After an offseason of improvements, the Chicago White Sox have gotten off to a terrible start. Things are particularly bad at the moment.
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The club dropped their fifth straight game Sunday, falling to 8-14 on the year. Chicago now has a -38 run differential, which is good for worst in the American League.
With the club off to such a poor start, there are some who believe the team would be better off parting ways with manager Robin Ventura. While the issue hasn’t blown up just yet, his players gave him the dreaded vote of confidence following Sunday’s loss.
Jose Abreu told Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times that the players are to blame for the slow start, not the manager.
“We cannot blame Robin for the situation of the team,’’ Abreu said through an interpreter. “It’s our fault because we are the ones who are playing. We are the people who are in the field. We are not doing the things right.’’
Abreu is right, of course. It isn’t Ventura’s fault four of his starting pitchers have ERA over 5.00. It’s also not his fault that a large majority of his lineup isn’t hitting right now. It’s much easier to fire a manager than it is to just DFA all of those players, so the fans are going to clamor for Ventura to go.
Would that be the right decision?
It’s tough to really know what to make of Ventura three years into his tenure. He took over an aging team in desperate need of an overhaul when he started, and had to manage one of the youngest White Sox teams in recent history in 2014. The organization hasn’t really put him in a great position.
Over that period, Ventura hasn’t really shown any glaring strategies are a manager. His teams haven’t led the league in sacrifice bunt attempts or hit and runs. He’s pretty boring, actually, but that’s fitting considering his personality.
In this case, though, that laid back style hurts Ventura in the eyes of the fans. With the slow start, people are going to be looking to Ventura to fire up his team with some type of impassioned speech. That’s just not something he’s going to do, especially in public or with the media.
It’s easy to say, “this team needs a fire lit under them,” but it’s impossible to know whether a fiery tirade is suddenly going to make Adam LaRoche hit better, or get the defense to stop making errors.
With that in mind, it seems foolish for the White Sox to part with Ventura right now. Can we say with any certainty that another manager would do a better job with this club? As Abreu said, it’s not his fault his players haven’t performed.
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There’s also very little precedent for owner Jerry Reinsdorf letting go of managers this early in the year. Generally, he’s stuck with his managers for quite some time. Gene Lamont was fired 33 games into the 1995 season, but he’s really the only recent example. Terry Bevington, Jerry Manuel and Ozzie Guillen managed through most of their final seasons before they were fired.
For now, patience is probably the right decision. While the recent slide has been discouraging, the team is hardly out of the division race on May 3. Once Adam Eaton, Alexei Ramirez, and other guys start playing up to their usual level, the team will start playing better.
If you’re going to judge Ventura based on one month of poor play, you have to judge 60 percent of the team as well. It’s easy to call for a manager’s job in this situation, but it’s still too early to make snap judgements.
The White Sox know this, and will give Ventura more time to straighten things out. It may eventually turn out that he’s not the long-term answer, but he deserves more than a month to prove himself.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter!