In advance of the decision-making tonight regarding the 40-man roster, the Chicago White Sox opted to trim a player from its managerial roster.
As broken by MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, the White Sox will not ask Omar Vizquel to return as a manager at Birmingham (where he spent the 2019 season) or anywhere else in the system.
Per director of player development Chris Getz, via Merk:
This is from Chris Getz on Omar: “Listen, Omar, ultra-talented player, very good instructor, created a good environment for our players. We just felt with where things are at, our player development system, that it was time to go separate ways."— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) November 20, 2019
Vizquel found some success in 2018 when managing the Winston-Salem Dash, but in being moved up along with many of his players to the Double-A Barons in 2019, faltered. While little merit can be placed in won-loss records at the minor league level, Birmingham started slow and never rebounded into a Southern League contender.
What’s more, there are indications that Vizquel, for all his personal charm and savvy, is not the right fit for an organization already lagging analytically. Stolen base attempts and bunting, a fit for Vizquel’s game personally and a vestige of a different time in baseball, were cornerstones of his clubs. Unfortunately, Vizquel’s players rarely demonstrated mastery of such small-ball tools, particularly in the area of stolen bases (91-of-137, 66% at Birmingham, 121-of-199, 60% at Winston-Salem).
Vizquel’s clubs ranked low in sacrifice bunts in both of his seasons, with 22 in 2018 at W-S (seventh in the Carolina League) and 19 last year at Birmingham (ninth in the Southern League), but the number of sacrifice attempts and bunts for hits may well have been higher.
Vizquel had a stunning debut in the White Sox system in 2018, leading Winston-Salem to an 84-54 record, best in the Carolina League, before getting swept by Houston Astros affiliate Buies Creek in the playoffs.
After the season, Vizquel as a rising star managerial candidate interviewed for the MLB opening with the Angels, rather famously admitting he was thrown by the interview’s stress on analytics.
Almost as a carryover from that poor showing, the 2019 season was a step back. Vizquel led the Barons to a middle-of-the-pack 64-72 record in the Southern League, with much of the same player personnel as 2018.
Vizquel also played for two seasons with the White Sox in 2010-11, at age 44-45, seeing action in 166 games and hitting .268/.324/.323, for a -0.2 bWAR. He is currently on the Hall of Fame ballot, garnering 42.8% of the vote in 2019, in just his second year of eligibility.