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Breaking down the White Sox decision to promote Chris Getz

by Jordan Lazowski

Thursday began the Chris Getz era on the south side, and if you’re wondering how the fan base took this news, well, the White Sox were ratioed in their announcement tweet.

Getz, on the surface, represents a change – though, not the level of change that most White Sox fans were expecting when Jerry Reinsdorf fired Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn.

With the announcement and yesterday’s press conference, this article is an attempt to really dive deep into the hiring of Getz and try to give a fair but thorough evaluation of Getz’s qualifications, and most importantly, what he may need to do for White Sox fans to believe he is the right man for the job.

What Getz Has Said

The White Sox held a press conference for Getz yesterday, and you can get a full breakdown of what was said – including by Jerry Reinsdorf – below.

Getz’s press conference actually started out rather strongly, and his opening statement provided talk of outside hires, continued integration of analytics, and a promise that he would bring “creativity, innovation, and energy” to the organization. Part of the statement is clipped below which relates to what he is planning to do in terms of roster construction.

The problem is that once his opening statement ended, his answers were rather vague and often circular. If you listened hard enough, you could gain a few things that Getz is planning without any strong details surrounding them:

  1. There will be changes to all areas of scouting: amateur, professional, and international
  2. Getz was careful to mention “outside influences” multiple times without getting into names, so there may be some individuals still coming
  3. Pedro Grifol is coming back next season in order to provide some stability to a team that is going to be changing a lot

His best answer – largely because it was the only one he provided with details – was regarding finding the right mix of leaders. Perhaps this was an answer he spoke more confidently on because of his time as a player – which, in theory, should help in creating a clubhouse culture.

Other than that, there were a lot of questions wasted on topics that Getz really never had any knowledge of – the shooting at Guaranteed Rate Field being one of them. It would’ve been great to hear about some players from within the organization who Getz believes can help – since, you know, he was the Farm Director – but perhaps those will come at a later date.

“The fans deserve different, I am different, we will be different.”

– Chris Getz

Overall, if Pedro Grifol won his press conference, Chris Getz would certainly be near the opposite of that. While he didn’t exactly “lose” the press conference, as we will get into throughout this article, it would’ve been nice to see a strong beginning to an era that already is so divisive. This press conference did not accomplish that.

The Resume

Let’s start to get into why this hire is so divisive. We’ll start with Getz’s qualifications.

Here are some statistics on the other 29 General Managers in baseball right now:

  • A majority of them (18) were assistant general managers directly before becoming general managers
  • 5 of them were previously VPs of Baseball Operations
  • 2 held another GM role before the one they came into currently
  • The remaining held roles in scouting, as the Director of Player Development, or as an MLB Coordinator
  • A majority also had some experience in player development throughout their career

Based on this, Getz’s path isn’t off base from what would be expected from someone who eventually becomes a General Manager. The problem is two-fold:

  1. He is now the White Sox’s lead baseball executive, which we will get into later
  2. His previous tenure as Farm Director wasn’t as successful as you would hope it would be to warrant a promotion

To address the second point: here is where the White Sox’ farm system ranked preseason) each year of Getz’s tenure.

Baseball AmericaMLB PipelineBaseball Prospectus

Starts off great, right? Here’s the problem: We know that Getz inherited a farm system that was reloaded after the trades of Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and Jose Quintana. We also know how many of those top prospects panned out – Zack Collins, Carson Fulmer, and Yoan Moncada, just to name a few. Since then, Getz has been unable to dig the minor league system out of the hole that graduating its best prospects that they traded for created. Any time in recent memory that the White Sox have seen a jump in the rankings, it is because they traded away major league talent for prospects that other teams drafted/started to develop – as is the case once again in 2023.

Now, this isn’t entirely his fault – more to come on this later. And, the minor league system is not without its victories. Players such as Adam Engel, Danny Mendick, Aaron Bummer, Seby Zavala, and Leury Garcia have come up and contributed as role players in previous seasons. There are some hopefuls in players like Lenyn Sosa, Cristian Mena, Sean Burke, Davis Martin, and Jose Rodriguez. Some of the bullpen arms in Sammy Peralta and Lane Ramsey have appeal to them, and Gregory Santos is an absolute win in the White Sox’s favor. Colson Montgomery looks to be a star in the making.

