The Chicago White Sox’s epitaph of this season was delivered Wednesday night by starter Lance Lynn.
“Nothing surprises me, especially when you play like (beep) all year,” Lynn said after a loss to the Cleveland Guardians in one of their worst performances of the year.
The Guardians’ three-game sweep has put the Sox on the brink of elimination, and we’ll soon find out what they’ll do to make sure next year isn’t a repeat.
As everyone knows by now, the Sox don’t operate like most teams. Sometimes who you know is as important as anything else in getting – and keeping – a job with that organization. So who will stay and who will leave is up to you.
General manager Rick Hahn is in the hot seat despite a rebuild that looked to be on track until regressing this season under a manager he didn’t choose.
With the end of the season at hand, here’s a look at some of the key personnel who will likely be assessed by Executive Vice President Ken Williams and, if he remains, Hahn.
President Jerry Reinsdorf chose Tony La Russa as manager in 2020, relieving Hahn of the responsibility of hiring his friend. Reinsdorf, in a statement announcing the hiring, denied this scenario.
“His hiring is not based on friendship or what happened years ago, but on the fact that we have the opportunity to have one of the greatest managers in history. play in our dugout at a time when we believe our team is on the verge of great accomplishments,” Reinsdorf said.
Nobody bought him, and La Russa has been a controversial figure from day one, getting the lion’s share of the blame for the lackluster 2022 season.
La Russa left the team on August 30 for a heart problem with a month to play in his second season and remains in limbo. He would be signed until 2023, but that also remains uncertain. If they choose, the Sox could use the health issue as a reason to move on from La Russa’s second era, which by most standards was a failure.
Reinsdorf will however have the last word.
Hahn was allowed to hire pitching coach Ethan Katz after the 2020 season to replace Don Cooper, whose sell-out date had been extended several years by Hahn and Williams. Cooper managed to outlast managers Terry Bevington, Jerry Manuel, Ozzie Guillen and Robin Ventura and was fired the same day as manager Rick Renteria following the 2020 playoff loss to the Oakland A’s.
Katz oversaw a staff that finished second in the American League in 2021 but ranked seventh Friday with a 3.88 ERA. He would seem immune to any manager changes and could even be seen as a candidate to replace La Russa.
Miguel Cairo, who played under La Russa in St. Louis and served as special assistant in Cincinnati to former La Russa boss and friend Walt Jocketty, was hired as a bench coach two years ago. It was a surprising move considering Cairo had never succeeded at any level and was only an interim bench coach with the Reds for part of the 2013 season.
The Sox appeared to react when Cairo replaced La Russa as caretaker manager.
“Since August 31 they decide to play, they decide to fight,” Cairo said after Thursday’s loss.
But the Sox failed to show up in the biggest series of the season and are back two games over .500. Cairo remain a contender for leadership if La Russa is out, but a poor finish could undo their hot start.
Batting coach Frank Menechino replaced Todd Steverson after the 2019 season and remained on the La Russa team. Stevenson was then rehired in 2021 as Williams’ special assistant. The Sox are second in the majors in hits (0.260 average) Friday, but 22nd in homers (140) and 29th in walks (367). If the Sox need a scapegoat for this mess, Menechino would be a likely candidate.
First base coach Daryl Boston, hired by Williams in his 10th season with the team, looks safe. Joe McEwing, who had a tough season as third-tier coach, could be replaced for some bad decisions, including the horrific send-off on Yasmani Grandal that resulted in a left knee injury.
Shelley Duncan, the son of La Russa’s friend and longtime trainer Dave Duncan, was hired as the analytics coordinator in 2020. Ironically, La Russa once said in Arizona that using analytics was “an important preparation tool, (but) if you let it interfere with the decision-making of your manager and your coaches, you will be easier to beat. The overuse of Leury Garcia suggested La Russa didn’t prioritize analysis.
Assistant general manager/player development Chris Getz could move on if Hahn is forced out or moved to another position. Ken Williams Jr., the vice president’s son, was promoted to assistant director of minor league player development under Getz in 2020 and could replace Getz if he moves up.
The bottom line is that no one should feel safe after a season like this.
But Reinsdorf is known for his loyalty, so speculate at your own risk.