Easy there, tiger. You, too, tigress.
The White Sox have been atrocious so far this season, and many of you fans want your 190 pounds of flesh, or whatever it is that Robin Ventura weighs. And you are not without cause. Some of what ails this team falls directly on the manager. Poor defense and bad baserunning, no matter how much it has to do with player brain lock, begins and ends with the skipper. Fundamentals are the manager’s purview.
The Sox have been godawful in the field during Ventura’s three-plus seasons running the team.
It’s why so many of you are lighting torches and sharpening pitchforks in hopes of inducing a firing. But if I might (without feeling the business ends of those torches and pitchforks), allow me to recommend patience. Now, patience is not something we humans do well these days, and on the South Side, patience with the Sox is about as pervasive as Kris Bryant jerseys. The Sox are 8-14, in last place in the A.L. Central and seven games behind division leader Detroit. The Tigers come to town Tuesday for a three-game series. All of this is why many of you want Ventura to hit the highway.
Give it the rest of the month. Twenty-two games are not enough to know about a team.
Let’s see if Ventura and the Sox can lift themselves out of this hole. The Tigers series is only a start. The rest of May should let everyone know whether this team is what lots of people thought it was before the season started — a talented group with excellent pitching and enough firepower in the lineup to be a playoff contender – or a collection of scam artists.
Ventura is an easy target. He’s a mellow fellow whose burner always seems to be on low. But that doesn’t make him a bad manager, any more than Ozzie Guillen’s amp-that-goes-to-11 made him a good manager.
The Sox have scored just 70 runs, the lowest in baseball. A manager can cajole, massage, beg and demand, but hitting is always up to the hitter. When the ball is coming at him with movement at 95 m.p.h., a struggling hitter is not wondering what the manager can do for him. He’s wondering why he didn’t go into sales.
Team meetings are the most overrated thing in baseball, but maybe Ventura should call one. If it makes him feel better, he can refer to it as an informational session. All the ranting in the world isn’t going to make the Sox hit better, but a few choice words about fielding and baserunning, two aspects of the game a team controls, might come in handy. So would more practice. If there’s no accountability, then there’s no reason for players to change their behavior.
If you’re getting the distinct feeling that I believe managing is overrated, you might be on to something.
Sometimes a change is necessary for change sake. I don’t think the Sox are there yet. And, yes, I do know six-time division winner Ron Gardenhire is out there waiting for his next job.
Give it the better part of a month to decide whether the current manager should stay – at least in the court of public opinion. How chief justice Jerry Reinsdorf sees it almost surely means we’re wasting our collective breath.
The chairman’s history suggests he would rather gnaw off his arm than fire a friend – and Ventura is a favorite. Do a decent job for him, and you’ll have a job for a long time, whether it be as an executive, a coach or a broadcaster. It helps explain how the Sox have won just one division title since their 2005 World Series season.
How strong is that bond? I believe that Ventura would resign before Reinsdorf could bring himself to agree to fire him. If the Sox play this poorly for the rest of the month, Ventura might be the one walking into Reinsdorf’s office, with a letter of resignation in his hand and tears in his eyes.
So to sum up: I don’t think the manager should be fired with 85 percent of the season left, many Sox fans certainly do and none of it matters because the chairman won’t can him anyway. Welcome to White Sox world, where nothing comes easy, whether it be victories or firings.
But give it the rest of the month and see what happens. And, if the season continues to go south, don’t be surprised if Ventura falls on his sword.