White Sox Part Ways with Double-A Skipper Omar Vizquel

The Chicago White Sox accompanied their decision to lock in seven players ahead of December’s Rule 5 Draft by announcing the release of Double-A Birmingham manager, Omar Vizquel. The 11-time Gold Glove winning shortstop made his managerial debut for the Winston-Salem Dash in 2018 before taking over the Barons job the following year.

Director of Player Development, Chris Getz, released a statement regarding the move.

Vizquel earned Carolina League manager of the year honors in his rookie season after an 84-54 record and a playoff appearance with the Dash. Wins were hard to come by in the Southern League in 2019, as the Barons 37-30 second half could not balance out a disappointing 27-42 record in the first half.

Upon assessment, the 52-year-old operated under more of an “old school” mentality, meaning he preferred to start runners on the base paths, get the hitter’s bat going at the plate as well as incorporate the bunt, despite being below league average with 19 total successful sacrifice hits last season. The Barons finished tied for last in stolen base percentage (66%) and attempted the third most bases stolen (170) behind the Biloxi Shuckers (171) and the Montgomery Biscuits (313).

In April, he mentioned to WKYC Studios in Cleveland that, “You’ve got to do a lot of the percentages now. It’s weird that now, you have a calculator right next to your lineup so you can calculate a person. That’s where the game is now. It’s evolving so much. Everybody’s doing it, even the umpires are involved with the strike zones and everything. It’s interesting to start knowing a little deeper the secrets of the game.”

Analytics has become a theme within the White Sox since Matt Koenig arrived as director of baseball analytics in January of 2017. The organization has experimented with an approach to this evolving side of the game and made notable changes recently.

Matt Lisle, a known swing analyst, was brought in prior to the start of the 2019 season as the Sox hitting analytics instructor, but parted ways in August. Todd Steverson served as the White Sox hitting coach for six seasons, but after finishing near the bottom of the league in several offensive categories throughout his tenure, was replaced by Frank Menechino in October.

It appears the front office is looking to assemble a group of minds who fit their analytics mold while also implementing in an already existing scouting strategy. Regardless of the reason behind these changes, the White Sox are actively engaging in trying to catch up to the current analytical climate and the Vizquel move applies to this theory.

Managing in Minor League Baseball is unique. Organizations expect the skipper to focus on player development first and winning then becomes arbitrary. Vizquel had a tendency to platoon certain high-end prospects in an effort to win baseball games when the focus needed to be about putting players in the best position to ascend.

Vizquel finishes his White Sox managerial tenure with a 148-126 record across two Minor League seasons. He is still eligible for the Hall of Fame after receiving 42.8 percent of the vote in 2019.

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