For those who missed it yesterday (like me), Chris Jaffe at The Hardball Times had an excellent breakdown of the Robin Ventura hire.
"The irony, however, is that in-game strategy is just one facet of the job. Most baseball fans know this, but it’s impossible for us to really gauge the behind-the-scenes stuff. Thus we focus on the in-game items. What happens in the clubhouse and dealing with the players often matters more.
When asked what he looks for in a manager at a SABR convention a few years ago, then-Indians GM Mark Shapiro said that the most important attributes are the ability to communicate, self-awareness, and the ability to prioritize. When a GMs panel at this year’s SABR convention was asked the same question, the panelists gave a similar response.
Simply put, managers are first and foremost managers of men, and only secondarily manager of the game. This ain’t football where a guy can draw up a new play out of scratch." -- The Hardball Times
Beerleaguer: There's a lot more in Jaffe's piece, but the "managing of men" is crucial to Ventura's success as manager of the White Sox. He has a fantastic support staff around him, between Don Cooper, Harold Baines and Herm Schneider. There's little reason to be worried about Ventura's ability to handle a pitching staff, since one would imagine Cooper will either deal with it himself or be in Ventura's ear at all times about when to leave a pitcher in or take him out.
But it's pretty much the same situation Ozzie Guillen was in when he came to the Sox eight years ago. His ability to manage the pitching staff was lauded, but a lot of that had to do with the knowledge of Cooper. Where Guillen really made his mark, though, was that he knew how to manage each individual personality on the pitching staff (except Jake Peavy).
That's where Ventura will similarly have to make his mark. The same goes for the position players. In-game managing may be rough, but it may not be as rough as people think. Ozzie wasn't a good in-game manager, in fact, his propensity to have Alexei Ramirez bunt made me wish he stopped trying to strategize all together. And Ozzie's teams, at least until he checked out, were generally successful.
What mattered was that Ozzie was a good manager of men. That's what we'll have to find out about Ventura.