Ozzie Guillen and Robin Ventura are a study in contrasts which, as has been frequently mentioned, was Kenny Williams' intention. Guillen is a loud, fiery, sometimes obnoxious extrovert who is intent on building the Guillen brand. Ventura is reserved and laidback and is as unlikely to be starting a Twitter account as he is to be the subject of a "celebrity" roast.
This contrast is also evident in their skills as players. Ventura was slow (24 for 68 in career stolen base attempts), patient (13% BB rate, 14% K rate) and rather powerful (.177 ISO, usually good for 20+ homers a season). Guillen was pretty fast (though his 61% success rate is consistent with his overly aggressive style), impatient (3.4% BB rate) and slappy (7.2% K rate coupled with a .074 ISO and 28 career home runs).
And for Guillen, his playing style was often reflected in his team and their play. His teams were usually solid defensively in the infield but outfield defense remained either a mystery or of little concern to him. Guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Rob Mackowiak and Nick Swisher illustrate this. He wanted speed at the top of the order and wanted to use it. Guys like Scott Podsednik, Juan Pierre and Orlando Cabrera benefited from this, while fans suffered from caught stealings and botched hit and runs. He didn't stress walks, as the White Sox during his tenure rank near the bottom in walk rate; he did stress contact, as the White Sox during his tenure rank near the top in K rate (i.e., fewer strikeouts). Guys like Alexei Ramirez, Timo Perez, Pablo Ozuna and Mark Kotsay benefited from this preference. And if you were a good defensive infielder with some speed who frequently made weak contact, you were Ozzie's ideal player. Guys like Omar Vizquel, Alex Cintron and Cabrera illustrate this, along with their less "perfect" outfield analogs Jerry Owens, Darin Erstad and Pierre.
So, acting on the potentially poor assumption that Ventura may follow this pattern, who are some of the players that will benefit?Brent Morel: With a nice finish to the season, Morel probably saved himself from an outright Spring Training position battle with an Established Veteran. That said, his job won't be safe until he gets that batting average up to the .270 range, with the commensurate gains in OBP and SLG. With Ventura, a very good defensive third baseman in his playing days, Morel's excellent defense may be valued more highly and Morel given more rope.
Tyler Flowers: Whether Flowers is a viable major leaguer is highly debatable. Contact is a mercurial friend to him: it's often missing but it's a bang when it's around. Ventura may not hold the lack of contact against Flowers so long as he's taking walks and sending balls to the stands when he does make contact. And with a rotation potentially in flux, the new titular head of the starting staff may be Jake Peavy who, unlike Mark Buehrle, has never expressed any problem with Flowers as a catcher. Ventura may be able to seize on that to combat dissent from the incumbent.
Paul Konerko: You're probably asking why a player like Konerko would need to benefit; it's not likely he'll be wanting for playing time. True, but the case may be somewhat different towards the end of his contract. Konerko has some similar personality traits to Ventura. But his skillset is even more familiar. Ventura will also value Konerko's scooping abilities at first base. And, as a member of the "family", Ventura will understand the place the (potentially) longest-serving White Sox has amongst fans and the organization.
So who are some players who may not benefit?
A.J. Pierzynski: Another study in contrasts. While Ventura is not the type to have an innate issue with different personalities, Pierzynski's is about as different from Ventura's as Guillen's is. Pierzynski may have a bad reputation but that doesn't usually extend to the clubhouse or manager - except when he thinks he's not getting sufficient playing time. Ventura appears to have a mandate to play the youngsters, which may not sit well with the iron man catcher. And as a batting average dependent player, bad luck or a slight decline in contact rate can sink his value. And Guillen won't be around to not disrespect a slumping veteran.
Eduardo Escobar: The acquisition of Osvaldo Martinez means Escobar is no longer the favorite for the opening day utility infielder, ahem, role. Escobar does play excellent defense but he's prone to lapses in judgment, something Ventura, similar to most managers, won't appreciate. And his offensive profile is, well, pretty much Ozzie Guillen - except that his over-aggressiveness manifests itself in a tendency to swing for the fences, which is not a good thing for a midget. Escobar will probably be getting the additional time at AAA he needs to iron out some of his shortcomings but, if he doesn't, Ventura isn't going to be as smitten with a Venezuelan shortstop who wore #13 as his predecessor was.
Alex Rios: Most notably, Alex Rios probably doesn't have the same compromising pictures of Ventura as he must have had of Guillen. The rope given to Rios in 2011 was mind-boggling. It's hard to imagine any manager giving him that again in 2012. Ventura seems less likely to tolerate the silly mistakes in the field that Rios made just about every other game. And, as a guy used to batting in the middle of the lineup, Ventura probably has a decent idea of what a guy hitting there should look like. And it isn't Rios. Ventura seems the type who will realize what Rios is - a massive rock around his neck - and seek to minimize his impact on the game by shifting him to a corner, batting him lower and benching him liberally.
Of course, this is all idle speculation since we really haven't the faintest clue what Ventura will be like as a manager. But what else are we to do on an October Sunday?