Better late than never: I do not follow hockey as closely as I do basketball and baseball, so I did not write anything about the late Rocky Wirtz last month when news broke that he passed. My fellow writer Steve Leblang though did in this article and I think Rocky was well deserving of the high praise Steve gave him. May be rest in peace.
Now, let’s discuss this week’s news which has brought change to the Chicago sports scene with more coming. Jerry Reinsdorf, who has owned the White Sox since 1981 and the Bulls since 1985, shook things up for the second time in nearly three years. This time, Jerry fired Kenny Williams, who has been in the front office for the White Sox since 1992, and Rick Hahn, who has been with the team since 2002.
This came less than 48 hours after rumors started for at least the second time in the last 15 years that the White Sox would be moving to Nashville, TN in six years when their lease for Guaranteed Rate Field expires. Before we discuss the firings of Kenny and Rick I have to say that I cannot see the league ever allowing the White Sox to relocate out of Chicago. However, I can see a world were the Reinsdorf and Wirtz families build a sports complex somewhere in or around Chicago similar to the ones in Cleveland and Philadelphia; essentially taking a page out of Tom Ricketts’ book.
With that let’s focus on the changes that are coming to the South Side. Kenny was promoted to Executive Vice President after the 2012 season and Rick was promoted at the same time to General Manager. There are a few things here that made it clear to most baseball fans that change was coming on the South Side of Chicago. To start, there have been many things I’ve heard on the radio and read online since before this years trade deadline both men were on the hot seat. On top of that rumors we’re floating around the last few weeks that Jerry had been conducting internal interviews with people in the organization to figure out the disfunction.
One example of the disfunction that have been occurring recently was the Jake Burger trade near the trade deadline. According to many sources, Kenny had clearance from Jerry to talk to two teams about trains leaving the other 28 teams for Rick to talk to. Those two teams that carry could talk to you were the Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees. This month Kenny could talk to either of those two teams about trades that in bowling anyone in the White Sox organization. However, Hahn was working the phones to trade Jake and when he had a trade ready to go he brought it to Kenny for approval Kenny did not sign off and instead traded Jake to the Marlins.
Let’s discuss the on-field management now. Look back at the comments made by now Yankee Kenyan Middlton, which I discussed in an article a couple of weeks ago. Players sleeping on the job, the manager not putting his foot down and doing his job, and players not defending their teammates when fights break out against opponents on the field. These are only a few examples of the disfunction occurring in the White Sox organization.
Now the question has become: who will the White Sox hire as the next Executive Vice President (EVP) and General Manager (GM)? One rumor has Jerry offering Theo Epstein — of all people — 2% ownership and the Executive Vice President title. Here’s the thing, folks: Epstein will not return to Chicago under any circumstances that involve him having power of any sort after winning a championship for the crosstown rival Cubs.
The other rumor that is getting mentioned a ton is that Chris Getz who is already part of the front office will be promoted to GM, with Texas Rangers executive Dayton Moore who will come in as EVP. The thing here is that promoting from within is not really implementing solid change, especially considering both men worked together in Kansas City. So, while this is the most likely scenario that we will see occur when all is said and done as a baseball fan who loves my Chicago teams I do not see this being a significant enough change to get the White Sox back to the promised land.
Another topic that has come up as a result of these changes that are not yet completed atop the White Sox management structure is whether or not Pedro Grifol will still be managing the White Sox in 2024. Nothing is ever guaranteed when search big changes are occurring. However, according to ESPN reporter Jesse Rogers there is a remote chance that the new EVP and GM may say they have more important things to deal with and give Pedro a one year window to prove himself a better manager.
With that… the off-season has started early on the south side!
If you cannot play with them, root for them!