Tony La Russa will become the next manager of the Chicago White Sox, the team announced on Thursday.
La Russa also previously managed the White Sox from 1979-1986, his first managerial stint in Major League Baseball. Over the course of his career, La Russa has won three World Series championships. He was also named manager of the year four times.
The White Sox hire of La Russa is not without pushback, however. By the time next season begins, the managerial great will not have managed a major league club in 10 years. Indeed, the last appearance for La Russa was in 2011 where he led the St. Louis Cardinals to an epic World Series comeback win.
La Russa is also 76 years-old, which would make him the oldest manager in MLB. Joe Maddon (Los Angeles Angels), the second oldest MLB manager, turns 67 in February. This age difference could be a significant hurdle to overcome. Especially since the White Sox held the 10th-youngest lineup in MLB last season.
Speculation and Expectations
What has some fans concerned at the onset is the type of baseball mind La Russa brings to Chicago. Many around baseball credited him with influencing modern bullpen use (thanks Kevin Cash), but all of La Russa’s work came prior to analytics. In baseball today, a dedication to this area of research and player analysis is a minimum requirement for serious contention.
La Russa has inherited a variety of executive roles across baseball in his time since 2011, and none of these have directly focused on analytics.
There is realistic expectation of a World Series in Chicago’s future, which informed the White Sox’ decision to hire La Russa. Though Chicago fired 2020 manager Rick Renteria earlier this month, the White Sox made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Impact players like Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and Jose Abreu played a large role in that success. La Russa’s hiring proves owner Jerry Reinsdorf sees a window of opportunity right now.
Regardless of his current qualifications, La Russa is a proven winner and baseball savant. His hire will create strong opinions around the White Sox organization. But mark this: anything can and will happen for the White Sox in 2021.
They’ll hope that ends with a World Series win.
Featured Image Courtesy of Jeffrey Phelps & Getty Images
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