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Grading the White Sox: Tony La Russa

After a disappointing season, Tony La Russa had to retire. Let’s talk about how things went while he was around

Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox
Get well soon, Tony. But front office, TAKE THE L on this one instead of pointing fingers at fans.
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

At midseason, the SSS staff graded the 46-46 White Sox, from head of the class Dylan Cease all the way down to Dallas Keuchel. We invented a WARsss metric that could very well be just a cute way to trot out our special site grades — but really for all you know could be the product of years of research in a stats lab.

Our expanded report card will take us through everyone who saw time in uniform for the White Sox, plus some front-office types. Most of our writers will take on a couple of players, with final grades and short writeups, running through the end of November. Enjoy!

Tony La Russa
Midseason: -2.8 WARsss
Final: -3.5 WARsss

The year is 2020. The Chicago White Sox have just fired manager Ricky Renteria after the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, in which the team made it to the postseason for the first time since 2008. The vibes are high on the South Side, as fans ponder who will become the next manager — bolstered by a promise from GM Rick Hahn that the team will not be so “insular” with its next hire.

Then, on October 29, the team announced that the man that they decided would lead the team into the future was an old friend of Jerry Reinsdorf, Tony La Russa.

Now, most of us were skeptical of this hiring, and for good reason. After all, La Russa last managed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, a season where Albert Pujols led the team to a World Series title and La Russa was able to leave the game on the highest of highs.

Fast forward to October 3, 2022 and La Russa has been forced to retire due to medical issues. The team that many anticipated being in the hunt for its first World Series since 2005 ends the season a mediocre 81-81 — and with a lot more questions than answers.

Now, La Russa had his many, many, many faults, but he is a bit of a scapegoat to cover up the many mistakes that the front office has made since the end of a great 2021 season. I will be one of the first people to say that La Russa should’ve been fired at the end of 2022 regardless of his medical issues, but there is a lot more to it than that. He never should’ve been hired in the first place to make the errors that he made. More blame should be placed on Reinsdorf, executive vice president Ken Williams and Hahn for not giving La Russa an improved roster to help the team take that next step.

But, we are here to grade Tony La Russa. And Tony played his own part in this debacle. I was at the game in which he decided that it was better to intentionally walk Trea Turner on a 1-2 count in order to pitch to Max Muncy — who promptly blasted a Bennett Sousa pitch into orbit. And it wouldn’t be the last time he called for an IBB with a 1-2 count this year!

We all watched time and time again when he made bizarre lineup decisions (LEURY GARCÍA!) or brought in Bennett Sousa or José Ruiz in critical moments. La Russa managed as if it was still 2011 — or better yet, as if he was managing his chemically-enhanced Oakland Athletics teams of the late 1980s.

It seems as if everyone but those that were in charge at 35th and Shields knew that bringing La Russa was not the right move. But as we all know, when there is one person making the decisions — especially based on regrets from 40 years ago — things are bound to go south.

2022 White Sox Grades

Dallas Keuchel, LHSP, -3.9
Tony La Russa, MGR, -3.5


We graded Tony La Russa at -3.5, worst among any non-player personnel. How did we do?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Too nice
    (102 votes)
  • 5%
    Too mean
    (14 votes)
  • 36%
    Just right
    (91 votes)
  • 17%
    Make it go away
    (43 votes)
250 votes total Vote Now