The Chicago White Sox are off to their worst start in franchise history as they sit at 10-27 following a series loss on the Northside of Chicago. Many White Sox fans are frustrated with the team’s dismal start to the season as they believed that the team would be able to compete with their young core of players. As the team is in a rebuild, fans have to patient and with the Crosstown Classic currently taking, White Sox fans can learn from the Cubs fans who endured a rebuild of their own.
In 2011, the Cubs were in a very similar situation to that of the White Sox when the team chose to rebuild. They were tied to aging veterans with large contracts and had no promising minor league farm system to build through. The team hired Theo Epstein as their President of Baseball Operations and the goal was to rebuild through developing talent. Trades were made along the way from 2012 to 2014, but the Cubs’ goal was to acquire the best talent through high draft picks. To achieve the high draft picks, the team needed to lose and that they did from 2012 to 2014.
In 2012 and 2013, the Cubs lost over 100 games both seasons and during that time had only two prospects for fans to look forward to at the big league level in 2012.
Those players were Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, both who struggled their first few seasons in the majors. Theo and general manager Jed Hoyer was able to speed up their rebuild through signing free agents and then trading them at the trade deadline for prospects. Two instants where it worked was when the team acquired starting pitcher Jake Arrieta from Baltimore in 2013 and shortstop Addison Russell from the Oakland Athletics in 2014.
The Cubs found success in 2015 with their young talent as they won 97 games and made it to National League Championship series. Since 2015, the team has made it to the NLCS three-straight seasons and won a World Series with the talent they acquired via trades and drafts during their rebuild from 2012 to 2014. The Houston Astros won the World Series last season with a very similar rebuild also.
When the White Sox began their rebuild last season they had an advantage over the Cubs and Astros when starting their rebuild as they had highly talented players with favorable contracts. This allowed general manager Rick Hahn to trade his players and get maximum value in return. The trades allowed the White Sox farm system to go from one of the worst in Major League Baseball to one of the best within just one year.
Several of the prospects acquired by Hahn debuted with the White Sox at the end of last season and showed high promise.
Due to the play of Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Carson Fulmer at the end of last season, the team was viewed as having an accelerated rebuild.
The teams this season has not gotten off to the start that fans and pundits envisioned leading to many to question the success of the rebuild. Rebuilding is at least a three-year process with the mixture of trades and quality draft classes.
Hahn has achieved one aspect as he acquired a lot of young talent through trades, but he has still only one draft class so far during the rebuild. Last year, the team selected 11th in the first round of the Amateur Draft and selected hitter Jake Burger. For teams to successfully rebuild at the best level, they need to have at least two to three consecutive drafts where they are selecting in the top five of the first round. This year the White Sox will be selecting fourth and as they currently hold the worst record in baseball, they are projected to have the first overall selection in the 2019 draft.
Losing is not fun for fans or the organization as it creates a dark atmosphere. Losing during a rebuild promises hope to an extent because it allows everyone to believe that a payoff is coming. Cubs fans and members of the organization suffered for three-straight seasons knowing that losing was going to be a given, but the payoff was that more rewarding when the team won its first World Series in over 108 back in 2016.
White Sox fans need to understand what Hahn and the White Sox organization is trying to achieve. Hahn’s goal is to not only have the White Sox be successful for one season, but to put the team in a position where it is a long time before they have to rebuild through losing every again. Fans were happy when the rebuild began last season, but have developed a pessimistic outlook for the future. There is no guarantee that the team’s rebuild will or won’t be a success, but to sour on it early is just a very negative and wrong attitude to have.