When the 2016 MLB season ends, the Chicago White Sox will post their fourth consecutive losing record, making it 8 years since they last made the playoffs, and 11 years since they won a postseason series, coincidentally being the World Series. Heading into another offseason trying to figure out what’s not working, maybe the rebuild they’ve been avoiding for so long has to take place.
The White Sox are 75-81 this season, which should mean they’ll win more games than in the previous season for the third consecutive time. However, they seem stuck at mediocrity or somewhere below it. They started the season 23-10, and held the division lead until late May, but it’s been mostly disappointment since then, despite making a lot of changed during the season, attempting to plug all the holes and leaks in the ship, only making matters worse.
The White Sox might try to roll the dice once more on basically the same roster, adding a bit here, subtracting a tad there, and hoping it works. But the problems seem to be bigger than that. Chris Sale has had plenty of run ins with the front office, suggesting there are things other than winning baseball games that are on their minds. Jose Abreu has said this week that the only difference between the Royals and the White Sox is mentality, which could be a hint at manager Robin Ventura, completing his fifth season in Chicago, going 372-432 so far. He could be gone at the end of this season.
Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn, the general manager, could be gone too. Hahn used to be the hottest name among young executives, but the White Sox not getting past a certain point for a number of years suggests someone isn’t doing their job. Williams has been on this team forever, and as loyal as owner Jerry Reinsdorf can be, maybe it’s time to cut ties and bring in some new blood and new ideas to change something that clearly isn’t working.
Rebuilding doesn’t mean getting rid of all the talent at once. It does mean trading assets that might be at max value right now, and are replaceable down the line. The White Sox don’t have the best of farm systems. They do have some pretty good pitchers down in the minor leagues, but offer very little in terms of potential stars and especially hitting. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are hard to let go because they’re on favorable contracts, but that is also what makes them so attractive to other teams, although the White Sox might elect to hold on to at least one of them.
And it’s time to stop parading players like Melky Cabrera, Justin Morneau and James Shields onto the field. They don’t improve the White Sox or offer anything for the future. The plan should be geared towards beginning to contend again in 2019 or 2020. Jose Abreu could also be worth moving now. It would make Adam Eaton, Carlos Rodon and Tim Anderson the new players to build around, but that’s not too bad, considering they’re controllable for a while , and the White Sox previous school of thought simply didn’t work.
Teams like the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers seem to have uncovered some excellent talent by going in this direction. The Phillies especially seem like being good again isn’t too far away. The Brewers might need another season, and the Reds are in the first season of going full-board rebuild, so there’s still time. With the Cubs going through the same process and now reaping the rewards, unless the White Sox plan on spending like they’ve never spent before, tanking/retooling/rebuilding with a long term plan in mind is the only way to go.