After weeks of speculating since Tony La Russa took a leave of absence towards the end of the 2022 season, the Hall of Fame Manager has officially announced his retirement from the White Sox. As the organization moves towards hiring a new manager, the Sox On 35th team speculates on the process and offers our own suggestions.
Who Should Be The Next Manager for the White Sox?
Jordan Lazowski | Editor-in-Chief
My biggest hope for this search is that Rick Hahn gets his wish and is able to conduct a search that isn’t insular in nature. Analytically driven managers from other organizations appeal to me, as this team and organization are in desperate need of new ideas, philosophies, and opinions. Speaking Spanish is a plus for me, but not a requirement, due to the makeup of this team’s roster. A new voice with the energy necessary to hold 26 players accountable should, at the end of the day, be the most important requirement.
My list of names includes [Houston Astros bench coach] Joe Espada, [Tampa Bay Rays third base coach] Matt Quatraro, and [former player] Carlos Beltran. My dark horse candidate would be [Boston Red Sox bench coach] Will Venable, who appears pretty lined up to take over the job in Texas. With Espada and Quatraro, you get long-time bench coaches from winning organizations. With Beltran, you get a leader who, reportedly, is incredibly forward-thinking.
At the end of the day, so long as Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams are the ones making this choice, I have a hard time believing I’ll be too upset with their decision.
Nik Gaur | Managing Editor
While A.J. Pierzynski feels like a possible hire, I would love for the White Sox to, for once, conduct a thorough interview process with external candidates from a variety of backgrounds. I have always liked Joe Espada, and his lack of a managerial role to date is somewhat puzzling. Matt Quatraro is another popular name, although I really just want somebody who is unlike the typical White Sox manager.
I would like the next manager to be more analytically inclined, willing to consider new/different information and ideas, and ideally have no prior ties to the organization. Another positive trait would be if the manager speaks Spanish, given that so many players on the White Sox roster speak Spanish as their primary language.
Noah Phalen | Contributor
I think the process by which the White Sox choose their next manager is almost more important than the end result of the search. The White Sox need to do a comprehensive search for their next manager – something that they haven’t done in a long time. There are several candidates that I believe could be good fits, including the previously mentioned Espada, Quatraro, and Beltran. Additionally, [Cleveland Guardians first base coach] Sandy Alomar Jr. would be a great candidate to finally get his chance after spending years in Cleveland. All of these candidates come from winning teams with good player development systems, and all speak Spanish.
Michael Suareo | Contributor
The White Sox have a talented roster in place, so while bringing in a proven manager makes sense, it isn’t completely necessary. What they do need is a manager who can incorporate a winning culture along with a modern analytical approach. This is why Matt Quatraro makes the most sense for this role, as he comes from the most analytically inclined MLB organization and has been part of several playoff seasons while acting as the bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays. He is the anti-LaRussa, which is exactly what the White Sox need.
Thatcher Zalewski | Contributor
With Tony La Russa not returning as manager next year, it opens up a very interesting managerial position for potential candidates. The next manager of the White Sox should be Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro. Quatraro would be coming from a very analytical-inclined organization, which the White Sox needs. He also has plenty of postseason experience from being with the Rays. He has also been working under Kevin Cash, one of the game’s best managers.
Duke Coughlin | Contributor
With rumors swirling regarding Tony La Russa potentially retiring as soon as Monday, I think Rick Hahn and Co. need to look outside the building for their next manager. Miguel Cairo deserves a little bit of credit for stepping up late in the season, but his inexperience showed in his late-game decisions and shouldn’t be a genuine consideration for the position in 2023.
As far as names to consider, I think there are quite a few intriguing options available. Former Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will certainly get interest around the league this winter, as well as Cleveland Guardians first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. The most intriguing of them all, however, has to be Former San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who has teased potentially returning to baseball. Bochy will be managing for France in the upcoming WBC tournament, something the White Sox will almost certainly keep an eye on.
The more this front office explores managerial options outside of the organization, the better.
Who Should Replace Frank Menechino as the White Sox Hitting Coach?
Jordan Lazowski: Carlos Beltran
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think Beltran will get the managerial job with the White Sox, despite my belief that he would be a great fit. I have a hard time believing that a team full of veterans will be too welcoming of the only player named as part of the Astros’ cheating scandal from 2017. I’d be happy to be proven wrong. That being said, Beltran is still a leader and forward-thinker who the Mets were reportedly thrilled to hire in the first place. I think it’s only a matter of time until Beltran gets some sort of coaching role in baseball, and a great place for him to start may be as a hitting coach.
