Rogers wonders why the Chicago White Sox felt the need to flip Jackson to the Toronto Blue Jays first rather than take Rasmus themselves. He explains why he saw the two clubs’ needs having matched up well.
One possible conclusion Rogers backs is that the deal was made with 2012 in mind – specifically to ensure that Rasmus would be nowhere to be found when Tony La Russa returns to the South Side to manage the Sox next season.
The manager’s long-standing friendship with Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has been well documented. On one hand, it seems a stretch that current general manager Kenny Williams would have been instructed from upstairs to avoid acquiring Rasmus.
On the other, La Russa has spoken fondly in recent years about working for an owner like Reinsdorf. From a February 2010 interview with Comcast SportsNet Chicago:
“If I ever left the field and went upstairs, which I hope to do some time maybe soon, I’d like to work for an owner that I like and that I respect as much as I do Jerry, because I want to be motivated to make him happy,” La Russa said.
Reinsdorf, a lawyer like La Russa, is a Chicago fixture, having run both the White Sox and Bulls for multiple decades. He presided over controversial decisions such as letting NBA champions Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan leave Chicago. Yet, Reinsdorf regrets most the 1986 dismissal of La Russa by his club, as quoted in the book “Tony La Russa: Man on a Mission” by Rob Rains.
“I never should have allowed Tony to be fired. I’ve often said that was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was a mistake. And I let it happen anyway,” Reinsdorf said.
Whether or not La Russa is in the Sox’ future, 2011 may be combustible Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen’s final season with the team. It remains another leap to assume La Russa would be his successor, though it is an interesting thought for TLR to become second on baseball’s all-time managerial list and conclude his celebrated on-field career where it began.
For his part, though La Russa is not under contract for 2012, he has said previously that he does not plan to take another field job before moving into an undefined future role in the game. Would the Sox and Reinsdorf be enough for him to change his mind, managing perhaps interim to taking a front office spot? Rogers thinks so.
The Chicago writer also brings into his story “Super Joe” McEwing. The former Cardinals fan favorite is now the White Sox Triple-A manager, as was La Russa over three decades ago. Rogers names McEwing as “most likely” La Russa’s 2012 White Sox bench coach and heir-apparent manager.
Rogers did not identify any sources to support his theory.