Friday, January 24, 2014

White Sox manager Robin Ventura gets contract extension

Robin Ventura won't be a lame duck after all going into the 2014 season. The White Sox manager agreed to terms Friday on a multiyear contract extension. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is the kind of move the curmudgeons in the Sox fan base will not like. They'll point out Ventura is coming off a 63-99 season. They'll claim the Sox are making this move to in order to keep a "fan favorite" in the dugout while the team rebuilds.

I don't buy that line of thinking. I think the Sox extended Ventura because they believe he's the right man to guide an increasingly young roster over the next couple years.

As a player, Ventura excelled at the fundamentals and conducted himself like a professional should. He sets an example that you want people to follow. The key question is this: Do you believe Ventura can teach young guys how to be major league ballplayers? If the answer is yes, then this extension is a good move. Internally, the Sox have obviously answered that question in the affirmative.

"I have great confidence that Robin's leadership and direction will help us reach our goals," said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. "There was never really any question in our minds as to who we wanted in the White Sox dugout now and into the future."

So there you have it.

The other thing this decision does is end speculation about Ventura's commitment to the job. Ventura declined a contract extension after a respectable 85-77 campaign in 2012, causing some to believe he didn't enjoy managing and wasn't in it for the long haul. Personally, I've questioned Ventura's moves at times, but I've never seen any rational reason to question his commitment to the job. With this contract extension, now everyone knows he wants to be the White Sox manager.

I know some people would like to see a more experienced leader managing the team, but let's be honest. The Sox aren't expected to win a thing in 2014. If Ventura's relative inexperience rears its head again from time to time this season, so what? The focus here needs to be more on player development than in-game moves. If Ventura and his staff can get the young players on the roster to improve as the season goes along, then it's mission accomplished, regardless of what the final won-loss record says.

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