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Soxivus 2022: The Calling of the Managers

What happens when South Side Sox writers pick their dream managers for the White Sox? Read and see

The most popular candidate bandied about around the majors, Joe Espada, is also the top pick among South Side Sox writers.
| Bob Levey/Getty Images

Welcome to a second year of Soxivus!

A year ago, on the heels of a fun and successful season, Tommy Barbee nonetheless had the idea to adopt Festivus into a South Side Sox tradition: Soxivus. We Aired Grievances, suggested Feats of Strength, prayed for Miracles — and also had fun picking best and worst games of the year, and more.

We’ll have a lot more for you through December, with weekly stories and podcasts celebrating a bunch of new and familiar Soxivus celebrations. It’ll be fun. Celebrate (and suffer) with us as we celebrate the season — the Soxivus season!

This year, we are expanding our offerings, beginning with one true, timely item: Finding the next White Sox manager.


Joe Espada

According to GM Rick Hahn, the White Sox are looking for a manager with recent dugout and championship experience. Additionally, they seek someone who is a good communicator and can fuse old-school sensibilities with the modern-day version of the game. Hahn also hinted that the organization might be interested looking outside of the South Side family. In other words, the new manager will be pretty much the complete opposite of Tony La Russa, thank goodness. Deep breath, everyone.

Therefore, in making my pick for the next manager of the Chicago White Sox, I’m going to choose someone who checks off all of those boxes for me. Let’s hear it for fellow Gen Xer, Joe Espada of the Houston Astros.

Espada has been a name rumored in several managerial searches over the past few years and was one of the first coaches mentioned as a possible candidate for the White Sox job. According to Jesse Rogers and Jon Heyman, Espada did interview with the White Sox last Wednesday, October 12.

Espada seems to be a well-rounded person with many personal and professional characteristics that make him a standout candidate. The Puerto Rican-born Espada is bilingual and bicultural. The White Sox have a very diverse locker room, and a manager who can communicate effectively with all players is a plus in my book. He is also a former infielder who spent nine seasons in the minor leagues. He has played the game and can understand it from the viewpoint of someone who has been there, done that.

Within a year of retiring as a player, Espada began his coaching career and has been involved in various aspects of the game ever since. He has been a hitting, bench, and third-base coach, as well as an infield coordinator and front office special assistant. Finally, he has had some limited managerial experience with winter league ball and the Puerto Rican World Baseball Classic team, which he coached twice.

Players and professionals alike seem to have good things to say about Espada. Just a few days ago, Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman told the Houston Chronicle “He for sure embodies every quality that you like in a leader. He definitely is [ready to manage].” Furthermore, the Astros GM told the Dallas Morning News in 2018 that Espada has a “ ... really good understanding of traditional aspects of the game as well as the new aspects of the game. A good package overall.” — Melissa Sage-Bollenbach

I’m not sure I actually believe that the Sox will hire someone who possesses the characteristics Hahn listed in his press conference. Right now, many of us are experiencing some trust issues and a bit of déjà vu, as it was only two years ago when Hahn pretty much spewed out those exact same words and criteria after firing Ricky Renteria. Within a matter of days, Hahn then quickly pivoted and hired TLR. So, a girl can only dream that the GM of her favorite team would actual do what he said he was going to do. In my dream, Joe Espada is the new manager of the Chicago White Sox.

I want the next Sox manager to be Joe Espada. I like Ron Washington, and he’d light a fire. I like Bruce Bochy, and would be resigned to the idea that he will be better than Tony (who wouldn’t)? But Espada, even if he is the hot pick who everyone wants, would represent something different. It would be a signal that the organization is willing to not do things the White Sox way, which is: A half-hearted attempt at being old-school, or something, but is usually just a flail at relevance. I don’t know if that will actually change things, but it will give me hope that this time, it’ll be different. Isn’t it pretty to think so?

For Espada, if it comes down to the dysfunctional-but-talented Sox and the interesting-but-forever-in-purgatory Marlins, the Sox have the better situation for him. And from the Sox end, this is a chance for Rick Hahn to show he is independent, thinks outside the box, isn’t bound by old shackles, and rejects the status quo ante. That he can do so while getting the hot, smart pick says more about the hidebound nature of the organization than any rebellious streak. — Brian O’Neill


Bruce Bochy

After an incredibly mediocre season despite being in the middle of the contention window, the White Sox are in a tough spot. The overly-tenured group led by owner Jerry Reinsdorf has had too much loyalty, which is part of the reason why the arrow appears to be pointing down after a mere two early playoff exits. A manager alone will not be able to fix the organization’s problems, but the White Sox desperately need somebody without ties to the club.

