October 11, 2011
“It’s ok to reserve judgment and let things happen. Ventura’s smart and will be all class,” said reporter David A. Haugh of the Chicago Tribune commenting on the White Sox hiring Robin Ventura as the team’s next manager. Also, Reggie Waller former San Diego Padres Assistant General Manager, was quick to point out that, “They tend to go with their former players.” “Take a look at their 2011 staff” said Waller when questioned about White Sox General Manager Ken Williams’ decision.
While everyone seems to want the former White Sox third baseman to succeed, Ventura’s protracted absence from the game and lack of managerial experience brings into question whether the decision was a strategic mandate from Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, intended to keep the Chicago media critics in tow and their fan base from jumping ship while the team guts their 2012 payroll during the slow economy.
Questioning the White Sox managerial hiring calculus, Tribune reporters David Haugh, Mark Gonzales and Phil Rogers were asked whether they thought that Robin Ventura was being used by Chairman Reinsdorf? Only reporter David Haugh commented saying, “Being used? He benefits from the opportunity so that makes no sense.”
After raising Ventura’s lack of experience and suggesting that Sandy Alomar Jr. might have been farther along on the readiness continuum to replace Ozzie Guillen, given that he is in the game coaching and was a catcher, reporter David Haugh agreed saying, “I’d have interviewed Sandy and likely hired him. Makes sense, lower risk, more experience. Smart guy, yes.” Haugh went on to say, “Give it time. We don’t know yet.”
Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Gonzales quoted Ventura as saying that he “didn’t perceive the Sox as a team that was in that [rebuilding] mode.” On the other hand, it seemed clear that GM Ken Williams’ vow to be patient with Ventura was a reflection of the management’s reduced expectation for the 2012 season.
Given that there were several more experienced successful candidates out there like Terry Francona, for example, who could’ve led the White Sox in 2012, Ken Williams’ decision has some scratching their heads at what seems a hasty move. Lifelong Red Sox fan Kevin Landry, whose team is without a manager for 2012 and out of the pennant race said, “I’m just glad it wasn’t the Red Sox” commenting on the White Sox decision to hire Ventura as their next manager.
Apparently, the Sox were working with a short list of replacement candidates that included former outfielder and current Tampa Bay Rays bench coach, Dave Martinez and Sandy Alomar Jr. who was a former White Sox catcher and currently a bench coach with the Cleveland Indians.
Historically, a case can be made that former catchers tend to be more successful in the managerial role which makes not hiring, or at least attempting to hire Sandy Alomar Jr. even more confusing. To illustrate, here is a short list of former catchers who’ve gone on to distinguish themselves as MLB managers: Gene Lamont, Bruce Bochy, Joe Torre, Bob Brenly, Eric Wedge, Jeff Torborg, Johnny Oates, Yogi Berra and Connie Mack. While there is no single road to managing in the big leagues, catchers have often developed the mental mechanics of processing the game pitch to pitch which is not a skill necessarily honed by, say, an outfielder.
Prior to this past June, Ventura was enjoying the good life and out of the game so the White Sox decision to hire him seems to be a bit of a surprise for him as well. Given Robin Ventura’s career successes, putting on the plays shouldn’t be a problem–it’s only baseball. The real job will be getting 25 millionaires to give it up for the team. So, as reporter David Haugh suggested, “we’ll just have to give it time.”
Tags: Baseball, Dave Martinez, David A. Haugh, David A. Hough, Jerry Reinsdorf, Jr., Ken Williams, Kevin Landry, Mark Gonzales, MLB, Ozzie Guillen, Phil Rogers, Reggie Waller, Robin Ventura, Sandy Alomar, Terry Francona