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Checking In On: Robin Ventura



Photo Attribution: US Presswire

by: Matt Amilian

I grew up catching every Sox game on WGN, which seemed to be every two weeks or maybe once a month because of those pathetic Cubs fans. I have two Sox jerseys, am on my third old school logo Sox hat and still have the empty bottle of champagne I had after the 2005 World Series.

All that to say, I follow this team closely. Prior to the season, I said I’d be thrilled with Robin’s first year of coaching if he finished at .500. The thing about this Sox team is that in the offseason they didn’t add anyone to the roster worth noting and didn’t attempt to keep two key contributors.

They lost a clubhouse leader in Mark Buehrle and a powerful bat in Carlos Quentin. Buehrle had only won less than 10 games in a season once, his first year in 2000. Quentin played on the south side for four years and hit 20+ HR each of those years.

As a matter of fact, every move they made, outside of re-signing Konerko, pointed to them diving head first into rebuilding mode. They knew they were stuck with some horrible contracts in Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios making $17M, $14M and $12.5M respectively this year.

So why not get rid of the salaries you can, ride out those lingering contracts and bring in a “player’s coach” who fans already love and whom you don’t have to pay much? I’m as big a Sox fan there is and I had accepted defeat before spring training, but of course loved the Robin hire.

Now here we are, 50 games in and the Sox are six games above .500 with a half-game lead in the AL Central. I don’t know exactly what you can attribute to coaching, but those eight-figure guys are on their way to earning a few of those paychecks. Dunn already has four more HR this year than he did all of last season, Rios has been picking it up as of late scoring runs and Peavy is sitting at 6-1 with a 3.07 ERA.

In addition you have guys like Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo playing key roles for this club. Again, not all of that can be credited to Robin, but it seems like this team is more inspired under him than they were with Ozzie.

The White Sox currently have a run differential of +36. Last year they were -52 on the season. Yes, 112 games still remain on the schedule but at this point, Robin has exceeded my expectations.

It’s the third most impressive thing he’s done in baseball to my knowledge, right behind his 58-game hitting streak and his two grand slam game against the Rangers in 1995.

And no, I don’t think he’d be open to hearing Holder’s offer for the vacancy in Stillwater.

Here’s Ventura on The Dan Patrick Show today discussing the season.

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