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Ken Williams makes daring and dangerous move in hiring Robin Ventura

Oct 6, 2011, 6:00 PM EDT

Ken Williams Getty Images

White Sox GM Ken Williams has never been one to play it safe, and he likely just put his job on the line by hiring Robin Ventura to manage the club.

The gamble here, of course, is that Ventura has never managed at any level. The only coaching he’s done was at Arroyo Grande High on a volunteer basis. He probably would have been a lot more involved in the game after retiring in 2004, but ankle problems that eventually resulted in a complicated transplant operation limited his mobility.

Now, Ventura was certainly respected and well liked during a career that saw him go to two All-Star Games and win six Gold Gloves. He must have positively crushed the interview to get the White Sox job before Dave Martinez and others could even interview.

But if this doesn’t work out, there’s not really any chance of Williams surviving in Chicago either. And presuming that a new GM would want to hire his own manager, it’s possible the Ventura move could go down as a one-year experiment if the White Sox don’t challenge for the AL Central crown next year.

  1. aceshigh11 - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Nolan Ryan approves of this move.

  2. jackkoho - Oct 6, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    Saying that this is a one year experiment if they don’t challenge for the AL central crown would be pushing it, considering Ken Williams has basically said they are going to cut payroll for next year because they are hamstrung with the bad contracts of Peavy, Rios, and Dunn. If Robin doesn’t totally blow it, I’m sure he’ll have longer than a 1 year leash.

  3. tashkalucy - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Kenny Williams never struck me as being a very good GM, ever since Jerry Reinsdorf jumped him over Dan Evans to give him the job.

    But Williams has proven to be colorful, like a long-shot better at the track that scored a few unexpected trifecta’s over the years. His teams don’t seem to have much of a personality or direction to them, other then the 2005 team that he and Ozzie have been living on and will continue to live on as long as someone pays them.

    It’s always interesting watching his moves – like watching bumper cars at an amusement park – but I’d sure hate to be a White Sox fan.

    He actually hired a major league manager that has no experience managing other then his son’s high school team? Seriously? And the owner approved this?

    Earth to Williams- Reinsdorf — this is competitive professional sports, and the people in the other dugout are qualified, organized and prepared.

    And I thought Mark Shapiro was the only guy that was all about unproductive experiments. Well, I guess Kenny is fighting Mark for that soft / high-paying GM expert job on ESPN, which they will compete for as soon as their owners wake up and realize how inept they are. But what the heck – the Sox had a forgettable player until he pulled his pants down after sliding into a base to wipe the dirt off….he says he forgot he was playing…..as he turned to the TV camera. He made it onto Fox for a few years, and McCourt of the Dodgers hired him to do cable and forced him onto a fanbase used to listening to the great, professional Vin Skully. The guy lasted in TV for 10 years getting overpayed while thinking he was funny…the network execs though he was funny….the fans knew he wasn’t funny and that he was basically a moron. But what the heck, Tim McCarver is still on doing his funny stuff which is not funny for decades now, so thanks to TV, there will be the good life after failure for both Kenny Williams and Mark Shapiro.

    • jdd428 - Oct 6, 2011 at 9:05 PM

      While I’m not enthralled by the Ventura hire (would’ve preferred D.Martinez), I am sick of people constantly bashing Williams – especially when those people say Reinsdorf passed over Evans to hire Williams. Exactly how much success has Dan Evans had since Williams got the Sox job? Has Evans won any World Series? Is he still serving as GM of a MLB team? Answers: Little, none and no.

      Williams’ teams have an overall winning record during his tenure. He is not afraid to take risks. Sure, some moves backfire. But some don’t, and there’s a banner and some rings at the Cell to prove it.

      Beyond that, if Dunn and Rios and Peavy (and perhaps Beckham) had played to their career averages this team would have been in contention for the division title. Williams could not have foreseen Dunn performing as poorly as he did. He assembled a team that should have been successful; it’s not his fault they underperformed.

      Again, Ventura is a major gamble – one I’m not very confident will pan out. And if it doesn’t Williams’ era will certainly end. But anyone who doesn’t see him as among the most successful GMs the franchise has ever had is just flat out wrong.

      • tashkalucy - Oct 7, 2011 at 12:21 AM

        For the record…..

        I saw Evans in LA take over a Dodger franchise that Fox executives had run straight into the ground, and build a solid organization.

        Then I saw Billy Beane (counter) and right hand-man Paul DePodesta get hired by McCourt and Evans was pushed out. Within a year-and-a-half DePodesta had run the franchise back into the ground and the outcry from Dodger fans – particularly the cancellation of season tickets – got McCourt to fire DePodesta.

        It’s a shame what happened to Evens in MLB. I have no doubt that h’s better then half the GM’s currently working. Maybe if he quoted statistics all the time and using a bunch of buzzwords created by ad Ivy League education it would help him with discriminating fans like you.

  4. Gordon - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Not good

  5. nomoreseasontix - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    I hear Ventura’s name, and the first thing that comes to mind is a memory of him charging Nolan Ryan and getting his arse handed to him.

    • antlerclaws - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:40 PM

      The clip of Ventura getting smacked around by Ryan is shown on the bigscreen before every Rangers game and always produces a huge cheer. Maybe when the White Sox and Rangers meet, the teams should just hang in the dugouts and the teams send out their champions to meet each other, mano y mano.

      “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!”

  6. Gordon - Oct 6, 2011 at 7:49 PM

    Actually, now it makes sense. Reinsdorf hired Vinny Del Negro to coach the Bulls with no experience.

    He likes inexperienced coaches because they’re cheap. That’s why he dumped Phil Jackson.

    This will not end well.

  7. jwbiii - Oct 7, 2011 at 12:01 AM

    Kenny Williams wanted a manager who
    (a) has no leverage,
    (b) has no history of mouthing off, and
    (c) isn’t a favorite of Jerry Reinsdorf.
    Robin Ventura can be disposed of without any unnecessary drama if appropriate.

    • jdd428 - Oct 7, 2011 at 12:47 AM

      Ventura IS a Reinsdorf favorite. But I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

      • jwbiii - Oct 7, 2011 at 1:03 AM

        I thought Ventura’s departure via free agency would have lowered his favorite son status.

        I have been wrong before.

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