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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Heyman: Tony La Russa’s shoddy managing hurting more than current White Sox

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf always told folks his greatest regret was firing Tony La Russa back in the ’80s, understandable since La Russa wound up winning three World Series, getting to six, and carving out a Hall of Fame managing career in Oakland and St. Louis.

But the way things are going on Chicago’s South Side, Reinsdorf’s second greatest regret may become not firing La Russa a second time.

(Reinsdorf said through a spokesman he isn’t planning on commenting on La Russa or the team at this time.)

The White Sox owner remains the most famously loyal team owner in sports, and the suspicion for now is he will stick with La Russa. Normal circumstances dictate some breaking point, but this is about two lifelong friends who are uber successful and equally headstrong, so who knows?

Warning to Sox fans: Sources say La Russa’s deal, at about $3.75 million annually, extends into next season, too.

The South Side faithful have begun to chant “Fire Tony,” a catchy shorthand request. But beyond the fact that that’s our job, a more dignified sendoff is probably in order for arguably the greatest manager over the past half century. While he’s related well to players at 77, his in-game decisions are growing bizarre. And at some point, reasonably, it must be stopped.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 14, 2022 at 01:28 PM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: tony larussa, white sox

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   1. The Duke Posted: June 14, 2022 at 06:33 PM (#6081755)
his in-game decisions are growing bizarre. And at some point, reasonably, it must be stopped.


Said about every manager by their fanbase at some point
   2. JJ1986 Posted: June 14, 2022 at 06:38 PM (#6081758)
Old Man brought up Muncy's 2-strike numbers after he walked Turner with 2-strikes. As if the count carried over.
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 14, 2022 at 06:49 PM (#6081761)
Old Man brought up Muncy's 2-strike numbers after he walked Turner with 2-strikes. As if the count carried over.
Not completely sure that’s really the case. LaRussa’s statement “Do you know what Muncy hits with two strikes, against left-handed pitching?” He may have misspoke (“with two strikes”) and then quickly corrected himself (“against left-handed pitching”) without making it clear he was actually correcting himself. Overall, the case for LaRussa’s senility seems weak. He meets with the media daily, and unless our BBTF correspondents are derelict in their reporting, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of similar incidents.
   4. JJ1986 Posted: June 14, 2022 at 06:52 PM (#6081763)
then quickly corrected himself (“against left-handed pitching”)
Muncy, of course, hits better against left-handed pitching than he does against right-handed pitching.
   5. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: June 14, 2022 at 07:08 PM (#6081766)
LaRussa managed Minnie Minoso, who debuted in 1946 (NeL) or 1949 (AL). Hard to say which current Sox player will play the longest, but it's not unreasonable to speculate that someone out of Robert, Vaughn, Jimenez, etc, could play until 2036. That would be a 90 year stretch. I don't think anyone, not even Connie mack could beat that. Of course, it's due to a stunt. The longest tenured real player young Larussa managed was Don Kessinger (who debuted in 1064), who played 3 games after Larussa replaced him as manager.
   6. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: June 14, 2022 at 07:18 PM (#6081768)
One of the Chicago writers pointed out that the White Sox have only fired 2 managers mid-season in their entire existence; one of them was TLR. It'd be a helluva thing if they did it twice.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 14, 2022 at 07:20 PM (#6081769)
The longest tenured real player young Larussa managed was Don Kessinger (who debuted in 1064), who played 3 games after Larussa replaced him as manager.

Was he at Hastings?
   8. Brian C Posted: June 14, 2022 at 07:26 PM (#6081770)
The White Sox owner remains the most famously loyal team owner in sports

This is true in the narrow sense - he is "famous" for being loyal, in the sense that writers can never stop saying it - but as a Bulls fan, I always felt like his loyalty was fairly selective. For example:

Jerry Krause - loyal
Phil Jackson - not-so-loyal
John Paxson - loyal
Tom Thibodeau - not-so-loyal

