After 17 years, a legitimate managerial search on the South Side can begin, but it shouldn’t last long.
They actually did it.
For all intents and purposes, the White Sox fired Ricky Renteria on Monday morning. After a season in which the White Sox young core gelled faster than expected and the Southsiders finally broke a 12-season playoff drought.
But that wasn’t good enough.
It’s cutthroat, but it’s something winning organizations do. It’s also not something I thought I would see the Chicago White Sox do in my lifetime. Words cannot describe how shocking this is, but I’m going to try.
It’s been 17 years since the White Sox actually conducted a real managerial search after Jerry Manuel was shown the door following the 2003 season. That off-season, they wound up with Ozzie Guillen, an insular choice as it brought someone in from “the family”, but it was still a bit controversial as Ozzie was one to speak his mind to anyone who would listen. It worked out a few seasons later, but Ozzie’s mouth got him in trouble more and more following the triumph of 2005.
Once Ozzie wore out his welcome to the ever-loyal Jerry Reinsdorf, and pushed the last buttons of then-General Manager Kenny Williams, Guillen and the White Sox parted ways after the 2011 season. What followed was a sham manager search in which Kenny Williams had to convince Robin Ventura to take the job. I was mad on the internet about it then, and I’m still mad on the internet about it now. The obvious choice that off-season was Davey Martinez. The White Sox did not make the obvious choice.
Flash-forward to 2020 and the obvious choice has once again presented itself. The timing of this, with two top tier managers suddenly available — I don’t think the White Sox will make the same mistake again.
For an organization that finally pulled the trigger on a full rebuild in 2016, and who actually spent money this past off-season, who locked up so many players to actually give this thing a go. Firing Ricky Renteria is the first time I’ve actually thought they were serious about winning. The obvious choice to replace him is A.J. Hinch.
Once the final out is recorded in the 2020 World Series, Hinch’s one year suspension for the Astros’ 2017 sign tealing scandal will be over and the White Sox can negotiate with the best, albeit controversial, free-agent skipper in recent history.
Here are the three biggest reasons that this move makes the most sense:
Rick Hahn all but shouted “AJ HINCH!” during his presser with the media this morning
“The ideal candidate will be someone who has experience in a championship organization in recent years”
Check. AJ took the Astros to the playoffs in four of his five seasons in Houston, including two trips to the World Series. His record was 481-329. More on the results of that one World Series in a bit.
The White Sox are a desirable landing spot
Players were going to want to come to the White Sox regardless of who the manager was in 2021. They got to see this team and it’s young core perform in 2020. Now that the manager slot is open, AJ Hinch only needs to look at his dance card and the rosters of Detroit and Boston, then compare it to what we have on the South Side. His choice should be pretty clear.
Sure, the MLB is not like college football. Hinch won’t be couch-hoping to try and find the talent were he to come to the South Side, but if A.J is hired as the next manager, this shows every free agent that the team is serious about winning. For a team with very few holes to fill this off-season, hiring the former manager of arguably the best free agent right field option this winter in George Springer would be the savviest move.
The elephant in the room is obviously Hinch’s involvement in the sign stealing scandal from the 2017 Astros’ World Championship. Because you can’t fire players, Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were fired by Houston, and Major League Baseball suspended them for the entire 2020 season.
I’m not going to dismiss his involvement in the scandal in total, but I do believe A.J. was not the worst offender during the scandal, unlike bench coach Alex Cora. From the report:
“Hinch neither devised the banging scheme nor participated in it. Hinch told my investigators that he did not support his players decoding signs using the monitor installed near the dugout and banging the trash can, and he believed that the conduct was both wrong and distracting. Hinch attempted to signal his disapproval of the scheme by physically damaging the monitor on two occasions, necessitating its replacement. However, Hinch admits he did not stop it and he did not notify players or Cora that he disapproved of it, even after the Red Sox were disciplined in September 2017.”
So, Hinch, while he did not agree with what the players were doing, kept it to himself in an attempt at loyalty or breaking some misplaced “code” with his team in the locker room. His decision not to speak up proved costly, it all blew up in his face and he took the punishment for it.
The move would not be without its naysayers. Fans of all teams, not just some White Sox would give this move a raised eyebrow and lots of side-glances, but this would be the right move to get the White Sox over the top.
Featured Photo: Chicago Tribune