Ozzie Guillen

Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen ‘shocked' at Rick Hahn, Ken Williams firings

The NBC Sports Chicago analyst reacts to the White Sox firing his former colleagues

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"If Jerry Reinsdorf was serious about winning, massive change had to happen. It happened here today," Chuck Garfien said on NBC Sports Chicago's "White Sox Pregame Live Show" on Tuesday.

The White Sox sent the baseball world into a frenzy when they relieved general manager Rick Hahn and Executive Vice President Ken Williams of their respective duties from the organization.

Ozzie Guillen, who worked closely with both Hahn and Williams — also his former teammate — during his White Sox managerial tenure, reacted to the news on the pregame show before Tuesday's game against the Seattle Mariners.

"Very shocked," Guillen said. "Very shocked because I know those guys put a team together that obviously hasn't worked for the last couple of years. But I don't think it was a shock just for me. I think it was a shock for everybody."

A shock to Guillen and White Sox fans everywhere, indeed. Though, the correct decision, Guillén asserted.

"What he [Jerry Reinsdorf] did right now, he just made fans believe again in the White Sox," Guillén said.

The White Sox announced the news ahead of Tuesday's game against the Mariners. Reinsdorf released a statement as part of Tuesday's announcement, saying it was an "incredibly difficult" decision, but one that was necessary based on the "very disappointing" season and competitive window the team failed to achieve.

Williams joined the club in 1992 as a scout, not before he played three major league seasons with the White Sox to begin his baseball career. He was named the general manager in 2000 and was promoted to VP in 2012 when Hahn succeeded him as the general manager after years as his assistant.

But, according to Guillén, these aren't the kind of jobs you have a legitimate shot at holding onto for years. For that reason, the White Sox need fresh eyes, especially after their goal to obtain success in a competitive window was never achieved.

"As soon as you get hired you can get fired," Guillén said. "The thing is, the way the team was the last couple of years, the way they built this ballclub, a lot of people were upset.

"When everything happened this year, everything went south for them. And what Jerry did, he said 'Listen, it doesn't work. We gotta get better.' Fans are a little upset, not just with the team, but with the front office."

One of the highlights of the trio's venerable careers, the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, losing just once in the playoffs. They faltered the next couple of seasons before winning the division again in 2008. Though, they were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Rays at the start of the playoffs.

MORE: Rick Hahn, Kenny Williams' White Sox legacies feature moments of triumph, failure

They continued forward but failed to reach the playoffs over the next seven seasons. That's when they prophesized a rebuild. They embarked on a full-scale roster and farm restructure on the backs of Hahn and Williams, four years after their respective promotions.

They orchestrated trades that landed Yoán Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech, then followed that up with a July 2017 trade with the Cubs that brought Eloy Jiménez and Dylan Cease to the South Side.

Those moves, buoyed by international signings of players like Luis Robert Jr., brought the White Sox back into contention in the American League Central, and they earned a wild-card berth in the postseason in 2020 and a division title in 2021.

Between 2022 and 2023, however, their competitive window closed firmly shut. They finished .500 in 2022 and stand nearly 30 games under .500 this season, as of this writing. That resulted in a trade deadline selloff of multiple key pieces in late July. Giolito, Lance Lynn, Reynaldo Lopez, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, Keynan Middleton and Jake Burger were all traded.

That marked the end of the era for the White Sox. For that, Guillen and Chuck Garfien expect more moves to happen across the front office.

"I expect more. More people from the front office," Guillén said.

"There were people who were hired by Rick Hahn and Kenny. If there's a new person coming in, he/she is gonna want to put their system in there," Garfien said.

That being said, the White Sox are back at square one. They haven't achieved what they set out to do and they're picking apart the organization, starting from the top.

Reports show Pedro Grifol is "safe" and is expected to return to his post for the 2024 season. That remains to be seen, pending the arrival of a new, "single decision maker" the White Sox plan to bring aboard before the end of the season.

As Garfien pointed out, the new leader of baseball operations may have no motivation to retain the likes of Moncada, Kopech, Yasmani Grandal, Tim Anderson, or any player associated with this era. It could be the start of a brand new leaf for the White Sox.

This brought Guillén to a pivotal point. The organization, in his opinion, needs to take its time in figuring out what and how they want to achieve their next venture. Who do they want to be? And most importantly, how will they build it?

"They have to think about what they want to be: runners, defense, pitching, power," Guillén said." ... Build from the beginning. What's the beginning? Rookie League, Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A, big leagues. Don't start in the big leagues.

"If the foundation is weak, everything goes down. Build a very good foundation from the beginning. Bring guys, big league players, in to teach those guys how to survive in the game."

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