After 34 years, Tony La Russa returns as manager of Chicago White Sox.
The news raises a series of questions: Will the hire of the 76-year-old Hall of Famer – last in manager in 2011 when he led the St. Louis Cardinals to World Series title – does it make sense for Chicago? How can it work? What could happen? How did the people around baseball – and the fans in Chicago – react to it?
ESPN baseball writers Jesse Rogers and David Schoenfield share the move.
Why did White Sox choose Tony La Russa?
Schoenfield: Due to a lack of precedent here – not just La Russa’s age, which makes him just the third manager alongside Connie Mack (who owns the team) and Jack McKeon to manage at age 75 and up, but cross His era was removed from management – it was certainly a shocking lease, even if La Russa was a Hall of Famer. However, there is a sense that owner Jerry Reinsdorf sees this as correcting a mistake he made in 1986, when he allowed general manager Hawk Harrelson – yes, THAT Hawk Harrelson – sacked La Russa . Reinsdorf called it his biggest mistake as owner of White Sox, as La Russa went on to win six pennants and three World Series tournaments with A and Cardinals.
Is there a reason for baseball? That’s more confusing, since the trend over the long term is hiring younger managers who are better suited for rapidly changing in-game analytics. But perhaps an old school approach is something that White Sox feels they need to get to the next level, because the talent is there to compete for a World Series title.
Rogers: It was almost an irony recruitment. After the season, they admitted that they had been “ignorant” in some of their thoughts and advice in the past. Considering La Russa has had a relationship with Reinsdorf since he first managed White Sox in the 80’s, the move still gives an internal feel to it. So the problem is, they know him. They know what he is capable of, considering he has won more games than all but two other coaches in history, but the important thing they know about him is that he is smart and adaptable. What they don’t know is what management will mean in a decade. Nobody was able to know that until he was in the cellar.
What is La Russa really like a manager compared to other managers in today’s game?
Schoenfield: There will be a lot of talk about La Russa’s ability to adapt to the level of game development since 2011. There are a lot of elements in the game here: leveraging analytics for things like development. pitchers, dealing with players in this new operating age, debauchery, attracting freelance agents, the growing role of managers as team PR agents (never before now La Russa’s strong suit). It didn’t help that his short stint as baseball director for Diamondbacks included the pathetic hiring of Dave Stewart, with the pair publicly mocking the analysis. (At a time when other teams started ramping up their analytics department, La Russa hired a 66-year-old former veterinarian to be his analysis director.)
On the other hand, perhaps that undermines La Russa’s role as an innovator throughout his long career. Whereas with Person A, he and GM Sandy Alderson were very interested in numbers in the 1980s, ahead of most people in baseball. He turned Dennis Eckersley into what some would call the closer “modern” first, a guy who was mostly saved for the ninth inning. Maybe that was a bit overstatement, but when Eck came closer full-time in 1988, he played 72 innings in over 60 games and saved 45 of them. As La Russa wrote in “One Last Strike”, he and pitching coach Dave Duncan asked a simple question: “How many good guys do you think we have like Eick who can pitch in the ninth half?” The answer is no, so the idea to have Eckersley available as many ninth innings as possible.
Then with Cardinals, he experimented with hitting an eighth pitcher, to give Mark McGwire more RBI opportunities. When he managed the Cardinals to win the 2011 World Series, he was also the early innovator in starting to use pitchers. With Adam Wainwright injured that year, Chris Carpenter was truly the team’s only reliable and reliable starter. In that year ‘s 18 playoffs, Cardinals starters averaged only 5.1 turns per start, and five were pulled before completing five turns even though the starter had allowed three or less runs.
Sorry, we just saw Dusty Baker, 71, play a bullfight in the knockout rounds. Everyone can adapt – and it will certainly be interesting to see how La Russa adjusts to how he did things even 10 years ago.
What has La Russa been doing since the last time he managed?