It seems like it's more accurate to say that he picks a small circle of favorites, and then is very loyal to those favorites. Plus, of course, he was always one of the most notorious crush-the-players owners in labor disputes, which seems like it ought to be considered a measure of loyalty also.
   9. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: June 14, 2022 at 07:35 PM (#6081772)
Ken Williams has been GM and then President since 2001. He's been in the Sox front office since 1992.
   10. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: June 14, 2022 at 07:40 PM (#6081773)
Jerry Krause - loyal
Phil Jackson - not-so-loyal
John Paxson - loyal
Tom Thibodeau - not-so-loyal


But in both those cases - Krause/Phil and Pax/Thibs, they had falling outs or split and essentially forced Jerry to pick one. Same thing with Kenny/Ozzie. Just because he did let some guys get fired doesn't mean he still isn't likely the most loyal owner of the guys he likes. In fact, by re-hiring TLR, it kinda proves that point. Plus all the Doug Collins ####, if you wanna bring it back to the Bulls.

That's why it was such a big deal when he finally fired Krause and then Pax (although, Pax really wasn't fired and is still on the payroll), because both were way, way past their expiration dates.
   11. Brian C Posted: June 14, 2022 at 07:46 PM (#6081775)
But in both those cases - Krause/Phil and Pax/Thibs, they had falling outs or split and essentially forced Jerry to pick one. Same thing with Kenny/Ozzie. Just because he did let some guys get fired doesn't mean he still isn't likely the most loyal owner of the guys he likes.

Well, sure, but that's my point, isn't it? He's loyal to the guys he likes, which seems like a big difference to me from just "loyal", full stop. Lots of guys are loyal to their little group of cronies.
   12. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 14, 2022 at 07:50 PM (#6081776)
Muncy, of course, hits better against left-handed pitching than he does against right-handed pitching.
This season, Muncy is hitting .167/.341/.314 against right-handers, and .133/.291/.222 against lefties. Putrid enough that platoon splits shouldn’t be that much of a factor at the moment, although his OPS is 142 points better against right-handers (.655) than lefties (.513).
   13. BDC Posted: June 14, 2022 at 08:10 PM (#6081781)
LaRussa managed Minnie Minoso

Along another line of succession … in 1966, La Russa was managed at Modesto by Gus Niarhos. In 1946 at Kansas City, Niarhos had been managed by Burleigh Grimes.

Who had been managed by Wilbert Robinson, who had been managed by Ned Hanlon, who had been managed by Jim Mutrie, who played before they had managers in any modern sense.
   14. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 14, 2022 at 08:33 PM (#6081788)
LaRussa was a teammate of Gino Cimoli's, who had been a teammate of Jackie Robinson.
   15. phredbird Posted: June 14, 2022 at 08:41 PM (#6081790)

also:

larussa played for billy martin, who played for casey stengel, who played for john mcgraw ...
   16. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: June 14, 2022 at 08:41 PM (#6081791)
Well, sure, but that's my point, isn't it? He's loyal to the guys he likes, which seems like a big difference to me from just "loyal", full stop. Lots of guys are loyal to their little group of cronies.

Context matters, but fine, I'll rephrase. He's loyal, especially compared to virtually every other owner in pro sports. He's also *extremely* loyal to a select few, even more especially compared to other owners.
   17. JJ1986 Posted: June 14, 2022 at 09:07 PM (#6081794)
This season, Muncy is hitting .167/.341/.314 against right-handers, and .133/.291/.222 against lefties. Putrid enough that platoon splits shouldn’t be that much of a factor at the moment, although his OPS is 142 points better against right-handers (.655) than lefties (.513).
The defense that Tony misspoke and only meant to reference two-month splits is not a strong one.
   18. caspian88 Posted: June 14, 2022 at 09:17 PM (#6081795)
Connie Mack managed Nellie Fox (retired 1965) on the 1949 Philadelphia Athletics.

However, while Mack and Jack Glasscock (debuted 1879) were teammates with the 1894 Pittsburgh Pirates, Glasscock was apparently released in August of that season, just prior to Mack taking over as manager (I believe). It's close, but I think they missed each other. That would put the earliest major league playing debut of any player Mack managed as a major league manager as Denny Lyons (1885).

