White Sox And Ventura: Keep Him Or Dump Him?
There is no denying that the Chicago White Sox are off to a slow start. They are the worst team in the American League and in last place in the AL Central, a division in which many felt they would compete for the title. By no strange coincidence, Robin Ventura is on the hot seat, as rumblings of him being fired have been started.
Yes,Robin Ventura should be on the hot seat. Tactical errors,unending sloppiness. Wrote this last week. Still stands: http://t.co/g5LkN9RyOi
— Matt Spiegel (@MattSpiegel670) May 1, 2015
The fans aren’t much happier, and rightfully so.
Ventura has not had a successful tenure as the White Sox skipper. The worst thing for Ventura was when he overachieved in his rookie season and took a decent-at-best White Sox club to second place in 2012 behind an 85-77 record. He set the bar high for himself, and hasn’t lived up to that debut year. A fifth and a fourth place finish followed, and now he sits at 8-14 in the cellar of the AL Central.
Were it a normal year, people would possibly be a bit less harsh on Ventura. General Manager Rick Hahn went out and rebuilt the White Sox and looked to put together what is a contender together on paper. They brought in Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche to give some protection to Jose Abreu in his sophomore season. They added Jeff Samardzija to the rotation to give Chris Sale his first viable number two of his career. And they bolstered the bullpen by adding David Robertson, ending the days of unreliability at closer they had become known for last year.
But they still aren’t winning. A big part of the reason is that the White Sox are not only not hitting, but they aren’t getting on base. They have had 736 team at bats this season, in which they have produced 178 hits. They have struck out 170 times in that same span while walking a league least 48 times. Clearly they aren’t moving people over that do reach base. They have scored an MLB worst 70 runs, while allowing 108 to score for a MLB worst 38 run differential.
Those numbers are not tantalizing to look at, but can be looked at with a positive. The White Sox aren’t losing simply because Ventura isn’t doing enough. The entire White Sox team is slumping at the same time, well, aside from Avisail Garcia. The White Sox are not a young lineup like last year, they are armed with veteran bats that will right the ship. Ventura can help with adjustments, but the White Sox simply have to remain patient. The offense will come around. Maybe it is time to make Harold Baines the permanent hitting coach. Maybe that will light a spark. Firing Ventura will not.
The skeptics will say that Ventura doesn’t know the game. He seemingly doesn’t believe in small ball, as sacrifice bunts and moving runners over don’t appear to be in his game plan. Maybe that is simply because he hasn’t adjusted to his new team yet. Maybe he just needs time.
Let’s make the argument that Ventura doesn’t know how to manage based on the above statement. Last year he had a very young team, lacking in Major League talent and instead of focusing on strategy he focused on getting his future players at bats, letting them take their licks and seeing what they can do. That strategy, thus far, has carried over into this season. Will Ventura change? If he wants to keep his job, which after one calendar month he should, he will find a way to do so.
Ventura can’t make his players hit, no more than he can make the pitchers pitch. The White Sox are 26th in baseball with a 4.56 ERA and 25th in WHIP at 1.40. Their defense has struggled a bit behind them (17 errors is 14th in baseball), but they have all been hittable. The pitchers aren’t helping themselves any.
When it comes to pitching, several have questioned Ventura’s use of Carlos Rodon. He used the 22-year old future ace in relief, coming into a one run ball game in his debut peformance with runners on the corners. The runs scored. So what?
Ventura wanted to see what Rodon is made of, and at that moment, the rookie failed. Rodon hasn’t allowed a run in his two appearances since and now there is talk of him moving into the three spot in the rotation. This is the move Ventura needs to make. No matter how bad some of their outings have been, Sale-Samardzija-Rodon is a quality top end of the rotation. It could turn their season around.
Ventura isn’t the most aggressive manager. He doesn’t really have his own tendencies or uniqueness to him, like a Joe Maddon for example, but that doesn’t mean he should go just yet. This is a new team, and Ventura needs more time to see how they fit. Does he have the best lineup together? Does he have the best rotation out there to give the White Sox the best possible chance of winning? It doesn’t seem like it just yet, but Ventura should be allowed to figure it out himself.
It’s too early to fire Ventura. If June rolls around and the White Sox are in dead last — and the lineup hasn’t changed, if Micah Johnson and Alexii Ramirez are still underperforming while Carlos Sanchez is dominating in Charlotte, and if Carlos Rodon isn’t in the rotation — then Ventura should be let go.
Today marks the end of the first month of the season. That leaves five months that Ventura can have winning months and right the ship. The season is far from being over, and that should be the same for Ventura’s tenure as White Sox skipper.