Christmas is over and Hanukkah will be ending soon. Everyone is basking in the warmth of their new toys and Target gift cards just and waiting to see what the new year will bring.
Of course, for White Sox fans, Christmas came early with the Winter Meetings coming and going and the Sox as the biggest winners coming out, excluding all contenders. As Sox fans around the country make personal New Years Resolutions for themselves, here is a resolution for the White Sox and their fans.
White Sox: Resolve to go all in on the rebuild.
In 2011, the White Sox resigned Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, heroes of the 2005 Championship team. They locked up one of the biggest bats on the market, Adam Dunn, to a 4 year deal. The marketing team went to work and when Opening Day rolled around every banner said “All In.” 6 years later, and 6 more seasons of “All In”, the Sox have changed their tune. Out are Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, perpetual Cy-Young candidate and fan favorite, respectively. In are Yoan Moncada (#1), Michael Kopech (#30), and Lucas Giolito (#3) leading a batch of fresh young faces ready to contribute…to the Charlotte Knights. (Rankings according to mlb.com).
The White Sox will not benefit by going halfway into a rebuild. They need only look across town to see what a proper rebuild process looks like and what the fruits of such an endeavor can be. The Cubs traded Jeff Samardjia for a package including Addison Russel who went on to play a key role in the 2016 championship team by providing lights out defense and clutch hitting. Going halfway would have been the Cubs holding onto Samardjia because he was a fan favorite from the Chicago area who went to Notre Dame. Theo Epstein and his office went “All In” on the rebuild and it paid off. The Sox would be wise to follow suit.
Specifically, the White Sox need to resolve that when 2017 kicks off they will be on the phone trying to ship on the likes of Todd Frazier and David Robertson Todd Frazier is Adam Dunn, lite. He will give a team fewer home runs but a slightly higher average and can easily shift over to first base should a team have a need there. (.225/.302/.464, 40 HR, 98 RBI in 2016.) Even in this modern age of baseball, where WAR has taken the sport by storm and numbers like “40 home runs” don’t jump off the page, some team will bite at what Frazier can offer.
David Robertson is expensive ($25 million left for 2 years), older (31), and is blocking Nate Jones from showing the Sox whether he can be counted on to be a full time closer. Not only that, but after the record breaking contracts that Mark Melencon, Kenley Jansen, and Aroldis Chapman received, Robertston starts looking like a bargain for any contender with bullpen problems. Washington immediately comes to mind as a possible trade partner as they struck out on obtaining any of the big 3 relievers on the market and the White Sox clearly know the Nationals’ farm system really well after the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton discussions. A reunion with the Yankees is also an option. (See, http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/mlb-hot-stove-rumors-yankees-working-on-trade-to-get-quintana-and-robertson/) The front office has options and this year they should take advantage of them. Rick Hahn has his value for his own players, and it made sense not to waiver from that value at the Winter Meetings. But Frazier is blocking Matt Davidson (who is no longer rookie eligible but is still viewed as a prospect) from showing the White Sox what he can do and Robertson is blocking the aforementioned Nate Jones. These are moves that need to happen sooner rather than later and the White Sox need to move these guys to truly commit to the rebuild.
White Sox Fans: Resolve to buy into the Process.
I have had family members in the recent weeks threaten to cheer for the Brewers or complain about how the White Sox will be playing in Las Vegas in 10 years. Many fans are frustrated after seeing a championship parade start on the North Side and the White Sox ace pitcher shipped off to Boston. However, we must go through The Crucible together. The White Sox are finally listening to what analysts have been saying for years and are restocking a barren farm system. The White Sox have the amount of exciting young talent the South Side has not seen since the turn of the century and, better yet, these players were not drafted by the Sox! Concerns about whether or not the White Sox have a good eye for drafting goes out the window when you figure that other front offices drafted these players.
So, White Sox fans, show up to Opening Day. Support your team for doing what many teams are never patient enough to do (cough, Miami, cough.) All in all, the White Sox need to wake up on January 1, 2017 with the goal of sticking to the rebuild and the fans should support it. 2017 will be rough and I know rebuilds keep the marketing team up at night trying to figure out how to fill seats. But seats were empty every “All In” year since 2011 as well. But Guaranteed Rate Field can have something that it hasn’t had in years—hope. And to paraphrase a recent science fiction movie “Rebuilds are built on Hope.”