie brought Sale in yesterday, since he’d pitched 2 innings in a Tues night game, yet this was a Wed afternoon game, and he’s a kid (about 16 innings in the minors) and basically he had no life on his fastball (stick-straight and could not hit his spots). Ray Fosse, the A’s color guy, is a former catcher and he was the most vocal about the move, saying that young relievers in particular need a full 24 hour recovery period. In contrast the A’s relievers were very sharp after their opening days of woe, and have been sharp on this 5-4 road trip.

    So the bullpen is a real issue for the CWS, as is their defense. The good and bad side of Alexei Ramirez was on full display Tuesday when he offset his error with the game-winning HR. But Ozzie’s Juan Pierre man-love is baffling.

    Yesterday Pierre was picked off trying to steal the first two times he reached base. Mr. Anderson had him dead both times. And he bobbled another ball in left. That negates his 3-4 day at the plate. It’s one thing to be aggressive on the basepaths, it’s another to to just throw away your opportunity on base.

    You can probably live with one marginal defender in your lineup, but the CWS have a couple. Add to that their inconsistent bullpen, and it holds back their veteran offense and solid starting pitching.

    I’m sure it didn’t help that the A’s 9th inning against Sale wasn’t the usual bunch of minimum wage kids the A’s have trotted out the past few years. Beane’s “Homage a Giants” offense featured a veteran attack with mid-tier professional hitters Crisp, Conor Jackson (healthy this year) and Willingham. Those guys all waited on Sale’s fastball to be in the zone and then swung for good contact. The result was an odds-defying three base hits.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 14, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      Very sound comment. I don’t think we can say the bullpen is a true weak spot this early (I’m not stating this is exactly what you said). Ozzie did use Sale poorly yesterday, no doubt. I think these guys will start hitting their spots soon and this will all be moot (kinda like the Red Sox’s slow start).

  8. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Ozzie Guillen then spent the next half-hour swearing for reporters and blamming the bad pitching on the Cubs.

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