A recent LWOS article argued why Tony La Russa should move on from Chicago. Earlier this week, it came to fruition. Tony La Russa is retiring. Despite winning the American League Central Division title in 2021, both of La Russa’s two seasons in Chicago ended in utter disappointment. But despite that disappointment, it is truly sad to see a career end the way La Russa’s did. As the season came to an end, the Hall of Fame skipper experienced significant health concerns. These concerns led to him taking time away from the team for the final month or so of the regular season. Thankfully, La Russa is healthy enough to ride off into the sunset once more. Let’s discuss who the possible candidates might be.
Top Candidates to Replace Tony La Russa
The biggest name surrounding the White Sox‘ manager search is a familiar one. The White Sox have a chance to hire yet another former manager and World Series champion in Ozzie Guillen. Starting his career with the Sox as a shortstop, Guillen won the 1985 Rookie of the Year award. He then went on to win a Gold Glove award and became a three time All-Star in 16 seasons. After becoming a manager, from 2004 through 2012 Guillen went 747–710 (678–617 with the White Sox) and made the playoffs twice, winning the 2005 World Series in the process. He now works for NBC Sports Chicago as a studio analyst, repeatedly voicing his opinions about the White Sox. In a recent discussion, Guillen spoke of his interest in the job, stating that no one knows that ballclub better than him.
It’s no secret that former players can make great managers. It’s also not uncommon for former catchers to be worthy candidates. A.J. Hinch, Scott Servais, and David Ross are all catcher-turned-managers that led their team to the postseason at some point so far in their managerial careers. Pierzynski was no stranger to the postseason as a player. He was the starting catcher for Ozzie Guillen’s 2005 world champion White Sox. He played a total of 19 seasons for the Twins, Giants, White Sox, Rangers, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Braves. The lefty slugger appeared in two All-Star games and won the 2012 American League Silver Slugger award for catchers. He now works for FOX as an analyst. It’ll be interesting to see if the Sox become yet another team to hire a former catcher of theirs with World Series experience.
After La Russa was forced to step aside, the Sox promoted bench coach Miguel Cairo to interim manager. He finished the season with a record of 18–15. At one point, the White Sox were 13–5 under the leadership of Cairo, however they endured an eight game losing streak that would ultimately take away their hopes of a Wild Card spot. It would not be far fetched to believe that Rick Hahn and Co. would bring back Cairo in hopes of building off of his success in his short stint as manager.
Other popular names include Will Venable, Joe Espada, and Brad Ausmus. One thing is certain, there are no shortage of viable options to consider in the White Sox manager search.
Tony La Russa’s tenure in Chicago does not define his managerial career. He finishes his career with a record of 2902–2515 (.536). Other accolades include finishing as a finalist for Manager of the Year 12 times, winning the award three times (1983, 1988, 2002). Also, the Hall of Famer made the postseason in 15 of his 35 seasons. La Russa took the Oakland Athletics to the World Series in three straight seasons (’88-’90) and took home the trophy in 1989. He later brought the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series three times as well, winning once again in 2006 and 2011. Additionally, he is second on the all-time leaderboard in wins for a manager, trailing only Connie Mack (3,731 wins). Baseball fans should be glad to see Tony La Russa heading into retirement in better health.
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