After the White Sox lost 6-3 to the Twins, ending the 2016 season, Robin Ventura addressed the media for the last time as the manager of the club.
“It’s the right time,” Ventura said. “It’s more of a personal decision than anything. I love being here. The organization means a lot to me. You can go as hard as you can and really the only thing you know is how you conduct yourself, how you conduct your business and how you treat people. I’m good with that.”
Ventura’s managerial career was, unfortunately, short on wins. With a career record of 375-435, Ventura and the Sox turned in four consecutive losing seasons. With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu as a core for most, if not all of that time, talent has been present but wins were wanting.
“It’s not like they’re going to be putting a statue [of me] out on the concourse,” Ventura admitted. “You wish you would have just won more but, absolutely, [I’d] do it again.
At 23-10, the 2016 White Sox started as hot as any team in baseball. Since that start, the club played to a 55-74 record and in fourth place in the AL Central.
“I think what’s hardest is we started off so well,” Ventura said. “So you had the optimism that you were going to keep that rolling and then it didn’t continue. That’s the hardest stuff.”
Multiple reports have said that bench coach Rick Renteria will step in as manager but Ventura wouldn’t comment on that. Renteria went 73-89 in his only season as the manager of the Cubs in 2014. He was fired when Joe Maddon left the manager’s job of the Tampa Bay Rays.
White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn will address the media Monday morning. Be sure to check back with WLS AM 890 for the latest news.
According to Bob Nightingale of USA Today, the White Sox are prepared to bring Robin Ventura back to manage the team for the 2017 season. The job is Ventura’s, so the report says, if he wants it.
Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Rays, Ventura himself downplayed any such report. “I appreciate all the concern,” he joked, “I’m waiting until the end of the year. [White Sox General Manager] Rick [Hahn] and I always have discussions but I’m waiting until the end of the year.”
Ventura tabled all discussion of whether the front office has made up its mind on his return or whether he believes he’ll be back saying he’s waiting until the end of the year to have that talk. For now, he’s choosing to focus on the day to day. “I’ve enjoyed the job,” Ventura said. “I’m figuring out how to get to the end of the year right now. That’s the biggest concern. Even talking to Chris [Sale] in there and seeing if Sunday is going to happen or not and we’ll go from there.”
For what it’s worth, Ventura wasn’t sure yet whether Sale would pitch the final game of the year. Sale could set a career high in wins with 18 should he make the start.
The White Sox have disappointed since their 23-10 start to the season and are have to win out the remainder of the year to not finish under .500 for a fourth consecutive year. Even then, they’ll be right at 81-81.
“You’re disappointed if you’re not going to the playoffs,” Ventura said. “That part has never changed. Especially with the way we started off. We were excited. We thought we were going in that direction and we didn’t.”
Whether a decision on Ventura has been made or not, there are other, perhaps bigger fish to fry this offseason. Hahn has stated “everything is on the table” as well as that once the White Sox make their first move, their winter plan will be clear. It would stand to reason then that Ventura, who has largely managed his five seasons with the Sox under a “win-now” dictate from the front office, would want to manage a rebuild.
Ventura kept that issue out of today’s conversation. “I don’t get to choose that necessarily,” Ventura said. “I don’t really get into that.”
With five games left in the regular season, the time is fast approaching for the team to make their desires clear and set a course through the winter into spring of 2017.
Connor McKnight talks with White Sox hitter, Justin Morneau about his booming performance since being called up last month. Also, Jacob Turner talks about how the differences in games with and without a pitch clock as well as setting limits for the number of hitters a relief pitcher must face in each game. Plus Robin Ventura’s pre-game meeting with the media.
As the White Sox approach the All Star break, Connor McKnight gets mid-season thoughts from Manager, Robin Ventura. Chris Sale talks about the honor of his 5th consecutive All Star Game appearance and Todd Frazier gives his performance prediction for the Home Run Derby. Charlotte Knights, Carlos Vinas takes the Sox AAA affiliate into the break, first in their division.
I worked very hard to avoid the use of a pun in the headline. While Chris Sale’s last name lends itself to all kinds of pun-tastic flash, he’s above that. I’m not. But while the numbers and dominance for Sale so far in 2016 are easy feats to recall, I’ve found the timing of Sale’s starts lately to be fortuitous at the least.
On May 1st, with the Sox having lost the first two games in Baltimore and just barely scraping out a win in the third game, Sale took the mound and threw perhaps his ‘worst’ game of the year. He went just 5.1 innings, the shortest start in his first nine and battled his command. He walked four, again, the most this year. The offense picked him up and plated five runs in the fifth off Ubaldo Jimenez. Robin Ventura saw his opportunity to lift his Ace and leave things to a red-hot bullpen.
Since then, Sale’s been doing all the work on his own and helping his guys along the way.
On May 13th in New York, the White Sox had just left Texas. They’d lost two of three. The bullpen had been battered by the Rangers offense, a 12-inning ballgame and a rain delay that lasted over an hour. The Sox had been hit. They’d been worked and they’d been tired out.
With an off-day scheduled for May 12th, the club finally had a chance to sleep. On May 13th, the bullpen just watched. Sale turned in second complete game of the year and yielded just one run, a homer to Chase Headley, en route to his third-best game of the year (a 77 via Bill James’ Game Score metric on BaseballReference.com).
Yes, the Sox lost the next two in New York. They were close games (2-1, 7-5) and were never out of things. Ventura was able to keep the bullpen healthy. Imagine if Sale hadn’t gone nine.
May 19th, found the White Sox in a rut. Losers of their last four games and in danger of suffering their first sweep of the season, Chris Sale took the hill against the Astros. Houston, at that point, was a team slowly finding their footing after an offseason of expectation was melted away by the 15-24 record they carried into US Cellular Field.
Sale played stopper that night. Nine innings, nine strikeouts, one run. His ninth win. When the night was over, the Sox had still lost six of their last eight; both wins with Sale’s name attached.
Tonight, with the Cleveland Indians just 2.5 games behind the Sox in the Central, Sale has a chance to be a spring board for the first time since mid-April. Sure, a win get’s Sale to an MLB-leading 10th. I’ll bet you he doesn’t care whether that win gets added to his name. In fact, I know he doesn’t. All he wants, at the end of the night, is for that lead to be 3.5. To give Jose Quintana and his guys a chance to take three of four on Wednesday.
If that means he gets #10, so be it. If that means the W gets plastered on another pitcher’s record, fine.
The role of Ace takes on many shapes throughout the season. Sale has very nearly played all of them already. He’s been the best pitcher in the American League (and it isn’t all that close) and with the exception of this Clayton Kershaw gentleman with the Dodgers, no one has had a better start.
Sale has had good starts to a season before. He’s had good middles. He’s had good ends. That end, however, has never taken place later than October 3rd. That was 2010–Sale’s rookie year. He logged a two-inning save that night. His fourth and final of the year. The Sox finished 88-74, six games behind the Twins in the AL Central.
For Sale, this year won’t be a true success unless his team is playing much later than October 3rd.