The White Sox also need someone with postseason experience, which Bruce Bochy has plenty of in 25 years an a manager. Under his leadership, the Giants pulled off a stellar run in which they won three World Series in a five-year span. Bochy has also shown a reluctance to lay down sacrifice bunts throughout the course of his managerial career. His teams’ sacrifice bunt rate+ (which, like OPS+ and ERA+, is on a scale where 100 is league average) is only 71, meaning they have laid down sac bunts 29% less often than the league average throughout those years. His intentional walk rate+ (100), while unremarkable, trended downward, as it was lower than league average during four of his most recent five seasons. Simply avoiding decisions that put teams in statistically worse positions would bring a sizable upgrade, and Bochy has proven consistently that he can do that. — Joe Resis


Sandy Alomar Jr.

I genuinely have not a clue when it comes to managers and coaches. I know they matter, because we’ve seen how bad a bad manager can screw over a team, but a good manager? I don’t think we’ve had one of those as long as I’ve been alive. So my pick is Sandy Alomar Jr. because I’ve heard of him, he wasn’t fired by another team this year, and Cleveland is good so maybe that’s a reflection of his abilities as a coach. Alomar seems likable, speaks Spanish, and has some playoff and managing experience (but no managing in the playoffs). Whether he’s actually good or not probably doesn’t matter, because at this point most of the managers on the market (except maybe Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon) could do a better job with this team than Tony La Russa and Miguel Cairo did. Maybe there’s more to the White Sox woes than a manager can solve, but Alomar would seem to put them in a position to win. — Jordan Hass


Willie Harris

It may be an unpopular choice, but it’s time for Willie Harris to return to the South Side as White Sox manager. Before you get flashbacks of Robin Ventura, remember that Harris has experience. In 2016, Harris was the hitting coach for the White Sox-affiliated, High-Rookie Great Falls Voyagers. In 2018-19 he was the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels manager before becoming the base-running and outfield coordinator for the Cincinnati Reds. Harris most recently has served as the Cubs’ third base coach (since 2020) and was apparently the only candidate the White Sox interviewed before hiring Tony La Russa two years ago.

As a player, Harris was a dude that played with swag before it was popular. For those that love to milk the nostalgia train, Harris was also a member of the 2005 White Sox team.

In reality, there’s a good chance that Hahn chooses a bench coach from a successful team without much personality, so as not to have a differing opinion from the White Sox front office. Still, I hope Willie Harris gets an interview, at a minimum. — Tommy Barbee


DeMarlo Hale

I was all-in for Matt Quatraro of the Rays the last time around (just two years ago!), and I’ll stand by that. Quatraro has to have absorbed some of the innovation of that franchise, and the White Sox certainly need innovative thinking, and just an overall increase in IQ.

But for the sake of mixing it up, I’ll add a vote for DeMarlo Hale. What boxes does DeMarlo check? He has managing experience at all levels, including work as Terry Francona’s right-hand man as the bench coach on Cleveland’s current playoff run and stepping in as his second in case of ejection or Francona’s health issues. He’s the right balance of fresh eyes and experience. And he’s a native Chicagoan and CVS High School grad.

Both Quatraro and Hale would come cheap, which surely is a prerequisite for this “cash-strapped” club. But while the White Sox might not meet the demands of Joe Espada (the Marlins job is perhaps not as attractive but is a better cultural and money fit for him) or the control Sandy Alomar Jr. would surely require stepping back into the South Side shitshow, Quatraro and Hale have generally the same propers, and will travel lighter. — Year of the Hamster


Tadahito Iguchi

Yes, Tadahito isn’t just a White Sox World Series hero, but a legitimate Nippon Professional Baseball legend, with a long playing career and five years managing the team he played for after the White Sox, the Chiba Lotte Marines. After retiring as a player at age 42 after the 2017 season, Iguchi was so revered he moved into the managing ranks immediately and improved the woeful Marines by five wins. In 2019, Chiba Lotte jumped 10 wins in the standings and missed the playoffs by just two games. In 2020 and 2021 Iguchi guided the Marines to the postseason, winning one of three series played. This past year, Chiba Lotte dropped to four games below .500, and having missed the playoffs by four games Iguchi felt he let down his home fans to such a degree he resigned his post. Accountability on the South Side? We wouldn’t know what to make of it.

