White Sox fire Don Cooper, which is even bigger news

In most organizations, the news of the manager’s firing would lead the proceedings when it comes to sea changes with the coaching staff.

But because Rick Hahn is the general manager of the White Sox, he actually buried the lede when he announced the firing of Don Cooper minutes into his media conference about the dismissal of Rick Renteria.

Renteria’s departure is still a big deal, but Cooper took over as pitching coach in the middle of Jerry Manuel’s term as White Sox manager, then stayed on the staff for the entirety of the next three managerial tenures. The entrenched nature of Cooper’s job security first rose to the surface during the team’s messy divorce with Ozzie Guillen, and it also seemed to factor into the White Sox’s next two managerial decisions. A more proven candidate probably would have wanted the freedom to bring other coaches in tow to Chicago. The White Sox didn’t even entertain them.

Cooper had deserved such security for most of that time. He had been with the White Sox since 1988 and the pitching coach since 2002, when he replaced Nardi Contreras midseason. He notched one victory after another, and the stability and health of White Sox pitching staffs became the team’s selling point. Farm products like Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland became stalwarts, but the White Sox also had success in rehabbing veterans like Estaban Loaiza, who was flipped for another successful project in Jose Contreras. The Sox turned Freddy Garcia into Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez, and then re-signed Garcia to get his last useful innings. He had a hand in getting Chris Sale to stick in the majors after just 10 minor-league innings, and Jose Quintana came out of nowhere to turn into an All-Star.

But over the last several years, the White Sox have slid to the middle of the pack with injuries, and the notable flops started to outnumber the big wins. The trades for Jeff Samardzija and James Shields hurt way more than they helped, Carlos Rodón couldn’t replicate Sale’s success on the fast track, and Carson Fulmer’s White Sox career was a disaster from almost Day One. Lucas Giolito had to go outside the organization to become the pitcher he is today, and while that’s not a knock on Cooper, the stumbles in the ascents of Reynaldo López and Dylan Cease suggested that the in-house pitching apparatus hadn’t been up to the task. If you feel like Renteria shouldn’t have been to blame for the shortage of feasible Game 3 starting options, he’s at least not alone in getting the boot.

Cooper’s absence changes everything about how we perceive the White Sox’s next move, a point Rick Hahn underscored by admitting the Sox had been “insular” for previous coaching changes. The way he described what he wanted from the next White Sox manager had everybody drawing the same conclusions.

(Photo by Eddie Welker)

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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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dwjm3

I feel pretty happy right now. The organization is aggressively trying to get better which isn’t something they have always done.

One thing I like about conducting a search right now is the sox job is the most appealing it has been in a while. We are offering a coach a talented roster with Don Cooper out of the way.

metasox

Yes, I imagine most good managerial candidates would want to go in a different direction so this makes that easy. I wonder about any other coaches who will end up staying or going

CarolinaSoxFan

I am surprised by the timing of the announcements, because teams generally wait until the playoffs are completed before making this sort of change public.

Perhaps there is some pending event (other than a leak) that compels the timing here; perhaps talks with a replacement are already close to a deal?

texag10

I don’t know about the timing this offseason but I have to imagine this isn’t going to be a quick search given the comments from Hahn so better to get it started now so the new guys can potentially give input in free agency/trades this offseason (does the new pitching coach see a simple mechanical fix for Cease that means we only need to find 1 SP or should we trade him now because he’s at best a RP going forward, etc…).

asinwreck

Hinch and Cora have suspensions ending when the World Series concludes the final week of October. I suspect neither man will have a formal contract with a team until then, even if they’ve come to an agreement.

It is remarkable how much Hahn’s stated criteria today point to either Hinch or Cora being the target. Makes me wonder if negotiations started before the Sox announced the “mutual agreement” with Renteria.

CarolinaSoxFan

Exactly. I would think Cora returns to the Red Sox, but Hinch would be an obvious choice. Bruce Bochy would be another good choice – he has said that he would like to manage again.

roke1960

Absolutely. I’m guessing they have a deal in place for one of the two, and will announce it after the Series.

CarolinaSoxFan

Would you have concerns about the player reaction to A.J. Hinch? In particular, I am wondering what Grandal would say. That meeting (with the veteran players) would certainly be interesting.

evenyoudorn

Man, after what happened for Gio when he went outside the org for help I’d be SUPER careful selling low on anyone with as much upside as Cease. Give the next crew a look first.

