If the Cubs vs. White Sox series proved anything this weekend, it reminds fans just how hard a rebuild can be, but how rewarding the end result can be. The Cubs are now looking for their 4th straight trip to the NLCS and their second World Series title in 2 years, while the Sox are in year 2 of their rebuild, still starting from scratch.
Many fans have been disappointed by just how bad the 2018 White Sox have been, having just secured their 10th win at the May 13th mark. Even Cubs fans have been asking, ‘we weren’t this bad were we?”
Coming from a Cubs fan I can tell, you, yes YOU were this bad, and the glory of 2016 has allowed you to forget the necessary growing pains that come with a rebuild. While frustrations continue to mount with a sub-par performance from players such as Carson Fulmer, the injury bug plaguing Jake Berger and underwhelming play on the field, the Sox will be fine; just like the Cubs were. Rebuilding is hard, but the reward will be sustained success and championship contention, something Cubs fans now expect year after year.
While the Sox may not follow the exact same path as the Cubs to a World Series Championship, Sox fans can take some ease in knowing that Rick Hahn knows what he’s doing, and while the present is bleak, the future is incredibly promising.
Sox fans and Cubs fans need to remember what the Cubs looked like in 2012 and 2013; the first 2 seasons after hiring Theo Epstein in October 2011. Upon signing his deal with the Cubs, he and Jed Hoyer asked for 5 years and patience to make the Cubs into what they are today. It took them 3 to make the playoffs, and 4 to win the World Series. I’d say trust Theo anytime he bets you on a timetable.
If we look at that second year for the Cubs, relating it to the White Sox timeline, let’s present the 2013 Opening Day starting lineup:
1. David DeJesus CF (Now the Cubs Pre/Post Game Color Commentator)
2. Starlin Castro SS (Thought to be the future star for the Cubs but now is still making the wrong play for the Miami Marlins)
3. Anthony Rizzo 1B (Prospect turned All-Star and World Series Champion)
4. Alfonso Soriano LF (The high-priced and productive ‘left fielder’ of the Jim Hendry Era)
5. Nate Schierholtz RF (Utility outfielder from Washington)
6. Wellington Castillo C (Catching Prospect who is now the starting catcher for YOUR Chicago White Sox)
7. Luis Valbuena 3B (Surprisingly durable infielder)
8. Brent Lillibridge 2B (Who?)
9. Jeff Samardzija P (Notre Dame Star and Cubs legend who turned into Addison Russell)
If you feel sick reading that lineup out-loud that’s ok. But it should serve as a reminder that only 3 of these players were on the team in 2015 during their trip to the NLCS; Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Wellington Castillo. And only 4 total remained from the 2013 team, with pitcher and utility outfielder Travis Wood rounding out the group.
From 2012-2015, the Cubs acquired endless amounts of talent, while the team they fielded day in and day out, was a dud. The Cubs drafted Albert Almora Jr., Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ in that stretch, to go along with the acquisitions of Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, Addison Russell, Kyle Hendricks, Carl Edwards Jr., Dexter Fowler, Jon Lester and more.
The process was being built, and fans had to trust that what they were seeing on the field, was not what was, in fact, being built behind the scenes.
From 2012-2014 the Cubs compiled 286 losses, a misery Cubs fans now have the luxury to forget. While the White Sox look like this year will be one of the worst seasons in franchise history, it doesn’t matter.
As bad as things may seem day in and day out, the Sox are building into something special
Just as the Cubs did, the Sox are stockpiling talent. Nobody knows if José Abreu will still be wearing black and white when the Sox are good again, just like Cubs fans thought Starlin Castro would bring them a World Series title until they were completely mistaken. Fans and even probably the front office, simply don’t know. But what the White Sox do know, is that they have the ability to create buzz around a team that has their sites on 2020, without having to prove anything in 2018, besides losing for draft position and to keep acquiring talent.
As everyone knows, the Sox have been doing just that, securing players like Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jiménez, who fill highlight reels every day on Twitter. Or drafting Jake Berger, while injured, as a top 15 pick last year, to go along with top picks Zack Collins, Zack Burdi, Carson Fulmer and Carlos Rodon, who were part of the Sox plan before they finally deemed it a ‘rebuild.’ This core of young talent also includes Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Luis Robert and even Tim Anderson.
ELOY JIMÉNEZ IS OFF TO A 🔥 START! The White Sox No. 1 prospect hit a HR in his 2nd at bat of the night. pic.twitter.com/NlsEBWSTyG
— Sox On 35th (@SoxOn35th) October 14, 2017
And while Sox fans may be disappointed in a player like Carson Fulmer in 2018, remember, Anthony Rizzo was sent up and back from the minors in San Diego after disappointing major league stints, before becoming who he is today for the Cubs.
Slowly but surely each one of these players will come up to the big leagues, and fans will then be able to see truly what the young crop of players is made of, even if that is accompanied by many losses.
The Cubs caught lightning in a bottle in 2015, as every young player provided an instant impact, propelling the Cubs to an unforgettable NLCS run.
I cannot promise Sox fans the same result 3 years into a 5-year plan. I cannot promise that every draft pick will hit, like Kris Bryant. There could very well be a Mark Appel in the bunch.
But the Sox have the ability to find that out NOW, without having significant consequences as they continue to stockpile players.
Yoan Moncada is a BEAST pic.twitter.com/ffx9B4ejdv
— Sox On 35th (@SoxOn35th) September 23, 2017
If the Cubs can deal Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, the White Sox can too. Just look what they turned José Quintana into. But this time around, they just have to find someone that will be willing to take ‘Big Game’ James Shields in a pennant race.
So as the baseball season continues on, remember; don’t lose faith in what the White Sox are building. And if you simply cannot watch them now, tune into the games in August or September, and get your first glimpse of Eloy Jiménez’s first home run at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Eloy Jimenez channels Roy Hobbs. pic.twitter.com/mfrGPa8lrb
— MLB (@MLB) June 20, 2017
This Crosstown Classic should not serve as a depressing time for Sox fans but serve as a preview into the future of what the Sox can be. They can be just like the Cubs, as long as they stick to their plan, and continue to take a few notes from the Northsiders’ playbook.