Two weeks ago, general manager Rick Hahn gave a public vote of confidence to manager Robin Ventura, assuring the second-year manager will be back for at least the 2014 season. Despite the Chicago White Sox’ record of 46-74 (24.5 GB of 1st); I believe this is the right decision for several reasons.
First, when former general manager Kenny Williams hired Ventura to manage the club prior to the 2012 season, Williams knew there would be some growing pains. Williams was willing to admit that Ventura might not be ready to be great manager, but he did believe that Ventura would eventually become a great manager after several years of experience. If Williams and then assistant general manager Rick Hahn believed that one day Ventura would be a successful manager, then why would that feeling change after just one poor season?
Second, prior to the 2013 season, the White Sox offered Ventura a contract extension through 2015. However, Ventura turned down the offer, citing that he would rather focus on only the next two seasons. The fact that the White Sox already offered Ventura a contract extension after just one season should show that the organization believes that he is the right man for the job going forward. In 2012, the White Sox finished 85-77 and three games behind the division-winning Detroit Tigers. In fact, the White Sox have a division lead up until mid-September before ultimately being overtaken by Detroit. For the team’s efforts, Ventura finished third in the voting for American League Manager of the Year.
Third, the White Sox’ lack of success this season is not all Ventura’s fault. I have always believed that the players determine the success of a manager. Last season, Ventura was viewed as a good manager due to the season the White Sox had in 2012. Now, just one year later, Ventura is suddenly a bad manager? In my opinion, the blame of this season rest mostly on the players, followed by Williams and Hahn for constructing this dysfunctional roster. This year’s White Sox team is comprised of primarily veterans. It is not Ventura’s fault that this team has very little power, poor base running skills, and a brutal defense. Just last season, this exact team was one the best defensive teams in the all of baseball, so I find it humorous that some fans are calling for Ventura’s head. If some of the veteran’s played how they are capable of playing, and if the brain-trust would have assembled a better team, then this season may have been a little bit better. If you don’t agree with me, ask yourself this question. Would (insert who you view as the best manager in baseball’s name) automatically make the 2013 White Sox a playoff team? I say no, absolutely not. For example, if either Joe Maddon or Mike Scioscia were the manager of the 2013 White Sox, this team would be exactly where it is now, last place. Maybe they would have a few more wins, maybe not, but they certainly wouldn’t be contenting for a division title.
Fourth, the White Sox had several key injuries this season. Let me preface this by stating that I do not think the White Sox would have been a playoff team or even a .500 ballclub if everyone was healthy, but the injuries cannot be ignored. Jake Peavy, John Danks, Dayan Viciedo, Gordon Beckham, Gavin Floyd, Jesse Crain, and Paul Konerko all missed significant time, and were all supposed to be big contributors to the team this season. Since the injuries were staggered, the White Sox rarely had their ideal roster during the better course of the season. While injuries are not an excuse for how poorly the team has performed, it still should be taken in consideration when discussing the status of the team’s manager.
Fifth and finally, who exactly should replace Ventura? By all indications, this White Sox team will not be serious contenders for a World Series next season. Does anyone really think the organization will ‘pony up the greenbacks’ and hire a proven manager? I don’t even know who would be available, but given the White Sox managerial hiring history, don’t expect any big name manager coming to Chicago. If the White Sox are truly in a rebuilding, retooling, reshaping, or whatever they want to call mode, then it makes more sense to keep Ventura as the manager for at least one more season. The White Sox don’t have much more to lose, so it would behoove them to really find out what type of manager they have in Ventura as this team tries to prepare itself to contend in the future.
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