The Shadow Coaching Staff, and your next White Sox Manager?

The Tony La Russa hiring was a stupid decision from the start. It was made in bad faith and Jerry Reinsdorf will defend the DUI until his last breath.

Thankfully for White Sox fans, it won’t be a long tenure. No matter the kind of season the 2021 White Sox have, I can foresee scenario’s for a one-and-done La Russa tenure:

  • Full Bobby Valentine’s Boston Red Sox in 2012: 90-plus losses, infighting, clubhouse upheaval, and a full player revolt. TLR decides it’s not worth it and steps down.
  • The 2000s: A mediocre 83-79 type season where they miss the playoffs (assuming it’s the normal structure). A down year for players who don’t fully embrace TLR, but not a full blown disaster. A good chunk of the season still played in strict COVID-19 protocols, which wears down the 76-year-old. TLR decides it’s not worth it and steps down.
  • Riding off into the Sunset. Sox win 100-plus games and coast to a division title and win the World Series on the backs of an amazing offense and stout bullpen. The players pull a ‘Major League’ and win to spite the owner. Tony and Jerry complete their ‘Quantum Leap’ scenario of “striving to put right what once went wrong” and TLR retires for good.

Which leads us to what I am referring to as “RICK HAHN’S SHADOW COACHING STAFF”. With today’s announcement of the full coaching staff, we got a glimpse into the not-so-distant future.

Knowing how the White Sox operate, I won’t be fooled again when La Russa and the Sox part ways. It’s next man up. Whether it’s in 2022 or 2023, Miguel Cairo will be the next manager of the Chicago White Sox.

And you know, what? I’m fine with that.

The Shadow staff is much more exciting than the top of the ticket. It’s a group that, if all goes well, you won’t want to lose in an extreme turnover in hiring a new manager.

Ethan Katz is an A+ hire and I cannot wait to see what he can do with the rotation after seeing what he did with Lucas Giolito. The young hitters love Frank Menechino and responded with a great offensive output in 2020. And as much as cynical Sox fans like to dunk on the nepotism of the Shelley Duncan hire, the mere fact that they appear to be committing to a uniformed dugout position of Analytics Coordinator means that they are at least dipping their toes into the waters of numbers-based, forward thinking baseball.

As for Cairo himself, he does check a lot of boxes. Spanish speaking, both on field and front office/player development experience. As a former utility guy, he bounced around the league which gives him a unique perspective that can help him relate to the players. Much like Rick Renteria, he seems like a players-manager.

To chomp on a bitter pill for a moment, even though he’s been out of the game a decade, La Russa will probably have a lot of valuable in game management experience that he can pass down to Miguel in 2021 to prepare him, and with a new focus on analytics, perhaps Cairo can mold the two together.

He may have been hired as bench coach, but Sox fans should prepare themselves for a Miguel Cairo managed team sooner than later.

Featured Photo: Photo: Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

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