When everybody on the White Sox is accountable, nobody is accountable

At what point during Rick Hahn’s end-of-season address did you lose hope that the White Sox had learned anything meaningful from the last two years?

There were the recycled quotes that basically render Hahn a Teddy Ruxpin in Charles Tyrwhitt. There’s the idea that the White Sox are “not going to be able to throw money at the problem,” even though the team never actually tried that in any significant sense. There’s the sense that Hahn is the only one who can fire himself, and he professed that he isn’t close to reaching that point.

He emphasized that point by trafficking in condescension, which I hope was only a temporary pity party …

… because if Hahn’s saying that “only things that validate us are valid,” then we’re going to need to monitor his contributions on OpenSecrets.

But while all of those could inspire separate posts of angst, anger and anguish, Hahn’s description of the upcoming managerial process is where I checked out:

“Similar to probably just about every major decision since I’ve been around here for over the last 20-odd years, in the end, it’s a collaborative process and ideally, Kenny, Jerry and I come up with a consensus,” Hahn said. “I’ll be leading the process. I’ll be the one having these initial conversations here, but over the coming months — or coming weeks, I should say, I really hope it’s not months — over the coming weeks, there will be a number of people being part of these conversations. Obviously, Jerry, Kenny, Chris Getz, Jeremy Haber, we may have some former players involved as well. It’s really a matter of getting the best opinion of someone and in the end, making a recommendation and all being on the same page.”

It’s impossible to expect accountability when 1) the decision-makers know they’re never going to get fired, and 2) the decision-makers keep adding decision-makers to decision-making in order to defray heat.

This reminds me of the 2020 trade deadline, when Hahn organized a committee to ascertain how much help the White Sox needed.

Asked about weighing the addition of a player with character questions, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn revealed that Sunday included not just a walk-off win, but a meeting around a conference table at Guaranteed Rate Field involving himself, executive vice president Kenny Williams, manager Rick Renteria, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, and seven key veterans.

All of that brain power resulted in a flurry of deadline activity that … yielded Jarrod Dyson and nobody else, and the White Sox weren’t special enough to make use of such a specialist.

Hahn talked about the great harmony at that meeting, but after the White Sox fired Renteria, there were reports that friction had developed between the manager and the front office. Renteria allegedly stumped for the Sox to add pitching at the deadline, and sure enough, Dane Dunning was the third-best starter in a three-game series.

Of course, Renteria was fired in part because he showed no interest in leveraging openers or other alternative pitching arrangements, leaving him unprepared to execute a do-or-die plan against Oakland. But I can also appreciate if Renteria stumped for pitching because he was aware of his weaknesses, and he wanted a roster that stood a chance of compensating. If Hahn operated the same way, maybe right field wouldn’t be a brownfield.

Hahn reflects no such urgency or awareness, which is how he can discuss a managerial search as though the personnel cited by Hahn hadn’t sabotaged their three previous efforts.

It doesn’t make me happy to know that Reinsdorf or Williams are involved, because the last input they were personally responsible for resulted in Tony La Russa and Robin Ventura. Nobody has ever taken the time to explain what a Jeremy Haber is, and now’s not the time to start. There isn’t a single former White Sox player who needs to be apprised, because it’s not like Ron Kittle’s bat benches are dependent on personal measurements.

The more names Hahn invokes, the more places blame can be distributed when everything goes wrong, and the easier he can personally shrug away the criticism and conduct business as usual. When Hahn talks about “the accountability we all want to have,” he’s probably being more honest than he realizes. He’d probably love to have none, and working for the White Sox is the closest way to realize that dream.

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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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dwjm3

I read that Jerry came into the press conference late and ducked out early.

He is a gutless individual.

vanillablue

Rick Hahn, speaking with the implacable confidence of a mediocre white guy who is good at kissing the boss’s ass.

ForsterFTOG

“Beats working for a living”

-Ron Kittle (probably)

asinwreck

Jim’s final paragraph sums up the culture of this diseased organization. Nothing will change while Jerry Reinsdorf is in charge.

