White Sox pitchers and catchers report today at Camelback Ranch, with the full roster required to check in by Saturday. Before players start doing the talking, management had a window on Monday to get some parting/opening thoughts in.
First, Rick Hahn spoke to our friend Brett Ballantini at MLB Trade Rumors. In the first of a two-part interview, Hahn offered one line he’s given before...
We’ve been clear throughout that if we had our druthers, we would knock out four more transactions that would advance the organization towards our goal as quickly as possible.
... but with a twist!
But, yes, we did have two deals—with different clubs, involving different players—die at the ownership approval stage when the other clubs decided in the end that the deal did not work for them.
If Ken Rosenthal’s story about Washington’s cost-conscious ownership is to be believed, a potential David Robertson deal with the Nationals -- now said to be at a “stalemate” — is one. The other could be the Yankees (luxury tax/timing?) or the Pirates (direction?), but maybe not the Astros, as Houston owner Jim Crane seems to be OK with devoting resources to rotation help.
Ballantini also asked about a topic that comes up here (what if the White Sox waited out a buyer-friendly market?), and Hahn said that White Sox front office is dead.
We’re trying to build a team that can contend for championships on an annual basis. As much as we want to put ourselves in that position as quickly as possible, last year’s club won 78 games, and to believe that the same group was suddenly going to morph into a perennial powerhouse without augmentation would require a level of wishcasting that we’re trying to avoid.
Down in Arizona, Rick Renteria has traded in his chef’s knife for a shepherd’s crook. His first spring training running the show sounds promising ...
He said he doesn't plan to make huge changes to camp, but he does want to be more detailed in his approach. He mentioned baserunning, backing up bases and battling better with two strikes as areas the coaches might target.
... in the same way Robin Ventura’s did in 2012.
Ventura arrived in Arizona several days before the players to make sure things ran smoothly, and he was quick to delegate authority to his coaches in their specific areas of expertise. The players have already noticed a bigger emphasis on details and fundamentals than they saw when Guillen was manager.
It’s not like this is a bad thing (although the main culprit in forgetting to back up bases is now in Boston). It’s just an example of the limited palette with which managers can work to describe their jobs, especially at this point of both year and career. Managers are most reflective and incisive after years of wins, losses, successes, failures and transformed habits, but the day-to-day stuff gets mundane quickly, which is why eccentrics like Ozzie Guillen and Joe Maddon have fan followings among the media.
At this point, it’s more about the energy and attitude, and Renteria has both at the onset.
"The reality is I have a line that I have to toe in terms of having the responsibility to lead these guys in a particular direction," Renteria said. "So that is on me now, that is my law.
"There are going to be times where my guys don't like me very much, and that's OK. There are going to be time where I don't like them very much. But I'm always going to love them. A priest told me, kids aren't always going to love your parents, and parents are not always going to love your kids. But it's the same thing, same approach."