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If the White Sox are waiting until an off day to formally announce the hiring of Pedro Grifol, then we’ll have to rely on others to start filling in the gaps as to how the partnership formed.
Bob Nightengale said Grifol “blew away the White Sox” during his interview with Jerry Reinsdorf, Ken Williams and Rick Hahn, which you’d hope would be the case. Then again, previous White Sox managers have allegedly been hired while hung over, if there was an interview process at all, so the fact that we’re hearing the typical pleasantries is pleasantly atypical.
Along the same lines…
When the White Sox hired Tony La Russa back in 2020, James Fegan said that player reactions were mixed because what those players heard was mixed.
Lance Lynn is a sample of one guy, but he told the Parkins & Spiegel Show on 670 The Score that the Grifol announcement generated a more standard reception.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things; a lot of people texting me and calling me today telling me I’ll enjoy him, and he brings a lot of energy and a lot of things that bring winning baseball to a team.”
On the Baseball Isn’t Boring podcast, recorded before the White Sox’s choice was revealed, ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez listed Grifol as one of three candidates he would interview for a job opening, along with Barry Larkin and Carlos Beltrán, and he went out of his way to sell Grifol’s credentials.
“I gave you three different guys. One with an infield background, Hall of Famer. One outfielder, who I believe is also a Hall of Famer, but a great communicator, and I gave you one guy that I know would kick ass right now as a manager, and I know because I’ve seen his work, and I’ve seen how he deals with people on and off the field. […] Not a common household name. Not a common household name. He would kick ass as a manager.”
George Brett, who briefly served alongside Grifol as Royals hitting coaches before Brett stepped down and Grifol was reassigned, raved about Grifol to 670 The Score:
“He’s a brilliant man and a good evaluator of talent,” Brett said on the Parkins & Spiegel Show on Tuesday. “Very, very organized. Bilingual, which I think is important in today’s game of baseball.
“He’s very likable. I think he’s going to do a good job. I was kind of saddened that the Royals didn’t sign him (as manager). He’ll do a tremendous job.”
Again, this is all standard fare, but standard fare is refreshing after the last episode.
How it happened
Brett also broke some news about the process, saying Grifol signed a three-year deal. That’s standard-issue for managers, but the White Sox treat contract details for non-players as (failed) state secrets, so I welcome Brett popping that particular bubble.
He also got into the weeds of how the interview process unfolded, that Rick Hahn and Chris Getz interviewed Grifol.
And that Grifol has ties to Getz from their days in Kansas City.
And that Brett got Getz into his country club when they were in KC.
And that Brett and Jerry Reinsdorf talked about Grifol before the final interview stage.
And that La Russa also called Brett about Grifol.
It’s a little hard to nail down the exact order because Brett also went on detours involving Eddie Einhorn, Dennis Gilbert and Charley Lau, which explains how he and Reinsdorf are tight. Likewise, it’s hard to discern whether La Russa was involved in the process, because it sounds more like La Russa nosing around White Sox business on his own, or through a secret Hall of Famer Hotline. Brett also complained about newspapers not having box scores, so he made himself at home. The stenographers might have their hands full, but that’s not his problem.
The coaching staff
The White Sox’s pitching apparatus of Ethan Katz and Curt Hasler is expected to return, which isn’t as newsworthy as the pending arrival of new bench coach (and former Blue Jays manager) Charlie Montoyo.
Montoyo is certainly a qualified choice (new Royals manager Matt Quatraro followed Montoyo’s path from Tampa Bay bench coach to first first MLB managing job), and while his Toronto tenure ended unceremoniously with a July firing because the Jays spun their wheels, it sounds like players turned on him only because Montoyo didn’t turn on players first.
Montoyo provides experience that Grifol lacks, but he doesn’t seem like somebody who will provide a harder edge. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because a hiring process should be more nuanced than merely hiring an opposite. When the White Sox hired Robin Ventura, they agreed on Mark Parent for that kind of good cop/bad cop arrangement, and neither turned out to be an asset. For all we know, Grifol might provide all the motivation the team needs, even if he lacks the authoritarian reputation that Liam Hendriks suggested the Sox needed.
Between Grifol and Montoyo, I’d hope they’d have enough contacts that finally inspire the Sox to shed Joe McEwing and Daryl Boston, neither of whom distinguished himself over the course of three White Sox managers. McEwing could’ve been relieved of his third-base coach duties when his worst send of the season almost sent Yasmani Grandal back to the OR, and the less said about Boston, the better.
As for Frank Menechino, he and Howie Clark seemed to be on the chopping block regardless of the managerial situation because the White Sox’s discipline deteriorated beyond recognition. While Grifol’s own experience as a hitting coach was as brief as it was unsuccessful, sometimes you learn about what it takes to do a job from first-hand experience of doing it poorly. I’d also hope second-hand experience applies as well, because he should have gotten plenty of it from watching Mike Matheny.
As for us
Josh and I discussed the Pedro Grifol hiring on the latest episode of the Sox Machine Podcast. On an excitement scale of 1 to 10, Josh gave the hiring a 6. I gave it a 4, but mostly because I think I couldn’t have gone higher than 6 for any of the candidates remaining.