The 2012 Chicago White Sox and general manager Kenny Williams entered the season with realistic expectations for first-year manager Robin Ventura. Tasked with leading a collection of under-performing veterans and handling a pitching staff with more question marks than answers, Ventura quickly exceeded what Williams expected.
See, Ventura is a batten down the hatches, everything is under control, kind of guy and that is what works for the White Sox. Heck, that is simply what works in baseball today.
Flamboyance is annoying and detracts from the team’s focus, while staying in the moment as a manager allows players to flourish.
Ventura has a way of reaching the players that Ozzie Guillen did not and fits the dynamic of modern-day baseball.
It helps to have a veteran like Paul Konerko echoing your every word, but Ventura did just fine on his own setting the example. Handling player adversity and treating everyone as an individual seems to be his greatest strength.
Philip Humber is a perfect example. Following his perfect game on April 21, Humber fell apart on the mound and it was clear to outside observers that the time had come to take him out of the rotation.
Ventura did make the move once the White Sox acquired Francisco Liriano from the Minnesota Twins, but he did it with class and dignity. The way Ventura and the White Sox coaching staff handled a delicate situation is a testament to his leadership style and had to be a factor in the way Humber handled it.
To be sure, Ventura made his share of mistakes this past season. The Kevin Youkilis bunting debacle and Liriano's disastrous relief appearance in September are the first that come to mind, but Ventura has the right approach to overcome learning-curve mistakes.
As a rule, bombastic managing no longer works. It is the stoic leader who tends to maximize the talent on his roster.
That, in a nutshell, defines Ventura.
If the future is indeed based in the past, then Ventura has the ability to lead the White Sox into the postseason next year. After all, if the White Sox are in the race in June, do you really think that Williams or Rick Hahn know how to take their foot off the accelerator?
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