The Chicago White Sox have done everything right this offseason to demonstrate that they are ready to compete now. They have added premier veterans to a talented core of young players that have proven to be ready for a breakout season. With a loaded roster, there is still speculation as to whether manager Rick Renteria is the right man to manage the team.
Renteria has been the White Sox manager for the last three seasons in which the team has averaged 67 wins over that span. That span would not cut it for a manager expected to win, but Chicago has been mired in a rebuild since Renteria took over. He was hired to help develop the young players and instill a culture of accountability.
Although the team has been rebuilding and he hasn’t had the best talent to work with, Renteria still has been criticized for his in-game managing. His lineups have been heavily questioned especially when certain players were placed in weird spots in the batting order. Fans wanted him to bat Tim Anderson, who won the batting title this season, higher in the order.
A major concern last season was his use of the young starting staff. One alarming moment was the May 29th game against the Kansas City Royals. Renteria allowed starter Reynaldo Lopez to throw 118 pitches over 5 2/3 innings. Lopez allowed four runs in the sixth inning and was visibly exhausted before Renteria pulled him from the game. It is concerning because a majority of the White Sox rebuild is predicated on their young pitching staff. The team had already lost Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon to Tommy John Surgery in 2018 and early on in 2019.
Renteria’s bullpen management has also been heavily scrutinized as there have been several instances in which he has used two pitchers in the same inning. Instead of trusting his relievers, Renteria has often relied too much on one on one matchups. This has cost the team several wins over the last three seasons.
Strategy wise, Renteria’s biggest flaw is his over-dependency on bunting. Many times last season, in one-run situations, he would institute a sacrifice bunt to get a runner into scoring position. The league caught on after a while, and in several instances, opposing teams would go to second getting the lead runner because they knew exactly what the White Sox were doing. Even worse was his use of the safety squeeze to get a run home, several times it backfired on the team in the second half of the season.
These instances are important to remember because, with the team ready to compete this season, Renteria’s decisions are that much more impactful. In what is expected to be a tight divisional race, Chicago can ill-afford to lose a game due to the wrong bullpen decisions or misuse of a bunt. In a season where he can finally prove that he is the right man for the job, Renteria needs to be on top of his game or he may end up somewhere else next season.