Considering Chris Sale gave Robin Ventura a harder time than any other player, it was somewhat surprising to see him offer the most pointed defense of his now-former manager:
"We always had the same goal, the same vision, the same passion," Sale said. "You get a bunch of guys in the same room and the testosterone is pumping. This is a competitive game, sports are competitive. Things happen, but that doesn’t change what I think of him personally. He’s as good as they get.
"If you’re going to make a big change something drastic needs to happen. You can’t do the same things over and over and expect things to change. More than anything, people should look at what he said and respect that. Not all people can stand up in these lights and say that. You have to have respect for him and he’s as good as they get."
Adam Eaton and David Robertson had both praised Ventura while maintaining their faith in the amount of talent. Here's Robertson on the same day:
"Hopefully we can start like we did this year and continue to hold that momentum and level of play we had early in the season. It has been a heartbreaking season for sure, but I’m definitely looking forward to next year. There is a lot of talent in this room, and I think next year maybe we’ll be able to put it together."
So Sale challenging the team on its inability to win with the current formula stands out, just like it was a little bit jarring to see Jose Abreu criticize the team's will to win.
Sale railed against Ventura multiple times in private, and called him out for being too much of a yes-man for management after cutting up the team’s 1976 throwback jerseys, so it's amusing to see him now offering the most generous defense for Ventura after it stopped mattering. Sale contains multitudes, one of which is unhinged, and now it seems like his frustration runs higher up the ladder.
Rick Hahn was asked about these comments in the press conference announcing the promotion of Rick Renteria. He claimed that he hadn’t heard them.
Neither of the Chicago newspapers were impressed by the White Sox’ managerial maneuverings. David Haugh was the one who asked about continuity at the press conference, and it's no surprise that it's the center of his column.
Hahn's version of Ventura's departure didn't square up with the public timeline -- Ventura had said he wanted to keep managing, and the USA Today story said it was his decision. The combination of that and a no-interview hire makes it difficult to know whether the Sox can see past their own organizational insularity.
You get the feeling the Sox are trying see how weird they can get before someone accuses them of cornering the market on strange behavior. If they are looking to instill confidence in the fan base, it’s going to take a lot more than the Renteria hiring. It’s going to take a lot of victories or, short of that, proof of a plan. Hahn says the Sox have one but aren’t ready to share it yet. It could be a rebuild or it could be something with more immediate results. Bizarre, say hello to mysterious.
I like the way James phrased this disconnect between the franchise and those on the outside: "Because they’re definitely still the White Sox, and doing the bare minimum in a truly inscrutable manner is only so convincing."
Over at FanGraphs, Eno Sarris has a Manager of the Year vote, and he doesn't want to reflexively give it to the team that beats its projections by the largest margin. Instead, he looked into the four aspects over which managers exercise the most control -- when he goes to the best relievers, how rigidly he uses his bullpen, how he draws up lineup, and how often he bunts.
Ventura was often criticized for how he handled his bullpen, so it may be surprising to see him middle-of-the-pack when it comes to his statistical effectiveness. My guess is that his missteps were magnified by slow hooks and the lack of comfortable leads his offenses provided, and part of that is his fault (he's one of the worst with batting orders).
At least Abreu is excited about the coming Renteria era:
“I am very happy because Rick is an exceptional person, a great human being, a baseball fan and owns an outstanding knowledge of the game. I do believe that he is a person who can help us in many ways as manager. I ask that God bless him and guide him in this new role as our manager. To me, in particular, it is very special to have a Latino manager because we are able to speak the same language. I also believe it is very important that Rick has the opportunity to manage in the major leagues, because it serves as motivation for all Latinos who hope to be managers.”