One thing we can be sure of: the White Sox do not care about optics.
From Scott Merkin’s typically superb reporting, we learned this weekend that Director of Player Development Nick Capra was making the very unusual transition from five seasons as the White Sox Director of Player Development, to Third Base Coach for the 2017 season, while Curt Hasler will go from Minor League Pitching Coordinator to Bullpen Coach.
While Joe McEwing becoming the Bench Coach for next season would ostensibly seem like the biggest news, Capra’s move hinted at some real overhaul of the Sox oft-maligned minor league talent pipeline. Capra staying in the organization suggested some degree of typical Sox business, but as a longtime minor league manager, it’s hardly a role for which he’s ill-suited.
Likely a lot of the optimism for an organizational sea change evaporated Sunday as Merkin reported that Capra’s replacement will be the 33-year-old Chris Getz, the former White Sox and Royals second baseman who was playing major league ball as recently as 2014. For an organization that is regularly lampooned for their preference for hiring former players, often at the expense of scrutiny on experience and qualifications, this will not hit the right note. And in general, the reception of any hire of a up-and-comer like Getz rather than a well-traveled front office veteran, rides on the credibility of the organization that makes it, and the Sox obviously do not have an esteemed reputation to flaunt.
None of which actually has anything to do with Getz, who has worked the last few years in Dayton Moore’s operation in Kansas City, and has done as much as he could to build up a reputation as a sharp, likeable figure. Now, he will be entering a position where people management skills and connections in the industry will weigh as heavily into his success as any other quality. There’s reason to believe that this is the type of role Getz would be up for in Kansas City before long if the Sox had not offered it to him first. And there’s an alternate world, where we get to look upon this news without a jaundiced eye, and Getz seems like a guy with plenty of potential to succeed in a role that is well-suited for a smart and personable ex-player.
But we don’t yet live in such a world. The Sox recent history means that this decision is subject to skepticism that picking a less experienced candidate was a cost conscious move, and whether the search to identify the next Jason McLeod extended beyond the bridge of their own nose.
Changes in player development were needed, and the Sox recognizing that and making an effort in that regard is a hugely important step that cannot be discounted. But taking a leap on an inexperienced former player will look like a misstep, even if it is actually the right one.
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