Chicago White Sox: Tony LaRussa and 4 Most Likely Candidates for Manager
There was speculation throughout the entire 2011 season that manager Ozzie Guillen was planning on taking his talents to South Beach prior to the '12 season. Rumors about the White Sox manager came and went, and before you knew it, so did the Sox chances at a postseason appearance.
The White Sox had just two games left on their '11 schedule, but the team didn't wait to play the last of its 162 games before GM Kenny Williams traded Ozzie Guillen to the soon-to-be Miami Marlins. Ozzie got what he wanted all along in his move to Miami, and now the White Sox need to fill the shoes of the manager who managed the team for eight years.
The outspoken Guillen did more than just speak his mind during his tenure on the South Side. He lead the White Sox and its loyal fans to, most notably, a 2005 World Series championship, which was the organization's first championship since 1917. In addition to a ring, Ozzie won 677 games, two division titles and he had five winning seasons.
It can't be forgotten that professional sports are more than entertainment. They are a business above all else. Even though Guillen had an abundance of success as White Sox skipper, the organization had to assess what success he brought the organization recently. And with that being said, Williams decided to ship Guillen from the South Side to South Beach for a couple of minor league players.
Here is a list of the four most likely candidates for the White Sox manager job.
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Dave Martinez is currently the bench coach for Joe Maddon’s Tamp Bay Rays, and he has to be having a blast while the Rays continue their winning ways that began in early September and resulted in a postseason appearance. However, you’d think if a team approached Martinez to be manager he’d have to highly consider making a change for the best of his interest.
This wouldn’t be the first time White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf would sign a bench coach as his team’s head coach. Reinsdorf, who also owns the Chicago Bulls, and Bulls GM Gar Forman signed Boston Celtics bench coach Tom Thibodeau to be head coach of the Bulls prior to last season. In Thibodeau’s first year as Bulls head coach he brought his team to the Eastern Conference Finals before being eliminated by the Miami Heat.
Martinez has been the Rays’ bench coach since 2007, and the club has two division titles—in 2008 and 2010—during that time, including a World Series appearance in 2008. During his 16-year career as a MLB player, he played for eight different teams, including three years of service for the Chicago White Sox.
Martinez has witnessed what Maddon has been able to accomplish with a small-market baseball team, thus, Martinez has the potential to apply the lessons he’s learned under the wing of Maddon to the White Sox—a team that’s looking more and more like its rivals across town as the days go by. And that's not a good thing.
Sandy Alomar Jr.
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Sandy Alomar Jr. was a MLB catcher for 20 years, and he served three separate stints with the White Sox. He’s spent the last two years as the Cleveland Indians first base coach, but he was recently promoted as Manny Acta’s bench coach for the 2012 season.
Alomar has worked his way up the coaching totem pole, starting as the New York Mets catching instructor in 2008 to where he stands today with the Indians. His experience in the major leagues as a player and coach speaks volume when a club is in pursuit for its next manager.
Alomar is an intelligent baseball mind who won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1990. He played in both the American and National League, and he played for seven different organizations. He’s been around the league and knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
The 45-year-old Puerto Rican has done just about everything he’s qualified to do in the major leagues except for manage in his 24 years of playing and coaching. The White Sox could be a nice opportunity for Alomar to begin his managerial career because of the learning experiences that’ll come with having to make managerial decisions with players like Alex Rios and Adam Dunn if they produce as poorly as they did in 2011.
Love it or hate it, Kenny Williams may be on the brink of hiring the same guy he signed three different times as a catcher to be the next manager of the White Sox.
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Tony La Russa is a name that is constantly mentioned when discussions surface about the next White Sox manager. Yes, La Russa began his managerial career on the South Side. Yes, he definitely has connections to the organization and owner Jerry Reinsdorf. But, don't forget there is still a postseason taking place, and La Russa's Cardinals found a way to sneak in on the action.
La Russa is going to continue to ignore all questions relating to the White Sox job because of the professional that he is.
He's managed three different teams, won three League Pennants, and he's won two World Series championships. La Russa is going to focus on the task at hand, and that's winning his second ring as Cardinals manager.
But, don't forget about him and the White Sox, especially if the Cardinals have a disappointing postseason performance. Albert Pujols may leave St. Louis after this season, and that may make La Russa's decision that much easier.
La Russa has stated that he'd retire after his career with the Cardinals, but that's easier said then done. The White Sox job could be a very viable option for La Russa when the decision has to be made. Why not end your career in the same uniform that you started it in?
Besides, maybe LaRussa will be able to convince St. Louis native and beloved White Sox starting pitcher Mark Buehrle to stay in Chicago for one last hurrah when it comes to signing as a free agent prior to the 2012 season.
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Buddy Bell is what many people consider a baseball lifer. He will be associated with this game until the day he dies. He's currently the Director of Player Development for the White Sox Minor League system. Bell played in the MLB for 18 seasons, and he managed for nine seasons with three different teams.
Bell is quite familiar with the White Sox organization because he's been with it since 2008, but he was also the director of minor league instruction for the White Sox from 1991-93. Bell has definitely been around the game for longer than a lot of others throughout the MLB and he had a great playing career, but that doesn't mean he'll be a good manager.
Bell has managed three different teams: Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies and the Kansas City Royals. He was fired from Detroit and Colorado in the middle of his third season with each team. In his nine seasons as manager he never lead a team to the postseason, and he only had one winning season.
Buddy Bell may be a great guy to have around the organization, but there comes a time when you need to draw a line. And that time is now. Kenny Williams doesn't owe Bell anything. The baseball world has seen what Bell can do as a coach, and he's shown that he can't win enough ball games to succeed. Bell needs to remain in the front office and not in the dugout.
If Williams decides to hire Bell then that may be the straw that breaks the camel's back for Kenny. If Bell manages the White Sox as well as he's managed in the past, both Williams and Buddy will need to start searching for a new employer.