10 games in, Rick Renteria has, is exhausted

A little over a year ago, Rick Renteria walked into SoxFest a conquering hero. It was a surprising sight for a 67-win team, but those White Sox played with an energy that the Robin Ventura Era stopped being known for in 2013, and fans heaped praise upon him when given the chance.

Smash-cut to the present day, it’s fair to say his favorability rating has slipped.

In the second of my late, great columns for The Athletic, I mentioned that Renteria’s popularity was effectively built on a limestone foundation in a swamp. Three things he had going for him — a lame-duck Ventura as a predecessor, a really deep bullpen and the serial-position effect — wouldn’t follow him into future seasons, so what did he have then?

Renteria answered that question with a managerial style that alternated between taskmaster (so many benchings!) and coddler (so many pitching changes!). It’s not necessarily a personal failing with Renteria, but rather the quicksand that drags down most managers in a rebuild. The more you show you’re trying to escape, the less it’ll help. The second and third seasons don’t spell doom for all managers, but it usually requires an “innovator” label, and Renteria isn’t that.

Given this history, I recommended that the White Sox hold off on extending him until deeper into the third season, since it could serve as a tie-breaker for Renteria’s managerial methods. The White Sox, being perpetually weird about managers, extended him in secret for an unknown amount of time, and apparently well before I wrote that post. So.

Ironically, an awful start affirms the virtue in extending him at this point, at least somewhat. If Renteria’s future were up in the air, the cries for his ousting would be deafening. As it stands, some fans are still making noise, but either they:

  1. Are unaware that the White Sox haven’t fired anybody of note since Mark Parent after the 2015 season, and that was only a vain attempt to prop up a foundering Ventura
  2. Are unaware the Sox extended Renteria well before the season in a bunker deep underneath Guaranteed Rate Field at 2:23 a.m. in the middle of winter, or
  3. Don’t care.

The rest of the fan base is either:

  1. Unwilling to blame Renteria for a flawed roster and think another manager wouldn’t make a difference
  2. Aware that asking for any non-playing White Sox personnel to be dismissed before the end of the contract is a fool’s errand, or
  3. Done caring.

I fall into the first group more than the other two, mainly because I figured saddling Renteria with a half-in roster born from a half-in offseason put him in a position to fail, and so I’d rather shove the blame upward.

After another slow start characterized by embarrassing defense and large early deficits, Renteria is already testing the range of responses. He tried to soft-pedal all the miscues early on, saying:

But after the last turn through the rotation saw White Sox starters give up 29 runs over 20 innings, Renteria tried putting his foot down:

‘It’s not just Jace,’ Renteria said. ‘We’re having a little bit of trouble commanding the strike zone. . . . When we fall behind a lot, especially in relief, you put yourself in a vulnerable position. These guys are young, but that to me doesn’t matter.

‘It’s not acceptable, and we don’t want it to be something that’s acceptable. We want to make sure they understand that change has to occur. We have to make the adjustments sooner rather than later, so we can put ourselves in a position where we get ourselves [ahead]. Because [it] is tough for an offense every day to be in position where, gosh, we’re trying to battle back.’

Alas, if Paul Sullivan’s characterization of another Renteria postgame comment is any indication, it seems like he understands the roster he’s been dealt:

Renteria called Santana “rusty,” but when asked why the Sox didn’t give him a start or two at Triple-A Charlotte before calling him up, the manager said it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

Even if Sullivan’s cynicism fails to fairly represent the exchange, it still serves the purpose of nutshelling the predicament. When Daniel Palka starts the season 0-for-23 and Jace Fry allows more than half the lefties he faces to reach base, it rounds down Renteria’s real choices to random guesses (Dylan Covey or Ryan Burr in high leverage?) and prayers for blind luck (pinch-hitting Adam Engel for righty-swinging Yolmer Sanchez).

