White Sox manager search opens with mixed signals

As the White Sox embark on what we hope will be their first genuine managerial search of the millennium, I’m hesitant to approach the topic with any granularity because precedent says it’s a worthless exercise.

When the White Sox fired Ozzie Guillen in 2011, I began arranging profiles of potential replacements starting with Dave Martinez, only to scrap the plan when the White Sox hired Robin Ventura after running the idea past Dr. Spaceman. When it came time to replace Ventura, we didn’t even get time to start thinking about it because the Sox immediately announced Rick Renteria as his replacement. Renteria was then fired like a normal manager four years later, only to be replaced with a sequence that stunned the White Sox’s marketing department into announcing Tony La Russa with A.J. Hinch’s signature.

The same people are still in charge, Rick Hahn says everybody from Jerry Reinsdorf to Southpaw has a say, and the search wasted no times showing signs of crossed wires. In Bob Nightengale’s Sunday column, he outlined a profile for Tony La Russa’s successor …

The Chicago White Sox want to hire a veteran manager to replace Tony La Russa, not wanting to take a chance on someone with no experience.

Some managers who fit the bill: Bruce Bochy, Mike Shildt, Ron Washington, John Gibbons, Bo Porter, Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon.

Bochy, Washington and Shildt are considered the leading candidates.

… which is understandable/fine, except then the White Sox are supposedly lining up interviews with guys who don’t fit that description, like Astros bench coach Joe Espada …

… and Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol.

Both Espada and Grifol are current bench coaches without MLB playing or coaching experience, but they cover the edges of the spectrum when it comes to the teams for which they’re employed. On one hand, you have the bench coach of the American League’s best team, On the other, you have the bench coach of the worst team in the worst division. (For what it’s worth, Grifol was the favorite internal candidate of analytically inclined Royals fans before Dayton Moore hired Mike Matheny with his own sham process.)

If the White Sox interview two candidates, then the search will officially be wider-ranging than the last three they’ve conducted, and that represents progress. It’d just be more encouraging if the initial reporting didn’t immediately establish potential battleground between Hahn’s preferences and Reinsdorf’s, because we know who gets the last say.

Until the White Sox actually announce a known and credible candidate amid a field full of qualified possibilities, you have to keep your head on a swivel, and you have to believe that Lucy will pull the football. Minimizing disappointment is the only thing you can control, because being a White Sox fan isn’t your fault, but there’s also nobody to blame but yourself.


Getting back to the idea that the White Sox are primarily interested in managers with experience, I saw some disappointment at the idea of hiring a retread, but the idea itself doesn’t strike me as controversial. In some ways, the Sox would be turning over a new leaf.

Renteria was the first White Sox manager who had prior experience managing a major-league team since Jeff Torborg. In between, Gene Lamont, Terry Bevington, Jerry Manuel, Guillen and Ventura were all freshly minted at Comiskey/U.S. Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field.

Those inclined to knock Reinsdorf would say those were the managers willing to work for cheap, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to identify ascendant talent, even if the motives are less than pure. That list had more hits than misses, at least with the initial task at hand. You only have to look at Joe Girardi with the Phillies or Joe Maddon with the Angels to understand that you don’t always get what you pay for.

On the other hand, the misses were pretty spectacular, so it’s understandable if the Sox want to go with somebody who has already proven that the job won’t overwhelm him, even if an underwhelming return is still possible. The White Sox previously budgeted $4 million(!) for La Russa as Nightengale reported, so Hahn, Williams, Roger Bossard and the rest of the search committee may as well use that budget room to explore every potential candidate, lest they lose it.

The more uncomfortable aspect of limiting the search to an experienced manager is knowing that the Sox blundered their way into making this such a high-leverage decision. When they fired Renteria back in 2020, the Sox had a much greater margin for error for what constituted a successful hire because there would’ve been some time to grow into the role.

For example, Dave Martinez originally looked like a mistake on the Washington Nationals’ part when they fired Dusty Baker and lost 15 wins from 2017 to 2018. The next year, Martinez helped engineer a memorable midseason turnaround and won the World Series. Brian Snitker almost quit as manager of the Atlanta Braves after losing 90 games in his first full season due to friction with the front office, but he survived an overhaul at the executive level, and he has a 411-296 record with a World Series ring in the five seasons since.

