Pedro Grifol’s relevance hard to separate from White Sox’s fortunes

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol
(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)

Bob Nightengale appeared on 670 The Score’s Mully & Haugh show to offer some speculation about Jerry Reinsdorf’s mindset during another embarrassing season for the White Sox, and in standard fashion, he couldn’t help but flatter his friend along the way.

“All spring, they were saying ‘Look at what the new manager is doing – Pedro Grifol.’ He’s done nothing. It’s the same thing,” Nightengale said on the Mully & Haugh Show on Tuesday morning. “I was joking that they should give Tony La Russa another plaque in Cooperstown for actually winning with this team. Nobody else has been able to do it. I think they’ve got no choice but to break that thing up. Obviously, it’s not working. The third manager is unable to do much with it. I think it’s very frustrating. Particularly all spring, they kept saying this is the year, look at all the new energy and stuff is happening.

It’s the same old story. Nothing has changed since a year ago.”

The Nightwashing of La Russa makes it easy to have the conversation derail into a needless argument invoking Rick Renteria, but because Nightengale is the only way we know what Reinsdorf might actually be thinking, it’s worth trying to extract more useful points from it.

He’s correct that nothing has changed, and part of the reason why La Russa’s return was so misguided is that it made it too easy to blame him. Give the White Sox a manager who fit under a standard chain of command and who was healthy enough to literally be heard by his team, and it would’ve been a lot less noise surrounding a roster that didn’t appear to work. Instead, the Sox wasted the inflection point of the contention window, and that one terrible year is now dragging down a second.

But there are also problems beyond the players that Grifol’s arrival didn’t resolve, like the handling of injuries. The White Sox have played short-handed for six days because Eloy Jiménez may or may not be healthy, and what happened with Liam Hendriks is even more troubling.

Hendriks seems to have avoided the worst-case scenario with his right elbow inflammation. He said there’s no structural damage, but he has to shut it down due to a fluid build-up that isn’t getting out of the way. Given everything his body has been through during his fight with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a smooth recovery couldn’t have been expected.

Yet when the White Sox placed Hendriks on the injured list with right elbow inflammation, Rick Hahn emphasized that the White Sox did the due-est of diligence

“I feel — at this point, based on everything we know — I feel confident in saying that the ramp-up and the return-to-play protocol did not influence this result,” Hahn said Sunday. “Has everything he’s been through, medically and physically, over the past six months, let’s say, potentially led us here? Maybe? I don’t know if anyone’s ever gonna know that. But in terms of his, once he was cleared and how he was ramped up and how he returned to play, I don’t think that’s a factor, based upon the fact that the number of medical professionals involved … this is perhaps the most thoroughly vetted return to play of any player in certainly my recent memory.

… only to have Hendriks say a few days later that he’s been hurting the whole time:

“It’s been sore for the last few weeks, ever since before my rehab assignment it was barking, but my mantra is to pitch things until I can’t,” Hendriks said Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. “It kept getting a little worse and worse and worse until the last couple of outings I wasn’t able to pitch through that pain.

Were this a one-off episode, you could maybe blame Hendriks for not being transparent about his condition when circumstances warranted more caution. But the 2022 White Sox were hamstrung by a major inability to recognize and reconcile injuries that visibly hampered “active” players, and Grifol’s renowned communication skills don’t seem to have made a dent.

Grifol hasn’t been around the White Sox long enough to deserve much specific blame, but he also doesn’t seem special enough to distinguish himself from the overall disarray, and I’ve wondered whether it’s possible for somebody with few credentials to overcome such a dreadful first impression. During Hahn’s giddiness over the hire, he mentioned that Reinsdorf likened the process to how the Bulls settled on Artūras Karnišovas, which is the only other time in recent history that Reinsdorf’s teams bothered with a proper search. It wouldn’t surprise me if he looked at the results of both as confirmation that new people are overrated, even if Grifol was commissioned the captain of a sinking ship.

It’s probably too soon to call Grifol a dead man walking, but even before the record became the record, the word “stiff” came to mind when watching him go about his business. I’ve mostly regarded that as an adjective, but if Nightengale is doing more than speculating, the noun form might soon be in play.