Wayne

Hahn only could have “saved” himself if he decided to say the buck stops with him this offseason for roster, manager, coaching staff, and every operations position.

Otter

Hahn’s best skill at this point is making sure there are a lot of people to take the blame that aren’t named Rick Hahn. Just as we’re not sure “what a Jeremy Haber is” (and for that matter what Kenny does at this point), I’m not sure if Rick understands his job is to make decisions. He appears to make sure a) he’s not the one who has to make a tough decision and b) receive any blame. But if we’re being honest, it’s always been like this for Rick — it was obvious back in 2016 to some (h/t larry) and hopefully all of us by 2019. Maybe the Tatis trade scarred him for life, but frankly I’m not interested in Hahn’s psyche/thought process because honestly, for his sake, it’d be better if there wasn’t one.

Rick CYA Hahn.

roke1960

It’s doesn’t say much for the White Sox future when Tony LaRussa took more of the blame for the collapse of this year’s team than Hahn did. It could be that Tony saw what a mess this organization is and wanted out. He actually sounded like the good guy yesterday. Hahn is just pathetic.

chipporter

Even douchenozzles can have the ability to charm on command.

ForsterFTOG

Even douchenozzles can have the ability to charm an audience of one on command.

Wayne

2022 White Sox:

  • 2B, 30th in fWAR
  • RF, 30th in fWAR
  • Relief Pitchers, 26th in fRA9-WAR
  • Staring Pitchers,17th in fRA9-WAR (down from 4th in 2020)
PauliePaulie

Stupid me thought there was disfunction in the hierarchy that caused important decisions to be half-assed or left unmade. Never conceived it was by design.

Willardmarshall

One of those days when I can’t help thinking: What would it feel like to be freed from being a White Sox fan?

dwjm3

Personally, I’m waiting to see who the new owner will be.

If it isn’t anybody who is decent, I’m done with the franchise. I just got to get through Jerry’s swan song first.

John SF

last year there were some smaller news pieces about Jerry’s kids’ taking a bigger stake in the team. I’m not particularly confident we will ever be free of that family.

dwjm3

Yeah we will have to see how things play out. Sometimes sons are better than their father. Jerry told them to sell it years ago so we shall see.

Torpedo Jones

But at least it seems like having Michael take over the Bulls has created some positive energy – hiring a legit outside GM and shaking things up a bit. I’d take that over Jerry’s version of insular, spineless leadership any day.

Hobo Under 35th St. Viaduct

This has all the similarities of the exile Cuban community in Miami waiting for Fidel to pass on – 50 years later it finally happens and then it’s his more severe brother who steps in. Sorry friends, there’s no going back to Havana. We are stuck in Cubdom.

Alfornia Jones

Jim, I wish the Athletic or the Defector would hire you. This team soap opera is beneath you.

Unfortunately, the White Sox saga proceeds with business as usual, and this proven braintrust of dumbasses will still reap the benefit of baseball randomness and outright luck. Here’s to a heaping helping of both in 2023.

As Cirensica

I believe Jim worked (briefly) at The Athletic.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Hush, you.

As Cirensica

Hahn is probably wishing that Reinsdorf lives into his 100s. That might look noble until you realize Hahn wants that for the wrong reasons.

StockroomSnail

“You’ll get oatmeal and bullpen arms AND LIKE IT”

funkerdan

strawberries and cream, please. and no Diekman

steelydan52

I felt better when it sounded like Hahn was going to lead the charge but it turns out he still needs permission to shoot the bullet. Oh well.
Listen, for what it’s worth, I’ve been a diehard Sox fan since 1958 and I’m not changing my stripes now or in this lifetime. I’m already on 3 blood pressure meds so I need you guys to say good things so I don’t get worked up so much.
I was going to have “HE GONE” on my headstone whenever we get it but my wife only wants the 1 headstone so now that’s over. She’s no fun.

