There’s a hitch in hiring A.J. Hinch

You may remember that Rick Renteria’s career as White Sox manager started with an awkward parade of Ford Mustang convertibles during a cold and rainy afternoon that postponed Opening Day before the first pitch.

As the White Sox embark on replacing Renteria, timing isn’t their friend here, either.

Last year’s coaching market featured Joe Maddon and Joe Girardi, each of whom won World Series in high-pressure jobs, and each of whom has a different way of going about doing the job. Maddon liked to take the pressure off his players with all sorts of rhetoric and stunts that appeared corny on the outside, but worked well enough in practice. Girardi appeared far more uptight, but he found ways to integrate young players with highly compensated veterans, and sometimes over them, in a job where everything he did was second-guessed. Had the White Sox decided to dump Renteria for either Joe, it would’ve been hard to fault them for their aspirations.

This time around, the most proven managers — at least with recent experience, Tony La Russa — are A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora, both of whom lost their jobs due to their involvement/dereliction of duties in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Unlike Maddon and Girardi, treating Hinch or Cora as the answer is only going to open themselves up to more questions.

The Athletic’s Andy McCullough, Brittany Ghiroli and Marc Carig teamed up to talk to 20 sources about the return of Hinch and Cora. Predictably, the sentiments are mixed.

While Hinch avoided getting tagged with the most culpability in the Houston banging scheme, his extreme sanctimony in response to accusations during the 2019 postseason stands out.

Hinch positioned himself as a pillar of sanity while brushfires broke out around his organization. Yet some in the industry remember how Hinch handled an incident with the Yankees during last year’s playoffs. There were rumors about the Astros communicating stolen signs through whistling. Asked about the allegations, Hinch said he laughed. “In reality,” he said, “it’s a joke.” One executive conveyed his disgust with the “arrogance” expressed by the manager.

“It just had like a (tone of), ‘Fuck you guys, we’re just better than you. We’re so good we don’t need to exchange signals or signs. Because we’re just better than you,’” the executive said. “And then, oh, lo and behold, sorry, we were actually fucking cheating for a good portion of the time.”

The sources also express some doubts about their effectiveness in their next role. Hinch and Cora both managed highly talented teams with aggressive front offices. Will they look like ordinary managers with ordinary teams? Or, if the White Sox make strides in plate discipline during the 2021 season, are they going to be accused of wearing buzzers thanks to a scandal in which they were on the receiving end?

PERTINENT: Forgettable White Sox games at center of Astros sign-stealing scandal

Those sympathetic to the exiled managers say that they served more time than the players who perpetuated and benefited from the cheating, the front office employees who had a direct hand in supplying the data, and the owner who theoretically should have to answer to all large-scale organizational issues.

In between, there’s the idea that Hinch and Cora should be able to return to the game in some capacity after their time in the penalty box, but could the league maybe show some restraint and hold off on restoring them as the face of a team immediately after their suspensions lapse?

The answer to that last one is “probably not,” because both managers represent a chance at a legitimately held competitive advantage, even if there’s reason to doubt what they achieved in Houston and Boston. If either manager picks up where they left off with no evidence of cheating, the furor over their previous transgressions will inevitably diminish. Decisions occasionally require cold blood in a zero-sum game.

On the other hand, a managerial hire doesn’t guarantee success in and of itself. Look at 2020, when Renteria made the postseason while Maddon and Girardi stayed home. Few seemed to blame Maddon or Girardi for organizational issues that preceded them, and it’ll probably take a couple more disappointing seasons for their reputations to take a hit. If the White Sox fail with Hinch at the helm, however, the line to spit on their graves will wrap around the block. Will Sox fans learn from Astros fans that complaining about such circumstances isn’t becoming? Human nature says that’s unlikely.

Hinch is a surefire upgrade over Renteria on paper, but it’s impossible to understand which ramifications would win out if it becomes reality. The Sox would either be brave, or completely lacking in backbone. It’d be the smartest thing they could do, unless they invited a disaster of their own creation. Unless they hire Hinch with the stipulation that he has to accept Danny Farquhar as his pitching coach, middle ground is going to be difficult to immediately establish.

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
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.

Articles: 3912
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Can we hire Dusty Baker? Grienke seems to prefer him.

But seriously, I would really prefer someone who knows the stats, TTTOP, WPA, etc. but also knows his team and has a feel for who has it and doesn’t have it that day and doesn’t manage with stats blinders on. Maybe that’s what makes the best managers today?


Have you ever seen a Pitcher be quoted, “I’m really glad the manager took me out of the game in that spot, I was really about to blow up and let in some runs.”

Not trying to say Hinch is the greatest, but Grienke spent less than half a season with him. He pitched in 5 games during the 2019 postseason and results:

Gm1 – 6 ER in 3.2 IP. Team lost 3-10
Gm2 – 3 ER in 6 innings. Team lost 0-7
Gm3 – 1 ER in 4.1 IP, but was in the 80’s for pitches and just put the tying runners on base. Reliever came in to get 2 K’s and Astros won.
Gm4 – 1 ER in 4.2 IP, but 95 pitches thrown and just put the tying runners on base. Reliever came in to get K and end inning. Astros won.
Gm 5 – 2 ER in 6.1 IP, Up 2-0 in game but just gave up a homer and walk, reliever came in and didn’t get job done. Astros lose.

I would say only in the 5th game, which happened to be game 7 of the world series, is the early pull questionable. Grienke may not like it, but most of the time it was the right choice, and most of the time it didn’t have any effect on the outcome of the game.




