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Monday, November 03, 2003

WHERE IS THE LOVE?

The Chicago White Sox just announced that Ozzie Guillen will be their new manager. I have no idea what kind of manager Guillen will make but it smells to me that Cito Gaston may have been given the ol' runaround by White Sox management.

Despite all the talk of Cito being the favorite for the job it sounds like Ozzie Guillen was Ken Williams pick all along. At one point Ken Williams was even talking about making Cito the manager with Ozzie the manager in waiting. What's the deal on that? I've never heard of such a thing. Why would I want to take a job knowing that I'm just a glorified temp? Cito might as well have handed in a resume to Manpower.That wouldn't inspire confidence in me or give me impedance to do a great job.

I'm not a huge fan of Cito Gaston although I respect what he has done as both a manager and a hitting coach. At the very least, the man has a .518 winning percentage, brought home two World Series titles, and has always handled himself with class. On top of that, I was always impressed with his ability to handle a pitching staff; he never seemed to let his pitchers go much further than the 100 pitch mark. He might just have been listening to Mel Queen, the Jays' pitching coach, but hey, at least he listened.

Other than a second tenure with the Blue Jays as a hitting coach he has been unable to land a MLB managing job since his departure from the Jays in '97. With far crappier managers like Larry Bowa, Jimmy Williams, and Grady Little (a pretty good bet for the O's job) getting successive second chances at failure it baffles me why no team has been seriously interested in a man with Cito's resume.

One thought is that he doesn't come across as 1) a firey-true-grit kind of manager like Bowa or Williams or 2) like a strategic genius in the mold of Tony LaRussa (not really a strategic genius in my books) or Jim Tracy. Another thought is that people probably give a lot more of the credit for the Blue Jays mid-90's success to Pat Gillick than Cito himself. Perhaps there is something else in Cito's character that I'm unaware of, something that makes him a bad clubhouse influence, but if there is it didn't show up in the media or on the field. (Cito's biggest knock, as with Dusty Baker, is not being good with young players. This may or not be true. Shawn Green thinks so.)

You would also think that with the pressure on and from MLB to hire minorities for management positions, that an African-American manager with two World Series rings would have no problem landing another job. Heck, you'd think that any manager with two World Series rings would have no problem landing another managerial job somewhere. (Cito would be a perfect fit for the Phillies.)

I don't think the White Sox were ever very interested in Gaston beyond using him as either a bargaining chip to negotiate with Guillen or to make themselves look good in the eyes of MLB for interviewing a minority candidate. That's harsh, but that's what I'm left to believe unless Cito was asking for way more than he should have in terms of contract security or financial terms. Given his desire to be a big league manager again, I doubt he was.

I hope Cito gets another chance to manage and soon, but with the Red Sox choosing between Hoffman and Black and the O's hot on Grady Little's trail it looks like he'll have to wait at least until mid-season and more than likely until next year.

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