ETA: So, agree then – ha.

asinwreck

I agree with the headline. This is big news, truly a departure from past practice.

Would love to have been a fly on the wall the past couple of years as the organization hired Everett Teaford and set up a pitching lab to see what the dynamics were between the old guard and new blood. A good book could be written about how the White Sox coach pitching, starting with the biomechanical analysis of the early 1980s (link to paywall article) to the ways Cooper’s early years cut down on pitcher injuries, with a consideration of how Teaford, Hasler, Zaleski, and Fahrquhar use data today.

Steve

This could lead to some interesting changes in player development. While there’s always been talk of the cutter, the Sox’ minors had been aimed at developing interchangeable sinker/slider pitchers to the point that they seemed to be having problems developing players that differed from that formula.

Amar

He won’t be hired, but I bet the Hahn interviews Konerko just to troll me in particular

lil jimmy

Deep breathes my friend. Hey, can I ask you, you are a Boston guy. What is your take on Jackie Bradley Jr.?

Amar

I wasn’t prepared for this outcome man! I would take Jackie on a 1-year deal. Also, I’m no longer a Boston guy, I live in Copenhagen now.

lil jimmy

So you are our man in Copenhagen now. Nice!

ParisSox

I propose a post Covid Eurotrash meet up next year

lifelongjd

Very huge deal. I only vaguely remember the Nardi Contreras era. Seems like Cooper’s time to go as his effectiveness seemed to decrease with the young guns.
It shows the Sox are serious. No real candidates would consider the job with a guy like Cooper being forced as the PC. This is a real window to compete and I hope they can find the right manager and PC to tap into all the talent they have.
Any thought as to how this impacts Frank Menechino’s status? I would hope they would retain him as he showed some immediate success.

ParisSox

Yes this. I commented in the other thread about hoping Menechino sticks around.

gibby32

I like Menechino also, but they should give their new manager the option to replace him. They can pitch Menechino to him and set up a meeting between the two if they do not know each other, but the manager should decide.

Amar

If I were to rank Cooper’s greatest hits, Matt Thornton has to be #1

Papa Giorgio

In a weird way, I’m more OK with the Renteria firing after it was announced that Coop was out too. Now they can bring in someone like Hinch and they can better align the org with their more modern way of thinking.

dwjm3

That isn’t weird thinking on your part. Launching Don Cooper makes it more likely they will get a quality manager.

HallofFrank

I doubt he wins it (especially now), but Ricky figures to be a top candidate for 2020 Manager of the Year. I wonder if anyone has ever won MOY while also getting fired (not counting exceptional, off-the-field or character cases)?

Drdoctor

Don’t know about MLB, but Dwane Casey was Coach of the Year and replaced by Nick Nurse in 2018. Worked out well.

ecivokrak

Joe Girardi, I think? 15 years ago?

asinwreck

Joe Girardi won the award in 2006 and was fired by the Marlins that fall as part of their Lorianian dysfunction. Davey Johnson won with the Orioles in 1997 and was forced out by Peter Angelos that winter. A couple of quality organizations.

xubrent

I understand that not everyone will agree with my take, but I don’t mind AJ Hinch. I think he’s a pretty cerebral manager and has new-age managerial approach as far as in-game managing is concerned. Of course the elephant in the room exists, but I believe Astros situation was an organizational rotting and he was complacent through his silence rather than participation. I trust the White Sox organization to be more upstanding (not counting the Wilder fiasco).

Hopefully he has learned a little from having a year off. I know this hiring would result in some twitter blowback but ehhh ….

Now Cora on the other hand …. screw that guy!!!

itaita

I was always under the impression he had to fall on the sword cause the players got immunity.

gibby32

I like Cora, probably more than Hinch.

mikeyb

Hinch was a pretty horrible manager before getting to Houston and being allowed to cheat.

craigws

I don’t think he deserves a statue, but I’d hope there’d be something else coming down the line in recognition of Coop.

asinwreck

A post compiling the biggest of Nightengale’s Sox whoppers would be entertaining to read. Might not be fun to compile, but it would be entertaining to read.

Steve

A Fisk-Cangelosi-Baines outfield?

asinwreck

LaRussa’s coming back, but the bigger shock is Harrelson returning as GM to force a 73-year old Carlton Fisk to patrol left field.

He’s a slight defensive upgrade on Eloy.

