Following a weird week of conflicting reports, it appears as though Robin Ventura will not be the Chicago White Sox manager in 2017.
Less than a week ago reports leaked from the White Sox front office that Robin Ventura would receive an extension as the Chicago White Sox manager, if he wanted it. Essentially, the front office saw no reason to let Robin Ventura walk away at the end of the season as his contract expired. It was completely up to Ventura.
Today the White Sox announced that General Manager Rick Hahn would be holding a press conference on Monday. The purpose of the press conference was somewhat mysterious until Chicago Sun-Times reporter Van Schouwen broke the news about Ventura.
Chicago White Sox fans that just a few days ago were lamenting the return of Robin Ventura can now rejoice. The man they have wanted gone, practically since his arrival with the team in 2012, will finally be parting ways with the team.
Robin Ventura had the task of replacing his former teammate in Ozzie Guillen. Guillen had his fair share of issues, but he was well-remembered because he brought the team their first World Series Championship since 1917. Not only did Ventura have a tough act to follow, but he was thrown into the fire with no managerial experience. He was given a 2012 team that had a unique roster configuration of veterans and rising stars in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. That team should have made the playoffs, but notoriously failed in the final month of the season to completely miss the postseason. That’s when the Robin Ventura hate train really got rolling.
The Chicago White Sox 2013 season was their worst of the decade. Rather than rebuild, the White Sox decided to push to try to win. In 2014 they didn’t accomplish much. In 2015, they made some noteworthy offseason moves by trading for Jeff Samardzija, and signing both Melky Cabrera and David Robertson. And yet, nothing was accomplished in 2015 either. Heading into 2016, the White Sox made more offseason moves to supplement the roster by adding Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie.
The 2016 certainly started well for the White Sox, jumping out to a 23-10 start that has been talked about quite often. Despite having a relatively large lead in the American League Central following the first month of the season, the White Sox quickly fell out of contention by the All-Star break. In the view of many, especially the fans, that was in a large part due to poor managing from Robin Ventura.
Ventura repeatedly made questionable calls with the bullpen, bunted in wrong situations, and lost control of his clubhouse. However, the White Sox were severely lacking depth. After losing Austin Jackson to injury they were forced to play at least one of the black hole trio of JB Shuck, Avisail Garcia, and Jason Coats. John Danks was a disappointment in the first month of the season, but once they let him go they couldn’t find a single player to come close to replacing him. They traded for James Shields and signed Justin Morneau, the latter of which was hardly an average player while the former was a complete disaster. The list could go on with what went wrong for the White Sox.
Simply blaming Ventura for the pitfalls of the team is completely unfair to him and understates how flawed the Chicago White Sox roster was this season. However, Ventura’s continued questionable decisions since his hiring seemed to have pushed the White Sox front office to the edge. His record since becoming the White Sox manager is 375-434 which translates to a .464 winning percentage. In each of the four seasons he has managed since nearly leading the 2012 team to the playoffs, the White Sox have posted sub .500 records. He was given poor teams, but his performance in his five seasons simply wasn’t enough.
It certainly seems like the White Sox weren’t going to reach the playoffs with Ventura at the helm. Whether that was fair to put on Ventura or not, it seems to be the case. In that sense, the White Sox have taken a step in the right direction. In another sense, the Chicago White Sox still have a lot to do if they want to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Their roster lacks depth and has humongous holes in certain positions. Having Rick Renteria as the manager in 2017 will probably help a little, but making the roster better will help a lot more. White Sox fans can rejoice for now, but know that the team requires more in order to contend.