CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf couldn’t remember a season like this.
He called it “the worst year I’ve ever suffered through” and a “horrible experience.” He said he knows just how the team’s frustrated fans feel and vowed to put this “nightmare” behind them.
Reinsdorf is counting on new leadership promoted from within to turn around his struggling franchise that has not won a playoff series in nearly two decades.
Chris Getz was named general manager on Thursday, replacing Rick Hahn, who along with president of baseball operations Ken Williams, was fired by Reinsdorf on Aug. 22. Williams was in his 11th season as executive vice president after serving as the club’s general manager for 12 years. Hahn had been with Chicago since 2002.
The White Sox have a total of three victories in three playoff appearances since winning the 2005 World Series. They began this year with postseason aspirations, but they are fourth in the AL Central with a 53-81 record after Wednesday’s 10-5 victory at Baltimore.
“If I were a fan, I’d be p—-ed,” Reinsdorf said. “I’d be very angry. But at the same time, this is the first really, really bad year. We won the division in ’21, we were .500 last year. That’s nobody’s goal to be .500, but that’s still average. This is the first disaster. This is the first real disaster.”
Reinsdorf, 87, made it clear he doesn’t want to go through another major overhaul after the most recent rebuild came up short. The team has a foundation in place, he said, adding: “We’re not going to take the guys that we have now and clean out and start over again.”
Reinsdorf said he put together a list of internal and external candidates to run the baseball operation. He said he was impressed with the way minor leaguers were taught to play under Getz’s direction and believed the fastest path to a turnaround was by promoting from within. An external candidate would have needed a year to evaluate the organization, he said.
“I could have brought Branch Rickey back,” said Reinsdorf, who rarely addresses the media. “It would have taken him a year to evaluate the organization.”
Getz, who turned 40 on Wednesday, was hired by Chicago in October 2016 as the team’s director of player development. He was promoted to assistant general manager in January 2021. He was also promoted to senior vice president on Thursday.
“I’m going to take advantage of being someone that’s been here and has a strong understanding of the White Sox organization,” Getz said. “And, you know, with that being said, it’s going to be important to bring in different perspectives, different ideas, which comes with different people to add to the group that we have here and make us better decision makers so we can go out there and put together a better ballclub moving forward.”
Getz oversaw a farm system that hasn’t produced in recent years. The organization was also sued two years ago along with former minor league manager Omar Vizquel and the Double-A Birmingham Barons by an autistic batboy who alleged Vizquel sexually harassed him in 2019.
Vizquel, who was fired in 2019, denied the allegations. The sides reached a settlement in 2022.
“I was very proud with our organization to how it was handled,” Getz said. “We have extensive training for both players and staff to prevent issues from popping from time to time and when they do they know how to act accordingly and in those cases they did.”
Getz was drafted by White Sox twice and spent the first two of his seven big league seasons with the team.
One change Getz won’t be making is in the dugout. He said manager Pedro Grifol will return next season.
“I think it’s important to provide stability to our players,” Getz said. “There’s been a lot of changes the last couple of years and certainly here recently, and I believe that we need to get back to playing baseball, focusing on our baseball. So when these players show up each day, they can just focus on the game and not the leaders in the organization.”
Getz played for Kansas City from 2010 to 2013 and also worked for the Royals after his playing career. Before he was hired by Chicago in November, Grifol spent the previous 10 seasons in a variety of coaching roles with Kansas City.
Getz takes over amid a difficult period for the franchise. Days after Williams and Hahn were fired, two women were injured in a shooting that occurred during a game at Guaranteed Rate Field. Police are investigating what happened, including whether the gun was fired inside or outside of the ballpark. There is also uncertainty about the franchise’s long-term future at its South Side ballpark.