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October 6, 2011

Future Shock Blog

Robin Ventura: There Is No Valid Opinion

by Kevin Goldstein

October is easy to love for the post-season alone, but an underrated element of the month are the press releases from the 22 (or more, as the month winds down) teams whose seasons are done. No sports has fans more obsessive about managerial and front office changes, and even with all the jobs open or coming open over the next few weeks, even I was confused when I got a text from a front office type that simply said, “Ventura?”

Before I could get a reply to my question as to what the person was talking about, I saw the email in my inbox: “WHITE SOX NAME ROBIN VENTURA MANAGER”

The reaction on twitter (where people go to react, quickly, and often without thought), was immediate and overwhelmingly negative. After all, Ventura's post-playing career has consisted of some college baseball analysis on ESPNU and it's now being reporting that he was helping out with a high school team in his native California.

He has zero managerial experience, but that's the thing -- we have no idea if this was a good hire. He might be a tactical genius. He might be the kind of strong voice in a clubhouse that can get outstanding efforts from a team where effort was often in question. He also might be just another classic Reinsdorf hiring of a familiar face, and one that won't get in the way of Kenny Williams, whose short list might have been nothing but friendly yes men with name recognition from the fan base.

The point is, we just don't know. We know what we know about baseball based on data. It can be statistical data, it can be scouting data, and in the case of analyzing Ventura's managerial prowess, we have utterly nothing to go on. We might as well say he'll be a good because he walked a lot, or he'll stink because Nolan Ryan introduced him to the noogie patrol.

We don't have to react, just to react. Sometimes we just have to wait and see.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

31 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Oct 06, 2011 15:16 PM
rating: 4

KG, agree 100%. Thank you for the sanity.

Oct 06, 2011 15:20 PM
rating: 0
Jason Wojciechowski

I'm glad this piece is free. I think I might link to it every time something happens and everyone is freaking out about how amazing or awful it is before we actually have any information.

Oct 06, 2011 17:00 PM
rating: 0

noogie patrol FTW!

Oct 06, 2011 17:26 PM
rating: 0

Yep. As Kenny Williams moves go, this is far less objectionable than, say, dealing Daniel Hudson for Edwin Jackson, or signing Mark Teahen or signing Scott Linebrink, or everything he did with Nick Swisher (coming and going).

What did he start drinking after the 2006 season? And can we get him into a 12-step group for it?

Oct 06, 2011 18:16 PM
rating: 0

Ventura had some discipline as a hitter. Maybe he'll bring that ethic to the team (Guillen sure didn't). He beats most retread names I heard.

Oct 06, 2011 19:51 PM
rating: -1

This occurs to me every time a major college football program hires a coach who wasn't on the fans wish lists. I recall the reaction to Auburn hiring Gene Chizik being insanely negative and that turned out well enough.

Oct 06, 2011 20:48 PM
rating: 0

Based on his SB%, maybe he'll be reluctant to send runners?

Cool factoid: He wasn't just College "Player of the Year," he was "College Player of the Decade!"

Oct 06, 2011 22:08 PM
rating: 0

I disagree. The opinion that hiring a manager with almost no managerial experience is a bad idea is a valid one. I don't necessarily agree with it (the impact of a manager is overrated, and baseball tactics aren't rocket science) but I can't ridicule someone for thinking its a bad idea.

Oct 07, 2011 05:53 AM
rating: 3

Maybe he'll be good, maybe he'll suck. Better than hiring a retread you know is bad. He played (and played well) for a long time in the big leagues. It's not like hiring someone who has no idea of the job description.

Oct 07, 2011 05:56 AM
rating: 0

In the absence of facts to form opinions around, people's reactions to this decision say more about them than anything.

Oct 07, 2011 06:24 AM
rating: 1

KG's right that you it's baseless to criticize Ventura. But you can criticize the White Sox for their decision making. They're taking an undue risk when there are other known, experience and proven managers or assistant coaches.

Normally to take this kind of risk, the upside has to be huge. Either that or they don't think it's a risk while the rest of the world does. I don't think folks see his upside as huge, and I don't think white sox nation is in the mood to take another risk (see: Adam Dunn).

Oct 07, 2011 07:43 AM
rating: -2

Was Adam Dunn a "risk" or was he one of the least risky player signings ever?