The hope is that all these elements — the dearth of quality starts, Palka’s hitlessness, Fry’s lack of control — are all slumps that would’ve happened at some point during the season, and this time they’re occurring concurrently over the first 10 games to poison the only sample size we have.

Then again, looking at that Athletic column, I offered the suggestion that one could watch Dylan Cease pitch if the MLB product failed to entertain, which took on renewed meaning Tuesday. Between the lack of year-over-year change and the deep-seated ennui it generates, I’m starting to understand why writing about the White Sox falls well short of a boom industry. Support us on Patreon!

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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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Josh Nelson

My favorite of Renteria’s quotes yesterday:

‘At some point, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and be accountable to our actions [or] lack of, whether they are positive or negative,’’ Renteria said of the staff.

He was pointing this at the staff, but he can also point this upstairs, too.


But he never seems to point it at himself.
And I believe there is plenty of evidence that he is bad at his job.

Josh Nelson

Sure, I don’t think Renteria is a good manager (I don’t think he’s terrible, though), but this 25-man roster is bad. I’m in Camp 1 of the rest of the fanbase.


I think he makes a bad team worse.


He is very bad at his job. Anyone who uses Adam Engel as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning with the tying runs on base has no business managing a major league team. Was anyone surprised that he struck out? I sure wasn’t.

Josh Nelson

Who else are you going to use in that situation?


If your bench is that bad that Engel is your best option, then either the roster is extremely poorly constructed or you have mismanaged the few bench pieces you have. I would much rather have seen James McCann bat there, and that’s not saying much.

Right Size Wrong Shape



Yes, even Yolmer was a better option there. Putting a guy up in that spot who has probably never been successful in such a spot is asking for failure.


Didn’t he hit a pinch hit HR this weekend?


He hit a home run when the Sox were losing by 8.


Do you think Engel had a chance to put the ball in play against Alvarado? I sure didn’t.



Torpedo Jones

Do you think there is any friction between Renteria and the FO? It has to be demoralizing when you’re captaining a ship that seems at least as leaky as it was two years ago. Renteria isn’t blameless by any means but I would understand if he starts shifting some blame upstairs.

Josh Nelson

I don’t know. The quote was about the pitching staff. I put the emphasis that it could be applied to other parts of the organization.

I’m sure losing gets old. So maybe in a few weeks we’ll get another quote from Renteria about accountability.


Interesting quote. The follies on pop ups to the outfield make me think he’s calling out Daryl Boston. Dare he be taking a shot at Coop too? He better watch his back.


Hahn can fire Renteria, but he can’t do anything about Cooper. The dysfunction in this organization stems from the fact that the pitching coach has so much sway.

karkovice squad

You’re still talking symptoms not causes there.


Great topic, Jim. I’m not a fan of rebuilds, but when mgt made the decision to go this route, I had no choice but to hope they navigate the process in a manner that fans can support. I knew it was going to be at least 3 yrs, probably 4, and at worst 5 yrs until post-season could be expected. During that time, we all expected a wave of top prospects to be promoted each yr and hopes were that there would be more hits than misses as new draft picks were added to the list. Fans also expected to see major league acquisitions either via FA or trades that would form a relevant 25-man roster. To address your topic, these promoted prospects and veteran acquisitions would need to be introduced and developed into a concept/system/attitude/ that could convert the player’s skills into a winning atmosphere. Watching this 2019 version of W Sox has me less and less confident that the rebuild is progressing. If the players can’t be blamed, and the front office is not going to be held accountable, that leaves Renteria, Cooper, and the rest of the coaching staff to face the fire. I can’t vote for the “don’t care’ option and so I’m inclined to suggest that the W Sox need to replace Renteria and coaches (including Cooper) and move on. The roster will be adapting this year and going forward. W Sox need to pick a point where the next field mgt team (the one where they’re relevant) arrives to nurture and develop the players, to manage the game conditions and strategy, and generate a winning atmosphere. Renteria and his coaches, IMO, have taken this process backwards.