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I think Karnisovas did the best he could with his marching orders – no rebuild, try to win, but no paying the luxury tax. He built a team that was winning but required Lonzo Ball to Basically Stay Healthy to work. He did not stay healthy.


More than the white sox way, it’s the Reinsdorf way…

Build a roster you can squint at and maybe kinda sorta see something… but is thin enough that if anything goes wrong, you’re doomed.


He also hired Donovan who’s seemed overrated at best and inept at worst. Never seen a a coach sit back while the team slowly goes down by 20 each game, as well as the complete regression like the Sox.


I know I’ll have to duck and cover but in a way I agree with Nightengale. I think Larussa’s way of getting something out of this team was to essentially rely on raw talent and leave them alone because they are incapable of anything else. No other manager would be able to do nothing, it’s just a rare case where nothing is something.

I put less blame on the FO and any manager, 99% of the blame goes to the players. First, they can’t run hard ever without hurting themselves. No defensive fundamentals or baseball iq. And the worst is the hitting development. You can’t be a player in mlb who doesn’t realize the value every front office is placing on homers and walks. Even selfishly to get paid. That’s fine. To go up there just swinging at everything year after year shows no desire to get better. All of those things are on the players.

No manager has been able to get this roster to listen. The blame I put on the FO is not realizing it earlier and selling high.


These are all ultimately failings of the organization, though, yes? These guys all spent the past three years listening to Menechino, whose lineups produced the same lack of patience and power when he was Miami’s hitting coach. While I think that worked for a couple of guys– TA7 in particular– for much of the core it clearly is not the right approach. When they weren’t running hard last year, it turned out that Tony *told* them to not run hard! Meanwhile, the training + strength & conditioning dept has been going through almost yearly turnover since Herm retired.

I don’t think the issue is that they don’t listen. I didn’t see any issues with effort or constant injury (even Eloy!) when Renteria was managing. I think they do listen, but for the past two to three years, many of the people telling them what to do are fucking morons. If they aren’t listening now, it’s because they have been doing what coaches told them and not seeing good results.


addendum to Eloy & health: his first two seasons, ’19 and ’20, he played 180 games out of a possible 225 (80%). Since TLR was hired/the past 3 years, he’s played 176 out of a possible 396 (45%), including our brief playoff appearances.


It’s hard to say the injuries weren’t there under Renteria. Must of this team only had one season of him and it was a 60 gamer. TA’s injuries were already under way. I don’t think you can blame Tony for Eloy jumping over a fence or hitting the base wrong or for Robert developing some kind of vitamin deficiency or Yoan being one of the only pro athletes I know of with COVID after effects 3 years later. Just a lot of “white sox” stuff there.

I also don’t think there’s any evidence of Menechino being a cause outside of not getting through to them. Eloys career high walk total is 30. TA matched that but in 153 games. Roberts is 20. These are pathetic walk numbers.

I’d seriously doubt every hitting coach they’ve had isn’t trying to get them to be selective and unleash when it calls. What coaching do you need to know that 2-1, 3-1 you should be looking for one pitch one location? What coaching tells you the last two hitters walked on 8 pitches, don’t swing right away? They don’t have the basics. TA comes up with RISP and flails at anything. Look at Roberts numbers with men on base. 110 at bats, 38 strikeouts, .200 avg. 40% k rate.

Last edited 3 months ago by Adam

The players need to take responsibility for correcting their mistakes and they just don’t correct them.


It’s very possible they aren’t good enough to correct things.


I would disagree with that wholeheartedly. Correcting mistakes is the essence of coaching.


Pedro Grifol was asked to save the organization by proving the FO were right and the talent was there all along. A first time manager can be a great thing, but it requires understanding from the Front Office that change in the roster is also necessary if even uncomfortable to begin with. This team didnt do that because the front office was so hell bent on proving this roster was all worldly when really it was just projection based over performance and results. The timeline has been off with the White Sox for a while, nothing works in the same direction. Almost any attempted fix just ends up exactly like it has for a decade, underwhelming. Until there is a serious culture change, I doubt much will be different outside the occasional pop up play off appearance(which is rare in itself) and early exit.