Thank you!

LuBob DuRob

Yeah, it’s not like Hinch pulled a guy after throwing 5 and 1/3 of two hit ball with 9 k’s on 73 pitches or something. Cash might not live that one down.


This year’s suspensions make me think of Leo Durocher’s case. Durocher was suspended for the 1947 season for, as the Hall of Fame put it, his “accumulation of unpleasant incidents.” Among these was his association with “known gamblers” (notably George Raft). That’s the electric third rail for baseball, though Durocher’s public image was assailed more for his relationship with Loraine Day, who wasn’t yet divorced from her first husband.

Just after the 1946 season the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn had threatened Rickey that the Brooklyn Catholic Youth Organization would boycott Dodgers games. CYO members constituted the largest block of the Dodgers’ Knothole Gang, a youth outreach endeavor Rickey had begun in Brooklyn as he had in St. Louis. Church groups were solicited to make attending baseball games part of their moral and social recreation programs. A CYO boycott of Dodgers games would greatly reduce attendance at Ebbets Field. As national president of the CYO, Justice Murphy went even further, threatening Chandler with a nationwide CYO ban on baseball. On March 1, 1947, the Brooklyn CYO made good on its threat and withdrew from the Dodgers’ Knothole gang.

A lot more happened, as Jeffrey Marlett’s SABR article on Durocher’s suspension recounts, and Happy Chandler suspended Durocher in April. In his absence, the Dodgers went to the World Series, losing in seven games.

Durocher was reinstated by the commissioner and returned to manage the Dodgers in 1948, though he clashed with Branch Rickey and was essentially traded to the Giants in July. Over the next half decade, Durocher enjoyed his greatest success as a manager, including winning the 1954 World Series over Cleveland.

Hinch and Cora may experience the problems Durocher did upon his return to the Dodgers. They may experience the success Durocher had once he was secure with a new employer. Maybe, like Durocher, they will achieve enough to one day be enshrined in Cooperstown. Eleven-year-old Dodger fan Jerry Reinsdorf no doubt followed the Durocher saga closely, and perhaps that experience will shape a) whether one of these men is managing the White Sox, and b) how the team might respond to public criticism of the new manager.


This makes me yearn for Ozzie. The guy was a master at drawing attention to himself, especially when the team was struggling. He also was adept at holding his players accountable privately, which will no doubt be needed with a young, up and coming team. I know there are many reasons that it’s not a good idea and that it won’t happen, just seems like an obvious match.


Honestly he reminded us why he is unfit for the job on the pre and postgame show. Some of his comments about exit velocity were just plain dumb. The game has moved past Ozzie and I don’t think Ozzie is smart enough to realize it. The man was a fit for us at one time but I think that time has passed.

Eagle Bones

You’re right, there are many reasons it’s not a good idea.


Have the Sox interviewed anyone besides LaRussa?

Right Size Wrong Shape

I’d like them to interview Espada, Alomar, someone from Oakland, someone from Minnesota just to get a peak at what everyone else is doing.


They may have done so already. Bruce Levine noted in his story on the LaRussa interview: “The White Sox have interviewed some other candidates already, sources said without disclosing the names of those candidates.”

Eagle Bones

Do we believe that though? That sentence is far too coherent to have been written by bruce.


There’s a lot about this process that requires suspension of disbelief, so sure. Speaking of which, the World Series has now been over for several minutes. Has Hahn already phoned Hinch?


Surprised Boston hasn’t announced a press conference yet to present Cora

Right Size Wrong Shape

My money is on Joe McEwing.


Perhaps making analogies to players isn’t appropriate. But if the Sox can sign Wil Cordero or AJ, they can get over the scrutiny for hiring Hinch.


Banging scheme-snicker…


Absolutely and definitely hoping that dinosaur LaRussa isn’t the pick. Also feel that the sideshow conversation s regarding Hinch and Cora’s disciplines will last all season and distract. Retreads like Scosia and Bochy can stay wherever they are. Other posts mention Espada and Quatraro (plus some others of the same ilk) and I think this is the way the W Sox should go. We’ve waited 5 years for this team to blossom and I think the organization should look at this like going forward….using the retread managers would be going backward. I also feel that the next pitching coach should be an adherent of the new philosophies and training methods such as the one Giolito adopted.


I wouldn’t want Cora or Hinch but I’d definitely take either over La Russa or Ozzie. Honestly I’d prefer Ricky over any of these guys.


Right, A Coupon … I just didn’t want to go backwards. The time is perfect for a young, unknown newbie to lead this very young roster. All those old turds everyone mentions had to be a newbie at one time. W Sox should want the NEXT one !


Houston Chronicle writer David Barron asked the question “Will A.J. Hinch, Jeff Luhnow, Alex Cora have jobs in near future after Astros scandal?” He spoke to a couple of academics who work in sports ethics as well as former manager Phil Garner, former GM Jim Duquette, and Astroball writer Ben Reiter. The gist of it is people seem to think Hinch has acquitted himself well in the wake of the scandal and Luhnow is toxic. Duquette:

“I would hire A.J. Hinch in a heartbeat. He served his penalty. He was asked to cooperate with the investigation and told what he knew. I’m sure he would admit he should have handled things better, but I’m not sure if he got great support from his bosses.

“It makes it a little more difficult when you’re enforcing things with the players if you don’t have support from upper management.”

Phil Garner was a little more measured in coming to the same conclusion.

“I thought A.J. handled the aftermath pretty well. Luhnow pushed blame onto others, and I’m not sure how that is going to play out.”