I have to say, I didn’t expect to write much about Tony La Russa this offseason, other than perhaps how he might assist in the Angels search for a general manager, in his current rule as special advisor in baseball operations.
But here we are, with the Angels granting permission for the Chicago White Sox to interview La Russa for their open managerial position. Bob Nightengale at USA Today was the first to report this. The story was since confirmed by Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register and Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.
It’s easy to see why the White Sox manager is a coveted job. Chicago is chock full of young talent, which translated into a 35-25 season, one game out of first place in the AL Central this season. They made the postseason, and not just because of the bloated 16-team field in 2020. The White Sox would have been a playoff team under last year’s rules, too.
Chicago fired manager Rick Renteria on Monday, or as the White Sox described, the two sides “have agreed to part ways.”
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters on Monday, “Having that October managerial experience would be a plus,” per James Fegan of The Athletic. La Russa definitely fits that bill.
La Russa has an incredible managerial record, winning six pennants and three World Series in his 33 years at the helm, his 2,728 wins third all-time. La Russa was already inducted into the Hall of Fame as a manager, in 2014.
But La Russa last managed in 2011, and at 76 years old would be five years older than the second-oldest manager in MLB (Dusty Baker). La Russa would be the oldest manager since 80-year-old Jack McKeon led the Marlins for the final 90 games in 2011. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just unexpected.
Of the 22 Hall of Fame managers, only Connie Mack managed after getting inducted to Cooperstown. Mack was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937, the second-ever class, and managed for 13 more seasons. It helps to own the team.
La Russa has White Sox ties, having managed Chicago from 1979-86, including a division title in 1983. But to date, he hasn’t confirmed his interest in the position. But given that the White Sox asked for permission to interview La Russa suggests that this isn’t just a cursory interest.