Mack did manage Adonis Terry (debuted in the American Association in 1884) with Milwaukee, as well as George Shoch (1886).

So, Mack's direct managerial influence stretched at least 80 years.
   19. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: June 14, 2022 at 09:38 PM (#6081801)
Well, if Glasscock did indeed leave the team in August, then you are correct. Mack took over on Sep 3.
   20. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: June 14, 2022 at 09:43 PM (#6081803)
Adonis Terry played one game for Pittsburgh. How do you know the game was one of the 23 that Mack managed? There were 2 other guys on the 1894 Pirates who debuted in 1884, but there's no way to know if they played under Mac either. Mac did manage himself, and he debuted in 1886.
   21. greenback needs a ride, not ammo Posted: June 14, 2022 at 09:58 PM (#6081806)
This season, Muncy is hitting .167/.341/.314 against right-handers, and .133/.291/.222 against lefties.

One of the frustrating things about being a fan of a TLR-managed team is that the conversation was pulled to him like the world's most powerful magnet was behind the wall. When you get beat (sorta) by a guy hitting .150, then it seems the story really should be on the guy hitting .150. I think the real criticism should be that it took the White Sox those extra couple of pitches to realize "Hey, there's a guy hitting .150 on deck right now."
   22. Ron J Posted: June 14, 2022 at 10:19 PM (#6081814)
#1 I remember one of the Oriole beat writers was kind of happy in 1972. He hated Weaver as a manager and felt the events of the season vindicated his constant calls for Weaver to be fired.
   23. Brian C Posted: June 14, 2022 at 10:22 PM (#6081816)
Context matters, but fine, I'll rephrase. He's loyal, especially compared to virtually every other owner in pro sports. He's also *extremely* loyal to a select few, even more especially compared to other owners.

Fair enough - like I said at the outset, the claim in question was true in a narrow sense. I just think it begs the questions of what "loyalty" really means and how meaningful the title "most loyal sports owner" really is.
   24. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 14, 2022 at 11:08 PM (#6081836)
The absolute dumbest thing about the TLR thing is how "but there was an open base" is still accepted as a valid reason without any criticism.

I hate hate hate that reason because its dumb dumb dumb.

   25. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 14, 2022 at 11:27 PM (#6081843)
I think the real criticism should be that it took the White Sox those extra couple of pitches to realize "Hey, there's a guy hitting .150 on deck right now."
An IBB would have been even more controversial if it had moved the runner on 1st into scoring position. The calculus was a bit different once the 0-2 WP put the runner on 2nd.
   26. caspian88 Posted: June 15, 2022 at 12:41 AM (#6081855)
Adonis Terry played one game for Pittsburgh. How do you know the game was one of the 23 that Mack managed?


Terry pitched in 48 games with Milwaukee of the Western League under Mack. It wasn't a major league, but as far as I can tell Terry had the earliest major league debut of any player Mack ever did manage).
   27. Walt Davis Posted: June 15, 2022 at 12:41 AM (#6081856)
Said about every manager by their fanbase at some point

sure but this is national baseball writer Jon Heyman writing in the NY Post. He did do his undergrad at Northwestern but grew up in Long Island. I don't think he's a White Sox fan. The main question is whether LaRussa is a Boras client. :-)
   28. The Duke Posted: June 15, 2022 at 10:40 AM (#6081881)
The TLR and Maddon stories are illustrative of how the world can pass anyone by. TLR was the father of managerial use of analytics (moving people to 2B to get their bat into the lineup, batting the pitcher eighth, frequent pitching changes, the one inning closer, etc). Maddon was considered the same in Tampa Bay for his mix and match approach and pitcher usage.