Iguchi, of course, is a choice out of left field. But a manager who preaches defense and fundamentals, had a gentle but steadfast demeanor, and was unafraid to break new ground (he was the first Japanese position player to win a World Series, and the first Japanese player on the Philadelphia Phillies, period) would be a breath of fresh air in Chicago. — Brett Ballantini


Pants Rowland

When Tony La Russa was hired prior to the 2021 season, outside of fit, it was specifically for the purpose of righting a past wrong for the franchise. Though surprising at the time, bringing back a manager for a second try is nothing new for this franchise. The Chicago White Sox have employed 40 different managers in their more than 120 years of operation. Of those 40 who served, seven of them served multiple terms as Sox skipper.

While La Russa flamed out famously in his second grasp at the brass ring, what if I told you that there is another former manager even more deserving candidate for some South Side redemption?

This person burst on the scene as a darkhorse managerial candidate.Despite many rumors about their hiring being tied to the cheapness of the organization, they overcame all adversity and rose the franchise up to a level of success rarely seen in Chicago: a World Series championship! However, despite all their success and being loved by fans, they were unceremoniously relieved of their position due to clashing with the ideology of upper management.

I think it is pretty clear by now exactly which former manager I am talking about, as their chance for karmic restitution is beyond overdue.

My choice for the 2023 White Sox manager: Pants Rowland!

What?

He died?!

When?

1969?!

Damn.

Alright.

Just bring Ricky back? I guess? — Adrian Serrano


Barack Obama

After careful consideration of all the managerial choices I’ve seen mentioned so far, I have to go outside the box a bit and go for Barack Obama. Not only is he the world’s most famous White Sox fan, but he fits Liam Hendriks’ expressed need for a person with authority, since at one time he had more than anyone in the world. He definitely knows how to win. Also, he’s in really good shape and could fat-shame Lance Lynn, and probably works out a whole lot harder than anyone left on the Sox, pending José Abreu’s departure. Best of all, it would be really cool to have him come out to hand in the lineup accompanied by a contingent of Secret Service agents.

I prefer him as head of a new ownership group, but manager would be good training for that. — Leigh Allan


Poll

So, a few writers’ options were left out of the original poll. Vote in this one, too. If you’re reading this updated story, you owe it to us. Who’s your choice?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Sandy Alomar Jr.
    (13 votes)
  • 11%
    Bruce Bochy
    (11 votes)
  • 41%
    Joe Espada
    (41 votes)
  • 2%
    DeMarlo Hale
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    Willie Harris
    (5 votes)
  • 12%
    Tadahito Iguchi
    (12 votes)
  • 5%
    Barack Obama
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    Matt Quatraro
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Ricky Renteria
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Pants Rowland (or Aaron Rowand) (or, for that matter, any other dead White Sox manager)
    (2 votes)
  • 7%
    These are still bad choices, but in the spirit of reading this story and now answering with a pout in both polls, I will surely leave a comment below mentioning my choice.
    (7 votes)
100 votes total Vote Now

Poll

If you are just reading this story, don’t vote in this poll without voting in the one above. We could delete this older poll, but we’re not about throwing out votes here at SSS. But really, you can skip this one. If not, who’s your favorite option?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Sandy Alomar Jr.
    (23 votes)
  • 12%
    Bruce Bochy
    (22 votes)
  • 46%
    Joe Espada
    (84 votes)
  • 1%
    DeMarlo Hale
    (3 votes)
  • 6%
    Willie Harris
    (12 votes)
  • 7%
    Tadahito Iguchi
    (14 votes)
  • 3%
    Matt Quatraro
    (7 votes)
  • 9%
    I don’t want any of these guys, but in the spirit of Soxivus I won’t just tick this box and run, but will provide a comment below on who the best choice should be.
    (17 votes)
182 votes total Vote Now

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