White Sox

The White Sox are having a quiet Winter Meetings because the rebuild is ahead of schedule

The White Sox are having a quiet Winter Meetings because the rebuild is ahead of schedule

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The White Sox silence at these Winter Meetings speaks volumes.

Last year, no team made more noise. Rick Hahn pulled off franchise-altering deals that shipped Chris Sale and Adam Eaton away from the South Side, kickstarting the declared rebuild with a couple of bangs.

Fast forward to December 2017 and the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, and you’ll see the fruits of those efforts: a complete lack of activity. But there’s a reason for that, a good one, as Hahn has explained in a couple different ways this week in Florida.

“I think all of us enjoyed last Winter Meetings more than this one because there was more activity,” Hahn said Wednesday during his daily media session. “We are in a far, far better place as an organization as we sit here today. We are much closer to winning our next championship today than we were a year ago.

“Last year sort of marked a very clear declaration about our direction and obviously had two very strong steps toward accomplishing what we wanted to accomplish. This year we started our conversations up there in the suite with, ‘Let’s take a second and understand where we’re at right now and what we have coming and how we want to get there and realize that at least for this week, there’s probably not going to be a ton that we’re going to do that’s going to continue that process.’

“There’s a reason for that. We’ve accomplished a lot in the past year, and once those next opportunities present themselves, we’ll continue.”

Now obviously fans and the media alike get swept up in the flood of trade rumors during what has historically been baseball’s busiest week. Reports that the Baltimore Orioles are shopping Manny Machado had White Sox fans dreaming of seeing him on the South Side. Watching the Miami Marlins trade away much of their roster had some White Sox fans clamoring for their favorite team to trade for Christian Yelich. There’s been trade speculation for months, really, involving Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia.

And those fans and media members aren’t alone. Hahn said earlier this week that his preaching of patience applied just as much to members of the White Sox front office as it did to fans.

But as he showed with the trades involving Sale and Eaton — and the one in July that sent Jose Quintana across town — picking the right spots and acquiring the right packages is far more important when it comes to maintaining the carefully laid plans of this rebuilding effort.

“We have to be responsive to the market,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve shown that repeatedly at one end of the extreme in terms of our timing of making a big trade like the Quintana trade. You heard me say a year ago that it would be great if were able to do it while at the Winter Meetings last year. In reality it didn't come together until the All-Star break.

“At the other end of the extreme, I don’t think many people expected us to act quickly and sign Welington Castillo and add to this team in a way that we felt helps us for the short term and the long term.

“Again, just because the eyes of the baseball world are focused on it this week, there’s nothing magical about doing anything right now. We’re going to respond more when the opportunities better present themselves as opposed to the fact that everyone is gathered in one place.”

It doesn’t make for front-page headlines or airtime-filling fodder, but the White Sox plan is unfolding as planned right before everyone’s eyes. This is the waiting period, as Hahn keeps reminding everyone. After acquiring enough talent in such a short period of time to make the farm system baseball’s best, there is a part of this rebuild that simply involves playing the waiting game.

But at the same time, this plan is ahead of schedule. Hahn thinks so. After establishing a direction a year ago, Hahn’s made some gigantic moves and built a farm system so exciting that fans know every nook and cranny of the thing. Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already on the big league roster. Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez might not be far behind. And there’s plenty of depth, too, with names like Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning.

Give the White Sox time, and they hope to produce a perennial championship contender. That time to give is right now. This is the plan. And it’s not just right on schedule. It’s a little ahead of schedule.

“We probably are from the standpoint that I anticipated there probably would need to be more deals at these Meetings like the ones there were at the last Meetings,” Hahn said. “We didn’t know how quickly all these things would line up. We had multiyear control on many of our players, so there was no urgency other than the impending deadline to move anybody. But we were able to accomplish a great deal in the last year prior to getting here, going to basically from a year ago at this time through September we were able to get a lot done and move the process along very quickly.

“That said we have a lot more to do, we’ve got an important draft coming June, there is going to be other important trades, there will be free-agent signings that take place to facilitate this and obviously at this point in particular huge amount of player development that has to go right.

“We’re pleased with how the first part went, but we’re pretty well focused on how to maximize the returns to this next part as well.”

After Astros cruised past White Sox, Justin Verlander wasn't at all happy with Tim Anderson

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USA TODAY

After Astros cruised past White Sox, Justin Verlander wasn't at all happy with Tim Anderson

The Houston Astros put a pretty good beating on the White Sox on Friday night, waltzing to a blowout 10-0 victory.

So why was the Astros’ starting pitcher so steamed after the game?

Justin Verlander, the future Hall of Famer who took a no-hit bid into the fifth Friday, was vocally upset with Tim Anderson, the White Sox shortstop who has been playing with a totally different attitude this season after his on-field struggles last season and the emotional effects he experienced while dealing with the death of his best friend.

