Bernstein: Here’s Why Ventura

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) Adam Dunn is going nowhere.

Neither is Alex Rios or Jake Peavy. They are useless and expensive White Sox property until somebody else wants them.

Kenny Williams lost his poker bet, after he pushed Jerry Reinsdorf’s chips to the middle of the table and birthed a regrettable marketing slogan. Now, he’s entrenching – cutting payroll, giving chances to whatever young players he can while hoping against hope that his bad bets can be salvaged, somehow.

Robin Ventura gets to oversee this uncomfortable, shaky time, which is better-termed “unbuilding” or “midbuilding.”

“Rebuilding,” you see, assumes you have the bricks arranged in blocks on the curb, ready to use. Coils of wire waiting to be threaded, big slabs of granite countertop coming off delivery trucks, set for installation.

The Sox are staring at a deteriorating house that needs foundation work, before it’s time to argue about bath fixtures, compare shades of paint, or select Tuscan-villa backsplash tiles.

Ventura is a nice, smart guy who may be a good manager, eventually.

He’ll get two years to learn on the job – probably next to some potbellied old salt on the bench – before the path to contention is cleared of self-made debris.

Sox fans were not going to line up for season tickets based on the announcement of any manager in this big picture. Not Terry Francona, Sandy Alomar or Dave Martinez. Not the reanimated, zombie corpse of John McGraw, packed into a three-piece suit and groaning for brains to eat. Well, maybe that.

Follow the money: they took a bath this year, and now know that the next two seasons look bleak, save for the improbable snap-backs from veteran deadweights. No reason to pay more than needed for a bigger-name caretaker, especially if they truly believe Ventura is a real prospect. Save the extra millions for players, or bonuses that can be paid to draft picks.

More importantly, Williams sleeps easy.

He’s solidified his power, installed what appears at first glance to be a passive subordinate, and publicly bought lowered expectations while he mollifies his bosses by making life less risky and less expensive.

Reinsdorf adores Ventura. Heck, who doesn’t? But neither he nor we know if the guy can do the job. It looks like he gets two years to prove it, as he rides the new bet on regression to the statistical mean by brutal underachievers.

Williams, for the first time, has made the tacit admission that he’s not going for it. It’s his fault he has to deviate from pattern, sure, but his position within the administration is stronger than ever.

Worst case, the Sox tank this year and Ventura finishes the year looking like Mike Quade, a likeable guy reduced to gibbering, overmatched loon.

(I’m betting against that, by the way. Ventura has an easygoing calm lacking in the twitchy Quade, and his sixteen years on big-league teams in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles may have better prepared him for limelight life than bumping around on backroad bus trips, eating at Denny’s.)

Best case, Dunn rebounds, Rios tries, Peavy deals and Gordon Beckham improves. Tyler Flowers earns a platoon with an aging A.J. Pierzynski. Dayan Viciedo rakes. Everybody looks smart.

I wouldn’t bet on the latter, but at least I understand the reasoning.

Whether or not Ventura is a good manager right now doesn’t really matter.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Heres Why Ventura
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s columns here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
Listen to The Boers and Bernstein Show podcasts >>

More from Dan Bernstein
  • So...

    …pot-bellied brain-eaters, come on down!

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    In other words, he’s Tim Floyd.

    • Taco-Lover Tom


    • Bronzo

      I hope your wrong LHA… I really do…

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        So do I Bronzo….


    We’ll get back to the Ventura hiring in a moment. But now…just in from Lubbock, Texas…Hank Williams Jr. has been arrested for torturing another analogy! We’ll update the story as soon as details become available. Oh! The inanity!

  • Robin Ventura? - City-Data Forum

    […] […]

  • Denver Deadite

    “Whether or not Ventura is a good manager right now doesn’t really matter.”

    Couldn’t the same have been said of Quade a year ago? And we all see how that’s turned out.

    • Satan

      The difference is, NOBODY was expecting Quade to be anything more than a placeholder, whereas I’m pretty sure White Sox Nation is at least hoping (if not expecting) that Ventura can become to the Sox what Ryne Sandburg would’ve been for the Cubs.

