White Sox happy for Mets' Manuel
Former skipper of South Siders promoted by New York
CHICAGO -- Ozzie Guillen doesn't know either Willie Randolph or Jerry Manuel personally, aside from replacing Manuel as the White Sox manager following the 2003 season.
But Randolph's firing by the Mets after Monday's victory in Anaheim and Manuel's promotion from bench coach to interim manager reminds Guillen of a change he witnessed first-hand with the Marlins during the 2003 campaign.
"[Manuel] reminds me of Jack McKeon," said Guillen, referring to McKeon, the manager Guillen worked for as third-base coach, replacing Jeff Torborg with the Marlins sitting at 16-22. "All of a sudden the team was so bad, and then the team started playing the way they should be playing and they win the World Series. It's easier to fire one guy than it is to fire 25 guys."
Manuel has quite a strong connection to the South Side of Chicago, having served his lone previous managerial stint from 1998-2003. Manuel posted a 500-471 record, winning the Manger of the Year award in 2000, when the White Sox claimed the American League Central title.
The primary characterization of Manuel is that of a man of deep faith who read the work of Gandhi and never used profanity. That description should not paint Manuel as a low-key soft-touch, as he held his players responsible to behave and play like adults and commanded great respect as the team leader.
During Spring Training in 2000, Frank Thomas tried to opt out of the tough shuttle drill by presenting Manuel with a note from the Big Hurt's doctor. Manuel didn't accept the excuse at face value, leading to a heated 30-minute discussion in Manuel's office.
In 2003, Manuel's last year with the White Sox, veteran Rick White spoke out in regard to the lack of defined roles for the bullpen coming from the top. He also mentioned how it was unfair for reliever Gary Glover to have gone more than three weeks without pitching. Shortly after his comments, White was left in a game for an extended time by Manuel, who basically said if White wanted worked, he would find some for him. White then was released on Aug. 11.
Guillen obviously has a completely different style of managing than Manuel. But even those who prefer Guillen's style, such as Mark Buehrle, were happy for Manuel to get another managerial opportunity.
"Obviously it's good for him to get another chance," Buehrle said. "He's a quiet guy, so [the New York media] probably is not going to get a lot out of him. If they want to get some stories, he's not the right guy."
"He's definitely a very even-keeled guy," added Paul Konerko of Manuel. "Not overly emotional on the outside, so I think he'll be able to handle New York well. When you take over in the middle of the season, it's not the best situation for a manager coming in because you're having to deal with everything. But he's a good guy. I'm sure he'll do a fine job."
As Guillen mentioned when referring to the McKeon-Torborg situation, Manuel really has nothing to lose.
"Jerry Manuel has a chance to be a hero right now," Guillen said. "He has a great opportunity to get back on the map and do a good job.
"To me, the talent is there. I don't know what kind of problems [the Mets] have or why they're losing, but you look at it on paper, it's a lot of talent out there. It's just about going out there and performing."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.