While Chris Getz attracted all the White Sox headlines from the truncated general managers meetings by saying with unusually bluntness, “I don’t like our team,” I initially missed something Pedro Grifol said during a media session discussing the White Sox’s revamped coaching staff.
In explaining the addition of Drew Butera to the newly minted position of catching coach, Daryl Van Schouwen relayed this quote:
Grifol calls Butera “one of the up-and-coming minds in the game.”
“I’m looking forward to him working with the catchers and game-planning and the game-management aspect, which I thought we were really poor at last year,” Grifol said.
Two things are very funny about this:
No. 1: Grifol waiting until November to say it, well after Yasmani Grandal became a free agent, because it’s a continuation of his refusal to say anything while it could offend a player with more than one year of service time.
No. 2: It pairs well as a “how it started/how it’s going” meme with the Mike Tosar quote that James Fegan fielded last December: “Our preparation on a daily basis will be elite.”
Tosar is still on the staff, although he’s now an assistant hitting coach, which Van Schouwen referenced with a detail that seems both extraneous and necessary:
Tosar, who went to high school with Grifol and coached with him with the Royals, will be the assistant hitting coach.
Because the White Sox are sticking with/stuck with Grifol, White Sox fans can only watch the coaching carousel from the sidelines. It’s unfortunate, because many of the participants represent “Sliding Doors” scenarios that could’ve resulted in a White Sox team that looked quite a bit different on the field.
The coveted free agent: When you factor in both money and immediate futures, I don’t think the White Sox could’ve made a more appealing offer to Craig Counsell than the Cubs did. Still, Bruce Bochy was theoretically a possibility when Jerry Reinsdorf saddled Tony La Russa on the franchise. Paying for the best doesn’t always work out as well as Bochy did — see Joes Maddon and Girardi for details — but thanks to Grifol, it couldn’t have turned out any worse.
The forward-thinking team’s bench coach: Joe Espada, the Astros bench coach who interviewed with the White Sox during the cycle that resulted in Grifol, found a better job by waiting a year, as he’ll take over for the retired Dusty Baker in Houston. The so-far-unsuccessful transplant of Matt Quatraro from Tampa Bay to Kansas City is probably the far more accurate comparison for how such a hire would’ve affected the White Sox, but I will somewhat curious to see how Espada conducts himself as the man in charge.
A proven players manager: I thought Ron Washington was a great fit for the post-La Russa White Sox because of the effort level he seems to inspire from his players, both with the Rangers and as an assistant with the A’s and Braves. He showed that same capacity in his introductory media conference with the Angels:
Also, Washington takes over an Angels team that similar to the White Sox in the sense that it’s never quite clear how much the owner is meddling.
For instance, the day before Washington’s introduction, Angels beat writer Sam Blum wrote a story about how the organization was overhauling its pitching development in the minor leagues apparently because Troy Percival dropped in and didn’t like what he saw.
“I’m not one that’s big on using the iPads,” said Percival, who spent six seasons as the head coach at UC Riverside. “I understand it. I had to understand it through college coaching. I just feel like we need to have coaches with eyes that can see things and put their hands on people and fix them. It’s really difficult to look at an iPad and think that it can make the adjustments that it needs to make.”
Percival said he did not call on anyone to be fired, and merely shared his observations and opinions with Angels farm director Joey Prebynski. But those words seemed to carry weight with the team’s decision-makers. Shortly thereafter, the Angels let go of the two highest-ranking pitching instructors in their farm system: pitching coordinator Buddy Carlyle and pitching performance coordinator Dylan Axelrod. People briefed on the changes said Percival’s frustration with his visit played at least a factor in the Angels’ decision to oust them.
The Angels have struggled with player development, and Percival was obviously a great major-league reliever, but his results at UC Riverside don’t suggest that he’s the guy to fix it, and iPads probably aren’t the culprit. It’s not difficult to imagine Reinsdorf meddling in a similar fashion — or La Russa, who is still bopping around the organization as an active consultant — so I’ll probably be watching Washington’s progress the closest in hopes of a kinda-sorta simulation for what kind of difference he could’ve made on the South Side.