Ok. // Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Ventura is staying around. The White Sox fulfilled the fanfest obligation of breaking some measure of small, positive news by announcing a “multi-year” contract extension. They did not release the terms, though some guy on 670 AM postulated that it was through 2016. That sounds reasonable, so let’s go with it (This is like, the opposite of journalism ethics, btw).
The details are not of the utmost importance, assuming neither the money nor years are particularly exorbitant. Despite being the manager of a horrible and incompetent team, Ventura’s job security never seemed in question based on anything coming from the White Sox over the last year. And his position as an unwilling captain was undermined by his statements affirming his desire to stay despite 2013 being a joyless slog. Now there’s little to anything tangible for the myth of Ventura having no desire to manage to stand on. Not that it won’t live on anyway, but just saying.
Not a lot of fond talk gets thrown Robin Ventura’s way around these parts, and why would it? He made attempts on the lives Nate Jones and Addison Reed last season and he had Kevin Youkilis try to square up for a bunt while down two runs with the tying run on and nobody out in the eight inning of a crucial inter-division showdown. There are sins we can never forget and haven’t really stopped happening, at least in principle.
It’s a lot easier to immediately identify tactical errors than managerial strengths. Hindsight saber analysis of managerial decisions can be so precise that correct calls read as the team running on autopilot, with the mark of the manager’s quirks rarely emerging outside of his blunders.
And again, that’s only tactics, which are pretty rarely cited when the White Sox brass is touting Ventura’s credentials.
"“His communication, his ability to teach at the big league level, his enthusiasm, his baseball intellect — all the things we were looking for in a manager were the same at our highest highs and our lowest lows. And that level of stability is what we want from a leader in the dugout.”"
That is not to insinuate that no one cares when Ventura fouls up, but it’s telling that it’s only tangentially mentioned when explaining why he’s here. We can only watch the games and read reports, and Ventura sounds like he’s revered as a manager for the reasons our work supervisor might be a good manager: because successfully balances the needs of his 25-man workforce through a long season in a high-pressure environment…allegedly.
Ozzie Guillen spoiled us with how obvious he made it when he wasn’t fulfilling this part of the job, but Ventura & Co. are nondescript in nearly every facet besides yelling at umpires. The reviews from players, though they are employed and looking to stay employed, are generally raves, and the leadership endorsing him has spent the offseason flexing its muscles and confidence.
So sure, fine. It’s just the manager. If Nick can rationalize it…
"Well, I suppose it’s not unrealistic to hope Ventura improves as a tactical manager. — Nick Schaefer (@n_schaef)"
…we can all deal with it.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan