Who Should Manage The White Sox In 2021?
today at 10:33 am
The Chicago White Sox have had a really good year.
That feels like an understatement now, entering the final weekend of the abbreviated regular season, but entering the 2020 campaign many though the Sox would be the third place team in the American League Central behind Minnesota and Cleveland. But here we are with the White Sox fighting to potentially win the division.
Over the course of the season the White Sox have dealt with a lot. Michael Kopech, the team’s top pitching prospect, opted out of the short season before it began.
Injuries hit their pitching and Tim Anderson missed time as well. After Anderson returned the Sox offense took off and launched the White Sox into first place in the division. The offense, led by MVP candidate Jose Abreu, carried the team to the top of the division in spite of free agent addition Edwin Encarnacion doing almost nothing all season and Yoan Moncada admittedly still feeling the impact of having COVID-19 months after being sick.
The starting pitching – led by Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel – have been good enough to make the Sox a dangerous team most of the season.
However, there have been far too many questions about how and when current manager Rick Renteria has handled his young club. Whether it’s his bullpen use in critical situations (see Carlos Rodon in a big spot in Cleveland) or his batting orders, Renteria has worn a great deal of the blame for the White Sox seeming to underperform at times.
At the end of the day, players have to perform. But it’s the job of the manager to put the players in a position to succeed.
It’s time for a change. Just as the Cubs moved on from Renteria when it was time to take the next, big step towards a championship, the White Sox must now consider the immediate future of a contending club.
The list of candidates is fascinating. AJ Hinch and Alex Cora both won championships recently, but both were infamously let go by their previous employers because of the sign stealing scandal a year ago. Carlos Beltran got his first big league managerial job with the Mets last winter but never got the chance to show what he could do because he, too, was implicated in the cheating.
Ron Washington would be a great hire. He’s a borderline jedi when it comes to developing players defensively and would make a huge impact on the White Sox infield play. He has MLB managerial experience.
Joe Espada is the bench coach for the Astros and is respected around the game. He was considered for the Cubs job a year ago and should be on many short lists for openings this winter. He would be a great hire by the White Sox or any other team looking for a manager who understands how to use analytics.
And, of course, there’s always Ozzie Guillen. He’s in Chicago and absolutely deserves another shot at running a big league club. Whether or not a return to the White Sox would work is a wild card, especially considering fan expectations for the manager of the 2005 championship club would be equally high.
And expectations should be high for the White Sox in 2021. They should have most of this year’s roster together and their young players – specifically Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Dane Dunning and Dylan Cease – will have valuable experience to build upon.
Which is why the choice for the Sox should be clear.
The man who should take the job is Hensley Meulens.
Meulens, who was once a celebrated Yankees prospect known as “Bam Bam,” is arguably the most qualified manager-in-waiting in Major League Baseball. He also has one of the most intriguing international resumes in the game, making him the ideal man to call the shots on Chicago’s South Side.
In 1989, Meulens became the first player from Curaçao to make it to the big leagues. He opened the door for a parade of stars including Andruw Jones, Kenley Jansen, Ozzie Albies, Andrelton Simmons and Jonathan Schoop. He was the first from his country to play in both MLB and the Dominican Professional Baseball League, and his playing career saw him make stops in MLB, the Nippon Professional Baseball, and the Korea Baseball Organization. Meulens was also the first player to play for all four of the major Caribbean winter leagues. His international playing experience would be invaluable for a White Sox team that has so many countries represented on the roster.
That experience is nice. It sets the table for someone to understand various paths to the big leagues and gives him incredible perspective as a player and a man.
But what about coaching?
Meulens has been coaching baseball since 2003 at almost every level possible. For seven years he served in various capacities in the minor leagues until he got a crack at the highest level in 2010, when he was named the hitting coach of the San Francisco Giants. San Francisco won the World Series three times in the first five years he was the hitting coach. Because of his success, Meulens started to get interest as a head coaching candidate. He was one of six who interviewed for the New York Yankees managerial opening in 2017. Today he is the bench coach for the New York Mets.
Beyond the big leagues, Meulens was the manager of Team Netherlands in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and runs the Dutch Antilles Baseball Academy in Curaçao.
Meulens has paid his dues and has shown the ability to get the best out of players at every level of the game. His international experience would benefit the White Sox and his passion for the game would push the team to exceed expectations – not just meet them.
So, with three games left in the 2020 regular season, I’m throwing my pick out there on the record.
To Rick Hahn and the rest of the White Sox front office: hire Bam Bam. Please.