The White Sox squandered that adjustment period with the two-year detour to La Russa, and they didn’t even benefit from the experience. Instead, La Russa delivered moments that would’ve fit neatly into Bevington’s personnel file, like “defending the other pitcher for plunking your player,” or “a closer running for himself in extras,” or “multiple intentional walks on 1-2 counts.”

Perhaps the White Sox’s problems are so organizationally deep-seated that any manager hired after the 2020 season would be staring at a .500ish record and a missed postseason entering Year Three, but “it doesn’t matter” is only useful conclusion when thought and care went into the process. Because the Sox didn’t try to hire the best possible manager the last time around and wasted the most forgiving conditions of their contention window, this next decision matters way more than it should.

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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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jorgefabregas

Where do the White Sox rank in terms of overall appeal to managerial candidates compared to the other teams with vacancies? Assuming that there aren’t more vacancies to come.

dwjm3

“Roger Bossard and the rest of the search committee may as well use that budget room to explore every potential candidate, lest they lose it.”

tehehhehehe enjoyed that

calcetinesblancos

I actually bet Roger Bossard would do a better job than the idiots leading the search.

jb98

Or Southpaw. I’m enjoying the visual of Southpaw being in the room with JR, Hahn and these other idiots.

steelydan52

That’s Jim’s next, next post.

jorgefabregas

By my count, 8 playoff teams have managers who have not managed another major league team. 4 have retreads.

Two of the top payroll teams did not have retreads (Dodgers and Yankees), so it doesn’t seem to correlate with whether a team is cheap or not.

HallofFrank

Minimizing disappointment is the only thing you can control, because being a White Sox fan isn’t your fault, but there’s also nobody to blame but yourself.

This isn’t the best sentence Jim has ever written, but it is my favorite.

asinwreck

I regret that Jim had the scarves made before that sentence could be knitted onto them.

HallofFrank

“It’s not your fault, but there’s nobody to blame but yourself” would be a nice alternate tagline to “We watch the White Sox so you don’t have to.” Maybe that’s the tagline for whatever the Sox Machine version of the City Connect jerseys is.

Kevin

I got the e-mail regarding my “auto-renewal” of season tickets today. In the spirit of reducing self-blame, this is the response I sent via e-mail:

Hi, Zach. I do not wish to renew my season ticket for 2023. I’ve removed the credit cards from my account manager–please take this as notice that I am relinquishing my season ticket plan for next year. This is no reflection on the season ticket staff, who I think have done a great job under the circumstances–it only reflects my disappointment in the past season, and my feeling that the current team management, from ownership down, is not the right group to turn things around–in fact, I would say they have actively mismanaged the team in a way which undervalues the support that a season ticket symbolizes. Best of luck.

As Cirensica

Perfect

lastof12

T’is true. I’m 100% sure they’ll mess this up and 0% confident in their “process”. It was another Sox-ism to be reminded during the ALDS game Terry Francona managed MJ in Birmingham. I wondered once again why Francona didn’t make his way up the managerial Sox ladder. “Because White Sox.”

I do blame myself, but dammit, I can’t look away…

jorgefabregas

Maybe I’m thinking about this wrong, but it seems like there are probably 100 people who would be fine/ok as a major league manager. If you get someone who isn’t fine/ok, then you’re either unlucky or your search was very poor. 2 out of 3 of the last managers were outside of that 100, with obvious issues with the search. I think identifying a potential manager-in-waiting/experienced bench coach and then promoting that guy (Renteria) is fairly defensible. And firing a manager primarily for playoff decision-making is a luxury that belongs to teams who are confident they will make the playoffs most years. The White Sox thought that they were one of those teams, but they were wrong.

Last edited 1 month ago by jorgefabregas
dwjm3

I don’t think it is that easy to find a high-quality manager even if you run a quality process. I think if it was you wouldn’t have seen a scenario where the brain trust of Matheny, LaRussa, and Baldelli were all employed in the division at one point this season.

