Rick Hahn doesn't like talking about managerial contracts, even when extending one
When it comes to skepticism about the White Sox’ commitment to the rebuild, Rick Hahn likes to point out all the ways the club has defied doubters over the last two years.
- Starting the rebuild in the first place, and getting to 100-loss bad.
- Trading somebody as valuable as Jose Quintana to the Cubs
- Busting their bonus pool to sign Luis Robert
All of which is true, and helps add at least a little substance to the idea that the White Sox could indeed be major players in free agency.
Now, if only the White Sox could stop being such GD weirdos when it comes to their managers. Instead, they’re somehow getting weirder.
Remember a couple of weeks ago, when I wondered whether the White Sox would be able to resist extending Rick Renteria? That post was a waste of everybody’s time. The answer had already been “no,” and for some time. Hahn told reporters at the GM meetings the Sox extended Renteria, but he wouldn’t say when or for how long. He also tried to cast doubt over the reports of a three-year deal for the original contract for good measure, although he didn’t actually refute it.
“He’s extended into the future,” Hahn said. “I don’t think the Chicago White Sox ever said we signed Ricky Renteria to a three-year deal. We extended him a while back. Personally, I know it’s been a story in the local market recently, but from my standpoint, the length of contracts for pro sports executives or managers or anything, is it really that relevant? Eventually you are retained because we feel you’re the right guy or ownership feels the front office are the right people to win, or they make a change.”
Perhaps we could trust Hahn some if there were any evidence that the White Sox operated in this manner, but the last two times it came to a managerial change, they came well after things took a turn, and with great disorder. Maybe Ozzie Guillen’s acrimonious exit could be written off because the World Series ring generated a generational attachment, but Jerry Reinsdorf effectively made Robin Ventura fire himself, and years after the sell-by date. The White Sox’ inability or unwillingness to make normal, clean breaks with non-uniformed personnel has defined the franchise over the last decade far more than on-field accomplishments.
When Hahn says the managerial and executive contracts don’t matter, he only adds to the vague yet pervasive lack of accountability. When he says it on the same day the Blackhawks fired the most successful coach in their history and the Cubs remain inscrutable about Joe Maddon’s future, he’s only adding to the divide between the White Sox and the city’s actually successful teams. Maybe this is a Reinsdorf thing and Hahn is powerless in this regard, but as long as he’s going to pretend the Sox have a standard chain of command, we ought to take him at his word.
The solace is that Renteria hasn’t yet approached his expiration date as a manager, even if the Sox should leave themselves open to upgrades. The White Sox took a step backward as a team, he still bunts too much, and “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit” transformed from a rally cry to a whipping command as his benchings turned capricious and pedantic. That said, his communication skills still seem sound, he prioritizes putting young players in a position to succeed, and I suspect some of his warts — the punishments, the overactive bullpen usage — might not be inherent. At least part of his flailing struck me as an inevitable byproduct of an imbalance between a manager tasked with winning today and a front office not nearly as concerned about the immediate roster.
For his part, Hahn said Eloy Jimenez will likely be spending “the bulk of the season, if not all of the season” in Chicago, which sets my internal expectations for “worrying about the extra year, but not Super Two.” Whenever the Sox stop manipulating Jimenez’s service time, Renteria’s job will be less about getting blood from a stone.
The same can be said about the Sox improving the roster at positions Jimenez won’t occupy. As the GM meetings continue, the Sox continue to be tied to free agents, including more who aren’t Manny Machado.
Sources: #WhiteSox active in starting pitching market, with interest in Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ, among others. The reason: Reynaldo Lopez is the only current White Sox pitcher who threw 50+ IP this year with a sub-4.00 ERA. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 7, 2018
Teams on Nelson Cruz: astros, white sox, rays, more
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 6, 2018
It’s hard to take any one rumor seriously in an environment where the White Sox make for such great leverage fodder — clean payroll! better days ahead! significant organizational gaps! — so I’m holding off on reacting to individual items. That said, given that the White Sox just bought low on their manager under a shroud of mystery, committing to the DH spot with a 38-year-old before other roster issues are solved is also a very White Sox thing to do, so I suppose I should register my objection just in case.