Firing Rick Renteria was a brutal, but necessary move for White Sox
Firing Renteria was a brutal but necessary move for White Sox, who originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Even in the dark days of the Chicago White Sox rebuilding, there was little doubt that the organization was on track to build a championship-caliber team.
However, there was doubt that the organization would know what to do if it became a contender. Would the White Sox take the necessary - and at times unpleasant - steps to close the deal?
It remains to be seen whether this will all lead to a World Series title, but after a promising 2020 season ended with an epic breakdown and a first-round exit in the playoffs, General Manager Rick Hahn made a bold proclamation on Monday by adding he went on from manager Rick Renteria and longtime pitching coach Don Cooper.
"We didn't want to end it that way," said Hahn. “We wanted Ricky to lead us to championships. That was the intention from the start. Over time, through very frank and frankly personal conversations about where this organization is, what our time horizon is, what we need to do to win in October and achieve that ultimate goal, it became clear that it was time To make changes. "
Hahn called both exits "mutual," but he must forgive the baseball world for defying the idea that Renteria and Cooper - two highly competitive coaches - would voluntarily walk away from a team that seems poised to host a World Series next year to start . On the whole, however, semantics hardly play a role. The White Sox ended the 2020 season by losing 10 of their last 13 games, including the playoffs, and taking a three-game lead in the American League Central division within four days. Eventually they finished third due to a draw. The collapse was accompanied by numerous puzzling pitching decisions that led to a catastrophic "bullpen game" in Game 3 of the Wild Card series against athletics. It is therefore not surprising that the two main characters behind these decisions are no longer with the organization.
“This is not about decision making in Game 3 of the Wild Card series. This is not about something that happened in the last few weeks after we got our position in the playoffs, ”said Hahn. "That, in turn, depends on where we are as an organization and what we're doing to take this next step and put ourselves in the best position to be successful."
There has always been speculation that Renteria will be dumped towards the end of the rebuilding, largely because this happened to him on the north side when the Cubs hired Joe Maddon. But Renteria deserves a lot of credit for its influence on and development of the young prospects of the White Sox.
"When we finally get where we want to be in terms of championships, Ricky Renteria's fingerprints will likely be all over the club and a large part of that success will be thanks to him," said Hahn.
In all fairness, I thought that much of the criticism of Renteria since the White Sox lost from 2017 to 19,284 games was unfair, and I vowed not to judge him until he got the chance to manage a competitor.
Well, he got the opportunity. And it didn't go well.
We could sit here and take every single move apart, but for me the most alarming decisions were played out in two separate games exactly a week apart. On September 24th, Renteria put the starting pitcher Carlos Rodon in the seventh inning against the Indians in a situation laden with bases. Rodon hadn't pitched since August 3rd and hadn't been used from the bullpen in five years. The move's only defense was that the White Sox needed to see if they could rely on Rodon from the bullpen in the playoffs - the division's title was doomed. It did not work. Rodon immediately allowed a singles, doubles and a wild field as four runs crossed the plate, turning a 4-1 lead into a 5-4 deficit. All of this while ace-left Aaron Bummer was available to throw.
Fast forward to October 1 - Game 3 of the Oakland Wild Card Series - and Renteria reached out to Rodon again in a key situation, putting him in the fourth inning of a playoff game. This time the bases were empty, but Rodon quickly recharged them with a walk, a double walk, and an intentional walk. Renteria then turned to rookie Matt Foster to put the fire out, but he went the next two batters to give the A's a 4-3 lead.
At some point the players will have to take some of the blame for their mistakes, but in this case the manager didn't learn from a mistake made a week earlier. Rodon was not proven - and perhaps not comfortable - to get off the bullpen.
The playoff mistakes are of course not all to blame for Renteria. The White Sox didn't have a reliable third starter to turn to, which is why the team initially found themselves in the bullpen mayhem of Game 3. Even so, Renteria cast enough doubts about its ability to manage a competitor that the organization couldn't afford to go into 2021 with such a blatant question - especially if the White Sox manager job is currently likely to be the is most attractive in MLB.
"I will say that this is an opportunity for us as an organization," said Hahn. "I think the best candidate or the ideal candidate will be someone who has experience with a championship organization over the past few years." The most recent October experience with a championship organization would be ideal. "
Regardless of Renteria's outstanding character and proven track record, it does not meet the criteria Hahn is now striving for - and, quite frankly, the requirements of the organization.
Yes, this is obviously another brutal ending for Renteria in Chicago. Nobody denies that.
But it's also the best move for the Chicago White Sox.
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