Your statement that this roster is ”projection based over performance” is an absolutely perfect, spot-on statement in my humble opinion, and is probably one of the best statements I’ve ever read on this site. I truly do not believe the problem is the FO, coaches or even the players in a way. The real problem appears to be that this bunch of players are quite simply not that good, and never will be unfortunately.

Alfornia Jones

The FO paid most these guys early and continues to keep them together. The FO is always to blame when they bet all their money on the wrong players.

To Err is Herrmann

The problem is roster construction and refusal to pay market value for players, esp when market was down. Whoever made the decision to rush to sign obviously declining Adam Eaton for RF when options like Schwarber and Pederson were still available for not much more money is the person who deserves blame. I believe that’s Hahn. Jerry hamstrung him but I see no strategy to address key needs and hitting RHP. So Hahn. Jerry is a whiner, not a winner.


Yeah are we forgetting what a FO does? Literally ensure they have the right players to win. I don’t see how it isn’t their fault when the players don’t perform, no one asked them to go all in and not have a developed minor league to plug in when needed. Completely the FO and ownerships fault.

As Cirensica

Grifol’s renowned communication skills don’t seem to have made a dent

I think we misunderstood what this communication skill was about. It was about to carry water for the White Sox in front of the media as Grifol keeps behaving as a motivational speaker or an organization talking head rather than a manager of a major league’s baseball. Grifol is another Ventura that speaks bonito without the shoulder shrugging.

Last edited 3 months ago by As Cirensica

The present Bulls and Sox parallels are rather striking– they’re in the same “pretty good if fully healthy, are absolutely never fully healthy” boat. The hire of AK was unimpeachable on paper; he was the #2 dude in an NBA organization that’s been the exemplar of modern small-market team-building who obv just won its first chip. AK was the guy responsible for scouting and drafting Jokic, too, he wasn’t some hangers-on.

That the Bulls are stuck in the same limbo as the Sox is indicative of how demented (dementia-ed?) ownership demands can ruin teams even with a high quality front office group. I distincttly remember reading Kevin Goldstein, former Astros FO dude/then FG writer/present Twins FO dude, writing that in Goldstein’s opinion/FO circles, Rick Hahn is supposedly regarded as quite good at his job, but badly hamstrung by utterly inane ownership.

It’s hard to say from the outside: we just see shitty results, since the Sox love to be opaque about process. I kinda want Hahn to get fired by Jerry and then hired by an org with normal-ish ownership (i.e., sets a total budget and lets FO spend however they want) to see what he would do, as an experiment.

It’s also fucking ridiculous to ask Pedro Grifol to save the org from La Russa’s stink, and even more so that Jerry is apparently mad at Pedro for failing to do so! He’s a first time manager! Maybe Bochy coulda saved this group, but no one else.

As Cirensica

It’s also fucking ridiculous to ask Pedro Grifol to save the org from La Russa’s stink, and even more so that Jerry is apparently mad at Pedro for failing to do so! He’s a first time manager! Maybe Bochy coulda saved this group, but no one else.

Small sample size alert, but Miguel Cairo’s record with this team is above .500. the other day I joked that Miguel Cairo has been the best White Sox manager in the last decade. I might not be wrong.


They perked up so visibly during his interim tenure, at least until the brutal Cleveland sweep in three close games. Looked like the 2020 squad… bring back Ricky tbh

Augusto Barojas

The Sox are pretty close to fully healthy, and are still not good. If Eloy was healthy, it would be hard to have him and Burger in the lineup together. They are both DH’s that don’t belong on the field, so Eloy being out doesn’t mean all that much. God knows if he has much of a career ahead of him with his constant injuries, really. Lynn is toast, they are near league worst at RF, 2b, and catcher when Grandal is resting. This team is below average even if fully healthy. Just sad.

No manager could coax a good offense out of this roster without having any depth, or a single good left handed hitter on the entire roster. It’s not Pedro’s fault as you said, but Bochy would not have saved them either. It’s the roster. They will never escape paying the price of doing nothing for 3 straight winters. Or having perhaps the worst ownership/GM combo in MLB.

Yolmer's gatorade

Can we form a new GarPax moniker? KennyHahn? RickWill? KenHa? If this is Nightwashing from Reinsdorf, how does he not fire KenHa? 1+1 still equals 2 right?


