It doesn’t escape me that the day the world was mourning Apple visionary Steve Jobs, the personification of thinking out of the box, that Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams named Robin Ventura manager of the White Sox.
All we’ve heard since Ozzie left for South Beach is that the top candidates were Sandy Alomar, Jr., Dave Martinez and Terry Francona. Then, yesterday, the Sox fooled us all and chose one of their own who has absolutely no professional coaching or managing experience.
I think it’s a terrific, inspired choice on multiple levels. Ventura is a proven leader, he is familiar with the White Sox, he’ll have credibility with the veterans, will nurture youngsters like Brent Morel, Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo and will somewhat offset the loss of Guillen in the eyes of the fans. He will also be great with media in a non-Ozzie sort of way. He will be thoughtful with a touch of wry humor as opposed to his predecessor’s 24/7 stream of consciousness. And, as far as I know, he doesn’t have a twitter account.
As you would expect, many in the baseball community have come out of the woodwork very skeptical of the move. Everybody from Tigers’ coach Gene Lamont, a former Sox manager, to a legion of baseball writers. With experienced men out there for the taking, they’re saying, how can the White Sox pick someone with absolutely no experience?
My answer to them is that managing a baseball team is not rocket science. It’s about leadership. Everything else can be learned. What Ventura doesn’t know about pitching, he’s got Don Cooper. What he needs to understand about other facets of the game he’ll have an experienced bench coach and another quiet professional in Harold Baines. And in time, Robin, who was a smart player and a consummate pro as well as being enormously popular, will know all he needs to know.
Nobody, including Ventura, knows how this will play out. But with high risk there’s high reward. And although Mr. Jobs most likely didn’t know the White Sox from the Red Sox or Stan Williams from “No Neck” Williams, I think he would have approved of this decision.
My final weekly offseason musings on the White Sox and more. In just two days, four hours and 56 minutes, pitchers and catchers officially report and the 2010 season will be underway.
My Random Thoughts Heading into Spring Training:
* He’s coming, he’s not coming, he’s coming, he’s not coming, he’s…That’s basically what we’ve been through this week with Johnny Damon. I’m through guessing what will happen. We’ll just have to wait and see and deal with the decision when it comes down. And it very well could be determined before you read this. Who knows?
* As I look ahead to the 2010 Sox, I can’t help but think that the two keys to whether or not we make the playoffs will be Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios. While the personality of the team will change, putting a priority on pitching, speed, versatility and defense, there still needs to be some significant power now that Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome are no longer on the South Side. Quentin and Rios must rebound from last year whether or not the other factors listed above prove successful.
* Speaking of Jermaine, it’s painful to see he’s still on the outside, looking for a decent
deal. Despite his horrible second half in 2009, you have to think he can help someone. Here’s hoping the news of him signing is imminent. Dye, like the other 2005 guys, holds a special place for us. Even more special for Jermaine, considering he was the World Series MVP.
* I’m looking forward to seeing Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell in spring training. It doesn’t seem like either outfielder will make the 25-man roster, but Danks is right on the cusp and actually could make the jump at some point this year. Mitchell is a couple of years away, but inviting him to major league camp is a smart idea–he’ll get a jump start on getting acclimated to major league life.
* I love this. Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen will be featured in The Club, an original reality series on the MLB Network The show will follow the Sox braintrust to provide “unprecedented behind-the-scenes access” to a major league front office. The Club premieres Sunday, July 4 at 8:00pm, ET.
* By the way, has Damon signed yet?