Baseball

La Russa Should Be Fired

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The Chicago White Sox made the decision to hire Tony La Russa on October 29, 2020 as their new manager after firing Rick Renteria. The decision shocked Sox fans everywhere. After general manager Rick Hahn made it almost obvious the team wanted to hire A.J. Hinch, former Houston Astros manager and current Detroit Tigers manager. According to the team, this graphic, including a photo of La Russa and a signature by Hinch, was released in email form to some fans announcing the hire was a glitch as the announcement graphic had been prepared for several candidates. Still, some fans believe this was a troll by someone inside the organization based on some fans clamoring for Hinch.

How It’s Going

Since the hire, the White Sox have a collective record of 109-85 heading into Sunday’s series finale against the Yankees. Las Russa picked up where Renteria left off by taking the White Sox back to the postseason in 2021. This would mark the first back-to-back postseason appearances by the Sox in team history. While making the postseason should never be taken for granted and is not easy, this team was built with more in mind. In 2020, the Sox suffered a first round exit at the hands of the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card round. In 2021, the Sox would again exit the playoffs after just the first round, this time at the hands of the Houston Astros.

During an extra-inning game in 2021 where La Russa could have pinch run for Liam Hendriks as the runner at second in extra innings rules, he did not make the change and when asked about it after the game, La Russa replied “I didn’t know that.” Among the questions that should be asked: did anybody in the Sox dugout fully understand the rules?

While this is just one example of the questionable management of this team, there are a laundry list of others. From lineup construction to bullpen usage there are questions almost daily. While it is easy to second guess things after the fact, some of the decisions have been obvious. Most recently, against the Yankees in game one of this four game series, La Russa had a left handed pitcher up in the bullpen assumingly to handle Anthony Rizzo of the Yankees if he came to the plate in the inning. Rizzo would come to the plate, and instead of making the change, he left a struggling Joe Kelly in to face Rizzo. Rizzo would reach before La Russa would then make a bad mistake worse by bringing the lefty in to face right handed hitters Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. This decision is one of many, but the most basic understanding of baseball strategy says this is a mistake.

This is bad management and seemingly a habit for Tony. Every week and sometimes more frequently than that you can easily argue some of the decisions coming from the Sox skipper. La Russa was a hall of fame manager as Frank Thomas was once a prolific power hitter for the Sox. Skills and sharpness can fade from us as we age and La Russa’s sharpness has been anything but on point. While there are moments and decisions that deserve praise, they are far outweighed by the questionable ones.

Future

Moving forward expect the Sox to play better baseball as they get healthy. How much better could depend on a variety of things including manager Tony La Russa’s decision making. Tony cannot hit, pitch, or play defense for the Sox but what he can do is make better decisions keeping in mind the health of his players and the longevity of a 162 game season. Luckily for the Sox and their fans they play in the relatively weak American League Central. If they can keep the Twins close as they fight through a tough stretch of bad baseball and a tough schedule, they should still be able to compete for a division title.

The postseason is still well within their sights but what happens when they get there assuming they do not completely collapse? La Russa’s decision making cannot cost this team games in the postseason. The Sox would be in a much better position for the postseason if they could win the central and play more home playoff games yet La Russa’s decision making and lineups seem as if he is okay punting at least one game of nearly every series they play.

La Russa consistently places Leury Garcia in the lineup as if he is an everyday starter, which he is not. Then again, the Sox employ him at a pay rate that would suggest maybe he is. Sox fans were fine with the re-signing of Garcia in the offseason under the assumption Garcia would be a role player giving needed days off to position players and filling in for injured players from time to time yet through 32 games this season Leury has played in 24 of them. Granted, the team has dealt with injuries but something has to give. Placing Garcia in the three hole of a lineup is laughable to most yet Tony has done it twice in recent history and in the same week had him hitting second.

A blessing to Sox fans would be a firing of Tony La Russa and moving forward in a different direction. This will not happen under Jerry Reinsdorf. The hire of La Russa was almost certainly a Reinsdorf call in an attempt to right a mistake he felt he made back in 1986 allowing Hawk Harrelson to fire Tony after a 26-38 start to the season. Another mistake by Reinsdorf may be needed in order for this team to take off and land where they should be.

The Sox injury issues have certainly been a factor in this slow start to the season but La Russa deserves some of the blame as well. Poorly positioning this team week after week should not be filed under the he is in the Hall Of Fame folder and be left unconfronted by White Sox management. Nobody cares what La Russa did historically. They want to win now! One thing that has been spoken about among Sox fans is plate discipline throughout the lineup. Sox hitters consistently get themselves out by expanding the strike zone yet game after game they take the same approach. Not making adjustments to the way they attack offensively is a direct reflection of their manager.

Time for Change

The time for the Sox to win is upon us and so far in 2022 after just 32 games, the team sits at just 16-16. A supremely talented young team that is so far this season vastly underperforming. Multiple questionable decisions during this season and dating back to last season have drawn into question whether Tony La Russa is the right manager to lead this team this season and beyond.

The White Sox would benefit from a change at the healm in the dugout however this will not happen and Sox fans should accept that because you have no choice. It is a long season and all Sox fans are frustrated with the slow start but their is good news. The Sox have 130 games left including the series finale against the Yankees today. Jose will come around, Eloy will be back, and this lineup should begin to produce runs at a much higher rate than the roughly 3.6 runs per game they are scoring now. They currently rank 24th in runs per game.

With the pitching performing very well to this point, the Sox would absolutely win far more frequently with some more runs put on the board. In order for this to change, some hitters need to get hot, but the Sox may need to change their approach. This starts with Tony La Russa. Hopefully, someone in the Sox front office will have a meeting with La Russa soon and give him the shape up or ship out talk. Probably not but they need to do something and do it now!

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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Andy is a huge White Sox fan who loves his family, baseball, and all things sports. Andy coaches youth baseball in his local community and passionately covers the White Sox for Overtime Heroics.

2 comments

  • Linda sims says:

    Both la Russia and Hahn should be gone I say because every season he tells fans that the Sox will spend big money well I haven’t seen that in yrs reinsdorf isn’t willing to spend he is cheap and I feel fans deserve more than what he gives la russa is a loser reinsdorf I wish he would sell the team to someone who wants to win Hahn is the worse general manager in baseball

  • Joseph Hammond says:

    Even here in Las Vegas sports books, it is becoming very apparent that the talent on this team is poorly served by LaRussa. His habit of putting his 3 worst hitters together and the 2B fiasco has cost the team mightily. Anderson used to be a fountain of joy to play the game. Now, he looks forlorn, as if he knows that the playoffs are slipping away day after day. And there is nothing he can do about it.

    I do not believe that we will be able to keep Giolito (who is a SoCal boy) and I see him pitching for the Angels or the Dodgers in a few years with no return for the Sox. You can probably place Kopech in that boat as well. Why would one want to play for a manager who makes Joe Biden look as if he is a competent leader? And where is a 2B player? Yolbert Sanchez is a logical choice over Garcia and Harrison. But will Tony do it, or request that Sanchez be brought up? I doubt it. Las Vegas also doubts it……….

    White Sox will miss the playoffs this year, but the blame will not be put on LaRussa as he is the bosses buddy. It will be on everyone else.

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