If you watched White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn’s media availability on Monday morning you were treated to an expected dose of lip service surrounding the surprising dismissal of Ricky Renteria and Don Cooper, as well as the managerial search that the club is going to “embark” on over the next few weeks.
If you believe the reporting of Chicago Sun-Times scribe Daryl Van Schouwen, Hahn’s dismissal of the notion that Renteria and Cooper were ousted at least partially because of their September skid or their reluctance to embrace the use of analytics was nothing but typical White Sox lip service.
While Hahn dodged placing any blame on Renteria or Cooper for the White Sox coughing up a comfortable lead in the American League Central during the final week of the season, his comments on what the club is looking for in their next skipper were fairly telling. In fact, after listening to his comments I have a hinch, err, a hunch, regarding their top candidate for Renteria’s vacancy.
Let’s play a little bit of connect the dots here and spell this out based on what Hahn offered up on Monday.
- Hahn indicated that they’ll be looking for someone with “recent October experience.”
- While previous managerial experience is a plus, it’s not going to be a prerequisite.
- It will not be Ozzie Guillen.
- As far as timeline is concerned, we might see this stretch out beyond the conclusion of the World Series, as a potential candidate(s) may still be employed with a current playoff team.
- The next manager will, “more than likely be someone from the outside.”
- Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for a potential candidate, but will be factored into how they end up filling out the remaining coaching positions after the managerial hire.
Who checks all of those boxes, and is conveniently available at the end of the 2020 World Series?
Sure, Hinch isn’t the only person that checks most — if not all — of those boxes, but that field is fairly limited, and specifically it’s limited to just A.J. Hinch and fellow suspended skipper Alex Cora.
After the Boston Red Sox canned Cora’s replacement Ron Roenicke and nearly all of his coaching staff this week, there’s a growing suspicion that the Red Sox will aim to rehire Alex Cora at season’s end when his suspension is up, which makes me believe he’s not the guy that Hahn was trying so hard not to allude to on Monday.
That leaves just A.J. Hinch, who is quite possibly the best candidate available on the market right now.
Oh, and then there’s his former — and current White Sox — southpaw, Dallas Keuchel, who broke his summer-long Twitter hiatus to proclaim that “big things are on the horizon,” for the White Sox, just moments after the Renteria news broke.
With that being said let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the reason for Hinch’s availability, his suspension as a result of the 2017 Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
You can preach integrity all day, but at the end of the day the White Sox don’t seem overly concerned with morality over victories after axing a manager that oversaw the team’s first playoff run since 2008. By firing Renteria the White Sox thrust their contention window open so hard that they broke the glass. They’ve made it clear that it’s time to win, and win now, and Rick Renteria wasn’t the guy to get them there.
If you love the idea of hiring A.J. Hinch, then welcome to the club. If you’re apprehensive about it strictly due to the Astros scandal, I won’t try to change your opinion but I’ll ask you to ask yourself — is your apprehensiveness strictly correlated to the scandal? Can you tell me one other reason why you wouldn’t want him, or name a candidate better than him?
Either way, the White Sox don’t care what we want, and this isn’t a conversation about what I want. It’s a conversation about what Rick Hahn said without saying, regarding what they want.
Love it or hate it, Hinch is a 46-year old manager with 570 wins, a World Series Championship, multiple playoff appearances, front office and player development experience, an analytical mindset, and a strong reputation around the league. He has a psychology degree from Stanford and a reputation for understanding how to tap into his players’ potential.
If the aforementioned details from Rick Hahn’s press conference on Monday weren’t enough, White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams is a fellow Stanford alumni, and as Jon Morosi pointed out on Tuesday night, Rick Hahn worked for Jeff Moorad during the time that he was Hinch’s agent as a player.
Despite Bob Nightengale claiming that the White Sox are considering hiring 76-year-old Tony La Russa, who hasn’t managed since 2011, the writing is all over the wall right now when it comes to A.J. Hinch at least being the top choice for the White Sox to fill their managerial vacancy.
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