Verlander lost his no-hitter on Anderson’s one-out base hit in the fifth inning, to which Anderson, whose mission this season is to have fun playing baseball, celebrated. But that celebration wasn’t what peeved Verlander. Instead it was Anderson’s attempt at stealing second base on a 3-0 count — and the subsequent celebration when the steal didn't count because of a walk — and his attempt at stealing third base shortly thereafter. That play went haywire, as Anderson was picked off, caught in a rundown, safely made it back to second but just as Omar Narvaez was arriving, making an out. The two exchanged words on the field after that play.

But remember that that’s another one of Anderson’s missions this year: to steal more bases and get in opposing pitchers’ heads with what he's doing on the base paths.

Well, he sure got Verlander’s attention this time.

"I wasn’t upset with him being excited about getting a hit," Verlander told reporters after the game. "Hey, that’s baseball and you can be excited about getting a hit, he earned it. He steals on 3-0 in a 5-0 game, that’s probably not great baseball. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. But he celebrated that, though. And it’s like ‘Hey, I’m not worried about you right now. It’s 5-0, I’m giving a high leg kick, I know you can steal. If I don’t want you to steal, I’ll be a little bit more aware of you. But I’m trying to get this guy out at the plate.'

"Anyway, I walk (Narvaez), (Anderson) steals 3-0, kind of celebrates that at second base again. I don’t even know what he was celebrating, he didn’t even get credit for a stolen base. Maybe he thought he did, I don’t know.

"Then he makes, in my opinion, another bad baseball decision. Stealing third in a 5-0 game with two guys on in an inning where I was clearly struggling — I walked a guy on four pitches and went 1-0 to the next guy — and I pick you off on an inside move after the way he had kind of been jubilant about some other things, I was just as jubilant about that. Very thankful that he gave me an out. That’s what I said, and he didn’t like that comment but, hey, that’s not my fault, that’s his fault.

"I’m not going to let the situation dictate what I do out there, I’m going to slow everything down and that’s what veterans can do — see the game, play the game, play the game the right way. He was a little over-agressive and I let him know it. I took offense to it."

Why all this angered the Astros’ ace so much in the fifth inning of a 5-0 ballgame, that could be trickier to figure out. It sounds like another case of the “unwritten rules” of the game. But not being written down anywhere, it’s hard exactly to tell which rule or rules Anderson broke.

Told after the game that Verlander wasn’t very happy with him, Anderson didn’t seem to be too concerned about being on the wrong side of the all-time great hurler.

“That’s fine,” he said. “If that’s how I play, I’m having fun and it’s exciting.

“I don’t care what other people think, that don’t bother me.

“I’m out just playing and having fun. If he took it to heart, so what?”

If anything, it’s a sign that Anderson’s activity on the base paths could be working as intended, distracting opposing pitchers from what they’re trying to do to Anderson’s teammates at the plate.

But with the results what they were, it seems even more odd that Verlander would be so upset.

Whatever the reasoning, Anderson doesn’t care, so maybe we shouldn’t, either.

“No, it doesn’t bother me,” Anderson said before having a little fun with reporters who had him repeating his lack of concern. “Does it bother you?”

After passing out in White Sox dugout, pitcher Danny Farquhar taken to hospital during Friday's game

After passing out in White Sox dugout, pitcher Danny Farquhar taken to hospital during Friday's game

What happened on the field was of little importance by the time Friday night’s game wrapped up at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Thoughts were with White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar, who was carried out of the third-base dugout in the sixth inning and taken to the hospital.

Farquhar relieved James Shields in the top of the inning and pitched to four batters before heading to the dugout when it was his team’s turn to bat. During the bottom of the sixth, Farquhar passed out. A crowd gathered around him, and television replays showed him being carried out of the dugout by the team’s medical personnel and EMTs.

The White Sox announced a couple innings later that Farquhar was conscious and was undergoing further treatment and testing at the hospital.

"It takes your breath away a little bit. One of your guys is down there and you have no idea what’s going on," manager Rick Renteria said after the game. "I think everybody was allowing the people to take care of him take care of him. Everybody else just surrounded him to make sure they had the space to do what they needed to do. But I guess it’s the same with anybody when something happens to any individual you know, you want things to be done as quickly as possible. He was treated as quickly as we could. They had him there. They were taking care of him. They didn’t skip a beat"

"That was pretty scary, to be honest with you," Shields said. "I don't really know the full extent of the situation, to be honest with you. I do know he wasn't conscious when he left here. But from what I hearing right now, he's responding to questions and they're doing some further tests right now. So we're all praying for him."

"It’s really scary, man," pitcher Aaron Bummer said. "He’s in our thoughts and prayers. Hopefully everything is OK. We have a lot of questions and not many answers. But we can hope for the best and hope that he’s back with us tomorrow."

The 31-year-old Florida native is in his seventh season as a major leaguer and his second with the White Sox. They picked him up after he pitched in 37 games for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. He pitched 14.1 for the South Siders last year and logged eight innings in 2018, including the 0.2 innings he threw Friday night.