As big-name managers fall, Chicago White Sox thrilled with Renteria
Since the regular season ended, the Boston Red Sox fired manager John Farrell.
The Washington Nationals fired Dusty Baker.
The New York Yankees fired Joe Girardi.
Managers coming and going is a given in the game, but Farrell, Baker and Girardi all guided their teams to the playoffs this year.
Rick Renteria, on the other hand, was 67-95 in his first season as Chicago White Sox manager.
General manager Rick Hahn couldn't be happier with his new man in the dugout.
"We've seen it time and again over the course of the season, whether it's his ability to create a culture where every man on that roster feels important and understands the expectations of how we want the game played to his ability to teach a guy, going up to guys in the dugout in game to have that conversation, or stuff that happens before or after a ballgame in private," Hahn said of Renteria.
"His baseball knowledge, his work ethic, the amount of time he spends to get it right, the pride he takes in being a White Sox and the shared vision we have for what we ultimately as an organization want this thing to look like over the coming years, I don't think any of us around here have any doubt that he's absolutely the right guy."
The losing record aside, it's easy to see why the Sox's front office is so bullish on Renteria.
As a journeyman utility player with the Pirates, Padres and Marlins, Renteria had to do all of the little things to get on the field.
He also spent eight seasons managing in the minor leagues, and he served eight more years as a major-league coach.
Add in another season (2014) managing a rebuilding Cubs team, and Renteria has all of the experience needed to help get the White Sox back to contender status.
"Ricky and the staff got the guys buying in," Hahn said. "They're playing a brand of baseball I think White Sox fans can be proud of."
A 67-95 record is nothing to be proud of, but ace starter Chris Sale and leadoff man Adam Eaton were traded before the season, and Hahn moved nine more veterans after the All-Star Game.
Renteria's true skills came out when wave after wave of rookies reached the South Side.
"It's the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff has been able to create in that clubhouse," Hahn said. "I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they've never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they've never been excited about a team that isn't going to the playoffs.
"I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs; you see them prepared every night. Sure, we're going to get outmanned at times during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out."
The Sox having already added prospects Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and the surprising Nicky Delmonico, others such as Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins and possibly Alec Hansen are positioned to arrive at some point in 2018.
Is it possible for the Sox to play .500 baseball next season? Do they have a shot at contending?
"I think it's possible," Renteria said. "You never know. Anything is possible. I think these guys go about what they do. You can believe in them, but they've got to believe in themselves. I think our club right now is building toward a very positive future."
Well known for his teaching ability, Renteria had zero outside pressure this season. Like his one year as Cubs manager, he was given a team that had little chance to compete.
That is going to change a bit next year, and the White Sox should be legitimate contenders in 2019.
Renteria deserves a chance to manage a good team, and that's when he's going to be judged like Farrell, Baker and Girardi.