After 8 years of Ozzie it’s tough to imagine what Sox games were like before him. What’s tougher to imagine, is what exactly to expect out of a guy with zero coaching experience. He’s got a reputation from his playing days as a leader, but I don’t think any of us are too concerned with his actual ability to perform the job. Rather, there is curiosity as to how he goes about performing it.
Over the course of the Ozzie years, fan patience for how he ran the team seemed to wane. His tendency to favor certain players, determined to run those guys out there day after day regardless of how often they proved that they weren’t up to the task was a constant thorn in our sides. His insistence on bunting, particular with players not named Juan Pierre who had far more value with the bat firmly held in both hands was infuriating, especially when “successful” bunts proved rare. So how will Ventura approach this? Will he trot Adam Dunn out to hit 4th in the lineup for more than half the season if he continues his 2011 struggles? Will he let Gordon Beckham‘s glove hold his spot in the lineup? Will Alex Rios be in center field long enough to once again make us question his effort both in the field and at the plate? We don’t exactly know.
I think it’s safe to assume that Robin will be a much more relaxed manager than Ozzie. This is a good thing. Historically, teams respond best to new management when there is a shift in demeanor. After a fiery manager puts the team on edge or get’s them too worked up, he’s followed by a laid back manager. When the laid back manager fails to see the players perform as desired or they stop responding to his leadership, he is replaced by a fiery manager. In the case of the New York Yankees of the 70’s and 80’s, they just rotated laid back managers and kept plugging Billy Martin in as the fiery guy. The point is, Robin Ventura is no Ozzie Guillen. I have no idea what his views on small ball are, if he’s willing to adopt a Sabermetric slant to his approach or if his lack of experience will manifest itself in ways we haven’t even thought of.
Trends and ideas about “changing of the guard” aside, Ventura is inheriting a team of underachievers. Not every player fits that description but it’s safe to say that plenty of White Sox didn’t play up to their norms or potential in 2011. Nobody likes the idea of rebuilding or retooling, the losses that come along with that are hard to endure. More determined not to be stuck in a rebuild than anybody has to be our new skipper. He’s got something to prove. Obviously we are rooting for success, but seeing the direction that Ventura takes the team is going to be fun to watch in itself.