As expected, the White Sox did not look all that far for a new hitting coach. It will be Frank Menechino, Charlotte’s hitting coach in 2019, that replaces Todd Steverson, with a replacement for assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks to come at some point.
Menechino joins Rick Renteria’s staff using a similar route that Renteria himself traveled. Renteria had experience elsewhere before he was hired from outside the organization to serve as Robin Ventura’s bench coach, then ascended to the managerial seat following Ventura’s dismissal without any other candidates interviewed.
Along the same lines, Menechino served in two different hitting coach roles with the Miami Marlins from 2014 to 2018. The White Sox didn’t accurately relay Menechino’s Miami experience, however. In the press release, the team says:
Prior to joining the Sox organization, Menechino spent five seasons (2014-18) on the Miami Marlins major-league staff, including three (2014-16) as the assistant hitting coach and two (2017-18) as the hitting coach.
The White Sox got the amount of years in each role right, but they got the order backward. Menechino indeed served as the hitting coach for two years, but it was from 2014 through 2015. Before the 2016 season, the Marlins demoted Menechino to assistant hitting coach to clear a role for Barry Bonds in a splashy hire forced on Don Mattingly by owner Jeffrey Loria. Bonds only lasted a year — and Menechino may have been doing more of the work anyway — but Menechino stayed on. The Marlins replaced Bonds with Mike Pagliarulo, under whom Menechino remained the assistant for two more seasons. He was dismissed in a larger coaching shakeup after the 2018 season.
The reverse order is actually more impressive, because Menechino arrived in Miami at the same time as Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto, and one year into the career of Giancarlo Stanton. They all turned out OK. In fact, they turned out too well, because the Marlins traded all of them and forced the coaching staff to start over, and many coaches were canned due to the lack of results.
Now Menechino is being entrusted with a similar step in the White Sox rebuild. He’ll inherit Yoan Moncada, a revitalized Tim Anderson and an Eloy Jiménez who is just starting to get it, but he’ll rejoin Zack Collins, and be rejoined by Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal.
As was the case with Renteria, the previous season served the purpose of the interview process. On a conference call with reporters, Rick Hahn said, “Our comfort level with Frankie grew substantially over the course of the season. He impressed all of us, from Chris Getz, who was his immediate supervisor, to Kenny [Williams] to myself to Ricky and others who dealt with him even as early as spring training.”
So, like Renteria, his hiring is an internal-external hybrid that results in a qualified coach, even if it’s not the kind of widescale recruiting you’d like a struggling organization to conduct. Menechino should be more or less fine, especially since Hahn seemed to indicate that he’s forward-thinking enough for a job in 2020. The bigger concern is what the pipeline produces for him.
It’s clear the White Sox would like better discipline from the hitters, because while Steverson’s tenure boasted some big-time success stories, all of them involved forgoing walks to significant degrees. Renteria is hoping that the next step in their fine-tuning involves zones that aren’t so easy to expand.
“Hopefully what it does, maybe it expands the underlying value of things we need to do in terms of getting on base more, and that simply means that guys are going to be more apt to be aggressive with their pitches, staying in their lanes, trying to do a little bit in terms of being more disciplined. I think it keeps the line moving, it allows guys to continue to improve upon their approaches.”
The question from here is whether the lack of walks comes down to instruction or acquisition. Menechino sounds like he knows that walks aren’t great as a primary purpose.
That’s not a whole lot different from what most coaches say, because that’s all coaches can say. That said, Charlotte walked at a rate significantly higher than the rest of the International League. How much of that is noise from an insanely friendly environment for hitters? Who knows, but just like Sox hitters, we have to work with what’s thrown at us.
I’m optimistic this will be a good hire. I wish the process inspired more confidence, but I think the hire is a good one.
I think the process doesn’t inspire confidence and we don’t know enough as outsiders to evaluate the decision itself.
Hell, I haven’t been inspired by a Sox hitting coach since Walt Hriniak.