The game has seemingly passed them by. When you think walking in a run with an IBB is cutting edge magic, you might need to move on.
   29. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: June 15, 2022 at 11:41 AM (#6081902)
   30. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: June 15, 2022 at 01:21 PM (#6081915)
Wow. Not just LaRussa, but Jim Wynn and Alex Johnson. LaRussa and Wynn would be in the majors the following year, Johnson the year after.
   31. McCoy Posted: June 15, 2022 at 01:52 PM (#6081922)
Phil Jackson wasn't fired and if he had gone to Jerry one more time he probably would have gotten another year with the Bulls and Krause probably would have sucked it up and gone along. Phil by that point was tired of all that #### and was definitely done with Krause.
   32. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 15, 2022 at 02:14 PM (#6081926)
Reinsdorf clearly chose Krause over MJ and Phil. The end result was not a firing, but that is semantics.

The Last Dance existed because the Jerrys made it clear it was the last year for this group. They ran off the best player ever, and the coach who won the most NBA titles. Because they thought Jerry Krause was going to put together another dynasty.

Sourced quotes from wikipedia:

After contentious negotiations between Jackson and the Bulls in that same period, Jackson was signed for the 1997–98 season only. Krause announced the signing in what Chicago media widely considered to be a mean-spirited manner, emphasizing that Jackson would not be rehired even if the Bulls won the 1997–98 title. That triggered an argument between Jackson and Krause in which Jackson essentially told Krause that he seemed to be rooting for the other side and not the Bulls. At that point, Krause told Jackson, "I don't care if it's 82-and-0 this year, you're ####### gone."[23]

Krause was widely quoted as saying, "Players and coaches don't win championships; organizations win championships." The statement particularly offended Michael Jordan. However, Krause said that his original phrasing was "Players and coaches alone don't win championships; organizations win championships."[24]
   33. McCoy Posted: June 15, 2022 at 02:23 PM (#6081927)
Yes Krause said you're gone no matter what but Jordan and Phil were used to running to Reinsdorf when Krause was being Krause.
   34. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 15, 2022 at 04:38 PM (#6081964)
I thought I read the analysis of the IBB w/ two strikes game on fangraphs and in the end they concluded that LaRussa actually did get a miniscule 1% advantage out of it. I mean it went against the book and probably pissed off the pitcher and most of the team but it wasnt a bad decision. Or did I misread it?
   35. Dog on the sidewalk has an ugly bracelet Posted: June 15, 2022 at 05:01 PM (#6081975)
Yeah, you have it backwards. They concluded it cost them 1%.
   36. John Northey Posted: June 15, 2022 at 10:44 PM (#6082060)
John McGraw first managed in 1899 (the NL Baltimore Orioles in their final season): oldest player: Wilbert Robinson - started in 1886
McGraw's last year was 1932 with the Giants (first 40 games). Youngest player was Hal Schumacher - he played until 1946 (he played on the team in 1931 as well)
So McGraw covers 1886-1946: 60 years which is impressive but not anywhere near the record. Managed from age 26 to 59.

Mix in playing career and he starts in 1891 at age 18 with the Baltimore Orioles - Oldest player was Sam Wise who first played in 1881. So he played with or managed guys who were in the majors from 1881-1946 (65 years)

Connie Mack first played in 1886 for the Washington Nationals (age 23, first game was September 11, 1886) - Joe Start at age 43 was a teammate (final game July 9, 1886) - his first ML season was 1871 (first year of MLB sorta) with the New York Mutuals but sadly they weren't on the team together. Next is Davy Force (final game August 20, 1886) again not teammates but another guy who started in 1871. Looks like his oldest teammate was Paul Hines who played the full season and more - his first year was 1872 at age 17 - soooo close to the beginning of MLB. Safe to say he heard stories of it. Mack's final managing year was 1950 with the Philadelphia Athletics of course. A player on that team was Bobby Shantz who would play until 1964, and as mentioned above Nellie Fox was on his team in 1949 who would last until 1965. So Mack played with or managed guys who were around from 1872 to 1965 - 93 years. Hard to imagine anyone could come close to beating that.

Fox played with a very young Larry Dierker (age 17 & 18 together). Dierker would manage until 2001 with the Houston Astros. A pitcher he managed was Roy Oswalt who would play until 2013 with Colorado. Nolan Arenado was on that team and is still playing today.

