The Chicago White Sox are fortunate that then-general manager Kenny Williams chose Robin Ventura to be the team’s manager. Not only was Ventura superb in 2012, but he continues to prove that the White Sox are in good hands.
See, when Ventura turned down a one-year contract extension from the White Sox this offseason, he told everyone that 2013 is the only season that matters.
Exactly the way it should be.
The moment was not lost on GM Rick Hahn. "It's really just a testament to [Ventura], how special he is in terms of his approach to this position and his focus on the job at hand," Hahn elaborated when asked about Ventura’s decision (via Doug Padilla, ESPN.com).
The team is going to need the focus Hahn mentioned more than ever.
Each and every team in the AL Central—with the exception of the Minnesota Twins—got markedly better during the offseason.
The Cleveland Indians signed Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds.
In Kansas City, the Royals brought in veteran pitchers James Shields and Ervin Santana to solidify the starting pitching, which had been an organizational weakness for some time.
The White Sox need their focus to be on each day’s game if they hope to make the postseason. Ventura knows this.
Besides, he has plenty of other things to worry about.
The White Sox have a new bullpen coach. They lost their most productive left-handed bat when A.J. Pierzynski signed with the Texas Rangers. And the pitching staff—the strength of the 25-man roster—has some serious questions that need to be answered this spring.
Ventura chose not to extend his contract because it was not the right time.
Do the White Sox have enough talent to take the AL Central?
To be sure, Ventura could have turned the extension down because he does not want to manage that long. He also could have turned it down as a negotiating ploy.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales, however, Ventura denied that either one of those scenarios are true. We have to trust him. He has given us no reason not to.
Granted, Ventura may have some work to do with the nuances of managing in the big leagues. There is only so much a skipper can do to impact the outcome of a game, though.
Stewardship, as it turns out, is as important as anything else.
And the White Sox have a manager who has established trust with the fans, while putting his team and his colleagues ahead of himself.
That has to mean something to his players and to the fans.
It is the mark of a true leader.
*Offseason transaction information courtesy of MLBDepthCharts.com. CSNChicago.com first reported that Ventura turned down the offer from the White Sox.