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redeyechicago.com

Answering the Ventura question

Steve Rosenbloom

The RosenBlog

8:15 AM CDT, July 17, 2013

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Just before the All-Star break last week, as the White Sox continued to find new and exciting ways to continue their season-long death spiral, Robin Ventura said he wanted to come back to manage the team in 2014.

Should the Sox want him to come back?

I know that rookie general manager Rick Hahn is trying to trade whatever counts as an asset before FEMA shows up at U.S. Cellular, but at some point he’ll have to answer the Ventura question.

Last October, Ventura declined an extension for 2015, so he is signed through next year.

But what is there to recommend him even for next season?

Fact is, not much.

You’re just guessing about Ventura because you don’t know which was the fluke: last season’s surprising run into September or this year’s clinic of unwatchable baseball.

The Sox fielded the ball better than almost every team last season. The Sox were allowing a ridiculously low number of unearned runs as they overcame the Tigers. Then the Sox choked at the plate the last two weeks of the season and carried that stink right into this season and right into the All-Star break.

It’s not just that the Sox have one of the worst records in baseball this year. It’s how they’ve sunk to it: a lack of hitting in the softball league that is the AL, idiot baserunning, and mind-numbingly bad defense.

I would be in favor of benching every Sox player who made a bonehead fielding error or stupid baserunning decision, but then the Sox would have to forfeit, and come to think of it, that would be the best possible thing for selling tickets.

I also would be in favor of trading everybody who screwed up in the field and on the bases because, hey, why not?

Look, the Sox have one -- count ‘em, one -- foundation player on the roster: Chris Sale. They do not have a hitter who looks as if he will matter when the Sox contend again.

The players obviously don’t have the pride to fix this themselves, and after more than half a season, it seems obvious that the manager and coaching staff have no way to change it.

I loved Ventura as a player and thought he handled last season well despite never managing so much as T-ball, but sorry, a team’s baserunning and defense can’t start out this badly and stay that way and not have blame rain down on the manager and his staff. Some of the blame, anyway. Maybe a lot of it.

You can work on defense before games. The Sox did that before each series last year and were a quality fielding team. You can bench players for having a baserunning IQ of zero. You can send messages in different ways.

But no. Idiot baserunning and sloppy defense continue. I believe that Ventura and his coaches have talked to players about all the bad stuff. I mean, they’re not comatose.

But here’s the thing: It is perhaps a bigger problem when a staff actively tries to fix the misery but fails.

So, again, the question is which is the fluke, Ventura’s 2012 or 2013?

Ventura probably will come back to at least finish his deal because the small-market Sox make sure they get work out of people they’re paying, even if the work might be bad.

But amid all this, there is a piece of good news: We’re just one more miserable Sox homestand away from Bears training camp.