However, with the Getz resume featuring a lot of hopefuls and past role players right now, it’s not as strong a resume as I assume he would even like – even if his promotion makes sense when compared to other GMs across the league.

The Title

Perhaps one of the other interesting decisions for the White Sox is to make their “single decision-maker” their General Manager. In most cases, that person is the President of Baseball Operations, with a General Manager below them. Now, the President of Baseball Operations is still the “single-decision maker” in those cases, but inflating titles allows you to hire more good people who will help lead the organization. Think about it this way: you don’t know the Cubs’ GM, but you know Jed Hoyer. However, Carter Hawkins (the Cubs’ GM) will likely become a President of Baseball Operations one day, and it’s because he learned from one of the better ones. Hoyer himself was the GM for Theo Epstein.

This will make the most sense when viewed through a tweet by Jon Morosi:

The difference between Getz and the other three names on that list is that only one of the three is actually the team’s lead decision-maker. Fuld works under Dave Dombrowski, while Gomes works under Andrew Friedman. Young had previously worked under Joe Torre in MLB’s operations department – not exactly a direct correlation, but the message is clear: first-time executives often have someone above them who is really calling the shots while they learn and grow towards that position one day in the future.

Simply put, it appears the White Sox became scared by the power imbalance of Kenny Williams/Rick Hahn, and instead of finding a head baseball executive who could hire people underneath him that he could work well with, the club instead decided to completely eliminate Williams’ front office position.

Why does this matter? Well, Getz has made one thing clear: he plans to make hires from the outside. This is good news! The problem is that with Getz’s title being GM, he can’t hire someone from another organization and entice them with a promotion in many cases. This will not help the White Sox hire new talent, as the pool of people they can offer a worthy title promotion to cannot include current assistant general managers – they can certainly try, but few people would leave their current roles for a lateral move.

To be clear, none of this is Chris Getz’s fault. However, because of the skepticism already surrounding the hire, hiring some great outside people would really help him. The title he was given shrinks this pool before he could really even dive into it.

The Blame Game

There is always one lingering question over everything, however. Who really is to blame for those things most are holding against Getz?

This question has to continue to come up because of one comment from Jerry Reinsdorf during yesterday’s press conference:

“For the first time in all the years that I’ve been associated with the White Sox, I had a farm director who was doing what I wanted.”

Now, this isn’t entirely in context; Reinsdorf was talking about how Getz was “teaching baseball” at the minor league levels, something he really enjoyed seeing happen. I’m not sure where this idea comes from though, but that’s not necessarily the point here. The point is that there needs to be a consistent reminder of, ultimately, who will always remain in charge.

The idea of there being a “single decision-maker” is one that already comes with pre-qualifications based on yesterday’s conversations. Getz may take a look at this roster and – accurately – assess that it cannot win in 2024. But, Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t want to wait. So, will Getz be allowed to treat the roster how he wants based on his vision? Or will Jerry Reinsdorf be giving him his vision and expecting Getz to execute it? If it’s the former, great! But if it’s the latter, how is this any different from what the organization just went through with the power imbalance of Hahn/Williams?

This goes directly into a previous point about the frustrating state of the minor league system. Getz has talked about needing to give the team more depth behind their stars, but ultimately, this is what the minor league level was responsible for. So, is this a backhanded comment saying he really was handcuffed at points? This would, however, fly in opposition to what Getz said this morning on 670 The Score. When he was asked about what he could point to as something he was proud of working on, Getz mentioned the modernization efforts within the minor leagues that he undertook as part of this answer. While they still may be behind analytically, at least making an attempt to move forward was a good answer by Getz. However, that would imply he did have a lot of control at the minor league level, placing the blame on the depth back on him.