Could this pose the exact same problem as I mentioned above, with the players instead choosing not to listen to their hitting coach? Potentially, but I would trust the White Sox to at least get some thoughts on Beltran from the clubhouse – which is something they’ve shown a tendency to do with player acquisitions.
Another potential name is Bobby Maganelles, who is the assistant hitting coach for the Braves and has spent some time coaching within the White Sox organization. Troy Snitker, who is the Astros’ assistant hitting coach, has also received high marks for his work there. A great internal candidate would be Andy Barkett, and I think a duo of Barkett and Beltran in the big leagues next season could be a great tandem for the club. In all reality, though, if the White Sox replace their hitting coach – which isn’t a guarantee yet – look for assistant hitting coaches to get a look for the White Sox.
Nik Gaur: Andy Barkett
This is a tough question, as it is difficult to know of available hitting coaches and their philosophies, outside of brief career summaries and statistics of teams they have coached. Consider Barkett, who is already in the White Sox organization and is a former Red Sox assistant hitting coach, as an example of what I would like in a hitting coach: somebody who has experience in other organizations and is not afraid to acknowledge modern concepts and terminology such as launch angle.
Truthfully, there are likely dozens of names that would be a good fit for this role — as mentioned, if their philosophy differs from that of recent White Sox hitting coaches, then I would likely be happy with the hire. Overall, the organization clearly needs exposure to new ideas, not just new faces.
I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know much about hitting coaches around the league, nor do I really know the impact that a hitting coach has on a team.
But if for no other reason than symbolism, Frank Menechino has likely coached his last season for the White Sox (though never say never. – people said that about La Russa in the 80s). Chris Johnson has done some good work in Charlotte this year, and although it may benefit the team more to get someone outside the organization, it wouldn’t hurt to give Johnson a shot in the big leagues.
There are many who are likely to be clamoring for the White Sox to hire Chris Johnson from the Triple-A club to be the new hitting coach. However, that same approach was taken with Menechino in the first place. So, like with the manager position, an outside hire should be the focus. I would like to see the White Sox look at someone like Aaron Bates, the current assistant hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has been in that position since 2019 and has helped coach one of the best teams in the league at generating home runs and total offensive production. He will get a shot to be some team’s hitting coach soon, and the White Sox’s next manager should be the one to give him that shot.
Thatcher Zalewski: Matt Lisle
There is no confirmation that Frank Menechino will be gone next year. However, with a new manager coming in, they are likely to pick out their staff, resulting in Menechino not returning for the 2023 season. One of the top choices for this potential job should be Matt Lisle. This choice would be interesting as the White Sox once employed Lisle. He is one of the top minds regarding hitting, as he founded his own company, The Hitting Vault, which helps all players, not just youth athletes. Lisle would be another analytically driven mind that would be much needed in the dugout.
Duke Coughlin: Chris Johnson
Someone who deserves real consideration is current Charlotte Knights hitting coach Chris Johnson. In the International League, the Knights finished the season 4th in average, 8th in home runs, 10th in runs batted in, 4th in hits, and 10th in slugging percentage. While Johnson is far from a perfect choice, his ability to build an approach for key players on their return from the IL is something that should be applauded. More often than not, players returning from rehab assignments appeared far more successful at the plate upon their return to the major league roster.
More candidates will come to the forefront as teams tear down their coaching staffs in the off-season, as well as former players looking to make a name in the coaching scene. That being said, if the White Sox are looking to keep some form of familiarity with their next staff, Johnson would be a pretty safe hire.
Is There Anyone Currently on the Managerial Staff You Feel Should Be Kept?
I don’t really agree with the idea that no one is replaceable, but I do think Ethan Katz has shown that he is worthy of being a major league pitching coach. He has done excellent work with Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon – turning two pitchers into Cy Young candidates is a pretty desirable resume-starter. I don’t see Katz going anywhere anytime soon, but I also don’t see the organization forcing a coach on a new manager – so long as Hahn and Williams have complete control over this process.
