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Mark Gonzales: The Chicago White Sox — with an outrageously talented core — must find their perfect manager. No decision in the Jerry Reinsdorf era is more important.

By Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

A year after winning their first World Series since 1917, the 2006 Chicago White Sox looked primed for a repeat, adding Hall of Fame slugger Jim Thome to an efficient lineup and Javier Vazquez to a rotation that carried them to the title.

Those moves were admirable, and the Sox posted a 90-win season but finished third in the American League Central. That was about as good as it got for a fan base that has experienced only two brief postseason runs since despite the Sox's relentless efforts at the expense of their farm system until 2017.

Fans also have tolerated - to varying degrees - their North Side rivals' glorification of the 2016 World Series championship, no matter how many layers of dust have collected on those replica trophies, pennants and commemorative bobbleheads since the Cubs ended their 107-year drought.

Now, with an outrageously talented core supplemented by a strong farm system, no decision in the Jerry Reinsdorf era is more important than the hiring of the next Sox manager.

There's no unanimous choice, but that shouldn't matter. What should matter is that Rick Renteria's successor display astute in-game strategy to win close games and elevate the talent and acumen of his younger players.

And let's face it: Nearly every candidate has some baggage. A.J. Hinch was fired for his part in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. And Tony La Russa, 76, hasn't managed since 2001 and has been criticized for voicing displeasure for those who kneel during the national anthem.

 

Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine in 2009 before leading the Texas Rangers to consecutive World Series appearances, and Washington has been hailed for his work with infielders from the Oakland Athletics in the late 1990s to currently with the Atlanta Braves.

It's not certain whether Washington, 68, is a candidate or even a fit in the eyes of the Sox front office. But after watching Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson develop into American League Most Valuable Player candidates, Lucas Giolito emerge as one of the league's best starters and young outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert display prolific talent at the plate, the Sox don't need any major additions to advance to the next level.

The exception is the next manager and the structure he plans to implement.

The Sox, according to multiple sources, plan to apply more analytical data into their game planning. Gone are the days when a staffer would place data on the desk of former manager Ozzie Guillen, suggesting that longtime leadoff batter Juan Pierre would be better served as a No. 9 hitter, only for the information to be crumpled and tossed into a waste basket.

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