So to go from 1871 to today you can do it with Joe Start (adds that last year) - Paul Hines - Connie Mack - Nellie Fox - Larry Dierker - Roy Oswalt - Nolan Arenado. 7 players to cover all of pro-baseball history and more - Joe Start began playing in 1859 pre-pro ball and was part of the team (and final rally) to beat the first all-pro team the Cincinnati Red Stockings who won 81 straight over 2 years until they faced Joe Start's Brooklyn Atlantics.

That was fun to dig into. Not sure if there is a shorter route from the Red Stockings to today, but I doubt it.
   37. Jack Sommers Posted: June 15, 2022 at 10:49 PM (#6082063)
White Sox 29-31 record coming into today, vs 23-35 Pythag.

Yes, I just defended TLR and I feel icky
   38. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: June 15, 2022 at 11:27 PM (#6082068)
Just as a manager, Jack McKeon is currently at 68 years and counting. He managed Harmon Killebrew on the 1975 Royals. Killebrew started in 1954. In 2011 he managed Giancarlo Stanton.
   39. Howie Menckel Posted: June 15, 2022 at 11:34 PM (#6082070)
I remember one of the Oriole beat writers was kind of happy in 1972. He hated Weaver as a manager and felt the events of the season vindicated his constant calls for Weaver to be fired.


the 1969 Mets beat writer crew famously noted for many years after that the typically NY/NJ bunch didn't buy the "Miracle Mets" fairytale for at least four months. but eventually, they all toppled like dominoes, because - well, it WAS Amazin'.

all but one. this curmudgeon insisted it was all overhyped. the Cubs would take them down. then the Braves. then the Orioles - definitely! (and no, it wasn't BBTF fave Murray Chass lol)

re "The Last Dance" - I have two moments there were, if you break it down like the Zapruder film, I am right there in those freeze frames. pretty amusing.
   40. Cooper Nielson Posted: June 16, 2022 at 01:47 AM (#6082107)
White Sox 29-31 record coming into today, vs 23-35 Pythag.

Yes, I just defended TLR and I feel icky


One of the reasons for their bad Pythag is that they've been blown out a lot. They've lost games by 13, 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6 (three times) runs but coming into today* they had only won one game by more than 5 runs. They're 9-6 in one-run games and 3-5 in extra innings.

(* After today's 13-0 win, they're 30-31 vs. expected 27-34.)

So I don't know if TLR is doing a good job, by maximizing wins despite the overall run differential, or if he's doing a bad job by letting so many games get out of control. You could probably argue either way.
   41. Jack Sommers Posted: June 16, 2022 at 10:35 AM (#6082130)
That's always the reason for teams having a bad pythag. Getting your doors blown off frequently is almost certainly due to a talent or player performance deficit. Doing well in close games may be in part due to managerial factors, but is just as likely to be coin flip stuff.

White Sox are 9-6 in one run games, 4-9 in "blowouts" as defined by BB REF (+5 runs or more margin)

Another way to look at it....

White Sox have a team 96 OPS+ and 98 ERA+, and -16 rDRS

Or....if one prefers Fangraphs Metrics:

99 wRC+. 106 ERA- and -16 OAA (Statcast fielding)

So slightly below average offense, slightly below average pitching, and well below average defense.

They are 30-31

TLR is annoying AF, but the core performance of the players on the roster is 98% of all this anyway. Looking at all this, I think it's hard to make a case that the White Sox should have a better record than they do. Their players need to play better.

   42. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: June 16, 2022 at 10:40 AM (#6082133)
Well, their good players need to stay healthy.
   43. Cooper Nielson Posted: June 16, 2022 at 11:32 AM (#6082147)
That's always the reason for teams having a bad pythag. Getting your doors blown off frequently is almost certainly due to a talent or player performance deficit.

Undoubtedly true, but let's focus on the "almost." This is a team that won the division last year and was picked by most to do so again this year. They've had injuries, certainly, but more/worse than other teams? (I don't know.) Maybe they're getting their doors blown off because the manager isn't utilizing the available talent correctly (including defensive personnel choices and positioning decisions), or because when they fall behind he panics and makes stupid moves, which makes them fall behind by more.