If the White Sox are going to do this right, the manager will be picked and the rest of the staff will be chosen by the new manager. No one should be safe from that process – if they’re good at their job, they’ll stay regardless. I think Katz and maybe Joe McEwing would be the only coaches to survive that sort of process.
While I like Ethan Katz, it is always a dangerous game to force a coach on a new manager. Ideally, the new manager would get to know Katz and ultimately decide that he is worth keeping around, but things do not always work out so conveniently. I would hate for the stipulation that Katz must stay to cost the White Sox the chance of interviewing/landing an attractive managerial candidate.
The rest of the coaching staff appears to be a mix of longtime members (McEwing, Boston), La Russa associates (Cairo, Narron), or coaches whose day-to-day roles are not quite clear (Duncan). Whether the organization decides to move on from certain names to appease the new manager, rid the dugout of La Russa’s hand-picked coaches, and/or simply bring new voices into the organization, there is not a single coach on the White Sox who seems to be important enough to force onto a new manager.
2022 was such a disappointment that I wouldn’t be opposed to a house cleaning. Changes need to be made to the way this organization does things, and the coaching staff is a good place to start. I like Ethan Katz, and I like the work he’s done with several of the White Sox pitchers so far, so I’d definitely bring him back. But other than that, everyone else could go and I wouldn’t be upset. I don’t see the changes being THAT drastic, but the only coach that’s a must-keep for me is Katz. I’d be okay with keeping Miguel Cairo as the bench coach too.
When it comes to pitching coach, I fully believe Ethan Katz is one of the best in the league and should be retained moving forward. However, I also believe that the White Sox front office shouldn’t penalize a managerial candidate if they would like to open up an interview process instead of just giving Katz the job. If they have a shot at one of the top manager candidates, but a stipulation is that they get to bring in their own guy, then that should not be an issue. We can all agree Katz is very good at his job, but it is clear that getting the right manager this offseason is the top priority.
There are three coaches on the current White Sox staff that I’d retain for 2023. Those are Miguel Cairo, Ethan Katz, and Jerry Narron. Cairo seems to have a strong presence in the clubhouse that started to hold more accountability, which the team needed. He is a fine bench coach; however, he moves over to be the first base coach in this scenario. Next up is Ethan Katz; he has done wonders with this pitching staff. Many guys are taking that next step under him, and he should have more of a voice in decision-making with a new manager. Jerry Narron stays around due to his work with the catchers. He is part of why Seby Zavala and others have improved behind the plate in recent years, and he is another good guy to have around.
The open bench coach spot should go to former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski could be a great addition to a now analytics-driven staff. He also could provide more of a spark in the dugout when needed. Pierzynski is also considered one of the smarter players to play the game. Birmingham Barons manager Justin Jirschele would take over as the third base coach. The Barons have seen great strides under Jirschele in recent years. The White Sox trusted him in leading Project Birmingham, which should show you how good of a coach he is. Promoting Jirschele to the Major League staff would be a great decision as it could lead to him being a manager in the future.
While I am on board with cleaning house and potentially snagging some coaches from our minor league system, I think one name that sticks out above the rest is pitching coach Ethan Katz. It cannot be denied that crucial arms from the rebuild took the biggest leaps of their careers in the past two seasons. Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez, and Jimmy Lambert are just a few that come to mind who have found their roles and are pitching as confident as they ever have.
It would a huge shame to hamper the development of potential mainstays on this roster moving forward. His ability to expand young pitchers’ repertoires and maximize the things they already do well is something that needs to be prioritized. Most will connect him to being a Lucas Giolito hire, but he’s proven to be so much more. He wouldn’t last long on the open market, and for good reason.
He needs to not only return, but be prioritized as a key piece to the next coaching staff.
Who do you want the White Sox to hire as their next manager? Share your thoughts by participating in our fan survey and check out our list of 10 candidates the team should consider!
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Featured Image: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
If you want to sell tickets and kick some of the players butts into shape A.J. would not put up with lack of hustle and would stick up for his players on the field.Always best to promote from within.
Bring Ozzie back and let HIM run the team. He’s a smart baseball man. Jerry R needs to stay out of it.
White Sox need to let the new manager hire his own staff. To many coaches are there because of ties to front office personal. Darryl Boston is a personal friend of Kenny Williams he needs to go. Super Joe was truly horrible as a third base coach Why did it take Cairo to have Tony leave before becoming a strong voice. Leaders lead