Chris Rongey: Manto firing unfair but expected
What had been a miserable season for the White Sox and their fans came to an end Sunday, and with it the emphasis on 2014 begins. But I guess, really, that started two months ago.
On Friday, the moment general manager Rick Hahn failed to guarantee the entire coaching staff would return for next season, I figured something could be stirring. Sure enough, by late Saturday, it was revealed the Sox had relieved hitting coach Jeff Manto of his position.
Though I'm not convinced the Sox' poor hitting this year is on Manto, knowing how baseball is, I'm not surprised it happened. Yet, in reality, Manto — or any hitting coach — isn't responsible for an aging Paul Konerko's poor performance, by Konerko standards.
Nor is he responsible for a perennial home run-hitting team not hitting home runs. And he's certainly not responsible for the awful defense.
The next guy won't be, either. About 95 percent of the failures this year are the fault of players, which is almost always the case in baseball.
Manto worked hard with his hitters, and the next batting coach presumably will do the same. But unless players are willing to listen and adapt, or the Sox acquire offensive help, the hitting coach's hard work cannot pay off.
You'll often hear baseball types say the hitting coach is the toughest uniformed job in the game. Well, that isn't nonsense when you consider the personalities one must deal with and the actual limited ability to affect outcome against the backdrop of external expectation that it's all up to him.
Undoubtedly, the White Sox needed change, and I'd almost guarantee this will be the first of many to come this off-season.
What's next for PK?
Even after Paul Konerko addressed the media last week, what we can predict about his future isn't really much clearer.
In listening to him speak in the dugout Friday, I came away with the feeling that my guess about whether he will retire is as good as his.
Unless, he's a terrific actor, he's still in the process of trying to figure it out for himself.
It is a huge, life-altering decision and, in typical Konerko style, he's analyzing every bit of information he can, including listening to his body, mind and advice from other athletes who have gone through this process.
We'll probably find out in November what he plans to do, and then we'll find out what the Sox want. According to Konerko, he would entertain the idea of being a part-time player, but only here in Chicago.
I could envision the Sox allowing that, but it absolutely will depend on what their realistic expectations are for next season.
In terms of performance, it's unlikely we'll ever see the old Konerko again, but his presence wouldn't hurt in a young clubhouse.
If he doesn't return, I think it's a guarantee the Sox will add a veteran or two, even if only on a short-term basis. I see little chance the 2014 White Sox remain as young as they are right now.
•Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com. Subscriber Total Access members can email him questions each week via our online link.
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