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Decisions loom for White Sox in final week

If Robin Ventura and four broadcasters are returning, this is the time the team usually announces it

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Since the postseason is no longer even a mathematical possibility, the White Sox figure to spend this week working on 2016 business. And since the White Sox close out the season with two home series, it's quite convenient for them to announce such business decisions.

This time around, two major items of business loom large. The White Sox technically don't have to do anything about one of them, but the other actually involves expiring contracts. In either case, the past tells us that this is the time when such decisions are announced, even if they stick with the status quo.

The future of Robin Ventura's administration

In Detroit, Al Avila announced that Brad Ausmus will return to the helm of the Tigers for the 2016 season after rumors to the contrary circulated during the prior weeks.

That means Ventura is on the AL Central's hottest seat. Unlike Ausmus, though, the general assumption is that Ventura is staying put, given Jerry Reinsdorf's reputation for extreme loyalty. Said loyalty would set franchise history, since no White Sox manager has survived three full consecutive losing seasons. It's hard to blame the bottom falling out on the team in 2013, but after two full years of rebuilding, neither he nor the White Sox have done anything to distinguish themselves in what was supposed to be a moving year.

In Ventura's favor, his team hasn't quit on him, nor is he having the kind of second half Matt Williams is having with the Nationals. Most recently in Washington, Jonathan Papelbon choked Bryce Harper in the dugout, then pitched the ninth because Williams said he wasn't aware the fight was that severe. But "Ventura isn't Matt Williams" is only a valid excuse as long as Matt Williams is around, and it doesn't seem like he's long for that job.

I'm girding my brain's loins for Ventura's return, but only based on track record. It's hard to put any weight on the lack of buzz, since the White Sox usually do a good job of suppressing information. Forget rumors -- they didn't even announce the duration of Ventura's last extension. That extension was signed after a 99-loss season, mind you, further reinforcing the notion that the public doesn't force their hand

The last time they made a serious coaching shake-up was the firing of Jeff Manto in 2013. The historically awful season slathered the wall with writing, but the Sox only acknowledged the possibility before the opener of the season's final series. One day later, Manto was gone.

If Todd Steverson is under the same gun, it's more difficult to detect. Perhaps they don't blame him, or perhaps it's because it'd be weird to cycle through another hitting coach while keeping the rest of the staff intact.

Broadcast booths

Back in the final week of the 2012 season, Steve Stone openly considered leaving the White Sox. About two weeks later, he announced he would choose to remain with the Sox through the remainder of his contract and "hopefully beyond." Unless he's received a new deal since, his contract is set to expire after the season. The same goes for Hawk Harrelson, whose last contract renewal was announced on Sept. 28, 2011.

On the radio side, the contracts for Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson are also expiring ... and the White Sox are set to change flagship stations from WSCR to WLS. At the time of that announcement, Brooks Boyer talked around the topic of extensions for any of them.

The future Sox's broadcasting team of Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson remains up in the air with both broadcasters reaching the end of their contracts after this season. Boyer said he anticipates they will return but that the team has not had formal discussions with them about re-signing.

The Sox's contracts with TV broadcasters Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone also expire at the end of this year. "We've got work to do" in setting the team's future broadcasting lineup, said Boyer.

That same sense of loyalty makes it hard to imagine a seismic shift in who's calling the games, but unlike a managerial overhaul, it'd be a lot easier to envision immediate improvement.