Showing posts with label Ken Williams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ken Williams. Show all posts

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Let's speculate some more about Robin Ventura's future

Robin Ventura
Before we go any further, let's put away our visceral fan anger about yesterday's rumor that Robin Ventura will return as White Sox manager next year if he wants.

As most of you know, I'm a journalist by trade, so I'm taking off my fan hat and putting on my journalist hat here. My journalist brain has three questions in response to this news: Who leaked this rumor? Why did they leak this rumor? And why did they leak it now?

Of course, I'm not a beat writer. I don't have the opportunity or the means to investigate, but as a blogger, I'm free to speculate, so speculate I will.

My first thought was this leak is perhaps yet another sign of a rift in the Sox front office about the future direction of the team. Around the trade deadline, we heard talk that general manager Rick Hahn was looking to make significant changes, but that he was not allowed to do so by either owner Jerry Reinsdorf and/or senior vice president Ken Williams.

If the front office wasn't in lockstep on trade deadline moves, could it be possible they are not in lockstep on Ventura's future? For the sake of argument, let's say Reinsdorf and Williams want Ventura to stay (pure speculation, again, no basis in fact here), while Hahn does not. Under that scenario, maybe Hahn goes to the press and leaks that Ventura is likely to stay, in hopes of provoking a visceral anti-Ventura sentiment among the fan base.

As expected, the fan anger and backlash over the past 24 hours has been quite overwhelming, and that can be used as a powerful argument for a front office person who wants Ventura gone. You can say, "Hey, this is proof we need a change here. Everyone is fed up with the status quo. We're not selling any tickets for 2017 if Ventura stays. He's had his chances. It's time to move on."

Maybe I'm reaching, but it's a theory.

Here's another theory: The Sox are trying to create a soft landing for Ventura. They floated the "he can come back if he wants" thing, already knowing he isn't going to come back. Perhaps they want it to look like he's leaving on his own, as opposed to them kicking him to the curb, when in reality the decision has already been made.

That probably sounds a little stupid, and it's definitely passive-aggressive, but that fits the way this White Sox regime does business.

For his part, Ventura refused to answer questions on the topic Wednesday. He wouldn't say that he wants to return, which is different from what we've heard from him in the past. Hahn didn't take questions at all, which makes this even more weird.

It's really hard to figure out why someone in Sox brass would leak this to USA Today and create such a media storm with just five days left in the season. Couldn't it wait until Monday?

As far as USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale's part in this, I was shocked to see him criticize Sox fans so harshly in his column. I don't know if he's acting as a mouthpiece for Sox management, or if he's just out-of-town stupid (keep in mind, he covers all 30 teams, not just the Sox), but I emailed him today to remind him that Ventura has a .426 winning percentage against AL Central opponents over his five years at the helm.

We've chronicled Ventura's weaknesses over and over and over again on this blog. No, it is not all his fault, but some of it is, and he should be held accountable for those failures.

Ask yourself, can you see the Sox winning the World Series with Robin Ventura as their manager? Ever? My answer is a resounding no, and I challenge anybody who would answer yes to find a credible argument to support that position.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ozzie Guillen to manage again -- in Venezuela

Ozzie Guillen
Every now and then, you hear somebody ask either White Sox manager Robin Ventura or GM Rick Hahn if they think Ozzie Guillen will manage in the major leagues again.

Their answers are usually some combination of "yes" and "I hope so."

I'm a little more skeptical. Guillen, who managed the Sox to their only World Series title in the last 99 years in 2005, left the organization on bad terms after the 2011 season. He feuded publicly with then-GM Ken Williams, apparently failing to realize the GM wins the overwhelming majority of the time in GM-manager power struggles.

Then, Guillen managed the Miami Marlins in 2012, where he praised Fidel Castro, went 69-93 and got fired after one season.

Even though Guillen has proven himself as a manager, I would be surprised if another major league team gives him a shot. With the way the media culture is today, front offices like to control the message they put out to the public, and it's just impossible to muzzle Ozzie Guillen. He's the type of man who is not afraid to let you know what he thinks, and he'll give you an honest answer to any question -- even if it's not what the questioner or the public wants to hear.

I don't necessarily think that's a bad trait to have, but teams just don't want someone with that type of personality to be the face of their franchise anymore.

It's different in Venezuela, where Guillen is a national hero, and he's getting another shot to manage in his native land. Guillen was hired Wednesday to manage the La Guaira Sharks of the Venezuelan Winter League next offseason.

The La Guaira team president and vice president said in a statement that hiring Guillen, "has been an aspiration of ours since we acquired the team in 2004."

I'm sure a lot of people will be happy to see Guillen back working in the game, even if it is just the Venezuelan league. But will it lead to something more down the line? You never know, but I doubt it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

White Sox should send Carlos Rodon to Triple-A to start the season

The White Sox announced on Wednesday that ace left-hander Chris Sale (broken foot) will not be ready to pitch on Opening Day. This will only fuel speculation that top prospect Carlos Rodon has a chance to make the team's 25-man roster coming out of spring training.

The Sox should resist that urge. They should instead send Rodon to Triple-A Charlotte to begin the season.

And I'm not just saying that because Rodon allowed three runs on five hits in 2.1 innings in Wednesday's 4-4 tie with the Texas Rangers. Even if the left-hander had struck out all 12 batters he faced Wednesday, it wouldn't change my opinion.