Very well stated, denbum.


This is just such a dumpster fire at this point. I don’t know what to think anymore. Yoan and Timmy look good, so that’s something positive. I’m just so sick of watching below average players get chance after chance after chance in this organization. It’s time to move on from guys like Engel, Yolmer and Nate Jones. Yolmer just looks lost out there both offensively and defensively. Time to start bringing young guys up. Zach Collins and Mendick should be first.


Right, roke. It’s really exciting to see Moncada emerge and Timmy progress. There are others. I see Rodon’s and Giolito’s talents and wonder if their inconsistency can be blamed on Coop. RR’s strategy has always been questionable and his choice to send Engel up as PH wouldn’t have been so bad if Engel wouldn’t have swung at ball 4…is that a discipline that can reflect on coaching as well?
If I have to watch this stinkfest all summer, I’d just as well see Cease, Robert, Collins on the major league team. Zavala soon (maybe ahead of Collins) – Madrigal when time is right -and maybe even Hansen. But with a new manager and coaching staff. Two options – 1) promote Vizquel if organization believes in him (he’s familiar with prospects also) or 2) like the Cubs (replacing Renteria with Maddon) find the major-league-ready mgr. Many have brought up names like Scosia and Girardi, but there’s got to be a list of candidates somewhere.


It just all really speaks to needing a change at the top of the organization. Until that happens, we’re stuck with incompetence. Even the best players would have a tough time overcoming that.


WSB: it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.


it’s part of the New Grinder Rules – rules for the Sox to grind down the fanbase

karkovice squad

Left implicit: the guys who hired Ricky, extended Ricky, and gave Ricky this roster would still probably be the ones choosing his replacement.
comment image


So very, very, very true

As Cirensica

Less Ricks…more anybody else




My personality type is DCDC according to the two classifications at the top of the article


Seems like from Reinsdorf, to KW, Hahn, Ricky we are just sifting thru who is worse at their job. Im pretty sure none of them are “good” at their job, but everything starts at the top. Until that is fixed this is just gonna be a musical chairs style blame game and eventually power struggle.

The Wimperoo

The buck stops at Chairman Reinsdorf. Until there is a change at the top, the dysfunction will continue. 2005 was lightning in a bottle folks.

Interesting side topic – Mike Illitch spent more and more money as he aged, Jerry seems to be doing the opposite.

Greg Nix

Well, you know what whey say, “You can definitely take it with you and also fuck organized labor.”


Kenny, Hahn and Coop are going to be buried with Reinsdorf, like the pharaohs.

karkovice squad

I figured it’d be Coop, Baines, and Kittle.


Throw Herm in there too. Coop is Kenny’s clubhouse eyes and ears. Herm is Jerry’s.


Didn’t Herm retire?

As Cirensica

YOU never retire with the White Sox…it’s a contract signed with blood for life!! Souls are not eligible for Sox return policy.

lil jimmy

Was Herm replaced by the cute blonde in the dugout? If so I approve.


2019 White Sox: Fourth in the AL Central; First in Estate Planning.


I’ve been saying this very thing for a long time.The Reinsdorfs need to sell the team to an ownership that will:
1.Keep the team in Chicago
2.Realize that in order to make money, you must SPEND money first.

Most anti JR people (of which I am one of) realize that good ol’ Uncle Jerry will NEVER pay for starting pitching or a high impact player.You think after 49 years of watching this bullshit with the Allyn family, the Veecks and the Rensdorf/Einhorn group, I would learn this is fruitless.



Basically could of signed machado and harper to front loaded deals, still not lost money even if their revenue stayed the exact same from 2018 to 2019 which obviously it only would have gone up… WOW


Sure, but while you’re being all short sighted, I know that this would have kept the Sox from keeping their core together. No more signing Eloy to one extra year.


Yup. They were positioned well enough to be in on both, but apparently the very notion of that is just ridiculous to them.