I actually have no idea; I don't follow the White Sox. Just trying to think of reasons why you don't need to defend TLR. :)
   44. Jack Sommers Posted: June 16, 2022 at 03:45 PM (#6082212)
Just trying to think of reasons why you don't need to defend TLR. :)


I appreciate the moral support. :)

As a fan of a team STILL reeling from the damage he managed to inflict in a very short period of time while heading up Baseball Operations, this is painful spot to find myself.



   45. Jack Sommers Posted: June 16, 2022 at 04:00 PM (#6082218)
Well, their good players need to stay healthy.


See percent of WARP missed

Use drop down "Preferred Measurement" to select this metric. It does appear they've been a little unlucky in this regard too .

This is how BP defines:

WARP Missed: WARP calculation is based on projected preseason WARP. The projected WARP missed is based on the % of the season a player has missed due to injury. It does not take into account player projections that were made with the understanding that the player would miss part of the season. For example, players returning from Tommy John who might only be projected for 100 innings will have that WARP missed assessed on that basis rather than a full-season workload.


So Larussa is dealing with injuries, and the guys who aren't hurt include several that are under performing, (and several that are not), and the team is still just a game under .500, just 5 games back of the Twins.

Considering they've out performed their pythag, and the team has had a bit more than the average number of injuries, I am hard pressed to find hard evidence that another manager would somehow have them much closer to first place. Maybe there IS evidence of that. But a few high profile incidents probably obscure plenty of good decisions that went quietly unobserved.


   46. Ron J Posted: June 16, 2022 at 08:24 PM (#6082280)
#45 Looks like hand waving to me. What would you argue as plausible credits for LaRussa?

I've got one. The decision to give substantial playing time to Jake Burger. He had plenty of other options. And I suspect that over the remainder of the season Harrison and Mancada will outplay him, but right now he's been clearly better than either. Mendick's another. Both are more than likely a few miles over their head, but if it's luck that they've done this well, it's luck that matters.

He's also done a good job of getting the reliever who have pitched well so far into high leverage situations. In particular Hendriks and Graveman.

But I can't find anything in the record that looks like an offset to the more high profile incidents.
   47. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 16, 2022 at 11:53 PM (#6082343)
Are there a lot of these? Not knowing the rule on the zombie runner seems indicative of general lack of preparation. So yeah thats not good. But is there a whole string of such oversights?
   48. sunday silence (again) Posted: June 16, 2022 at 11:53 PM (#6082344)
double...
   49. Jack Sommers Posted: June 17, 2022 at 12:16 AM (#6082350)
#45 Looks like hand waving to me.


Please don't do that, I'm doing no such thing.

I can't find anything in the record that looks like an offset to the more high profile incidents.


The Pythag record vs actual is one piece of evidence "in the record" , as is the fact they've had more than their fair share of impactful injuries. You obviously don't find those two things to be very compelling, which is totally understandable. I'm not trying to make an iron clad case here. But those factors should at the very least have some moderating or mitigating effect on the negative judgement being handed down.

I don't watch them every day. But from my experience of watching other managers every day, I see a lot of little things on a day to day basis that are done right that often get obscured by more high profile mistakes. This is human nature on the part of the observers and commentators. So in that context, please re read the last sentences of my comment as they are intended. Not as a hand wave. But more as an acknowledgement we don't know what we don't know.

TLR should not be immune to criticism for the mistakes he's made, but at the same time, there is no HARd evidence presented in this thread that _______________ [fill in name of "best manager you can think of] would have the White Sox in a much better position right now.



   50. asinwreck Posted: June 17, 2022 at 09:09 AM (#6082395)
One of the Chicago writers pointed out that the White Sox have only fired 2 managers mid-season in their entire existence

No, that would be just during the Reinsdorf era (Lamont in 1995 and La Russa in 1986). Which is saying something, given that that era began in 1981. Bill Veeck switched managers midseason two years in a row before sticking with La Russa.

That Terry Bevington managed multiple complete seasons for this franchise is as great an indictment of Reinsdorf as anything about the La Russa reuniion tour.

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