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updated: 9/14/2017 6:12 AM

Imrem: Will Renteria still be Chicago White Sox manager when it matters?

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  • Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria (17) argues with umpire Gabe Morales (47) as Jose Abreu (79) holds back starting pitcher Lucas Giolito after Giolito was thrown out of a baseball game by Morales during the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants in Chicago, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

    Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria (17) argues with umpire Gabe Morales (47) as Jose Abreu (79) holds back starting pitcher Lucas Giolito after Giolito was thrown out of a baseball game by Morales during the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants in Chicago, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

 
 

The Indians stretched their record winning streak to 21 games Wednesday, which somehow gets us to Ricky Renteria.

You might hear opinions to the contrary but managers do make a difference in baseball.

So, Chicago White Sox fans can connect the dots and wonder out loud whether Renteria still will be the manager when the Sox hope to become contenders.

The Sox's rebuild is in the early stages, sort of where the Cubs and Indians were a couple of years ago.

Today the Cubs are defending World Series champions and the Indians are defending American League champions.

So what does this have to do with Renteria specifically and managers generally?

Consider that the Indians are managed by Terry Francona and the Cubs are managed by Joe Maddon -- two guys who were hired when they were hot commodities.

Francona had been successful in Boston and Maddon had been in Tampa Bay, which meant the White Sox had no chance to sign them because of their terrible farm system at the time.

So how did the Cubs wind up with Maddon and the Indians with Francona?

Those managers were attracted to those teams because the Cubs and Indians had promising prospects matriculating toward the major leagues.

The Indians and Cubs could say, "Look, we're going to be really good pretty soon and we want a really good manager like you to make us great."

It was a terrific deal for both teams and both managers: The Cubs and Indians needed managers who could put them over the top while Maddon and Francona needed teams they could put over the top.

That's how you win in any sport: Great managers, or head coaches, help good players become great and great players become champions.

No wonder the Cubs and Indians met in last season's World Series and might meet again in this season's World Series.

(Yes, Cubs fan, the dream is alive, even though Maddon's club is struggling just to win the National League Central.)

Joe Maddon … Terry Francona … Ricky Renteria?

The White Sox manager doesn't seem to fit the profile after arriving on the South Side with only one uninspiring season as manager, after which the Cubs fired Renteria and replaced him with Maddon.

Renteria is drawing raves in his first year with the Sox. Management loves him. Players like him. Fans think he's, well, better than Robin Ventura.

But it's one thing for a manager to make a bad team play hard and another thing altogether to make a good team play like champions.

It's the old Phil Jackson debate: Is he the NBA's all-time best coach because he won all those titles, or did he win all those titles because he landed with two great teams?

Jackson and his players likely won, won and kept winning because he fit them and they fit him.

So, the question is whether Ricky Renteria still will fit the Sox when they're on the cusp of being all they expect to be and someone like a Maddon or Francona becomes available.

Would the Sox dump Renteria to upgrade to a proven winner?

A good guess is the Sox wouldn't because Jerry Reinsdorf's teams usually stick with managers and coaches longer than they should instead of shorter.

But looking at the Indians and Francona and the Cubs and Maddon … maybe the White Sox should start thinking about it.

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