Rick Renteria brushes back lineup critics, which, OK

I suppose it’s not a great sign that, for the second time this month, a member of White Sox management aired some grievances about a sector of the team’s fandom. Even if, for the second time this month, the quote lost some of its acidity when the full context was revealed

Daryl Van Schouwen dropped the inflammatory quote first:

It’s news even without a greater context because Renteria seldom says something that inflammatory. However, NBC Sports Chicago presented the most emotional of Rick Hahn’s fan gripes as “Twitter Trolls Have Nothing on Hahn,” which was effective marketing, but not a laser-accurate presentation of what actually happened.

James Fegan then relayed the full quote, since it was his questioning that generated the response, and it’s not as old-man-yells-at-cloud as it first appears.

As a sabermetrically-oriented fan and writer, I suppose I’m supposed to feel attacked. But as a sabermetrically-oriented fan and writer, I know the studies show that lineups make a marginal difference when it comes to producing runs. So when the White Sox release the lineup, I process it with a three-step plan:

Step One: Look at which players of questionable health are active.

Step Two: Look at which underqualified lefty is in the middle of the order in the name of a balanced lineup and chuckle softly.

Step Three: Scroll past tweet.

Step Two might seem like a knock on Renteria, but should the White Sox have a well-stocked lineup at any point during his tenure, his preference for righty-lefty balance will play up, especially when teams are required to use a pitcher for a minimum of three batters.

Renteria’s in the third year of deploying a roster that’s worse than it has to be on purpose, and for the last year and a half, the front office has avoided giving Renteria better players when they’re theoretically available. As long as Renteria’s laboring under these designed shortages, I can’t blame him if he prioritizes his idea of maintaining player interest and well being to seeking every slight advantage. This is why I didn’t care for Renteria’s punitive approach to benching players last year — if the front office isn’t angling for every win, what does anybody gain from demanding banged-up players to max out their efforts on inconsequential plays?

If you pair his rejection of lineup optimization with his predilection for silly bunts, then you get a stone-age manager who can’t be replaced quickly enough. But if you instead pair these comments with his cessation of hustle benchings, you get a guy who’s less interested in eyewash overall, which is generally harmonious. I’m more impressed that Renteria voiced a potentially unpopular opinion without “to be honest,” so I appreciate the conviction.

Whichever road you choose, the White Sox just extended Renteria this offseason regardless, so your thoughts and my thoughts don’t really matter. The organization’s embrace of ennui generally ends up beating us all.

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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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phillyd

That last sentence, man. Wow

PauliePaulie

Yeah. A lot to unpack in his answers.
I was troubled by the second to last paragraph where he suggests statistical arguments against his approach are “opinion”.

I really wish there was the possibility that he acutally was “on the outs”.

MrTopaz

Your 2019 Chicago White Sox: the baseball equivalent of the inevitable triumph of entropy.

GrabSomeBench

Jim,
I’m troubled by the idea that analysts often say things like “his predilection for silly bunts” but never provide any documentation. Ever since we watched Brad Pitt tell us that bunts are bad baseball and produce less runs than walks, we’ve seen an uptick in walks, strikeouts and home runs and a downturn on bunts.
Do bunts have a place? Renteria has used the squeeze bunt effectively on more than one occasion and produced runs. He’s also used bunts where luck or bad defense resulted in starting a rally. Was he wrong?
It may make no sense whatsoever to have Jose Abreu bunt. It may not make sense to have a good hitter like Moncada or Anderson bunt. But, does it make sense for John Jay, Adam Engel and Yolmer Sanchez? Perhaps it does depending on the situation and who is coming up to bat. The point is that bunting with non-producing players may not be statistically a bad thing for the team whereas having a good player bunt may be insane.
I understand that the metrics guys will say that bunting and giving up an out results in less runs than swinging for the fences. But doesn’t it matter who the pitcher is when you bunt and who is coming up to bat? What are your analytical thoughts?
Asking for a friend!

karkovice squad

It wasn’t Brad Pitt. It was Tango Tiger and Michael Lichtmann. Go spend $10 or so and salve your curiousity.

https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Book.html?id=FrUYdXKZFZwC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button

GoGoSoxFan

“The Book” Chapter 9 To Sacrifice Or Not
Summary

“If you were expecting a nice, tidy set of rules. such as, “It is rarely correct to sacrifice bunt in this day and age,” or, A bunt is only warranted in the late innings of a close game,” you are probably disappointed. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon your point of view, analyzing the efficacy of the sacrifice bunt in the various situations is so complex and difficult and the results are often so close, that we can only offer a few clear-cut rules of thumb and a myriad of reccomendations built on somewhat shaky foundations.”

texag10

How about we don’t regularly trot out the Jays/Engels/Sanchezes of the world? Then we don’t have to worry about it.

