Anthony Rizzo made the comparison last month, when asked about Chicago having two playoff-bound baseball teams.
“They have a team that’s, watching them, similar to us in 2015,” the Cubs first baseman said of the White Sox, “that started off with a lot of talent and has found ways to win, and now they’re a powerhouse team”.
Now, the two clubs have another thing in common – they both dismissed manager Rick Renteria before their championship window.
The White Sox announced the move on Monday, a decision general manager Rick Hahn insisted was mutual. The White Sox’s attention turns to a coaching search in which “the ideal candidate” has recent playoff experience “with a championship organization,” Hahn said.
Renteria’s White Sox chapter ends as the club moves past its rebuilding stage, making his solo season with the Cubs look like a precursor to his tenure on the South Side.
Asked about the perception that Renteria may be a great manager for developing a young core but not necessarily winning a World Series, Hahn said he didn’t “necessarily buy that.”
Hahn continued: “Other than the fact that he hasn’t done that yet, so therefore, it’s an easy thing to put at his doorstep. I think he’s obviously tremendous at what you first alluded to, in terms of building a culture, in terms of relationships with players, and has many strengths that extend beyond that.
“If Ricky decides in the future that he wants to manage again or manage elsewhere … there’s no doubt in my mind that he can find the right spot and fit and lead a team to a championship.”
That spot, apparently, just wasn’t with the White Sox next year. Or with the Cubs in 2015.
Then a rookie manager, Renteria came to the Cubs endorsed by players who had worked with him.
Cubs third base coach Will Venable, who was a Padres outfielder when Renteria was their bench coach, told MLB.com in 2013: "Everyone who has played for him loves him. His impact on me personally … I can't even quantify it.”
Renteria’s 2014 season at the helm was a success in several ways. Yes, Cubs went 73-89 for their fifth straight losing season. But that was an improvement on the year before. And by the end of the year, the roster’s potential was palpable. Rizzo had his first All-Star season, and Jake Arietta emerged as an ace pitcher.
Timing just wasn’t on Renteria’s side.
Joe Maddon opted out of his contract with the Rays in October 2014.
“We challenged Rick to create an environment in which our young players could develop and thrive at the big league level, and he succeeded,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a team release announcing the changing of the guard. “… Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager.”
Instead, a manager who had won a pennant became available, and the Cubs jumped on the opportunity.
This time, all indications are that there is no incumbent waiting in the wings. Instead, as the White Sox move to a new phase, they’ve decided Renteria is no longer the man for the job.
“His energy, his dedication to this club, to getting our organization as far along this successful path as we have over the last few years will not be forgotten,” Hahn said. “And when ultimately we get to where we want to go, in terms of winning championships, I suspect Ricky Renteria’s fingerprints will be allover that as well, and a big part of that success will be due to him.”
The result, however, was the same. At the cusp of championship contention, another Chicago team has parted ways with Renteria.