The Chicago White Sox are looking for a new manager, but a search that stops at Tony La Russa will be an incomplete search
The Chicago White Sox made the playoffs this year for the first time since 2008, and manager Rick Renteria’s reward was Monday’s announcement the two sides will part ways after four seasons. Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and former Red Sox manager Alex Cora have been mentioned as candidates to replace Renteria. But Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY also reported the White Sox plan to reach out to Tony La Russa.
La Russa last managed in 2011, when he retired after winning the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals. He won two World Series as the Cardinals’ skipper (2006 as well). He led the Oakland Athletics to three straight World Series from 1988-1990, with a championship in 1989.
La Russa started his managerial career in 1979 with the White Sox, winning a division title in 1983. Over his 33-season run as a major league manager (1979-2011), he won 2,728 regular season games with a 70-58 postseason record. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
Since retiring from managing, La Russa has worked as president of baseball operations for the Arizona Diamondbacks and as a special assistant in the front office for the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels. So it could be said he has stayed close to the game.
La Russa and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf remain close friends. Nightengale suggested La Russa would only consider returning to the the dugout for Reinsdorf and the White Sox.
Could Tony La Russa really be the next White Sox manager?
During Monday’s press conference announcing Renteria’s firing, general manager Rick Hahn spelled out someone with La Russa’s qualifications.
“Ultimately, I think the best candidate or the ideal candidate,’’ Hahn said, “is going to be someone who has experience with a championship organization in recent years, recent October experience with a championship organization.’’
The “recent years” sentiment would point directly toward Hinch, controversy from the Astros’ sign-stealing thing aside.
La Russa, at 76 years old, is hardly guaranteed to take the White Sox job if it was offered. It’s hard to know where he is on the old-school rigid/embracing analytics scale, since he hasn’t managed in so long. His age isn’t a guaranteed indicator of an old-school bent though.
If Reinsdorf drives the White Sox managerial hire and can convince his friend to do it, La Russa may end up being the guy. But a search that ends with La Russa, presumably early and quickly with little consideration for other candidates, would be an incomplete and short-sighted search.