ParisSox

yeah this. part of being a fan is living with this nonsense. The wife asks me why I get so upset at times and I say, because I WANT THEM TO BE SMART AND BE GOOD. Because I’m a fan. When they aren’t, I don’t want to change teams, I just want to bitch until they right the ship and then celebrate like mad when they figure it out one day. Hopefully that will still be in my lifetime.

texag10

Here’s the problem right now: right/wrong/indifferent, we have moved beyond words being taken at face value with this organization.
There is nothing inherently wrong or condescending about Hahn’s initial comment. The team was considered good in a sport where one hot month can win you a championship but one bad season means everyones’ heads should roll. He doesn’t see it that way, okay cool.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with involving more people throughout the process to source feedback on different candidates. I’m sure Getz has sources that Hahn and Kenny don’t. There are relationships that can be tapped with former players to get alternate opinions. He doesn’t say the additional people get to vote on the final hire, just that they will be part of the process and I don’t even think the process is all that special or unique to the White Sox. There’s a reason why a lot of regular jobs ask for a list of references during the interview.
So that brings to the “White Sox effect”. We have been through this nonsense for so long that even routine statements get analyzed to death and seen in the most critical light. “F*** the home run” was plastered all over Sox internet as proof that Menenchino only wants people to hit singles while ignoring the context of the broader statement. So does Hahn deserve the benefit of the doubt? No, but we also don’t need to jump to “worst case scenario” with every sound bite that comes out in the next 3 months.

metasox

It is a fair point that we really don’t know how to translate what is being said into what will actually happen and much of what is said will be overanalyzed. But I think what people are seeing here is status quo in terms of process. So unless they are at the very least bringing some better and perhaps more creative decision-making into the circle, it is reasonable to be critical

upnorthsox

And the process currently is deflect, obfuscate, and redefine. Oh and accountability is for suckers.

Last edited 2 months ago by upnorthsox
Otter

There is nothing inherently wrong or condescending about Hahn’s initial comment. The team was considered good in a sport where one hot month can win you a championship but one bad season means everyones’ heads should roll. He doesn’t see it that way, okay cool.

The failure of Hahn’s comment is that he doesn’t seem to either realize why the Sox disappointed or at least his role in it. Sure, when the 2022 Sox broke from spring training, they were projected to be roughly a 90 win team. Rick’s not wrong there.

But they were a LOT worse than their projections. And Hahn doesn’t seem to think he should get any of the blame for this. That’s the issue, Hahn doesn’t want to admit that he’s made mistakes — his allocation of money is putrid. The Pollock trade did not work out, none of his free agent decisions worked out (starting with not QAing Rodon which is easily his biggest mistake), and he still failed to provide sufficient depth particularly in the outfield.

Hahn can’t say “Moncada, Yaz, and Giolito were bad” publicly. And maybe he thinks this team would have won 90 games with someone other than TLR and his curious at best decisions. But that misses the point — the GM can’t said “not my problem players didn’t play well and the manager sucked” because that’s his job!

texag10

And Hahn doesn’t seem to think he should get any of the blame for this. That’s the issue, Hahn doesn’t want to admit that he’s made mistakes — his allocation of money is putrid.

This statement right here is kind of my entire point. This is a really cynical take on what was basically empty press conference talk. Where does Hahn say he is without blame in this year’s underperformance? Show me the quote where he says any other manager but TLR would have gotten to the playoffs? We still don’t (and probably never will) know who had ultimate responsibility for IL decisions but maybe TLR had too much control in that regard and Hahn believes a different manager would result in healthier players and less reliance on the shaky depth. Maybe he believes the outfield depth wouldn’t be as bad as it was if Leury wasn’t being started at second as frequently as he was. I really don’t want this to come off as a “Hahn did nothing wrong” kind of post but there were a lot of contributing factors to this season. Saying “Hahn is the GM” so he takes all of the blame is a poor take in my opinion and exactly what I was arguing against in my original post.