It seems like at any given time in the league there is maybe a couple of truly elite managers…maybe a hand full of league average managers, and then a lot of poor managers. It never ceases to amaze me how many guys are poor at bullpen management.

ParisSox

I think this shows how hard the job actually is, and the importance of a thorough search to have the best chance at success. The great ones make it look easy.

With that said I’m all about Bruce Bochy though I know nothing other than he won with a team that wasn’t expected to win. And did it a couple of times.

steelydan52

I just wonder if Reinsdorf is intimidated by previous success. Before Ozzie was hired I was rooting for Cito Gaston but JR went with inexperience. We all know he brought back TLR due to friendship and a guilt trip.
I’d love Bochy but I can’t see it. No way Girardi would put up with any BS from the FO. Maybe Washington but more likely a bench coach from a good organization.

jorgefabregas

I mean Matheny, La Russa–I don’t think there were good hiring processes there. Baldelli, IDK. He had a 101-win season his first year.

soxfan

I’d guess that your estimate is off by 2, if not 3, orders of magnitude. Based on my experience in the professional world, being elevated to some higher position of executive authority rarely has to do with talent or ability. There are some legitimately transcendent leaders out there, but I can’t imagine why it would take one to run a ball club. Maybe the players would revolt if you didn’t have a “baseball guy” in the dugout, but the decisions they have to make really aren’t all that hard to understand – shit, we saw a guy in the stands coach up La Russa on the spot for a pinch running opportunity – so it’s really a function of acceptance by the players, understanding it’s a long seasons, and not making obvious mistakes. Literally tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people in the world should be able to accomplish that. The fact that 2 out of 3 of our last managers couldn’t – woo boy, quite the indictment.

ChiSoxND12

@fabregas i think you’re forgetting that the Rentería firing was inspired solely by JR wanting to bring back Tony. I know, I too originally chalked it up to being proactive after RR bungled the bullpen game.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I don’t think that’s true. I think Hahn really thought he was going to get to hire Hinch, and if he knew what was going to transpire he never would have fired Renteria. The fact that he just sat back and accepted the LaRussa decision is the real issue.

Marty34

I don’t think Hinch was ever a serious candidate given his previous history with the Sox and the cheating scandal. He’s terrible anyhow.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Then why did they already have the press release made up with his signature on it, along with recent reports that he was Hahn’s original choice?

Marty34

If you are not JR’s choice you’re not a serious candidate. Hahn was saved by JR yet again.

BillyKochFanClub

Yeah, thanks Jerry, that LaRussa hire worked out swimmingly.

Marty34

Hinch is terrible and Hahn would have had to take responsibility for that hire.

BillyKochFanClub

When has Hahn had to take responsibility for anything since he became GM? If Hinch flopped here, he would still be picking the next manager.

It was at least defensible to hire Hinch at the time. TLR was a clown hire right out of the gate.

Marty34

Unfortunately true on Hahn. Closest thing to owning a terrible move maybe Keppinger contract? That was one of his first terrible moves.

texag10

You need better sources

Marty34

Good one, buddy.

ChiSoxND12

I agree that Hahn probably thought he’d get to select the next mgr and didn’t see the TLR+JR reunion fiasco as a possibility.

What I’m saying is JR never gives Hahn the approval to proactively fire RR if he’s not already thinking of the Tony Reunion. Thus, the firing of RR was never proactive at all.

It’s Jerry Reinsdorf. He literally does not fire ppl, esp managers. There were no reports that he had any issue with RR whatsoever.

Wayne

Also, probably for asking for more pitching at the deadline meetings, and undermined Hahn, KW, and JR.

metasox

There is also the matter of who is right for the situation. Many guys might be more effective managers with the right team. One advantage of an experienced manager is having a pretty good idea what you are getting in terms of style. For example, Hendriks said the Sox need an “authoritarian” as manager. Maybe that is true or maybe is isn’t. But it will be more of a challenge to know exactly how a bench coach would translate in terms of style.