2001 136 OPS+
2002 121
2003 116
2004 146
2005 140
2006 114
2007 136
2008 130
2009 144
2010 138
2011 56

Just because it ended up looking bad doesn't mean it was an unnecessary risk when it happened...

Oct 07, 2011 08:09 AM
rating: 20

I don't see the "risk" here. Managers have very little impact on what happens on the field, particularly in the AL.

If I'm the White Sox, facing what's likely to be a down year again next season, I'd rather take a chance on someone who's popular with the fan base than pay big bucks for the same ol' same ol' "known," "experienced," and unimaginative retreads who've "proven" only that their success is due to the talent of their players.

Oct 07, 2011 08:23 AM
rating: 2
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

So were the Rangers taking an undue risk when there were other known, experienced and proven GMs around when they hired Jon Daniels?

Oct 07, 2011 09:16 AM

Well yes, but that didn't mean it wouldn't work (and it did, apparently). I kinda thought that was the premise of your post. Yes, this looks odd in a vacuum, but how can we possibly judge it at this point?

Oct 07, 2011 10:51 AM
rating: 0

"The opinion that hiring a manager with almost no managerial experience is a bad idea is a valid one."

"Managers have very little impact on what happens on the field..."

Kirk Gibson says hi.

Oct 07, 2011 08:42 AM
rating: 0

Gibson was at least a coach for a few seasons. A.J. Hinch says hi.

Oct 07, 2011 09:20 AM
rating: 3

AJ was an experiment who was hired by a guy who was bent on proving how smart he was and how irrelevant character is in a manager. He sure showed us. Gibson's intensity beat's AJ's "organizational advocacy" every time.

Oct 07, 2011 12:47 PM
rating: 0

There's plenty of data waiting to be compiled on whether previous managing experience, previous coaching experience, previous any-of-the-things-Ventura-lacks correlates with managerial success.

However you slice it, Ventura is an astoundingly inexperienced candidate. No one can claim 'knowledge' regarding that till they do or find some of the work mentioned above.

But they're not supposed to form an opinion regarding something unusual?? Ridiculous. In my opinion.

Oct 07, 2011 10:17 AM
rating: 0

Correlation is not causation.

In all of your slicing and dicing where would you find LaSorda or Alston?

In my humble opinion, the best route to managerial success is to have great on-field talent, a great coaching staff, and a great GM who is attuned to team's needs as communicated by the manager.

Oct 08, 2011 02:09 AM
rating: 0

Kirk Gibson is such a badass, he can kick your ass with his eyes. Through the TV.

He's a cross between John Wayne and a Ninja!

Oct 07, 2011 10:21 AM
rating: 0

God said "Let there be light." Kirk Gibson said "say please."

Oct 07, 2011 15:17 PM
rating: 2

Maybe, but Gibson has no sense of humor. Any player that can't take a joke during spring training is a red ass that loses respect from many baseball fans. Badass nothing. He manages a team put together by a solid GM. He still walks like he is injured or something. Show a little joy in what you do once in a while "Gibby."

Oct 07, 2011 11:34 AM
rating: 0

I'm sure Diamondbacks fans respect Gibby for the winning the team has done under him, sense of humor or not.

Oct 07, 2011 12:29 PM
rating: 0

Ah, now you've done it. You've pissed off Gibby.

This is the guy who de-panted Eckersley & made the A's wet their collective cups.

He snacks on Padres.

No time for humor. (Don't watch his face plant on YouTube!)

He limps because that's what victorious battle scarred gladiatorial veterans do.

Gibby's gonna get ya. Please don't watch him on TV today.

Oct 07, 2011 12:49 PM
rating: 0

I disagree - he earned respect for having one goal and one goal only - winning. Gibson's joy comes solely from winning, not joking around or talking to the media.

Oct 07, 2011 12:51 PM
rating: 0
Benjamin Harris

Gibby shows joy when it's appropriate.

Lest we forget (right around 17 seconds):


Oct 07, 2011 20:03 PM
rating: 0

I don't know about you, Kevin, by I had an immediate recation: Boy, they really loved that early 90s left side of the defense, huh? I have to believe that the next person to manage the White Sox will probably be Ray Durham.

Oct 07, 2011 13:31 PM
rating: 2
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Craig Grebeck looking for work?

Oct 07, 2011 22:02 PM
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

It's like hiring Obama for POTUS absent any executive experience. Could be good. Could be a downgrade.

Oct 08, 2011 13:46 PM
rating: -9
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