PauliePaulie

Those with a modern view of the game don’t say “never bunt, if you do, you’re stuck in 1980”.
Of course some of Ricky’s bunt calls will produce the best case scenario. It does not mean it was the correct call.

Given all factors, he often calls for bunts in situations he should not. That is not opinion.

Ted Mulvey

My eyes, they burn!

As Cirensica

You mean bunt?

Ted Mulvey

They’ve been burnt by the bunt, having borne the brunt of the bunt.

Trooper Galactus

I’d tell him to grab some bench, but, well…

Lurker Laura

The significant editing on that quote by Daryl Van Schouwen is pretty irresponsible, IMO. Agree with Ricky’s approach or not, the edited version of that quote presents an entirely different mindset than what Renteria actually put forward.

There’s a reason that Fegan is the only Sox reporter I read regularly.

PauliePaulie

Ricky’s answer regarding the line-ups confused me. Is he thinking about Timmay 2nd and Yoan 4th vs RHP?

Then mention Eloy as a “future” 4 spot option?

Josh Nelson

My takeaway from Ricky’s comments: I think he’s getting tired of having shitty players to try and figure out a lineup daily.

The White Sox only have 5 hitters with an above 100 wRC+ (Moncada, Anderson, McCann, Abreu, Goins). Jimenez is at 97 (which, what the hell),then Leury Garcia is at 85, and then you drive off a cliff in quality.

I get his frustration dealing with criticism of his lineups, but this line of questioning comes a day after having Jon Jay batting 4th. Which based on Renteria’s comments is because of his trust in players.

He may have a bad roster, but I still think it’s worthwhile to try and optimize the lineup every game. That way it just highlights the rosters shortfalls when they lose or perform poorly, which is not Renteria’s fault.

My larger problem with Renteria is after 449 games I think he prefers a style of baseball to be played that is largely ineffective in today’s environment. No matter who is on the roster.

Otter

The FO could you know, do something, you know pick up the phone or have a conversation with Ricky about all this instead of doing a too spot on imitation of GarPax.

Josh Nelson

I think the front office agrees with him.

PauliePaulie

I thought Hahn had said he didn’t agree with some od RR’s decision making re the bunt. Also that the FO would not interfere with line-up construction or bullpen usage in-season.
Although I suppose the contract extension says something different.

Josh Nelson

Right.

Trooper Galactus

Hahn is doing a lot of talking out both sides of his mouth these days.

Otter

Then the problem isn’t Ricky…

Otter

Renteria isn’t the problem. We’re just shooting the messenger for no reason by being critical of him really at all. Yes he bunts too much, blah.

The reality is that the FO either doesn’t care about the lineup construction or is okaying Renteria’s lineup construction… and decision making, etc. And of course, the FO isn’t giving Renteria much to work with, John Jay was supposed to be an upgrade from last year’s disaster, and hasn’t been somehow, which is more damning of the FO than Rick of course. I (safely?) assume Renteria would love to have Robert playing centerfield right now or Machado playing third, but he’s not the one making those (non)decisions.

The poor guy has had next to nothing to work with while he’s been here, the fist half was fun because guys were healthy and good luck, but now with Anderson and then Moncada out over the last 8 weeks or so, it’s back to 2018. And we’re nitpicking lineup construction that has about three major leaguers over the last 8 weeks, plus Eloy and a hot run from Goins.

So yeah, whatever. Let him complain. I’m sure he’s frustrated with having to fill out line up card with this garbage everyday and then get questioned for it.

PauliePaulie

I’ve seen a lot of ” X isn’t THE problem” lately.
It reminds me of Hahn’s “The rebuild doesn’t rely on 1 player.”
Although true in a vacuum, when used to cover multiple shortcomings amongst multiple personnel, seemingly minor annoyances can add up to rob meaningful wins.

Otter

The problem is pretty clearly Rick Hahn and ownership in some order/percentages that add up to 100%.

roke1960

I’m sure Ricky is frustrated with the lack of major league talent on the roster. The difference between now and last year is that there are actually several players in AAA who would be upgrades over the players he has to trot out there every day. I’m hoping that he hits Jay cleanup to show the FO the lack of quality options he has. But the FO probably doesn’t care

Neat_on_the_rocks

I’m hoping that he hits Jay cleanup to show the FO the lack of quality options he has

Adam Engel For Cleanup!

As Cirensica

Ozzie did that a lot. I meant, he constructed lineups to get back to Kevin for providing him with shitty players

As Cirensica

Hahaha….this is the second time I name Kenny as Kevin…Names are similar (in my head).

roke1960

And of course he’ll overpay.

GoGoSoxFan

Renisdorf never overpays. Whatever they sign Abreu for will be a discount. You can bet your house on that.

JR stikes me as that guy who brags about buying a three piece suit for a hundred bucks and then says, “I never pay retail for ANYthing”.