So now who?
With general manager Rick Hahn saying he’s leading the search but with others in the front office and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf involved, the White Sox are already looking for Tony La Russa’s replacement, Hahn said
Hahn said the right candidate to be the Sox manager will have “recent experience in the dugout with an organization that has contended for championships, ideally someone who is an excellent communicator, who understands the way the game has grown and evolved in the last decade or so, but at the same time respect old-school sensibilities.”
While saying acting manager Miguel Cairo will be interviewed, Hahn suggested the Sox will break from their record of hiring from within the organizational family.
“It will be a different process,” he said.
Big names like Bruce Bochy, Joe Maddon, Joe Girardi and Don Mattingly are out there. So are Carlos Beltran and Joe Espada, recent sought-after candidates on the manager market.
“As a unit we need an authoritarian, someone who is a little harsher on some things, not let things slide,” closer Liam Hendriks said Monday.
A new voice, roster tweaks to improve team defense and a re-evaluation of offensive approach are in store.
The Sox have the second highest rate of chasing bad pitches in baseball, and, while built for power, rank 22nd in homers.
“We lost our offensive approach,” Hahn said.
Overloaded with first base and designated hitter types, the Sox roster needs adjustments. Hahn was noncommittal about first baseman Jose Abreu’s free-agent status, and he said he is open to the possibility of a trade that would break up the Sox’ young core, saying the trade market could be more “fruitful” than free agency.
“We’re not going to be able to just throw money at the problem,” he said.
Another problem was health, and Hahn said pre-injury prevention was an issue with the combination of the lockout during the offseason, a shortened spring training and a new strength and conditioning staff led by Goldy Simmons.
“We did not respond as well as others did and that’s part of the reason we’re here,” Hahn said.
“I suspect we’re going to have changes in the coming months, or additions in the coming months,” he said.
Hahn is not on the hot seat, despite the team being in jeopardy of fielding its eighth losing team in the last 10 seasons.
“If it ever got to the point where I felt like I wasn’t the right person in my role, I’d step aside,” Hahn said “And I’m lucky enough, again, to have the support [from Reinsdorf].”
But Hahn noted the baseball operations department getting executive of the year award consideration in 2020 and winning the AL Central by 13 games in 2021 “being picked for World Series” in 2022, “and now we’re being asked if we should be in our jobs.”
“That’s just the fun of being in pro sports. A fair question given pro sports and given the accountability we all want to have. But know that we ask those questions of ourselves more than anybody.”
The failure of 2022 will serve as motivation.
“This is going to have an effect,” Hahn said “This is going to impact people. This is not a feeling that any of us want to experience again.
“We, like the fans, felt the level of disappointment with the performance this year. It’s been described to me at times as depressing, disgust, frustration, shock. I think any of those adjectives are appropriate.”