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  1. Guillen is good with pitchers. He’s just pretty bad with everything else.

    Comment by AndyS — August 16, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  2. Being a Sox fan there are times that I actually feel Ozzie leaves Sale in too long, but I can’t argue with Sale’s effectiveness or the #s you provide above. Also, throw in Jesse Crain, Jason Frasor, and Will Ohman to the before mentioned relievers and you have by far the best bullpen in baseball.

    Comment by Jim — August 16, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

  3. Bear in mind also that the ChiSox pen was a disaster early in the season. Everyone who was supposed to be good … wasn’t. At least not for a month or two. As such there hasn’t been much public sentiment for any one guy to be THE closer. The reverse, in fact, was largely true. ChiSox fans were in the mode of “play anyone, just get outs”. With actual production being largely the reverse of contract size, no one much cares that Thornton is now the 2nd lefty. Whether he wanted to or not, Ozzie’s been forced into managing his bullpen the way that he has.

    Comment by David — August 16, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  4. Bah, I took Sale as a late round flyer in one of my fantasy leagues, hoping he would take over the closer role. I had to drop him as soon as I could once he wasn’t taking it. Frustrating…

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — August 16, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  5. he’s been forced to throw guys in different roles than were expected, sure, but he could just as easily just be saying that sale’s the 8th, santos is the 9th, and not be playing the matchups and leverage situations nearly as well as described above. he hasn’t been “forced” into this any more than bobby cox is forced to never ever ever put kimbrel in the game without a 1-3 run lead in the 9th or later, even if avoidance of that means using sherrill in high-leverage situations

    Comment by juan pierre's mustache — August 16, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  6. I’m pretty sure Bobby Cox is never forced to do anything for the Braves this year.

    Comment by therood — August 16, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  7. If I remember correctly Ozzie also did this in his first season with the Sox in 2004. Billy Koch (ugh!) was originally set to be the closer, but eventually lost the job due to being Billy Koch. As the season progressed I remember Ozzie rotating between Shingo Takatsu and Damaso Marte as closers depending on the sidedness of the opposing lineup. Takatsu ended up with 19 saves that year and Marte had 6 (Koch had 8), so it looks like Ozzie erred on the side of Takatsu (which makes sense given that his ERA was over a run lower), but I think by the end of the year he was platooning them at closer pretty consistently.

    Comment by Frank — August 16, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  8. I’m not sure I’d say “by far.” The Braves’ pen has some ridiculous numbers this year.

    I was about to say that Ohman is not really as important to the ‘pen as Frasor/Crain, but he’s actually having a pretty good year after his terrible start. Granted, he was used as a mop-up guy for most of the year. But Ozzie’s used him in some high-leverage situations of late and he’s thrown well.

    Comment by therood — August 16, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  9. This is the first full year that Sale is relieving in his life. I think he can handle the innings.

    Comment by Dan — August 16, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  10. The ChiSox defense was a disaster early in the season.

    Comment by Dan — August 16, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  11. This ^. Two of Thornton’s first three blown saves he gave up 0 ER

    Comment by Eminor3rd — August 16, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  12. Awesome, what other moves did you make this year?

    Comment by Notrotographs — August 16, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  13. Isn’t using LHPs versus LHBs and RHPs versus RHBs pretty standard? It just so hapopens that Ozzie’s 7th/8th inning guys are just really, really good … and their former 8th Inning guy now closer (Thornton) hasn’t performed as expected.

    I would “believe it when I see it” if Sale was traditionally the closer, and Ozzie brought him in for the 7th inning to face a lefty with RISP and the game on the line. That would be convincing.

    The ChiSox bullpen has always been based on very hard throwers, and they’ve had Thornton to squash LHBs.

    The CWS do seem to have good success with performance of relievers, including some no names that performed well in roles (Cotts, Linebrink, Jenks, Thornton, etc).

    Earlier in 2011, the defense was killing the CWS in late-game situations. The lack of a “true” closer in the 2011 bullpen may be the cause. If Thornton had pitched as dominantly in the 9th as he has in the 8th (previous seasons), Ozzie might just have assigned innings to Santos, Sale, and Thornton.

    Even on offense, if Pierre was his usual 2.5-3 WAR, Dunn being 3+ WAR, and Rios being not a complete negative … they’d be fine.

    IMO, it goes to show how much needs to go right to win the division … without saying that Ozzie is a good manager.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 16, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  14. Anyone else seeing some correlation/causation issues here?

    Not counting extra inning games, the last time Santos made an appearance where he didn’t close out the game (record a game finished) was June 10 when he imploded. The next most recent non-GF appearance was May 11th. He has and is continuing to be used exactly as a traditional closer.

    Santos went through a pretty heavy workload in late July. Turning to Sale as the next choice for closer when Santos isn’t available only shows that the Sox have started using their second best reliever as the back-up closer when Santos is unavailable (possibly factoring in handedness).

    Comment by Mac — August 16, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  15. The point is taken — it’s really, really close to normal usage. However, August 13th, Santos was well-rested and available. And going to Santos for a one-out save is not quite normal either. I’m not really saying anything that should have correlation/causation problems, I’m just pointing to the fact that he’s not the typical manager when using his closer… and that his particular brand of using the pen is more saber than most.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — August 16, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  16. Using relievers for the platoon advantage is standard. Doing so in the ninth inning with a save on the line is not! Stupid sounding when you say it that way, really.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — August 16, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  17. Ozzie really doesn’t trust his former shortstop is the bottom line he would tie him with fat boy Jenks if he was still here first Thorton then sale he will find someone else when sales fails

    Comment by OneandOnlyBig Daddy — August 16, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  18. Eno speaking of closers if one had to go who would it be Madson, Nunez, Guerra or Santos in my 5×5 roto

    Comment by OneandOnlyBig Daddy — August 16, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  19. Ozzie saves Santos for the 9th inning a lot, yet still refuses to call him the closer.