The talent that comes into the organization, however, isn’t entirely Getz’s fault. Certainly, Getz will have some say in who is drafted, but at the same time, that is what the scouts and the Scouting Director are in charge of. You can’t necessarily develop players out of thin air who don’t have the talent, but it’s fair to assume that, somewhere along the line over the past seven years, someone would have sprouted up and caught fire. Perhaps those players are still coming though, in the form of Jose Rodriguez, Cristian Mena, and others following Getz’s modernization efforts. It would still be nice to have someone now to point to.

The likely answer to the big question that started this section: a little bit of everything is true, just how it’s been for years now. Getz may be able to avoid a power imbalance among front office members, but even if he does, there will always be lingering concerns about when the Chairman may step in and enact his vision. Or, if that doesn’t happen, it makes it easier to pinpoint who should be responsible for failures moving forward.

What Happens Next

Despite all the criticisms from fans that have been all over social media, at the end of the day, Getz’s work will ultimately speak for itself.

On what is day two of the job, he has three big decisions to make right away that can help change the tides for how he is viewed by fans:

  1. Who he hires to be his assistant general manager/any advisors he hires
  2. Who he hires as the team’s next Director of Player Development
  3. How he handles the current managerial situation

We already got the answer to the third question, and his steadfast confidence in Pedro Grifol could be something he comes to regret further down the line if someone such as, let’s just say, Craig Counsell, were to become available.

Beyond the managerial situation, which will unfold over time, who Getz chooses to surround himself with would certainly go a long way in helping ease fans’ concerns. Will he bring in someone from a winning organization who he can relate to, build a relationship with, and ultimately win alongside? Or will he default to those he already knows, end up bringing Dayton Moore in, and really keep most of the current staff around? And what sort of skills will he look for in the next Director of Player Development – and which organization will they come from?

If Getz is truly about innovation, energy, and creativity, how he chooses to make these key decisions can go a long way in proving that. Alternatively, they could go a long way in turning more fans into pessimists.

Let’s finish this off by playing a game. What does this picture make you think of?

For me, this classic Process/Outcome Matrix represents a lot of what I’ve come to know about the White Sox in my time watching and blogging about the team.

This is a team that, quite often, doesn’t follow a great process. Sometimes, you get some dumb luck out of it all – that’s how 2005 happens. Most often, you get some deserved failure. The start of this rebuild process was tracking on the “deserved success” route in the early stages: they made smart trades and started signing some good pieces. However, it quickly turned into a bad process when they hired Tony La Russa, suffered infighting amongst top executives, refused to pony up for the best free agents despite years of saving money, and completely failed to develop the talent they traded for. 2021 ends up looking more like “dumb luck” than “deserved success” because of this.

The promotion of Chris Getz has many of the same qualities as outlined above. I think more fans would be open to this hire if the White Sox hadn’t taken nine days to do it. They had their plan all along. Had the organization conducted an extensive search, including executives from other teams who are more than worthy to run a baseball operations department, and then decided on Getz, I think a smaller subset of fans would have been upset by this hire. Even if this all works, it doesn’t mean the process they took to choose Getz was the right one.

Every single White Sox fan wants Chris Getz to succeed. However, every White Sox fan who shows any sort of hesitation towards celebrating this move is well within their rights. For an organization that has self-criticized itself as far too insular in past hiring cycles, a quick decision such as this when organizational failure runs rampant doesn’t inspire much confidence.

I’ll be giving Chris Getz a chance, and I hope you will as well. If he’s willing to actually come in, make changes, and put his own stamp on the organization, I think a lot more people will be willing to see things through and be supportive. Perhaps he’ll prove a lot of people wrong, or perhaps a few years down the line, we’ll be writing all about the same warning signs we all saw early on. Everything starts with how Getz handles this winter, however, and that’s when the true judgment will begin.

A great thing about baseball is that success stories can come out of brutal beginnings. Let’s hope this is one of them.

Follow us @SoxOn35th for more throughout the season!

Featured Image: White Sox / Twitter

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[…] now it’s official. Chris Getz, new baseball ops for the […]

Thomas Hall

If Getz crashes and burns, then it will be safe to say that nothing was learned from the Tony La Russa debacle, a hire where Reinsdorf went over his front office!

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