As Cirensica

What year is that?

karkovice squad

Penny wise, pound foolish. Even more inexcusable they haven’t spent another 7 or 8 figures on the analytics department.


Consider this my best attempt to insert some optimism about the Sox season. As frustrating as these games have been, in some ways (to borrow a Rick Hahn phrase) this has been a great start. No, really. After a stupid offseason, the key to 2019 was going to be the development of long-term players. On the whole, the early results for those players have been promising.

Moncada and Anderson are off to as good as start as one could hope. I think we’d like to see more power out of Eloy, but .282 avg., .333 obp ain’t bad for a player’s first 10 games.

Things are a little more wobbly on the pitching front, as Lopez has been a clear disappointment. But Rodon looks good-to-great (1.58 FIP; 24:7 K:BB) and Giolito has been somewhat encouraging despite a rough ERA (3.44 FIP and 12:5 K:BB).

It’s feast or famine on the farm. Some notable disappointments early (Madrigal, Basabe, Adolfo) are counter-acted by torrid starts elsewhere (Collins, Cease, Robert). 

The season certainly feels immensely frustrating thus far, but isolating these individual performances helps. It’s still early (obviously), but the early returns are—on the whole—decent or maybe even good for 2020 and beyond. 


You are right. Moncada looks like a different player from last year. He is going to be a star. If Robert can stay healthy this year and put up big numbers, we will likely see a 2-3-4 of Moncada, Robert and Jimenez sometime in 2020 and for years to come. The continued development of those three would make this year a success.


i’m tired of acknowledging the 4 or 5 positives and have to watch and debate the 20 negatives. I expected to see a bottoming out and then a general uptrend from there. I foolishly thought 2017 was bottom, but I was wrong.I was just as sure 2018’s 62 wins was bottom (and it still may be) but from what I see, W Sox are playing so shockingly bad that they may fall short of 62 wins. I wanted to see some hope of a .500 season and then move on to relevancy after that. As it is gang, W Sox rebuild plan may take 6 years. As I write this, Lopez gives up back-to-back homers – Palka misplays a sinking liner, Leury bobbles the next one and I’m out-a-here.


This may be worse than shockingly bad, if there is such a thing.


Not-at-all-shockingly bad is the worst.


Hahn needs to make a few moves to help the team before this frightening start begins to damage the future of several youngsters. The first two moves require sending down Fry & Ruiz to protect them from continual major league pounding, replacing them with Osich & Fulmer.

Next, Castillo needs to go down and work on his catching and hitting, while Palka outrighted to AAA.  Delmonico and Collins (who’d take Palka’s spot on the 40-man) would come up to play regularly and also brighten/toughen up the clubhouse.

In the minors, Luis Robert needs to be promoted to AA with Joel Booker sent to AAA, to accelerate Robert’s exposure to advanced pitching and a less hitter friendly park to properly assess his mjr lg readiness. Im guessing he’d continue to mash and could be fasttracked like Soto & Acuna, likely even before Basabe returns to his AA OF spot.

Lastly, it’s time to consider dealing Yolmer, Jay and Jones quite early to teams struggling with depth issues and injuries. The return for them is unimportant, but their spots are better used to evaluate the bottom spots on the 40-man, as about 7-8 need to be added this offseason to protect from the rule 5 draft.

Also agree with the comments above about Ricky, who has been dealt a bad hand. Replacement for the major league coaches are in AA and below, with Vizquel likely to get poached this off-season unless the SOX promote him.  Could Ozzie possibly serve as his bench coach?!?  Might be the only strategy to force out KennyHahna.


You know you’ve got a good coach when his best attribute is the players don’t completely hate him. I don’t like the thought process of “wait until he has good players”. All of our players instantly become worse baserunners when they get here and he has the worst instincts with bunting I’ve ever seen. This is the time when you should be cycling through coaches while there are little repercussions.