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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

The Farce of Sox Management?

Last week the Sox continued their losing ways, and the farce that is team management these days continued.   

It all began Sunday when Lenny (aka Sox GM Kenny Williams) supposedly went into the Sox clubhouse in Cleveland and, according to press reports, chewed out a few veteran players for retiring there early before batting practice was over.  Lenny denied this on the radio the next day.  He did admit to having a discussion with Kenny Lofton but would not characterize it in any way as a chastisement. 

While that radio interview was going on, manager Jerry Manuel was meeting behind closed doors with light-hitting shortstop Royce Clayton.  The upshot is that Clayton would be benched.  That benching was to be long term, and in fact reports on WSCR stated that it would be permanent (apparently only against right handed pitching, however, since Clayton started just a couple of days later against a lefty). 

In that same radio interview, Williams stressed that he had also talked to Manuel and told him that he didn’t care who the players was, if he is not performing he should be benched.  He said that he told Manuel that his only concern was winning ballgames, not with what players with high salaries weren’t playing, that the lineup on the field should be the one that gives the Sox the best opportunity to win that night. 

This begs the question, “Why did Manuel have to be told this?”  Does this mean that he put Julio Ramirez, Harold Baines, and Clayton in the lineup for so many weeks last year because he thought that he had to for some reason, such as thinking that Williams wanted them in the lineup?  Why didn’t Lenny clarify this when he took over as GM?  Why didn’t Lenny tell Manuel from day one that his goal was to win and that Manuel should put the best lineup he could out on the field every day?   

One is reminded of the remark made by the character played by Strother Martin in the movie Cool Hand Luke.  “What we’ve got heah, is a failyuh to commune-cate!”  Lenny, isn’t that supposed to come from the top down?  Shouldn’t Manuel know what his parameters are in running the club on the field?  Lenny, you’ve said all along in public that you runt the front office, deciding who Manuel has on the squad ready to play, and that Manuel’s responsibility is to decide who plays.  So why did you have to have a private meeting just last week to remind him of that fact?  Are you saying that Manuel is stupid, or are you saying that he was never told that in the first place and that you’ve been pulling the strings all along? 

To make matters worse, the benching of Clayton only accomplish half of what needs to be done.  With Clayton on the bench, that means that Tony Graffanino becomes an everyday player, a role he has proven time and again that he is ill-suited to perform.  So what happens when Graffanino dips to the .230  or so that he usually hits when he plays everyday?  Does Clayton move back to shortstop? 

Or do we finally get to see Joe Crede get the chance he deserves at third base?  What more does Crede have to prove?  He’s playing well again at AAA Charlotte, something we all knew would happen when he was sent down this spring.  He deserves a shot, and once again he’s not getting it?  So, Lenny, why isn’t he getting a chance?  Did he do something to upset you?  Did he do something to upset Manuel?  Or is it that your crack talent evaluators see a fatal flaw in his game that will only be overcome when he’s traded to someone else and becomes an All-Star? 

In the radio interview Lenny said that he thinks this team, as so constituted will right itself and start winning.  That was nearly a week ago as this is being written.  The ship is still sinking and nothing is being done to save it?  Meanwhile the fans, who might be coming to the ballpark are turned off by consistently poor performance by the club, are staying away in droves.   

Something has to be done, Lenny, and it has to be done now!


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at nsmf@aol.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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