Bland of coaches lead White Sox

The Chicago White Sox are touting as big news the signing of the guy that their North Side nemesis cast off to go and get a real manager.

Sox brass have named Rick Renteria as the bench coach. With low-key Robin Ventura at the helm and the bland Renteria as bench coach, trainer Herm Schneider may need to keep a stethoscope handy this year just to check that there is a pulse in the dugout. If Ben & Jerry’s were to make Chicago baseball ice cream flavors this winter, they would be Outside the Box Pennant Joe for the Cubs and their marquee manager Joe Maddon and So-So Vanilla for the Sox and their coach staff.

For all the splash the Sox made last year with moves to get Jeff Samardzija, Melky Cabrera, David Robertson and Adam LaRoche, this off-season has opened with a yawn. It is as if the Sox leaders turned off their TVs after the regular season ended and didn’t see that the team they battle the city’s heart for – the Cubs – got through not only the National League wild card game but their half of the NL Division Series as well.

Yes, the champagne has barely dried on the streets of Kansas City and there are plenty of big names to be grabbed through free agency this fall and winter, but unless the Sox can nab a Justin Upton or David Price the silence will continue to be deafening from the South Side of Chicago.

In another note of indifference, the Sox have hired Greg Sparks, who for seven years was the minor league hitting coach for the Oakland A’s, as their hitting coach. It would have been more interesting if they had hired singer Jordin Sparks. Greg Sparks’ hiring may make sense though. No offense looked more like a minor league team last year than the White Sox.

The Sox grabbed headlines with their free agent and trade moves last year, only to have an underachieving bunch that spent only one day over .500 all season. So, it is understandable for the South Siders not to go hog wild into free agency again, especially when the Cubs showed what a few years of pain on the Major League level can do to boost your farm system and your future.

The Sox are normally quiet in November and then make a splash in December. So the bombshell could be coming. Zack Greinke could be just weeks away from a Chicago address. However, it is far more likely that address would be on the North Side of town than the South Side. With the Sox being burned so frequently as of late by free agent signings (see Adam Dunn and Adam LaRoche stat sheets), it is questionable how much money the Sox are willing to spend this winter.

But, if you are not going to get headlines with your players, get some attention with your coaches. The team’s third straight losing season after all the preseason hype of last year is tough for Sox fans to bear. Give us some household name on the coaching staff.

Sandy Alomar, who played for the Sox on three different occasions, was in the running for the bench coach job and a marquee name that would have been a nice addition and a nice future manager. But Alomar is happy in Cleveland so the cost might have been too high to get him to swap American League Central clubs.

Matt Williams is looking for something to do. His fire would have been a welcome addition to the Sox coaching staff.

Former Cleveland manager Manny Acta relates well with Latin players – of which the White Sox have a ton – and he wears passion on his uniform sleeve. His hiring would also have made sense.

It is a mystery why Ron Gardenhire is not running some team or at least being somebody’s bench coach. He too would have made a splash.

Two former players with no managing experience – Cal Ripken Jr. and Barry Larkin – are both said to be interested in coaching. Both would have brought some marquee value – and likely helped with the mix of veteran and young players the White Sox have.

Former player and manager Larry Bowa is out there as well. At 70 years of age, Bowa is not likely anybody’s first choice as manager, but could have provided valuable input as a bench coach for the Sox.

Of course, former Sox manager and fan favorite Ozzie Guillen is still out there. He definitely would have brought attention to the team, but his ego would have likely gotten in the way as playing second fiddle is not Guillen’s style. Plus, while Kenny Williams still runs the Sox organization, it is doubtful Guillen will ever be welcomed back.

The Sox have gone for the glamor and glitz the past couple of seasons and have nothing to show for it. So, the Rick Renteria move may not be the worst thing, even if relegated to the inside pages of the sports section. Plus, how much impact a bench coach has on a team is really anybody’s guess.

Renteria is a solid baseball man, a nice guy and a step up from former Sox bench coach Mark Parent, who was barely visible during his four years in that role. Plus, Renteria has some managerial experience, which could come into play should the Sox get off to another slow start next spring and skipper Robin Ventura is shown the door.

But t

hat, of course, would also get the team back in the headlines!

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