Showing posts with label USA Today. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA Today. 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.

Monday, February 15, 2016

USA Today projects White Sox as 90-win team

Spring training starts this week, so it's the time of year where various publications start to make preseason predictions.

I'm used to seeing the White Sox picked to finish in fourth or fifth place, so it gets your attention when somebody chooses the South Siders to place first in the AL Central.

USA Today Sports released its projected win totals Monday, and look who it has sitting atop the deepest division in baseball:

1. White Sox 90-72
2. Kansas City 84-78
3. Cleveland 83-79
4. Detroit 82-80
5. Minnesota 80-82

The publication has the White Sox, Boston and Houston as AL division champions with Toronto and Texas as the two wild-card teams. The projected NL division winners are the Cubs, San Francisco and Washington, with St. Louis as a wild card and Los Angeles and Pittsburgh tied for the second wild-card spot.

The USA Today writer referred to the AL Central as "hell" for both prognosticators and the five teams involved. All five teams are described as having a chance to win the division, and, well, any of these teams could also finish last. It's a balanced, tough division.

That's much different than the narrative we get here in Chicago, where Sox fans are told their team has no chance, and that we should go stand in the corner because we stink.

I personally believe Kansas City is a clear favorite in the division, but I think the other four teams are extremely close. It is going to be an exciting year in the AL Central, because there are no bad teams.

And, really, most everyone in the American League enters the season with some hope. The USA Today projections have Oakland with an AL-worst 66 wins, but every other team in the league is projected to win at least 77. There aren't going to be many easy series in the American League this year.

Contrast that with the National League, where 40 percent of the league (Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Colorado and San Diego) has quit on the season before it has even started.

USA Today projects Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Colorado to lose 100 games or more. Milwaukee is projected to lose 98 games, Atlanta 95 losses and San Diego 89 losses.

Remember last year, when the top three records in baseball were all in the NL Central? St. Louis won 100, Pittsburgh 98 and the Cubs 97, and people thought it was this awesome division. Well, sort of. Those are impressive win totals, but it's easier to rack up 95-plus wins when so many teams in the same league are basically conceding and playing for draft picks. Six of the seven 90-loss teams in 2015 resided in the National League. It might be much the same this year.

The USA Today projections have the Cubs with 101 wins and the Cardinals with 97. I don't doubt that we'll see some gaudy win totals in the NL again, but keep in mind, the AL looks like the deeper league. So, 90 to 95 wins in the AL this year might be more impressive than 95 to 100 wins in the NL.