Williams addresses team's future plans

Williams addresses team's future plans

CHICAGO -- All My Children and One Life to Live will soon be closing out their long runs on ABC. But the end date for the ongoing Major League Baseball soap opera on the South Side of Chicago doesn't seem quite as certain, if it ever happens at all.

Ozzie Guillen is under contract as White Sox manager through 2012, with the team having picked up his option before the 2011 season began. Guillen spoke for seemingly the 15th or 20th straight day during Friday's pregame interview session concerning talks between himself and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf about his future, of which Guillen said there have been none recently.

Those questions have reached the point where Guillen is tired of addressing the topic and is seemingly ready for whatever decision might come.

But one difference on Friday in this whole matter was that general manager Ken Williams addressed the White Sox future, with questions focused on Guillen and the team's direction, for really the first time during the month of September. Williams seemed calm and upbeat, despite the 2011 White Sox and their franchise-record $127 million payroll simply being left to fight for second place in the American League Central and a .500 record.

He didn't really shed any direct light as to whether Guillen would be staying with his desired extension, simply managing through 2012 or winding down his final six games in a colorful and historic tenure with the White Sox.

"I'm just listening, right now," Williams said. "We have one week left to go in the season, and I'm sure we'll get to all of that soon enough. No need to rush it."

No organizational meetings are currently planned for the White Sox, with Williams saying some could be set but the team just has "to get on the other side of some things." If that "thing" is deciding Guillen's future, Williams still was rather cryptic when asked if a resolution on the matter had to be decided upon quickly.

"It's been a disappointing season," Williams said. "We had a club coming out of Spring Training that we thought could do some special things, and we haven't gotten the consistent play that we had hoped for. We'll just regroup at the end of the season and get after it again."

This matter has become the center of attention, partially because Guillen has never met a question he won't answer honestly. He also believes the body of work produced during his eight years warrants something more than a manager working without a contractual net in 2012.

Williams spoke in the past of everyone having an expiration date on this sort of job. But even with the team falling short of the playoffs for a third straight season with a third straight rough September finish, the general manager didn't seem to think a change in leadership was needed.

"Not in my leadership. And I don't know that anywhere else," Williams said. "I mean, listen, last year in September we were in first place. We didn't make the playoffs last year, but it's not like we were, you know, scrubs. We have spent, over the last decade, a lot of time in first place.

"I'll be the first to admit that the goals haven't been accomplished, because if they had, there would be more banners up there on the rafters. When you start talking about making changes, I want you to look at our history. It wasn't too long ago, in 2007, what did we lose, 90 games in 2007? And shortly after that, I walked into Jerry Reinsdorf's office for contract extensions with these guys, our current coaching staff, and some of the players that had down years that year, Jermaine Dye being one of them.

"So I'm not one to easily give up the ship and change course of direction," Williams said. "I'm in the listening phase, right now, and that's all I can do. I'll continue to be listening, and we'll see where we end up as a result. Ozzie's got some ideas that I think he's still developing. We'll see."

Guillen said on Friday that he wouldn't give himself a contract extension after this rough season, because he's "part of this group." He also said that there's nothing wrong with standing up for himself and asking, but ultimately he knows the final outcome will be based on what's best for the team.

"That's the way it should be," Guillen said. "You always knock on the door to see what you get. I don't think they have to, but my job is just to make sure to ask, you know what I mean?

"You want to date a girl, but you're not going to ask her out? You're that good that you say 'OK, I'm here, you come for me.' You're going to knock on the door and see what's going on."

The same White Sox story really has been going on for the past two years, with Williams and Guillen's once brotherly sort of relationship not as strong as it once was. But Guillen certainly is not the only offseason work to be done for the White Sox.

Whether this saga plays on or comes to an end, Williams has to figure out how to bring this team back to contention without the benefit of monetary room to add players.

"Well, the first priority is to determine who we are and what we are going to have available in terms of resources," Williams said. "And what we can reasonably count on in terms of the fits that we have -- both in the veteran ranks and then the young ranks -- and then what can we potentially do in terms of any deals or free agents or any of those types of things. You put it all together and you ultimately end up with a better chance than we gave ourselves this year.

"There's a lot that goes into the mix, and you sit here and whatever today is, Sept. 23, and there are no answers, right now. Hopefully, we'll have some as we go along.

"I wouldn't expect that we add," Williams said. "I wouldn't even expect we stay the same. I would expect we might have to trim a little bit. But again, the decision hasn't been made. I said the same thing last year, and we added."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.