Qubort

What moves has the organization made over the last two off-seasons that worked out? Signing Cueto? Maybe I’m missing something else, but that seems about it.

I’m not saying this entire season is Hahn’s fault, but when NOTHING has been done to improve the team back to back years, yeah, I think the GM deserves a good amount of the that blame.

texag10

Lance Lynn, Liam Hendriks, Kendall Graveman, and Josh Harrison all might be varying degrees of successful but they were successful moves. If we are talking pure, single moves then trading Kimbrel for Pollock was successful but I’m not going to give Hahn credit since he didn’t have to pick up Kimbrel’s option in the first place.

upnorthsox

Josh Harrison was hitting .176 in June and almost DFA’d that’s hardly a success. Paying top money for relievers and no money for RFers is not something I’m going to hand out accolades for.

texag10

Cool, but that wasn’t the question. Harrison got paid $4M for 1.4 fWAR this year. That’s a win.

upnorthsox

Not comparing him to Babe Ruth so don’t really care about fwar. If he was signed to produce half a year of production then it was a success, if it was for a full year then not so much. Ours are mostly opinions so I don’t consider yours wrong, just different.

Otter

It’s obviously everyone: from ownership, to the front office, to the manger, to the players. No one (other than a lot of people on Twitter) really says other wise.

PauliePaulie

If all of this anger was really just about “one bad season”, I might agree.

HallofFrank

Hahn should have said: “Two years ago we finally started to win again after a decade-plus of losing. A year ago we won the worst division in baseball only to be crushed in the first round and this year we had one of the most disappointing years in franchise history and now we’re being asked if we should be in our jobs.”

steelydan52

You will never be hired to be his speech writer.

metasox

To add to the point, from the quote about the managerial search:

It’s really a matter of getting the best opinion of someone and in the end, making a recommendation and all being on the same page

Greatness is not achieved when 20 people have to agree on every decision. Everything will be watered down, at best. I don’t know how anyone can continually express this belief and consider themselves competent

Last edited 2 months ago by metasox
ParisSox

What happened to the GM just making decisions and living with them? sure you can seek others opinions (ex-player, I took to mean Jim Thome), but man …

StockroomSnail

Reply fial

Last edited 2 months ago by StockroomSnail
calcetinesblancos

Harold Baines. I’m calling it now.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Somehow I think hiring someone with a worse history of heart issues than TLR would be a bad idea. 🙂

Amar

Jim Thome

HouseOfTheRisingSox

I’m betting Paul Konerko. I had heard he was coaching his son’s travel team, but his son is now in high school. So he checks a few boxes already with his experience level, white sox familiarity, and Jerry knows him.

As Cirensica

Harold Baines’s health is not up for this managerial thing. 100% sure he is not a candidate.

Papa Giorgio

That doesn’t seem to be an important criteria to the Sox however

StockroomSnail

It’s gonna be Willie Harris

andflywrite

KW’s role in all this seems severely underreported. He was the one descending into the basement/ clubhouse to read the riot act mid season. Hahn pretty much disappeared.

Does that tell us anything? Some blame TLR for recent bad roster decisions… clearly he was the Leury contract idiot… maybe also Diekman, and maybe other highly questionable like Velasquez as rotation piece.

But KW was in the mix somehow, and he’ll still be in the mix going forward. JR likes this distributed FO model, where decisions are hard to blame on any one of his minions. It works: we are left holding an empty bag of accountability.

metasox

If you are a ballplayer, who is more likely to get you to question your play? Another ballplayer or a lawyer? As long as KW is around, there are roles he can play.

Amar

Exactly, if Kenny wasn’t kicked upstairs after Hahn’s promotion, Drake Laroche would currently be a member of the coaching staff

SocksO’Graham

When I saw Liam’s comments I felt it validated all the bitching I did this season.