Marty34

If this team is going to largely be kept together they need a shot of adrenaline more than an analytics guru. Since Hahn thinks there’s “a lot of talent in that room” (I disagree) the best choice warts and all is Guillen.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Best choice for what? Ozzie Guillen is the only person on the planet that has energy?

steelydan52

Not to get off subject but did anyone notice that the 2 HR’s the Astros hit last night there were runners on 2nd base each time?
Just sayin’. I didn’t hear any trash lid banging though.

As Cirensica

Didn’t the Mariners use electronic devices to transmit the signals?

steelydan52

I have no idea but all the games I’ve seen this season the catcher was still flashing.
I just will never trust the Astros regime again and I’m not taking anything away from Dusty since he wasn’t a part of it all. Just like all the big power hitters now. Are they on something or is it legit. I know Judge doesn’t look the part but maybe there are new drugs. The steroid era and the Astros cheating will cast a doubt in my mind.
Judge seems to be a class act unlike the melon heads of the steroid era.

ChiSoxND12

I think a lot of the players with bad reputations have said reputations because of steroids. Google listicles of “meanest players in baseball” and aside from Ty Cobb they’re literally all players associated with PEDs.

I guess my point would be while I don’t suspect or cast any accusations at Judge, should he or Pujols or anyone get popped my reaction wouldn’t be “but he seemed like a class act!”

a-t

I mean, anabolic steroids are well known to affect mood/personality, usually some combo of increased anxiety, anger, aggressiveness, and depression. That plus reporters grilling them every game is a perfect little recipe for generating a reputation as a jerk.

ChiSoxND12

Yep. ‘Roid Rage exists as a term for a reason. But I don’t think one should discount public vilification for positive tests/strong PED use speculation as a contributing factor to their reputation.

I’m saying I don’t eliminate the possibility of a player using PEDs simply because their reputation is that of a class act.

Last edited 1 month ago by ChiSoxND12
steelydan52

Nope and I agree. When I said Judge seemed to be a class act is just that. The others back in that era weren’t. Having said that, TLR was the manager of the Cards when it was going on. Course, not too many people have said he was a class act.

Wayne

So Espada is out for you based on his time with Yankees and Astros?

steelydan52

No, only because I don’t know if he had a role in any of it. AND, I don’t suspect Judge of PED’s but that group from the steroid era just kind of ruined it. For all I know it’s just the baseballs now. I have zero idea how baseball test players nowadays. It’s a stigma now, to me, that guys that have huge seasons………well, there’s a reason for it other than talent. I never suspected Frank Thomas because he came out and blasted what was going on.
I’d be fine with Espada but it would definitely come up in an interview.

Chip

Espada has served as a third base coach for the Marlins and Yankees. He is a very bright baseball guy, who speaks Spanish, which should be a pre-requisite for this team.

steelydan52

I don’t agree but didn’t TLR speak spanish? I thought he did.

As Cirensica

He does.

To Err is Herrmann

One of the phrases in Spanish Tony says with perfect fluency is “Leury, you are starting again today.”

charlie

Does one MLB game warrant experience?
Apparently not because I haven’t heard from them yet.

abehickock

It’s all about the players. How many games would Dave Roberts win without Betts, Freeman, the Turners, Muncy, Smith, Kershaw, Urias, etc. How about A.J. Hinch? How’s he doing without Altuve, Correa, Cole, Brantley, Springer, Bergman, Gurriel. It’s the players.

steelydan52

Let’s take our minds off the White Sox problems. There’s been cheating in a fishing tourney in Ohio and felony charges have been filed. Fishing. Cheating. Charges.
Why haven’t Jim or Josh followed up on this. Along with the chess cheating. Chess. Cheating.

GoGoSoxFan

You need to go to Chess Machine for that.

a-t

Not sure why you’re lumping chess in there. Cheating with computers at the highest levels of the game has millions of dollars in the balance; the game’s popularity (and thus finances) has exploded via online chess with the pandemic.