They should have hired Barry Bonds, with Menechino assisting. That would impress.
….or Frank Thomas or Jim Thome, because every great hitter surely know how to improve hitters in the modern game.
Those would be very WS moves, BTW.
I was hoping for Aaron Bates.
From Rotoworld’s White Sox season in review.
** “Flying somewhat under the radar with Robert getting all of the attention, is Nick Madrigal. The 22-year-old was the White Sox top pick (fourth overall) from the 2018 draft class, and all he has done is hit since arriving. Like Robert, he climbed his way up through three minor league levels in 2019, slashing .311/.377/.414 with four homers, 55 RBI and 35 stolen bases in 120 games. He doesn’t possess the power or the pure speed of Robert, but he’s a more polished all-around hitter. Playing his home games in Chicago, HE SHOULD BE A 15-20 HOMER GUY — and like Robert he could be handed the starting job at second base right out of the gate.”
yes he will be a 15-20 homer guy, for his career 🙂
A MLB 2019 15-20 homer guy is like a 5-6 homer guy in MLB 1981.
Manfred is loving this bouncy ball era.
The Rate is a bandbox, and he should have enough pull side power to make it over the short porch in left field.
It’s actually favored pitchers the last few years according to Park Factors on B-Ref, and was relatively neutral this season. I don’t know how much of this is a result of the White Sox themselves fielding shitty lineups devoid of power.
I don’t know why I keep getting surprised by Sox fans responses to any news. If Menechino was an outside hire, people would be OK with it, but because he spent a year with our triple A system, apparently this is a “typical” move.
Also the fan base fawns over anyone under 40 with a description of “analytical” despite having no idea if that makes them a good coach or if they know how to interpret, teach, or improve the players.
“So, like Renteria, his hiring is an internal-external hybrid that results in a qualified coach, even if it’s not the kind of widescale recruiting you’d like a struggling organization to conduct.”
I wasn’t directing that at Margalus in the slightest. More at fans in general based on the overall reaction I’ve noticed.
Matt Lisle was hired by Fresno State’s softball team, in case people were wondering if another team would snap him up.
And one did. We were right.
On the one hand, you’ve got whatever contributions he made to the Marlins last wave of prospects and Charlotte this year. On the other, the last time they pulled this external-internal trick they gave us Ricky.
Wasn’t the scuttlebutt that Renteria was hired with the presumption he would get the manager’s job when it opened? Maybe that happened with Menechino.
Classic hire, he goes with a manager who avg 90 loses per season. Maybe he’s credited with the way palka,engel and Cordell hit in AAA?
I’ve got no problems with this hire. There are no red flags which is all you can really hope for from a hitting coach hire. Hard for us to pretend we know what to expect or what his impact will be otherwise.
Regardless of who the coach is, I just hope they know to let Tim Anderson be Tim Anderson. The man is better when hes aggressive at the plate, hes never going to be a polished power hitter who takes walks.
This isn’t 2012. There’s a lot more we can expect from coaches now than “no red flags.”
Like what? If you read they’re “analytics driven” and stuff like that, its just buzz words. It doesn’t tell us the fans much of anything.
I’m not saying I’m against those things at all. I just mean that as far as fan judgements/evaluations go, its almost impossible to fairly judge a hitting coach hire.
Staying current on biomechanical research, tech tools, and the data showing which approaches are most effective in today’s game aren’t buzzwords. The Sox are closed mouth about all of that stuff.
That’s a departure from the more advanced teams who are more than happy to brag, at least in general, about what they’re up to.
My goodness, there’s quite a bit of spin in that press release.
Sure, Collins did well in Charlotte, but hit .185/.345/.370 in away games at AAA last season. Holding up Collins as a success story just doesn’t work.
Crafted by Garfein or Merkin?
I go to anybody BUT the White Sox for news on the team (which is why I’m here, I guess). Nothing they ever put out can really be taken at face value.