SocksO’Graham

Maybe Hahn will have a lapse in judgment and get a DUI. Then they would let him go for violation of……..

steelydan52

So we’re going to tell Hahn what a great job he’s doing and take him out for drinks and then call the cops when he leaves? We have a winner!

steelydan52

Thome, Baines, Getz? No way just because Hahn said the next manager will come from a successful organization and well………………………….

To Err is Herrmann

Tony La Russa’s statement was well done. Earlier in the season, James Fegan reported that Tony really took losing hard, that he was drained after a loss. I think he actually cares. Rick Hahn is just a word-salad machine. I don’t know who he really is and what he thinks, but as he is part of an insular organization, it seems he isn’t forced to get out of his thinking process much. He can surprise with some good trades, good moves. He can mess things up too. We will see. What else can we do, storm the front office with pitchforks?

To Err is Herrmann

Actually, I am not being sarcastic. I think pitchforks might be the only way to get through the word salad.

steelydan52

I don’t have a pitchfork but I do have a shovel I use to pick up all the dog turds in the backyard. Is that ironic?

John SF

In late May of 2016, there was an article in the paper which made the assertion that these hot white sox were legit. The 2005 team reincarnate. Robin Ventura would probably win manager of the year, and Hahn would probably win GM of the year.

I kinda feel like Hahn still has that article cut out and framed on his wall. And not like, in an ironic cautionary tale sense. But in a “look at how good a job I was doing” kind of way.

ForsterFTOG

Rick Hahn’s version of ‘Mission Accomplished’

metasox

That overachieving, false start led to the Sox trading Tatis for Shields as the start fizzled. It should be framed.

Jason

One more ventcomment.

Jim’s rebuttal to the ”can’t throw money at the problem” bs is the reason I have zero faith in this organization.

The one silver lining to LaRussa was that it seemed more likely Jerry might *actually spend* to help his friend be successful despite a foot in the grave (and a hand behind the bar).

That we still saw the same white Sox pattern of garbage picking tier 3 free agents and didn’t even offer a QO to our Cy Young candidate free agent pitcher, it’s clear there is no chance for this org to be anything more than a big market bottom feeder.

abehickock

I’ve been a White Sox fan since the mid 1960’s and for the first time I really don’t care anymore. The Sox players don’t play hard and when tested during the last 3 years they’ve crumbled. The only reason they had any success recently is because of the weak division they’re in. Their “core 6” is overrated. Luis Robert is the only player that has a chance of becoming exceptional. It won’t matter who the Manager is next year.

Qubort

I’m so sick of Rick Hahn. This press conference reminds me when he said there’d be “multiple parades” and anyone that questioned his genius was just a troll. He is such a smug asshole who completely sucks at this job.

“We were picked to be in the World Series” isn’t an accomplishment. You should be embarrassed to have a .500 win team while burning through so many resources. The freaking Guardians pants you.

GrinnellSteve

Did Vaughn die and I missed it? He’s not in the lineup again tonight.

metasox

He hasn’t been hitting. Maybe something physical

StockroomSnail

Bravo! But you really should’ve listed Josh, Bennett, and all the other contributors as authors of this particular article.

steelydan52

Maybe someone has already done this but since Hahn took over the Sox have a record of 699-816. That is going in to tonight. So congrats if he gets his 700th this season. Big pat on the back.

lifelongjd

I’ve said this before and it bears repeating: Hahn has made quite the deal with the devil. He simply isn’t allowed make the decision to hire a manager unilaterally despite being the GM for nearly a decade. He still gets to play GM, but for the really important stuff like hiring a manager or spending real money requires ownership approval. It’s weirdly sad that he doesn’t want to escape this organization.

metasox

GMs don’t really have free rein. I would expect owners to be comfortable with the big decisions. It is the parameters they are operating under that look questionable given the lack of big long-term commitments to premier players

Last edited 2 months ago by metasox
upnorthsox

Same with the 29 other ballclubs, and 32 NFL teams, and almost any other sports team. Welcome to the job, and if that’s your sad excuse for doing that job bad then we’ll soon say see ya!