      To put it another way, Ventura will be given enough of a chance that, if he fails, it won’t be until after years of tenure, and the decision to hire him as manager will be looked at as a major disappointment. I don’t think anybody feels the same about the Quade Era…

      • Bronzo

        I’m with you Satan…I’m a big Sox fan and I’m not sure how I feel about this. I agree with a lot of Bernstein’s points. On the outside chance that all this dead weight actually plays well he may have a shot.

        Yes he will be given a chance… this is not a 1 and done like I think Quade is.

      • Denver Deadite

        I knew Sandburg would come up sooner or later. But then, some people think Sandburg doesn’t deserve the Cubs job… even after paying his dues in the minors.

        Ventura has NO experience. This hire comes across as nothing more than Sox management fellating fans with another of their own in the hopes of selling tickets and drumming up interest, rather than admitting that they’re up a creek.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        So, where do we apply to be “fellated Sox fans”? That sounds better than the feeling I get as a Cub fan, which is nausea.

  • Harry's Phlegm

    Fascinating. I would bet that there is not once White Sox fan who saw this coming. Personally I like “Bobby Venture” and hope he does well.

    Bernsie nailed it.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Listening to the national guys last night, it sounds like nobody, fan or media, saw this coming.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    I’m sooooooo changing my halloween costume to “Zombie John McGraw in a 3-piece suit”. It’s much better than my original idea of Connie Mack.

  • meesohawnee

    Nice job dan. .Dead on!!. though im waiting for the blog that points out that of those polled. over 70% of respondents said if the NBA canceled the season nobody would notice or care for that matter. ..

  • Dr That Doesn't Help People

    So… when are we going to learn what Mike in Milwaukee thinks about this?


    Like many White Sox fans, I was absolutely shocked when Bernsy broke into a commercial break to announce the Southsiders’ hiring of Robin Ventura as the team’s 39th manager in franchise history. While I wish Robin all the best in his new position, I didn’t see this one coming. This when you consider that the notable names that were mentioned once Ozzie decided to take his lineup card to Miami were Rays’ bench coach Dave Martinez, the perceived front runner, and Indians’ (soon to be) bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr., both of whom were Sox players just like Ventura.

    While many on the national level think Ventura’s hiring is a gamble, it would behoove the Sox if they hired a grizzled veteran who has previously managed to serve as Robin’s bench coach. As I commented on both Facebook and my Twitter page last night, the hiring of a strong bench coach now becomes more important than Ventura’s hiring to fill out the lineup card for the first time on any level.

  • ChicagoTJ

    If Kenny Williams has been sizing up Ventura for this job since the mid-90’s, why wasn’t Ventura given some sort of coaching role in the organization beforehand?

    Most staggering out of all this is the seeming absence of Ventura aspiring to the role.

    DB is right on about Williams’ power being solidified. Any team struggles can now be deflected away from himself and attributed to a rookie manager, with any successes being gravy and credited to himself for his visionary move. What a way to be able to spin your performance; nice gig if you can get it.

  • lala

    For me nothing is deflected, where the sox are now IS because of KW and believe me I won’t forget who got rid of Thome and brought in Dunn and Rios and we’ll see see how Juan does next year. After winning the world series, Kenny tore this team apart, that IS why the sox sit where they sit today. Bet the Marlins have a great year next year. I wish Robin all the best, have always loved him. Kenny you are a liar and you and who ever the sox snitch is called you out cold!!

  • John McCarthy

    So now that the drunken Mardi Gras carnivale has blown town and gone south, it’s Ash Wednesday and time for austerity. Bring in the quiet, friendly cleanup man to sweep up the debris.
    I seriously doubt that this is the way the job was sold to Ventura, but that will be the reality. A really good guy who does things the right way has taken on the assignment of cleaning up several other people’s messes. Best wishes, Robin.
    Just one question: what did you do to deserve this stinkin’ job?

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