Also, it’s looking like the current cheating scandal is less a cheating scandal and more the perennial world champion losing to a 19 year old and throwing a hissy fit about it, which is just as intriguing to me personally

pedemangonz

Until the team commits to breaking up the loser/”I can dog it because I already have several million guaranteed” mentality, no manager is going to make a significant difference. The Sox need to start by sending several “underperforming dog it types” packing and being reconciled to the possibility that they might be All Stars at their next team.

steelydan52

I think the right manager will make a difference but he has to have the backing of the people above. If say player A dogs it and the manager sits his ass down then nobody better complain or tell him he can’t do that. I’m sure TLR had that power but he just wouldn’t do it. When he told the players not to bust it running to first, he lost me completely. Sore legs. I think I heard Cal Ripken laughing his butt off.

abehickock

I agree with you 100%, pedemangonz. I’m surprised so many Sox fans tolerated this type of behavior.

Marty34

There are those who believe that this criticism is racially motivated.

abehickock

I’m sure there are those who believe that it is racially motivated. And then there are the other 95% that actually watched the games.

Qubort

Who do you plan to send packing and how? Expensive underperformers aren’t the easiest commodity to move.

vanillablue

So you want to commit to another several year long rebuild?

Genuinely asking here. I can understand the frustration, because the team has admitted to being overconfident. But let’s name names and think things through. You want to get rid of some combination of Anderson, Moncada, Jimenez, and Robert (the guaranteed money guys)? What team do you think is going to give you remotely comparable major league talent in exchange? That’s selling low and will make the team worse. I’ll guess that one of those four might be moved in the off-season but if the Sox get rid of more than one, they’ll be less talented on the field and even further from the playoffs. Like it or not their best option is to try to get more out of those guys, either through better health or better coaching (which can definitely include better motivation.)

I don’t think the criticism is racially motivated per se but there’s definitely a difference in how those 4 players are criticized compared to others. Lynn and Kopech looked very overweight to me and both had knee injuries this year. Why are they not called lazy, unmotivated etc. as often as Moncada or Jimenez?

Rambler303

I’ll bite on this one.

Pitchers always get a pass because they play 1 of 5 days. Not as much wear and tear for an everyday guy. But I do agree, Lynn and Kopech look terrible for professional athletes and would be nice to take them see conditioning seriously.

I don’t think it’s right to blame Robert or Jimenez, injuries happen, Robert seems to play hard when healthy and Jimenez just isn’t built to play everyday outside of DH. Anderson just looks to lose focus on defense thus so many errors, idk if that’s effort or lack there of but his hitting never looks to be lack of trying or preparing. Of that group, moncada looked the most lackadaisical, it may not be correct but for the “eye ball test” he looks the worst and the one that mailed it in after his contract. He is the one if he most comfortable trading but as you said it’s selling low and he has looked bad two years in a row now. Maybe you could pair him with Hendricks and get a decent outfielder or 2nd base and get by with Berger.

Moncada is the one I’d want gone, if he has time to film music videos in the off season he has time to stretch more and not hurt his hammy every other game.

Joliet Orange Sox

+1 for a near-perfect parody of Moncada bashing.

vanillablue

“If Kopech has time to impregnate a different woman every offseason, he has time to get in shape and not hurt his knee by carrying around 25 extra pounds.”

Did I get that right?

Right Size Wrong Shape

Also, would it hurt all of those Cubans to learn some English?

ChiSoxND12

Can we cease with the “Moncada was bad in 2021” idea? He wasn’t! He wasnt as good as 2019, but he was so so so so far from bad

Joliet Orange Sox

Let me explain:
The narrative is that Moncada signed a contract extension in 2020 and he immediately lost all interest in baseball and thought of nothing but music videos. Your claim that Moncada had a very good 4.0 bWAR season in 2021 doesn’t fit the narrative and therefore it can be considered to be not true.

I genuinely don’t understand why there isn’t a broad consensus about the following:

  1. Moncada had a horrific year at the plate in 2022 and it is a cause for serious concern about his future ability to be adequate offensively.
  2. Moncada was a very good baseball player as recently as 2021.
texag10

It’s crazy because if he was as unmotivated as everyone claims, you’d think it would show up everywhere. Instead you have a guy who was massively struggling at the plate this year but a majority of sources claim he actually had an even better defensive season than 2021. If he didn’t care and was just going through the motions as most of his detractors claim, wouldn’t we see that show up everywhere in his play?

a-t

Kopech looked overweight??When? The guy is well-known for living in the gym in the offseason. I know what an out of shape power pitcher looks like— pre 2021 Rodon for instance— and I did not see that with Kopech. He’s got more weight on his frame than when he came up, but that’s just a natural development with age.