There are a couple good reasons not to rush Rodon. First and foremost, there's the business side of the game. Michael Bauman at Grantland (no relation) did a great job of explaining the service time factor in this article about Cubs prospect Kris Bryant. The same principle with Bryant applies to the situation with the White Sox and Rodon:

"There are about 183 calendar days in a major league season; anyone who spends 172 or more of those days on the active roster or major league disabled list is credited with a full year of service time, while players who spend less than that are credited with the fraction of the season they spent in the big leagues," Bauman wrote. "Service time progresses players toward three primary milestones: arbitration eligibility (which takes a little less than three years, depending on moving goalposts that aren’t worth explaining here), free agency (six years), and a pension (10 years)."

In simplest terms, this means Rodon needs to spend a few weeks in Charlotte this year. If he starts the season with the Sox and stays in the majors the whole year, he'll hit free agency after the 2020 season. But if the Sox keep him in Charlotte for just a little while longer, they'll have him under team control for one extra year -- the 2021 season.

A no-brainer, right? Seems like it to me.

Then, there's the baseball side of things. Rodon has great promise, but he is not a finished product. Most guys need three major league quality pitches to be in a team's starting rotation. Rodon slider is great; there's no doubting that. He's got a good fastball, although his command could use a little polish. The changeup, while improving, is not there yet. Why not let him continue to work on that third pitch in the minors? It's the right thing to do, regardless of Sale's status.

Senior Vice President Ken Williams made it sound like Sale is on track to make his season debut April 12 -- the fifth game of the season. If Sale stays on that timetable, the Sox won't need to take an extra starter with them when they break camp. Sale would simply pitch fifth in the rotation instead of first.

And even if Sale falls a little behind that schedule, and the Sox need to reach into their depth for a starting pitcher, I don't see the harm in giving a veteran like Scott Carroll or Brad Penny one or two starts in April.

I know watching Carroll or Penny pitch doesn't excite anyone, but if it's the right thing for Rodon's development and his future with the organization -- and it is -- then that's what you do.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Do you suppose the Cubs wish they still had Chris Archer? Or Josh Donaldson?

As a matter of philsophy, I usually agree with the idea of trading prospects for proven veterans. After all, you generally know what you're going to get from a veteran player, and as a percentage, the overwhelming majority of prospects are busts.

If you take a look at what the White Sox have done over the last 10 or 15 years, most of former GM Ken Williams' trades have involved dealing future prospects to acquire help for the here and now. When I look at all the young players Williams traded, the only one I wish the Sox still had is Gio Gonzalez.

Strangely enough, the Sox traded him twice. In 2005, they sent him and Aaron Rowand to Philadelphia for Jim Thome (good trade). They reacquired him, along with Gavin Floyd, for Freddy Garcia in 2006 (also a decent trade). Then, they sent him to Oakland in 2008 with Ryan Sweeney and Fautino De Los Santos for Nick Swisher (terrible trade).

The rest of the players Williams traded, I can't say I miss.

Here are two guys the former GM of the Cubs (Jim Hendry) traded that I'll bet the current GM (Jed Hoyer) wishes he still had: Tampa Bay pitcher Chris Archer and Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Archer, a 24-year-old right-hander, is having a breakout season for the Rays. He's 8-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 17 starts. He's allowed two earned runs or less in 12 of those outings. Pretty impressive for a kid who just joined the rotation on June 1 and is pitching in the rugged AL East. 

The Cubs acquired Archer from Cleveland in the Mark DeRosa deal in 2008, but in 2011, they flipped him to Tampa Bay in an eight-player deal that brought Matt Garza to the North Side of Chicago. Over 2 1/2 seasons, Garza went 21-18 in 60 starts for the Cubs. He, of course, is no longer on the team, having been traded to the Texas Rangers earlier this summer.

Meanwhile, the Rays have a potential ace on their roster. The Cubs are still looking for that guy. Some people in Chicago seem to believe Jeff Samardzija is an ace. I disagree. A 28-year-old with a 4.13 ERA who is blowing 5-0 leads against the woeful Philadelphia Phillies is not an ace. He's a mid-rotation starter on a contender. The Cubs should consider trading him this offseason. He's not going to get any better than he is right now.

Donaldson, a 27-year-old third baseman, is a bit of a forgotten man. Most people haven't noticed his .296 average, 19 home runs and 77 RBIs this season because he plays for Oakland. Most people have probably also forgotten the Cubs selected him 48th overall in the 2007 draft.

In July of 2008, Donaldson, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson were traded to Oakland for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. At the time, Donaldson was the least talked about player of the four the Cubs gave up. Right now, he looks like the best player in that deal. He plays third base, too, and it seems like about half the teams in baseball are looking for someone to fill that position. It took five years, but that acquisition is paying dividends for the A's, who certainly do not miss Harden or Gaudin.

With both Chicago teams out of the pennant race this year, both clubs have traded some veterans for future considerations this summer. A couple years down the line, maybe they'll strike gold in some of these deals. Only time will tell. Most of the time, the team acquiring the veteran wins the trade. But every now and then, you seen a trade like the Archer deal or the Donaldson deal where the team acquiring the prospects prevails.