Steve

I was surprised to see that Cangelosi had a 13 year major league career. I missed that somehow in my high school / college years.

ParisSox

You are a glutton for punishment Margalus.

Joliet Orange Sox

This reminds me of Paul Richards. He had two stints managing the Sox decades apart. I think he was younger than 76 during the second stint but he looked ancient during that second stint.

asinwreck

Why, because he was apparently comatose on the bench? I don’t remember him ambulatory in 1976 after the Opening Day Bicentennial hijinks.

Joliet Orange Sox

I googled and Paul Richards was “only” 68 during the 1976 season. That googling somehow also revealed that Mary Frances Veeck is still alive and turned 100 on September 1. Younger readers will certainly not remember and may have trouble believing but Bill and Mary Frances Veeck co-hosted a weekly call-in radio show when Veeck owned the team in the late 70’s.

asinwreck

Was it Dave Hoekstra’s blog post? Great stuff. Something in the water in Hyde Park leads to some long-lived residents. Not too long before the 93 division championship, I struck up a conversation with an emeritus U of C professor who had been one of Louis Wirth’s students around the time of the Wall Street crash.

Richards seemed older in 1976 than Joe Torre seems today. Joe Torre is 80. Drinking tea rather than chainsmoking might be a good move.

dwjm3

Hiring LaRussa would be peak White Sox…Good grief

lastof12

Moar Soxy: Ozzy as his bench coach.

lil jimmy

Speaking as an old guy.
One day you look around and realize some of your Peers have gone around the bend, and are right out of their cotton picking minds. I think Tony is one of those guys.

DrCrawdad

I wanted Tony to manage the Sox … 34 years ago

burning-phoneix

End of an era. I loved Coop and wished he would retire instead of being fired.

Yolmer's gatorade

This was going to happen. Coop was great, but I think time just passed him by. The notion that starters have to give you at least 6 innings is just gone from baseball. Cease, Lopez, and maybe Kopech are all assets for the Sox that probably will never live up to that old school everyday starter notion, and the Sox need to get value from these guys. Plus they can attract better talent by letting the next manager pick their coaches. I would not be surprised if they Sox offered Coop a retirement consulting position or something to keep him around, and Coop said no to see if another team will give him a chance.

Coop is pretty much the last piece from the 2005 team. He has done great things for the Sox for years. It was just time to move on. We should revel in his time and celebrate his successes, which were many.

MrStealYoBase

I see a lot of people around the Red Sox calling Cora back to Boston.

The Tigers are the only other team with a vacancy right? Maybe the Rangers or Diamondbacks in the next few weeks. I don’t think Yankees fans clamoring to fire Boone actually have the ear of the front office there.

Which makes the White Sox job probably the most desirable I would think? Boston could always offer more money/prestige but from a baseball standpoint none of those other teams are particularly close to the White Sox in terms of on-field talent.

Never thought I would be saying that.

asinwreck

Those are the currently-open jobs. It’s always possible the Mets could decide not to bring Luis Rojas back once the new ownership is in place. I suppose there’s a non-zero chance the Dodgers fire Roberts if they don’t win it all this time. I suspect we’d know by now if the Rangers and Diamondbacks were firing managers or general managers.

roke1960

Can Hinch get Brent Strom to leave Houston and join him in Chicago?

There is a God: Rickey and Coop both shown the door! Bring on A.J. Hinch!

Eagle Bones

While I’m glad to see them taking decisive action to try to improve, I’m not really crazy about any of the names being mentioned. Maybe that’s just me?

zevsenesca

I agree, that Astros stink is pretty thick. I’d like to think that my favorite team would be above cheating, but that is naive of me…

dongutteridge

What? No love for bringing back Bev? At least, as third base coach. It would be worth the entertainment.

blackoutsox

Oof – headline nails it. not often where the pitching coach is a bigger deal than the manager. I hadn’t realized Cooper was losing his (coaching) fastball though, but sounds like it was time. thank you for all the years Coop!

as for the managers – absolutely no way to Hinch and Cora. if I was making the hire it would be a POC who hasn’t already had a managing job (no idea who that would be). MLB has way too many retread managers bouncing onto new teams forever and I don’t trust most of them to push this team to the second round of the playoffs – LaRussa already being rumored just made me laugh out loud.

Sell the team Jerry!

bill lane

Want to make things real interesting?
A.J. Pierzynski as Manager.
He was always the smartest guy on the field.
And we love him.