    Meanwhile, I’d like to see the Sox be so saber-smart next year that they put Sale in the starting rotation, so they can tap into his value better.

    Comment by Sophist — August 16, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  20. My patience with Ozzie has begun to wear this season, but it’s true that he’s fantastic at managing pitching. I just wish we could get him to take a class on WPA and ship Oney overseas to where they don’t have internet.

    Comment by mikecws91 — August 16, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  21. I think that’s the plan. I like how they’ve managed Sale so far, adjusting his arm to a major league work load. I really like his upside, and am estatic to see what he can do as a starter.

    Comment by spaldingballs — August 16, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  22. Fair enough Eno. In my mind Ozzie hasn’t yet done enough to earn the title Champion of Sabermetric Reasoning. But it’s certainly an exciting development, so props to you for catching on to it. If anyone were to risk their job bucking convention, it’d be Guillen.

    In the name of science, I hope Ozzie continues to manage bullpen unconventionally. And then read your Fangraphs article analyzing the full results!

    Comment by Mac — August 16, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

  23. congrats, any other irrelevant tidbits you wanna post?

    Comment by whokares — August 16, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

  24. pierre has been his usual self on offense since the whole team’s terrible start, its his d thats brought his war down, and lack of stolen bases

    Comment by whatdoiknow — August 16, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

  25. @ Eno- I respectfully disagree with this article. This is not a sabre revolution by Ozzie. He simply doesn’t have “complete faith” in one particular guy. I’m surprised you only mentioned Thornton in passing because his awful start to the year is the reason we’re seeing this “sabre approach” by Ozzie. If Thornton (or Sale for that matter) had gotten off to a fast start and was shutting the door consistently early on, Ozzie would go to him in every save opportunity. I see people are saying that the ENTIRE bullpen was awful to start. Wrong. One guy was unbelievable from the start and that was Santos. The guy didn’t give up an earned run until May 20th. It’s the only reason he started closing games to begin with.

    “Using relievers for the platoon advantage is standard. Doing so in the ninth inning with a save on the line is not!” Umm isn’t going with the platoon advantage in save situations the very definition of a “closer by committee” approach? I dunno Eno it doesn’t seem all that uncommon to me. Its what most managers when their closer either needs a brake, goes down with an injury or is ineffective and they don’t have another shut down reliever to turn to.

    Comment by jpg — August 17, 2011 @ 2:05 am

  26. You could be right since the sample is small, but there are some key differences between the standard ‘closer by committee because crap I have to’ and this one.

    1) The struggles that would have precipitated such a closer by committee are way in the rear mirror. There hasn’t been a recent blow-up by Santos where we can say, oh, yeah, he’s really worried about Santos. If it was, it was one bad game and it was buried deep in Ozzie’s head.

    2) Without such a period, can we say that Ozzie is really using Sale because he doesn’t trust Santos? It seems like his use of Sale has been organic. In other words, he’s just used Sale in higher leverage situations slowly and likes him against lefties more than Santos. That’s not necessarily a diss against Santos, it could actually be a deeper understanding about the worth of the platoon advantage vs the worth of having an established closer out there every time.

    And, last, I’d say that running a bullpen by committee (especially doing so without talking about making a full-time change at the position) is rarer than you make it sound. Running a bullpen by committee for a full year has happened maybe two or three times (tops!) since we went to the closer model, and if we even give the BbC those kind of numbers, Ozzie has done it once before. My recollection of most bullpens by committee is that they were precursors to a closer taking over.

    And yet I don’t think Sale is on his way to becoming the closer here.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — August 17, 2011 @ 2:50 am

  27. Your response is fair though I’d still say it’s more of faith/workload issue with Santos and Sale. If he had an established closer or if Thornton had been the shut down closer they thought he would be, Ozzie would trot that guy out their for every save opportunity. As good as Santos has been as a whole, he’s not an established closer. If this was a progressive manager like TLR or Bobby Valentine doing this I could buy “….a deeper understanding about the worth of the platoon advantage…” argument. But this Ozzie Guillen. Father of Oney. His use of of an oft ineffective Bobby Jenks the last few years tells me that Ozzie is a man of convention….well with his bullpen anyhow.

    Comment by jpg — August 17, 2011 @ 3:50 am

  28. “…and you have by far the best bullpen in baseball.”

    Here’s some White Sox bullpen statistics for you:
    ERA 3.54 (14th in MLB)
    W-L 16-16 (t-19th in MLB)
    BAA .239 (11th in MLB)
    HR 31 (t-14th in MLB)
    SV% 67 (16th in MLB)

    They are 5th in MLB with a 2.51 K/BB.

    I know the above stats don’t paint the whole picture (best I could find quickly), but regardless I don’t know how you can make an argument that they’re the best bullpen in the AL Central (Cleveland’s appears to be significantly better), let alone “by far the best in baseball”. Atlanta has the best bullpen, in my opinion, with San Francisco and the Yankees close behind. The White Sox are somewhere in the 70th percentile, I believe.

    Comment by enemyoftheworld — August 17, 2011 @ 6:58 am

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