I’m not saying I could do a better job managing the Chicago White Sox than Robin Ventura.
But there has to be someone who can.
At this point – approaching the final month of his fourth season in Chicago – criticism of Ventura is far from new. Regarding this season’s face plant specifically, it wasn’t even May before we pointed out that managing was the biggest issue in the White Sox dugout.
We’ve also pointed out that the organization’s inability to draft hitters has bit them in the ass more than anything (see: Schwarber, Kyle). Thus, Robin Ventura hasn’t exactly been dealt the best hand by his superiors – especially in the offense department.
I mean, there’s only so much one can do when the 35-year-old Adam LaRoche has to be an important part of your batting order every day. Same goes for Tyler Flowers, Carlos Sanchez, and Gordon Beckham.
But there also isn’t a single shred of evidence that Robin Ventura is maximizing the White Sox roster. And, more than anything, that’s what a manager (or coach in any other sport) is paid to do.
While the signing of LaRoche immediately screamed “disappointment” (past his prime and an NL player his whole career), nobody would have predicted he would be this bad. Unless he hits 10 home runs in September, this will easily be the worst season in LaRoche’s otherwise productive career.
And that’s a theme across the whole batting order.
Melky Cabrera, another free agent signing, is having a below average year by his standards. Adam Eaton has slightly regressed/plateaued instead of making a second-year jump. Jose Abreu is far from a problem, but even he’s notably off his incredible rookie pace. Conor Gillaspie isn’t on a big league roster after his promising 2014 campaign. Flowers certainly wasn’t a great hitter last year, but he’s definitely worse this year.
Again, none of this is really new. Other than his first season in 2012, the White Sox have easily been one of the American League’s worst offenses during Ventura’s tenure.
2015 — 14th in runs scored
2014 — 8th
2013 — 15th
2012 — 4th
Behind Abreu, they were able to finish a respectable 8th last season – but it’s obvious that Robin Ventura doesn’t have a gift for boosting offensive output.
He all but pleaded guilty to that notion Wednesday with his comments about rookie Trayce Thompson’s big game the previous night.
Fast forward to today… Trace Thompson not in the lineup for the #WhiteSox. Robin Ventura at it again, stay hot buddy
— Bryan Berryman (@13erryman) August 26, 2015
Hey, Robin, ‘we’ means you brother. Thompson has been a rare bright spot since getting called up earlier this month, providing an offensive spark for a team that’s needed one since before the season began.
And yet, Thompson has gotten back-to-back starts just once. (The White Sox won both games.) Ventura’s empty, laughable comments are a quintessential representation of how things are going on the south side right now.
The closest thing we’ve seen to a young impact bat from the White Sox organization – a precious commodity these days – makes it to Chicago, succeeds immediately, and the manager can’t find a spot for him every day?
Of course, Thompson won’t keep hitting .522 forever, but that’s beside the point.
The White Sox franchise has become so predictable, so goddamn boring, that you wonder what the breaking point is. Firing Ventura would be a start, but I can’t say I’d be surprised if that didn’t happen.
Honestly, it’s almost amazing he’s made it to this point. In the three seasons since 2012 (when Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski were still around), Ventura’s winning percentage as a manager is .434 – or slightly worse than the .436 Rick Renteria put up in his only season as Cubs manager.
And the Cubs were trying to lose.
With a front office/ownership dynamic who can’t seem to accept what rebuilding means or when they’ve hired a shitty manager, it makes you wonder: What are the White Sox trying to do?