White Sox

State of the White Sox rebuild: Now we play the waiting game


State of the White Sox rebuild: Now we play the waiting game

CLEVELAND — Rick Hahn confirmed Tom Petty’s assertion about waiting — the White Sox general manager would love if it were already 2019.

He’d prefer to hit fast forward instead of having to wait.

The White Sox have experienced the pains of tearing down a veteran roster, transformed their farm system overnight from rags to riches, started to establish the hard-nosed brand of culture they desired and have seen numerous positive signs of development from top prospects with the belief many more are on the way. All of those aspects were neatly wrapped within a season that concluded with a 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon.

But as much progress as they've made, the White Sox — who finished with the fourth-worst record in the majors — know they’re not yet in the catbird seat. Though their current rookies have laid a strong foundation for potential success and provided hope, the White Sox must make sure they do the same for the next wave of highly touted prospects. Given how great Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez already look, Hahn admits it might not be so easy.

“We know we might be entering a slightly more difficult phase of this rebuild, and that is the phase where we have to allow this talent the time and patience to develop,” Hahn said. “With (Yoan) Moncada and (Lucas) Giolito and (Reynaldo) Lopez, there was a lot of people clamoring for them to come to Chicago and we had to remain strong and not bring them until we felt they were in the best position to have success.

“There’s going to be temptation again next year, whether it’s high-profile guys like (Michael) Kopech and (Eloy) Jimenez … or others on the fast track — that in order to get this thing right for the long term, we have to make sure they answer our questions that we have for them at the player development level before they come to Chicago. Ultimately, that may prove to be challenging,”

The optimism has already begun to surface around the White Sox. Buoyed by the performance of several top prospects, a winning record in September after a bumpy post-trade deadline stretch has the White Sox upbeat.

Manager Rick Renteria always sets a high bar. But he’s said several times during the final week he likes what he’s seen from a young squad that has a pair of heavy-hitting veterans in the middle. Whether it was Thursday’s “this choo choo is moving forward,” or Sunday’s answer, Renteria is already optimistic about the possibility of competing as soon as next season.

“It’s possible,” Renteria said. “You never know. 

“Anything is possible.”

But Hahn is likely to stick to the same patient, long-view strategy he applied to the 2017 season. That means no prospects will be rushed and no short-term solutions will be used. If the White Sox are going to compete next season, they’ll have to do it with what is on hand.

Given how the bullpen was decimated by trades and injuries, the White Sox appear to have plenty of holes to fill. They also will feature an extremely young, albeit, talented starting rotation.

The growing pains the team is likely to experience should prevent the front office from being placed in that awkward spot where fans clamor for Kopech or Jimenez before the White Sox believe they’ve answered all their development questions.

You can expect the demand to come at an absurdly high volume if Kopech and Jimenez perform similar to the way they did in 2017, when both soared up the charts and turned into top-10 prospects.

Hahn and Co. applied the same patient approach this season to Giolito, Lopez, Moncada and Carson Fulmer with strong results. They waited, waited and waited some more to promote the young group. The success the White Sox achieved in developing their older prospects would likely only encourage them to remain thorough with Kopech and Jimenez as painstaking as it may be.

“We’re going to have to remain diligent and realize that this isn’t about any individual player or any individual season, this is about building something for the long term,” Hahn said. “For this next phase, that’s going to require player development to play its important role and for us to have patience in Chicago that would allow that to unfold.”

Will Ozzie Guillen ever manage again? 'I think my time's going to come up, maybe'

Will Ozzie Guillen ever manage again? 'I think my time's going to come up, maybe'

Will Ozzie Guillen ever manage again?

He was the guy who helped bring a World Series championship to the South Side in 2005 hasn't been a big league skipper since 2012, in his one ill-fated season managing the Miami Marlins. But his name has come up as a social-media suggestion for open jobs for years, including just two winters ago when the White Sox needed to replace Robin Ventura.

