The White Sox are still weird about their managers

Rick Hahn doesn't like talking about managerial contracts, even when extending one

When it comes to skepticism about the White Sox’ commitment to the rebuild, Rick Hahn likes to point out all the ways the club has defied doubters over the last two years.

  • Starting the rebuild in the first place, and getting to 100-loss bad.
  • Trading somebody as valuable as Jose Quintana to the Cubs
  • Busting their bonus pool to sign Luis Robert

All of which is true, and helps add at least a little substance to the idea that the White Sox could indeed be major players in free agency.

Now, if only the White Sox could stop being such GD weirdos when it comes to their managers. Instead, they’re somehow getting weirder.

Remember a couple of weeks ago, when I wondered whether the White Sox would be able to resist extending Rick Renteria? That post was a waste of everybody’s time. The answer had already been “no,” and for some time. Hahn told reporters at the GM meetings the Sox extended Renteria, but he wouldn’t say when or for how long. He also tried to cast doubt over the reports of a three-year deal for the original contract for good measure, although he didn’t actually refute it.

“He’s extended into the future,” Hahn said. “I don’t think the Chicago White Sox ever said we signed Ricky Renteria to a three-year deal. We extended him a while back. Personally, I know it’s been a story in the local market recently, but from my standpoint, the length of contracts for pro sports executives or managers or anything, is it really that relevant? Eventually you are retained because we feel you’re the right guy or ownership feels the front office are the right people to win, or they make a change.”

Perhaps we could trust Hahn some if there were any evidence that the White Sox operated in this manner, but the last two times it came to a managerial change, they came well after things took a turn, and with great disorder. Maybe Ozzie Guillen’s acrimonious exit could be written off because the World Series ring generated a generational attachment, but Jerry Reinsdorf effectively made Robin Ventura fire himself, and years after the sell-by date. The White Sox’ inability or unwillingness to make normal, clean breaks with non-uniformed personnel has defined the franchise over the last decade far more than on-field accomplishments.

When Hahn says the managerial and executive contracts don’t matter, he only adds to the vague yet pervasive lack of accountability. When he says it on the same day the Blackhawks fired the most successful coach in their history and the Cubs remain inscrutable about Joe Maddon’s future, he’s only adding to the divide between the White Sox and the city’s actually successful teams. Maybe this is a Reinsdorf thing and Hahn is powerless in this regard, but as long as he’s going to pretend the Sox have a standard chain of command, we ought to take him at his word.

The solace is that Renteria hasn’t yet approached his expiration date as a manager, even if the Sox should leave themselves open to upgrades. The White Sox took a step backward as a team, he still bunts too much, and “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit” transformed from a rally cry to a whipping command as his benchings turned capricious and pedantic. That said, his communication skills still seem sound, he prioritizes putting young players in a position to succeed, and I suspect some of his warts — the punishments, the overactive bullpen usage — might not be inherent. At least part of his flailing struck me as an inevitable byproduct of an imbalance between a manager tasked with winning today and a front office not nearly as concerned about the immediate roster.

For his part, Hahn said Eloy Jimenez will likely be spending “the bulk of the season, if not all of the season” in Chicago, which sets my internal expectations for “worrying about the extra year, but not Super Two.” Whenever the Sox stop manipulating Jimenez’s service time, Renteria’s job will be less about getting blood from a stone.

The same can be said about the Sox improving the roster at positions Jimenez won’t occupy. As the GM meetings continue, the Sox continue to be tied to free agents, including more who aren’t Manny Machado.

It’s hard to take any one rumor seriously in an environment where the White Sox make for such great leverage fodder — clean payroll! better days ahead! significant organizational gaps! — so I’m holding off on reacting to individual items. That said, given that the White Sox just bought low on their manager under a shroud of mystery, committing to the DH spot with a 38-year-old before other roster issues are solved is also a very White Sox thing to do, so I suppose I should register my objection just in case.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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I don’t think I’m in on Nelson Cruz, unless they need to sign a vet to prove to Machado and Harper that they are truly turning the page.

Patrick Nolan

Same, idk how much stock to put into it, but Nelson Cruz feels like a mistake. DH is one place that the White Sox have the internal means for adequacy without needing to throw money at the problem.

As Cirensica

I feel Cruz will be cheap to have, and boy, do the White Sox need dingers. I would welcome Cruz for the right price.

Eagle Bones

This. They have enough holes to fill that they’re going to need to try to fill at least some of them internally. DH seems like a good place for an internal try with Palka.

As Cirensica

The curious and sometime somehow annoying thing is that many fans will go “oh no!, are you mad?” by suggesting we shouldn’t tender Jose Abreu (as I did in my plan) and his probable 16M salary, yet the same people will probably hate the White Sox signing Cruz whom will cost very likely less than Abreu and is very likely a better hitter than Abreu is at this point.

Average fWAR in last 5 years:
Abreu = 3.2
Cruz = 3.9


Pretty massive age difference, with all of Cruz’s slash numbers declining by about .040 points last year. I think it’s easier to argue for Jose’s bounceback than it is for Cruz. I can’t be alone in expecting pretty significant decreases to Cruz’s production for each year going forward.

As Cirensica

I am willing to bet that their production will be about the same. Cruz is cheaper.

If I have to choose? I will sign neither. If I have to choose one: I will sign Cruz

Trooper Galactus

It’s not that I’m all that opposed to Cruz, but his signing would definitely instill me with a fear that when it comes too free agents the White Sox haven’t really changed how they operate very much at all.

Eagle Bones

There also seems to be thought that he’s going to land a two year deal. That’s definitely an issue at that age (and another one that Jose doesn’t have).