Schoenfield: It’s important to note that he’s been in the game since he retired after that 2011 World Series. He oversaw baseball operations for the Diamondbacks from the start of the 2014 season to the 2017 season, with that final season ending in a playoff game like a wild card. Later, he worked as an office advisor for Angels and Red Sox. As he hinted at his media meeting on Thursday, he knows now a lot more work is being done preparing for the match, but La Russa has always been considered as one of the preparation managers. best in the game (and a manager who gave more help for the days, with more coaches, so a lot of work was assigned to the coaching staff).
What do people around baseball say?
Rogers: Baseball insiders were shocked by the move, but among those involved, no one firmly said that they did not believe La Russa could do the job. He has too much on his resume to dismiss that idea. The big question is connecting with modern players. An executive says any manager who leaves his job for a decade will face that question.
Another executive said that La Russa is smart enough to fit into the current baseball age. In other words, even if you see him as an old-fashioned manager, he won’t tell Tim Anderson to soften the batman but he will insist on playing the game properly. La Russa uses painkillers early and often, so his style can match the analytical nature of this era in baseball. He’s a matchmaker before that one thing.
One person who played under La Russa quipped that it is better for the Sox bullpen to be comfortable in their role because La Russa will change them on a daily basis. Or at least the La Russa he played would. No one knows what dinner table Tony will bring today. And that’s another important idea about hiring: It’s uncharted territory so there’s not much history to make predictions.
Why might recruitment work?
Rogers: La Russa worked as a lawyer before becoming a manager. He’s smart and has managed in both tournaments for different eras. And one important key is that he hasn’t been at sea for the past 10 years. He’s in three clearly different organizations in Angels, Red Sox and Diamondbacks. If it hadn’t been for the time gap in maneuvering, then this move wouldn’t be as important. Also, Sox looks great on paper. Mostly, their manager would need to stay away and let them play. How difficult is that?
Schoenfield: Hey, Jack McKeon was 72 years old when he managed the Marlins to the 2003 World Series championship. I think the interesting dynamic here is that most of these White Sox players will not know anything about La Russa. But La Russa emphasizes her history and success in building relationships during her long time as a manager, and that aspect of the job is perhaps more important than any X and O points. Come on. Building that trust with Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert is more important to La Russa than helping them analyze or manage. There are others to help in that area.
Why is this recruitment ineffective?
Rogers: Isn’t that obvious? He’s 76 years old, which leads to more questions about being physically able to do the job than mentally. There is a grind. And that is without considering another potential COVID-19 season. And the possible disconnect between this modern player and this manager is real. Basically, La Russa has suit a generation of players. There are a lot of hurdles that can get in the way, of which the biggest is his relationship with a young Sox team.
Schoenfield: It’s correct. Do you remember during the 2011 world series in Game 5 when the Cardinals made two odd choices with a bullgun that made no sense? After the match, La Russa blamed the level of noise in the park, saying that bull school coach Derek Lilliquist misheard him (in one case, meaning Jason Motte was not getting warmed up and in one in other cases, Marc Rzepczynski had to stay behind to play for left-back mason Mike Napoli). When Rzepczynski was finally replaced by Lance Lynn, La Russa was expecting Motte. “I saw Lynn, and I asked, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’ La Russa said after the match that the cardinals lost.
There was a lot of speculation at the time about what really happened – and it’s possible La Russa had brain deflation at the wrong time. Maybe it’s just too big. “We couldn’t even hear the phone ringing, it was tucked away in the tunnel. You couldn’t even see the pitcher heat up. That’s not a good setup,” Lynn said after the match.
Anyway, the problem is that this is where La Russa was at the time, and he was only 66 years old. At 76, the clock for every mistake will be even more severe and serious.
What’s the reaction in Chicago?
Rogers: Since his name was initially known, there has been a total outcry of the idea of La Russa becoming the next White Sox manager. On social media, sports radio and in the media. From the callers to the columnists, the idea turned around. There is nothing better now than when he was announced.