2015 has not gone as planned for the Chicago White Sox, and Robin Ventura is the reason for that.
After one of the most active offseason’s in recent memory, GM Rick Hahn looked like he had set the White Sox up for immense success this season. And although it’s still early, the White Sox slow start has set the rumor mill in full motion.
Their biggest weakness? Hitting the ball.
The bat is certainly not in Robin Ventura’s hands (although I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him give that excuse for why his team isn’t hitting).
Make no mistake about it, you need to hit the ball to win the game and right now the Sox aren’t doing that. However, the lineup’s propensity for striking out is only exacerbating the bigger issue.
Ventura’s squad has tallied 117 hits while striking out 112 times, putting only 50 runs across the plate (24th in the MLB) in the process.
However, the White Sox can rest easy knowing that the money spent this offseason was primarily on veteran bats in likes of Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche, and there’s something to be said for that. The numbers may look overwhelming, but with veterans surrounding younger players in the order – those kinks will work themselves out once the weather gets warmer.
That’s Chicago baseball.
The larger issue that I alluded to is that Robin Ventura has no feel for the game itself.
Does this seem brash to say after 14 games? Maybe. But understand that expectations in 2015 are as high as they’ve been in recent memory. This is what happens when your reality is no longer 72-90.
It’s not like Robin Ventura’s in-game mismanaging is a new issue. The spotlight is just that much brighter in 2015. And even when things largely out of your control, like slow hitting, become an issue, everything comes a little more into focus.
Take his decision to give rookie phenom Carlos Rodon his major league debut in the sixth inning of a one-run game, with inherited runners on the corners and two outs. That’s a massive spot to throw your first major league pitch in. On one hand, you appreciate the confidence in the young lefty, but that is an inordinate amount of trust bestowed upon a kid who isn’t supposed to sniff the rotation until mid-July.
Or, take Ventura’s indecision in the ninth inning against the Tigers earlier this season, where he opted not to challenge a close tag applied by Alexei Ramirez at second base, despite having nothing to lose by it. A simple challenge would have shown the Tigers runner to be out, but instead, the original ruling of ‘safe’ stood, and the next batter scored the game-winning run for the Tigers.
Most will argue that Ventura was at the mercy of his video crew, fine. But you can’t ignore the fact that it’s the ninth inning of a division game with the game-winning run potentially on base. Sometimes you just have to grow a pair and challenge the call simply because you can.
Those types of missteps show up in August, especially when they happen in divisional games.
Despite growing restlessness among many fans, Rick Hahn voiced his support for Ventura earlier this week.
I get it, it’s part of the nature of the gig. There’s an in-game strategy element that everyone–fans, and media–can have an opinion on and perhaps have a better point of view than the manager in the heat of the moment.
There is also a personnel management side of the game that most people aren’t privy to. You guys as media members see some of it, but not all of it. And the strengths in that area are very high and very strong and something we are very pleased with.
While Hahn certainly raises a valid point that fans and media members have the benefit of the panoramic view regarding critical decisions, the narrative becomes muddled when you account for how many times we’ve seen Ventura take a misstep.
And given the strength of the division, and the fact that the White Sox already find themselves five games back of both Detroit and Kansas City, something is going to have to change soon.
The hitting will turn itself around.
Robin Ventura? Not so much.
(Featured Image courtesy of NJ Baseball)