I like RicKen. It sounds like something terrible that can happen to your team. Don’t let RicKen set in, your rebuild will never recover.


What about HaKen, kinda like Kraken but just a shitty front office.


First, Nightengale is hack… he should have his press credentials and his BBWAA membership stripped.

And, Grifol is doing basically what I expected. I thought he was a bad hire from the onset. The Sox did their usual. They hired a first time manager.. that had little to no experience, because they could pay bottom dollar. And, he was hired from a losing organization.

That being said, all that is going on is not his fault. Grifol was sold a ticket on the Titanic and there is no escape. But, I do not see him being a manager long in the big leagues.


The Sox can’t identify talent and can’t develop it, from the draft up to and including the MLB free agents. This is a long term problem somewhat mitigated by the international signings by Paddy Marco. The result is what you see on the field today and the losing records in the minors.

Hahn’s own standard his rebuild failed. 2023 was the year of the World Series!

So what happened? The Larussa hiring derailed Hahn’s plans. There is no doubt that the emphasis on buying relief pitchers came from Tony, Joe Kelly in particular. In fact from early 2021 though Sept. 2022, TLR was the virtual GM. He had JR’s ear, and he got what he wanted. So financial resources got sucked up in the bullpen and weren’t available elsewhere.

What else happened? Lynn, Keuchel, Grandal, Bummer and Abreu have aged out of MLB-level performance suddenly. Moncada has underachieved. He got Covid and hasn’t been the same since. Eloy can’t stay healthy. Vaughn’s a grinder, maybe a 6th place DH/1B, but not a centerpiece. The holes at RF and 2B remain. Kopech and Crochet had TJ. Hendricks has cancer. Giolito and Cease are inconsistent. Neither are #1 or #2 starters, at least this year. Clevinger was the usual Filene’s Basement acquisition, as are the 6 former MLB guys in Charlotte’s OF. The relief pitching is good against the AL Central and not much good against anybody else. Lopez is wildly inconsistent. The rest of the BP except guys mentioned above are cast-offs from other teams. TA is dealing with injuries and personal stuff. Robert could be great, really great, but his head is not always in the game and his lack of plate discipline may offset his natural talent in the long run. He doesn’t seem coachable.

So what you have is what you see….a very weak hitting team and inadequate pitching and defense to make up for it. So it’s the players, not the manager. The sad thing is I think Grifol and his staff back in the spring thought these guys were more talented than they are.

It will take years for a new owner to rebuild the franchise. The talent pool in the organization is so thin, and most of the “talent” seems to be in A/A+ ball. There are long term contracts to guys who don’t produce. The FO will have to be cleaned out and replaced down to the bottom desk drawers, including the marketing, PR and ticket people.

It will be lots of work for the new guy or gal to do this and change the culture. I hope he or she are passionate about Chicago, the White Sox and demand excellence in the FO and on the field.


I think finishing ten games under, to highlight the ten game losing streak, feels right.

Poor Pedro, he deserved a chance with a less crappy organization, probably.


To me, there’s no doubt that TLR created the trajectory this team has taken and Grifol hasn’t been able to change that. It’s really not surprising however, hiring and thinking good thoughts took a pretty fair amount of hopium.


Don Gutteridge was a baseball lifer who saw only failure when he finally got his (brief) chance to manage. Grifol has reminded me a lot of Gutteridge this season, much like La Russa reminded me of Paul Richards c. 1976 last season.


We have a lot of questions and a lot of finger pointing. That’s the White Sox way. First, let’s be honest, Grifol is no better than LaRussa. His decision making is baffling starting with cutting Burger in spring training to benching Anderson against a lefty on Sunday with a day off on Monday. Anderson’s lifetime average against lefties is astronomical and this year it is still high in a terrible year. Let’s not get started with the constant day off BS. Grifol is sucky much like LaRussa.
However, the blame for this team’s trouble is the FO. They saw the window before them and they went cheap at every possible moment. They said the money would be spent but they forgot to tell us it would be spent on ridiculous unproven talent. Now we may Moncada 25 million next year. Ouch! Why? Because they refused to sign Machado, Harper or any free agent that was a stud. They thought they were smarter than everyone else and it turns out they are dumber than the guy sitting in the bleachers working on his sixth beer.