Chicago White Sox Manager Pedro Grifol Has to Go

Pedro Grifol exuded positive energy when he arrived in 2023 but he is clearly not a fit for struggling White Sox.
Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

When Pedro Grifol was hired to manage the Chicago White Sox in 2023, I felt confident that despite the fact he was a first-time manager, he'd take a team that underachieved in 2022 and finished .500 and get them back to the playoffs. Especially since the roster wasn't too different than the one that got to the postseason in 2021.

Instead, there's a body of evidence that suggests Grifol is not the man for the job. Sweeping the series against Tampa Bay hasn't changed my mind. I am going by the entire body of work -- not just the historically awful start the Sox have had in 2024.

Grifol's in-game tactics haven't been too problematic, though once in a while I scratch my head at a move. Where he has failed is in other aspects.

For example, the clubhouse culture seemed too permissive, at least based on comments made by ex-Sox Keyan Middleton after he left to play for the Yankees. Another ex-Sox, Lance Lynn, seemed to back what Middleton said. This after Grifol came in talking about the team being ready to "kick [butt]".

Grifol also came in saying the Sox would improve when it came to fundamentals, but the team struggled with that in 2023 as it lost 101 games. Not only that, but the team retooled its roster in order to get better defensive players -- and during the Sox's terrible start to 2024, the team continued to miss cutoff men and fumble around in the field.

It's Time To Start Playing the Young Guys

The 2024 season was always likely to be a lost season for the Sox, even if a start this bad has been surprising. Yet Grifol sometimes seems to stick with veterans like Martin Maldonado instead of giving young players with potential, such as Korey Lee, more playing time. With the postseason out of sight, the Sox should be playing young guys to see what they have and to help them develop.

Grifol also occasionally seems to communicate with the media in weird ways -- such as insisting on keeping some discussions in the clubhouse. While it's understandable to keep some details in-house, Grifol could easily give generic answers that reveal little without sounding so weird. A manager's ability to communicate with the media doesn't matter as much as other aspects of the job, and, to be fair, he is clear and transparent with the media at times, but one wonders that if he struggles in front of tape recorders, is he getting his vision and message communicated to players properly?

To be fair, the poor start isn't all Grifol's fault. This roster never offered much offensive depth, and the bats went silent when the team's best hitters -- Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert Jr., and Yoan Moncada -- got hurt. The pitching has been a letdown at times, and that's not really the fault of the manager or coaching staff.

The Sox have also caught some bad breaks. Finally, as bad as this Sox start has been -- so bad that they've been compared to the 1962 Mets -- it doesn't necessarily mean the team will be this terrible all season. One doesn't expect the Sox to make a miracle run to the postseason, but they may show enough competence to avoid comparison to historically bad teams.

White Sox Should Be Bad, Just Not This Bad

That, also, is why I wonder if Grifol is the right fit. Every baseball fan and pundit expected this to be a bad White Sox team. And again, much of this isn't Pedro's fault. But I can't help but wonder if a better manager would've kept this team, even with its injury issues, from starting this poorly. Perhaps instead of starting with just six wins as of this writing, maybe they'd have 10. Maybe they'd even flirt with .500.

On the other hand, perhaps a different manager could help the younger players on this team develop with an eye towards 2025 and beyond.

Pedro Grifol may survive until the end of the season as Sox manager, especially if owner Jerry Reinsdorf decides not to pay an unemployed manager at the same time he pays a new one. But I have a sneaking suspicion he won't be in the Sox dugout the next time the team is competitive.

I had high hopes for Pedro, but unless something changes soon, he'll join Terry Bevington, Jerry Manuel, and others in a long line of Sox managers who will fade from fans' memory banks.

More White Sox coverage: