The first season of a rebuilding-Chicago White Sox squad is drawing to a close. Twenty-Two Triple-A players have made appearances on the major-league roster as the White Sox purged a glut of talent that was not worth the sum of its pieces.
Stage one of rebuilding will close with the season. There may be a few lingering deals to be made but Rick Hahn will shift to developing talent already in the system and watching the free-agent market. Besides tying up loose ends on players, White Sox brass will also ponder what Rick Renteria’s future is with the organization.
Jon Heyman wrote in late August that he believed Renteria’s job was safe and there is scant evidence to disagree. Renteria is bilingual and by all accounts meshes very well with his players. He can be emotional at times but his players appear to respect him, eruptions notwithstanding. But the players don’t make the decisions and there are three reasons White Sox brass should renew Renteria’s contract.
He has not lost them games. I can already hear the gasps. I know pressure to win was scarce considering the state of affairs with the roster. I know that Renteria intractably bunted ignoring feeble statistics against the practice. And I know he was booted from a host of games this season. But he didn’t make any glaring mistakes that made one wonder if he understood the game of baseball.
He approached every game with energy and optimism despite hemorrhaging veterans. The raging calls to stop Yoan Moncada and others from bunting are nonsense. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on the value of bunting is undeniable. Cody Bellinger was wise and humble enough to lay a bunt down against the shift on Monday and earn himself a base hit.
And if getting tossed from games for defending his players is evidence of managerial misconduct than Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa should be escorted out of the Hall of Fame. Even if Renteria was run for arguing balls and strikes at least the dugout knows he has their backs. The postgame lesson is a burden Renteria must bear and should address as the roster matures.
The second reason Renteria will rule the dugout next season is his bilingual strength. The White Sox have a lengthy history with Latin players and adding Moncada, Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez furthers that legacy. Jose Abreu is still navigating the language barrier in America and if the manager can connect with his players on not only a lingual level but a cultural one as well, the dividends should be robust. And while it is easy to focus on the marquee names in the farm system the reality is that there are a host of other Latin prospects that could contribute and might need a language cushion – Micker Adolfo is one such prospect that comes to mind.
And the final reason the White Sox won’t dismiss Renteria is that it is foolish to switch skippers in the middle of a transitional period. Ricky knows his guys and with a clubhouse thrust into turmoil, guys rally behind their singular experience. Introducing a new manager would create a culture shock that could risk the solidarity forged this season.
Ricky was harshly booted from the Cubs organization when Joe Maddon became available in 2015. Since taking over another rebuilding team the possibility of being jettisoned for the latest guru indeed weighs heavily on his mind — there is no way that it doesn’t.
Renteria might look for a lengthier deal considering the tumultuous seasons ahead for the White Sox. It is reasonable to believe that White Sox brass and Renteria could work out a two-year deal and address his future in 2019 as the White Sox youngsters begin sketching their major-league identity. This would be a wise move since both skipper and deckhands will mature together.