The Chicago White Sox have thrown it back, for sure, with the signing of Hall of Famer, Tony La Russa as their next manager. It is not only a throwback hire, but a comeback hire as well.
La Russa managed the Sox in 1983 when they won the division title. In 2021 La Russa will try to do that and much more for the White Sox, in order to build on their 2020 playoff season. La Russa last managed the White Sox in 1986 and last managed in MLB in 2011 with the Cardinals. He owns a 2728-2365-4 career record which comes to a .536 winning percentage. The Hall of Famer has six pennants, three World Series rings, and is a four-time manager of the year.
Biggest La Russa Surprise
The biggest surprise about this hire comes in the latter part of the intro paragraph. That is, La Russa has not managed since 2011. On top of that, he is considered an old school manager through and through. So will he be able to adjust to the ways the game has changed since 2011? That is a question that remains to be seen.
La Russa is a brilliant manager but trends change and he has not been in the role he is assuming this year in nine years. That’s a lifetime for someone to leave one coaching role then transform to another. The one thing you know La Russa is going to bring is accountability. This will be good for a White Sox team so young, however, on the flip side, some have a concern about how the now 76-year-old La Russa can connect with young players.
La Russa Hire Leads to Frustration
The tweet above by Jeff Passan captures the frustration some of the Sox employees have about the La Russa Hire. Asking how a man who has not managed in nine years can connect with young players is a fair question. Especially since the Sox are one of the better up and coming teams in the game with lots of young talent and a good mix of veterans.
This is one area that should concern some Sox fans. The proof is in the pudding that La Russa could get the job done, but he’s is in the Hall of Fame for goodness sake. The question that remains, however, is whether he can still get the job done?
The game has changed a bunch since La Russa last managed. Considering that, I personally believe the answer is no. La Russa is an all-timer don’t get me wrong, it’s just how you manage each game. With all due respect to La Russa, things within the clubhouse have also changed a bunch in the last nine years.
Nine years ago you would still see pitchers on almost all teams go at least three times through the order. Also, nine years ago you would see more managers who chewed out the media with their emotions as La Russa has been know to do at times. Lastly, La Russa is a straight talker which is what has gotten him in trouble since the last managing in 2011. Mike Petriello Reports due to La Russa’s history of commenting on certain issues players might not want to play for the White Sox.
This of course presents an issue for the Sox who would still like to spend wisely when needed, in order to enable them to go out and acquire certain free agents. Of course, this is not an issue which they do not think can be solved in due time, otherwise, they would not have signed him. Unless it is exactly as Passan reported and it was all Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s, decision – a decision that he likely was not going to be swayed from.
All Jerry on Getting La Russa?
Reinsdorf clearly wanted experience at the manger’s spot and he certainly got that and more with the three-time World Series winner. He also got a Hall of Famer in La Russa. The issue is, experience doesn’t matter if the coach does not adjust.
For example, imagine a coach such as Buddy Ryan, coaching in today’s more skilled, less brutally physical NFL style of play. He is a Hall of Famer coach but likely would not be good in today’s game because of the style of play adjustments. That is exactly the reason why I believe La Russa might go down as more of a name hire than a good hire in the end.
He is a name brand that has great credentials but credentials, but credentials that come with an old school style of managing. Can that style work in today’s game? I’m not so confident it will. Will La Russa adjust to the times? Only time will tell.
In conclusion, all that can be said for certain is the White Sox got their hands on a very intelligent experienced baseball mind. That’s why he was a part of the Angels’ front office before returning to managing. La Russa is also going to bring a winning pedigree to the team. The only question is whether or not that winning pedigree carries on from 2011 into the new brand of baseball today.
In the interim, he is the man. Good luck and congratulations to Tony La Russa on becoming the White Sox next manager.
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