But Guillen, who spent eight seasons as the White Sox manager, said on the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast that he hasn't interviewed for any jobs since leaving the Marlins and discussed the trend of hiring young managers who just recently finished their playing careers.

"A couple tried, not to interview me but say, 'Can we talk to you about it?' And I knew I'm not going to be the manager of that team," Guillen told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien. "When you look at the manager list, you're going to interview me and you have kid, kid, kid, kid, kid, Ozzie. What's the chance I'm going to manage that team? None. 'Thank you for thinking about me,' and it's cool.

"I've known I'm not going to be the guy because the list. Before, they interview you for a managing job, it's two or three or four guys. Now they've got 30. Nowadays, it's harder to become a manager than win the World Series. Because there are so many interviews.

But does that mean he'll never manage again?

"I think my time's going to come up, maybe," Guillen said. "I always think about (former Florida Marlins manager) Jack McKeon. Jack McKeon was out of baseball for 30 years and all of a sudden came out and won the World Series (in 2003). ... I hope I don't die before that. Jack was 70-plus when he was managing. But we'll see."

Guillen talked about his hopes to be more involved in the White Sox organization after the way his tenure ended back in 2011, saying he hopes to be at spring training with the team one day.

"I'd like to go to spring training with them, that's the first time I'm going to say that, just because I see everybody in baseball, they're bringing former players to the field," he said. "But the problem is, I go there, here we go. 'Why is it ... you're coming here?'

"I don't (want to be a distraction), and I never will be."

Hear more of Garfien's interview with Guillen on the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Avisail Garcia be on the White Sox by season's end?


Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Avisail Garcia be on the White Sox by season's end?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

Avisail Garcia was great last year for the White Sox.

But does that mean he's a long-term part of this rebuilding team or a potential trade piece?

How Garcia follows things up in 2018 will go a long way in determining the answer to that question, as well as a perhaps more pressing one: Will Garcia still be on the White Sox when the 2018 campaign comes to a close?

Whatever your scouting-eye impressions might have been, statistically, Garcia was one of baseball's best hitters last season. He ranked second in the American League with a .346 batting average. Only league MVP Jose Altuve ranked above Garcia. The White Sox right fielder also ranked sixth in the AL with a .380 on-base percentage. His .885 OPS ranked in the top 10 in the Junior Circuit.

It was the much-anticipated breakout for a guy who's had big expectations ever since he hit the bigs as a 21-year-old in 2012, when he carried a pressure-packed comparison to Detroit Tigers teammate and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. After coming to the South Side in a mid-2013 trade, his first three seasons were impacted by injuries and featured an unimpressive .250/.308/.380 slash line with only 32 homers in 314 games.

But last season, that all changed. He had a career year, slashing .330/.380/.506 with 18 homers, 80 RBIs, 27 doubles and 171 hits. Garcia was named to the AL All-Star team and established himself as the second best hitter on a team where the best hitter, Jose Abreu, is one of baseball's most productive and most consistent.

So can he do it again? That remains to be seen, of course. The scale of the improvements in so many statistical categories make one think that Garcia being able to do it two years in a row would almost be as surprising or more surprising than him doing it just once.

But if Garcia can repeat his performance, at least in the season's first few months, he could potentially draw the eyes of numerous contending teams looking for a bat to add to their lineups. One season of production perhaps wasn't enough to demand the kind of return package Rick Hahn's front office got in return for Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana. But a few good months at the outset of 2018 could draw plenty of interest, making the question of whether Garcia will stay in a White Sox uniform for the entirety of the season a valid one.

All that being said, Garcia's situation — he's under team control for two more seasons — allows the White Sox to be flexible. Garcia's still young, entering his age-27 season. The White Sox could opt to keep a talented hitter, extend him and make him a part of the rebuilding effort, penciling him into the lineup of the future alongside younger hitters like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. Or they could wait to move him, perhaps next offseason or at the 2019 trade deadline.

But Garcia's performance will dictate how viable each of those options ends up being. He finally put it all together in 2017. In 2018, he'll have to keep it all together.