Lynn meanwhile has carried his ‘velocity pouch’ his entire career.

GrinnellSteve

Velocity Pouch is a good band name.

upnorthsox

Lynn has always been a big guy but he definitely didn’t resist going back for seconds or thirds at the buffet line last winter. I’ll keep saying it, with his knees and at his age he needs to lose 20 lbs minimum, if not 40.

BenwithVen

What kind of weird Triumvirate is this?

GoGoSoxFan

Are we sure Hahn didn’t just get a bigger chair to sit in?

steelydan52

Once again………….shame on Reinsdorf, shame on Williams and shame on Hahn. And shame on us. I’m going to confession. I mean, this is starting to feel like a sin being a Sox fan. I’m not Catholic but how many Hail Mary’s would this be?

To Err is Herrmann

Mental health conditions, psychological problems and dysfunction can mitigate one’s culpability. Did you have full knowledge, full consent and full free will when you became a Sox fan? Did you know being a Sox fan was grave matter (it isn’t). I think the priest might ask you to sit in the sanctuary and think about God’s compassion for you. However, if you have been reading Sox Machine any number of years, then you do have full knowledge. Becoming a Sox fan as a child might not have been fully a free will choice. But staying one is. If Jerry, Hahn and KW rip you off again next year and you become enraged about it, maybe 3 Hail Marys and a referral to the Rays, Cardinals or another well-run team.

steelydan52

Ha! Well, if God has compassion for me why did he guide me to be a Sox fan? My dad didn’t since he was a Flubs fan. I guess I need to blame Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio in the late 50’s for pulling me in. 3 Hail Mary’s doesn’t sound so bad but rooting for another team………………nope.

To Err is Herrmann

You are now talking about the problem of evil and suffering and why an all-loving, all-powerful God allows such unnecessary suffering. No one knows the answer to that one. It is possible God is a Yankees fan, but would not impede your free will to choose otherwise.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Sometimes it is apparent why God allows it, even if not in the moment (consequences for our actions, saving us for a greater good). But you’re right, sometimes the reasons remain unknown or unfathomable to us. That’s where faith comes in; understanding that God is all-knowing, has a plan for us, and that our existence is not limited to this life.

Last edited 1 month ago by Right Size Wrong Shape
jorgefabregas

Who is David P. Samson? Is he well-sourced with the Sox? Oh, he’s the guy who said Jerry told him to finish in second place?

There is just so little information in this quote. It seems like Hahn may have more input on the next manager after the last one was a failure, but that quote from Samson is so vague.

Last edited 1 month ago by jorgefabregas
upnorthsox

I would suggest you listen to the whole interview, that tweet is not representative of what he said.

https://www.audacy.com/670thescore/podcasts/parkins-spiegel-show-63/david-samson-friend-of-jerry-reinsdorf-tells-us-whos-actually-running-the-white-sox-hour-3-1530409856

FYI – He used to be President of the Marlins.

jorgefabregas

I did. About half of the interview was him adamantly stating that all owners meddle to an equal extent, but some organizations are better at hiding it and better at hiding disagreements.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I have no respect for David Sampson. He comes across as a shock jock and not an ex-executive.

upnorthsox

I guess I would say he spent almost the entire interview rebutting the hosts incessant preconceived opinion that Jerry’s meddling made the Sox dysfunctional which coming from two Cubs fans is both all too typical and rich.
I thought the throwing your boss under the bus in public leads to a sense of dysfunction part was interesting, maybe because I agree so there might be confirmation biased mixed in but it gets drowned out by the poor poor Rick mantra that plays everywhere.

jorgefabregas

I think most of us here suspect that Jerry’s meddling contributes to a dysfunctional organization. I also think that most of us here don’t think there’s any evidence than Hahn is even an average GM.