Home Sports Column: Jerry Reinsdorf’s ‘search’ for a new GM sends a message to Chicago White Sox fans — the status quo is OK

Column: Jerry Reinsdorf’s ‘search’ for a new GM sends a message to Chicago White Sox fans — the status quo is OK

by staff

Jerry Reinsdorf’s search for a new leader of the Chicago White Sox baseball department ended nine days after the dismissal of executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn.

That is, if you consider opening the staff directory and picking Chris Getz as the new GM a real search.

By promoting Getz to senior vice president and GM, the Sox chairman showed who is boss and sent a message to fans: The status quo is acceptable.

“Chris brings a wealth of knowledge and experience within our organization to this role,” Reinsdorf said in a statement. “Most importantly, he knows our players, both at the major-league level and in our system, knows our staff and is familiar with all aspects of our baseball operations department.”

Reinsdorf added he was “greatly” impressed by Getz and has become “energized by his vision, approach and sense of what this organization needs to become competitive again.”

“With his existing knowledge of the organization, top to bottom,” the statement continued, “I believe his leadership will provide us with the quickest path forward to our goal, a consistently successful baseball team that competes and plays the game the right way. He will re-energize this organization.”

The promotion of Getz, like the hiring of Tony La Russa as manager in 2020, shows how much Reinsdorf has taken the future of the Sox into his own hands. Many teams have turned to analytically oriented executives with business or economics backgrounds to run their baseball operations department, so hiring a former player in Getz is a throwback to the way things used to be.

Reinsdorf’s GMs early in his ownership came from the broadcast booth (Ken Harrelson) and the Oakland Athletics scouting department (Ron Schueler). Since promoting Williams to replace Schueler 23 years ago, he has remained in house — from Williams to Hahn to Getz.

The 40-year-old Getz has followed closely in Williams’ footsteps, rising from former player with an undistinguished career to minor-league director to GM in rapid succession. Williams was 36 when Reinsdorf promoted him to GM in 2000 after the Sox won a division title and were named “Organization of the Year” by USA Today.

With several players whom Schueler acquired or drafted, Williams built the Sox into a World Series champion in 2005. But they have yet to win a postseason series since in three appearances (2008, ‘20 and ‘21).

Getz has been a good soldier in the organization since the Sox hired him as director of player development at the end of the 2016 season, when Hahn began executing the rebuild.

Prospects including Luis Robert Jr., Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Yoán Moncada, Eloy Jiménez, Dylan Cease, Garrett Crochet and Andrew Vaughn went through the system under Getz and have enjoyed varying levels of success with the Sox. Hahn’s rebuild was on target, leading to the end of the playoff drought in 2020 and a division title in ‘21.

But the team suffered through a .500 season under La Russa in 2022 and regressed even further under new manager Pedro Grifol this season.

Most of the Sox’s top prospects were acquired from other organizations, and the system has failed to produce quality big-league players over the last two years, aside from Vaughn. Other than Robert, no current core player has been able to string together back-to-back seasons of consistent performances due to injuries or regression.

The Sox news release noted that Getz “implemented Project Birmingham, an innovative program in which many of the organization’s top prospects, as well as the development staff, were assigned to Class AA Birmingham from August 23 through the end of the year.”

Birmingham was 30 games under .500 (46-76) entering Thursday after going 61-77 last year. Triple-A Charlotte was 11-41 in the second half and 46-81 overall, on pace to lose more than 90 games after a 58-92 season in 2022.

“That record speaks for itself,” said one former GM who asked not to be named.

When he fired Williams and Hahn on Aug. 22, Reinsdorf said the Sox would have a single leader in place by the end of the season. So it’s all on Getz to repair this sinking ship.

The Sox are on pace to lose 98 games, and barring trades, only Cease and Kopech are assured of a spot in the 2024 rotation. Most of the starting lineup remains under contract through ‘24, but several players could be on the trading block this winter as Getz looks to fix the problems that have repeated the last two seasons: a lack of hustle, poor defense and an absence of power hitters.

Getz has been leading the front office with assistant GM Jeremy Haber since Williams and Hahn were fired but has not met with the media. Whether he also will have former Royals GM Dayton Moore on board, as USA Today reported, remains unanswered. There was no mention of Haber in the press release.

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