As Cirensica

100% agree with you


I don’t know. Jose signed for a few million less than his projected arb price last year. If that happens again this year and he costs about $13M I can’t see how anyone would complain about that.


Personally my view on the 2019 offseason is that I can’t really get mad at any contract that is 2 years or less. A 2 year contract will have virtually zero chance of affecting long term payroll options.

Cruz definitely does not make a lot of sense at first glance, and is definitely a very White Sox thing to do. That said, he is an absolute upgrade to the internal option of Palka/Davidson. Cruz would provide some consistent OBP to a lineup that desperately needs it. IF we’re talking like 2 years, 12M total, I’m going to try and not get too upset about it

Trooper Galactus

Cruz would cost $12M for one year, I think. He’s been way too good a hitter to be taking reliever money.


The whitesox wanting their fans to publicly know they are “in” on machado, harper, happ, corbin, cruz, vs the whitesox keeping renteria’s contract extention a secret tells you everything you need to know about how poorly run this team is especially when compared to the cubs and hawks


I don’t see the link with the rumors and the White Sox intentionally putting those rumors out there.

Maybe I’m being naive but when I read rumors, my assumption is that on one side of the ledger, the White Sox are talking to agents and players and other teams, and word gets out. On the other side of the ledger, the journalists are talking to their sources and getting the information and putting it out there.

I never see any nefarious attempt by the team to sell the fans that they are “in” on anybody. Quite the contrary – they usually prefer to fly under the radar in their pursuits. No?


If the sox arent putting this out there and actually trying to fly under the radar they are leaking like a freaking sieve


The agents have an incentive to put the info out there.

karkovice squad

The agents also talk to other teams about who’s interested.

So while the Sox may have a unique talent for negotiating against themselves, with so many potential sources it doesn’t follow that just because there’s news that the Sox are the ones leaking it.

karkovice squad

None more White Sox. The most White Sox.

If they didn’t already exist they’d have to be invented just to fulfill this purpose.


Presenting Sox fans with Nelson Cruz as the consolation prize for missing out on Machado and Bryce seems like a very White Sox thing to do.

I think actually that move to me would signal that Hahn needs to be replaced.

As Cirensica

Curious…what is the meaning of the phrase GD weirdos?

I don’t like Renteria. I want this team to have a modern manager that embraces modern stats. Renteria is just a nice guy old style manager with a bunting fondness that is maddening. At least, I don’t think Renteria is a liability as a manager (RV was)….however, Renteria does not have a winning record, nor Rick Hahn. They are made for each other.


That is a big problem. I guy who has no track record of success is extending a guy with no track record of success.


Renteria embraces modern stats. He just has a weird bunting fetish.

As Cirensica

Embracing modern stats and the bunting fetish can’t go in the same sentence. One denies the other.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Just curious, in what ways do you see him utilizing modern strategies / statistics? To me everything from bullpen usage, handling of starting pitchers and lineup construction scream old school (not to mention bunting).


On the South Side when I was growing up, GD was Gangster Disciples. I guess GD Weirdos could be one of those ‘kids these days ain’t got no respect’ offshoots, probably in Hyde Park. Could be Genuine Draft. Or it could be a way to represent Gosh Darn without blasphemy.

As Cirensica

For a moment I thought it referred to Gord Downie


Greg Nix

If Jim doesn’t want to be blasphemous in the article, maybe he doesn’t want it in the comments either… but it’s “goddamn weirdos.”

Trooper Galactus

If Jim’s opposed to “goddamn” in the comments, I would’ve been banhammered within a month of joining.


I don’t see Cruz being better than a Davidson/Palka platoon. That money can be much better spent elsewhere.
And though I still think Renteria is a bad manager, I am willing to give him a year with a competitive team to see if he improves as the talent level improves. But if he doesn’t, they better not drag it out like they did with Robin.

Greg Nix

I don’t hate Cruz, but I would hope the Sox have learned their lesson about signing aging DH’s.


I could see that happening. DH should be about 10th on their list of priorities.


If last year is any indicator, waiting until the end of winter on some of the mid-level and low-level free agents would be a wise move. Could be some really nice bargains

Lurker Laura

That Nelson Cruz intel seems like agent manipulation to me. Not that, as others have pointed out, it wouldn’t be a very White Sox thing to do, but the “more” in the tweet is what makes me think it’s just an agent listing every club he’s called.

Josh Nelson

I agree.


Me too….though that statement might be some sort of trademark violation


Anyone able to post the Baseball America Top 10 list that came out?

lil jimmy

Not supposed to post it, but some notable names
#6 Micker
#9 Luis Gonzalez
#10 Steele Walker ?
And then the usual suspects.


The Renteria thing doesn’t really bother me, as it has (or should have) zero bearing on whether he gets fired in the next year or two. The only thing it does is guarantee him a little more money if he is let go, which is peanuts by MLB payroll standards and actually a nice gesture. It also eliminates the nauseating “lame duck manager” story line. Also, I actually kind of get a kick out of the Sox spiting in the face of the modern convention of publicizing the contracts of managers/executives.


agree on all points

Papa Giorgio

So with what Hahn said, when would you expect to see Eloy called up?

Patrick Nolan

who dis?

Papa Giorgio

First time long time, yeah do you think we’ll be able to trade Avi for Robles? I’ll hang up and listen


The weird thing about Jerry Reinsdorf’s reluctance to fire anyone is he’s had a couple occasions to can very successful management because he or his other executives didn’t get along with them (Larry Himes, Tom Thibodeau). I wonder if he’s so scarred by GM Harrelson’s 1986 firings of Tony LaRussa, Dave Duncan, and Dave Dombrowski that it made him less likely to fire others since — unless he personally dislikes them. (Why it inspired him to once again hire Harrelson for the booth after his exile to the Bronx is beyond me.)