Part Four of Anthony Rescan’s series as he proposes ways to turnaround the Chicago White Sox. You can find part one here part two here and part three.
The White Sox are not just fraught with player personnel issues. There are organizational issues that need to be addressed as well if the rebuild is going to be successful. The final part of this series will address those issues.
Robin Ventura leaves much to be desired as a manager. Ventura, a very docile type, has raised eyebrows at many of the decisions he has made in-game and the strategies he has set for the season. Everything from questionable bunt calls to quickly abandoning the aggressive baserunning that Vince Coleman was brought in to teach. Ventura has not swung and missed at every turn, but he tends to repeat his questionable decisions and fails to learn from them. That’s what has made him such a bad manager and why he needs to be replaced at season’s end.
For an organization to be most effective, it has to strip itself of dissent. The White Sox must find someone who is willing to play the roster as it has been built. In order to make this happen, they must find a manager who buys into the new age mantra in how to manage a team. This means that the manager must be open to change and adapt to new ideas. Things like batting your best hitter 2nd, which Ventura is actually trying now; leveraging your bullpen, and using shifts are all components that must be present for any new manager to be successful within the organization. With those things being considered, the White Sox will have to look outside the box for their manager. It is likely that old guard managers won’t buy into these mantras. Even then, top-level hires, like Bud Black, would likely not be interested in rebuilding this team, so it may have been forced anyways.
The White Sox have been notorious for having a very quick track to the majors for many of their players. This trend has generally only applied to collegiate players, but it is still very troubling. Gordon Beckham, for example, only played 59 games in the minor leagues before being called up for good. After a promising first year, Beckham never quite adjusted to the bigs and has been a bad hitter with some defensive abilities. Also, Carlos Rodon was also put on this quick track and the issues that he had to work on – command, control, and his changeup – have crept up again. Currently, Rodon is walking an astounding 12.8% of the batters he faces and Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards went into depth about how his command issues are being exploited by Major League hitters. In regard to his changeup, Rodon has thrown it only 80 times since being called up; however, he has ramped up his usage of the pitch recently. All in all, the White Sox clearly need to adjust their practices with regard to developing players if they are to succeed at rebuilding their franchise.
Commitment to Analytics
In today’s day in age, there is no excuse for a lack of a significant analytics commitment. Though the White Sox do have a baseball information department, it has been speculated that they do not fully use analytics in baseball decision-making. It is worth noting that a successful baseball club is not built by analytics alone, but of a mixture of analytics and scouting. That said, failing to use analytics – let’s be honest, everyone has scouts – is just giving up a free supplement to the information you already have gathered. This supplement will make decisions clearer and better thought out. It also provides a back and forth between analysts and scouts where questions that arise on either end can be answered by the other. Overall, analytics provide baseball operations departments with a better ability to make decisions. The White Sox need to buy into it, otherwise they will continue to be left behind by those who already do.
Thank you to Brooks Baseball for providing fantastic visual aids to these articles, as well as the authors cited in the works for their effort on covering important topics.