Robin Ventura reiterated Tuesday that he wants to return for a fifth season as White Sox manager.
Ventura, who is signed through next season, has guided the Sox to a disappointing 65-71 record after the Sox made offseason improvements which he believed made them a contender following an 89-loss season in 2014.
“Absolutely,” Ventura said when asked if he wants to manage again. “People that think I don’t care, that’s an unfair assessment. Nobody cares more about how it’s going here than I do.”
Under Ventura, a surprise hire to replace Ozzie Guillen after the 2011 season, the Sox were in first place for 117 days during the 2012 season before getting passed by the Tigers in the final weeks. They finished three games out, and Ventura finished third in the AL Manager of the Year voting. The Sox lost 99 and 89 games in the next two seasons.
General manager Rick Hahn said “we’re evaluating everything” when asked if would be evaluating Ventura’s performance. Hahn and executive vice president Ken Williams have been supportive of Ventura throughout his tenure, including this season.
“Everybody is analyzed,” Ventura said. “I think you expect that and that’s his job to do that. I’m not surprised [by] that.”
Asked to give himself a letter grade for his performance this season, Ventura said, “that’s for Rick to do. I’m not going to sit here and get into a letter. We’re not in first place so it’s not where we wanted to be and you just go on for the rest of the season trying to win your games, see where you end up when that comes to an end and then in the end it’ll be assessed by somebody that works here.”
While he’s well-liked by his players, Ventura’s popularity rating was higher while he was an All-Star and Gold Glove third baseman as a White Sox. He has heard a few boos, and a significant segment of the fan base has voiced a call for change at the helm, if social media and talk-show calls are a barometer.
“Anytime you think it’s bad it can always be worse,” he said of criticism. “That part of it you know is difficult. You still come back here and try to do the best you can.”
Ventura says his easygoing manner should not be equated with indifference — he is as disappointed as the Sox fan base in the team’s record. He expected this to be a playoff team.
“Yeah, we did,” he said. “You do because you have some good pitching. I thought our bullpen was great. Offensively we’ve come up short. That’s just a fair assessment.”
But the Sox rank at or near the bottom in numerous offensive categories, and aside from a couple of brief hot streaks, haven’t hit with consistency.
“Obviously you’re going to have a couple of hiccups along the way,” Hahn said, “but for the most part the pitching and the run prevention has been fairly consistent. After the first few weeks or so of the season, after we were able to get the baserunning and the defense reined in a little bit, that’s been fairly consistent over the last few months.
“But for whatever reason, the offense just hasn’t been there and the larger issues behind that, I think, are probably better assessed and better addressed after the season comes to a close.
“There are areas we need to be better,” Hahn continued. “There are areas where I need to be better. There are areas where we got unlucky and there are enough things in this game that you can control that we’re going to want to see improvement going into next year. It’s a weird mix because we’re in a results-based business. Every day a report card is in the newspaper and anyone can take a look at how we’re doing objectively. At the same time, when you make a decision you try to make as best a decision as you can based upon the information that’s available at that point in time. Otherwise, you’re going to drive yourself nuts second-guessing yourself.
“Although the information is often imperfect when something doesn’t work out the way you anticipated with the results, if you had a good process and you had good information you’re just going to have to accept that sometimes in a sport played by human beings it’s not going to work out that way. What we’re looking at now is the process. Are there flaws in the information, is it how we’re coming to these decisions not working. In a season where you under-perform it’s very fair to have all that on the table and that’s where we’re at now.’’
2012: 85-77, 2nd place
2013: 63-99, fifth place
2014: 73-89, fourth place
2015: 65-71, fourth place