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.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Carlos Rodon’s breakout summer

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Carlos Rodon’s breakout summer

Carlos Rodon speaks with Chuck Garfien about his dominant stretch of starts and how he’s started to figure things out as a major league pitcher. Rodon talks about controlling his temper on the mound and how he’s learned to win on days he doesn’t have his best stuff. He explains why he doesn’t miss any of Daniel Palka’s at-bats, how he’s impressed with Michael Kopech, why he sympathizes with Kopech being in Triple-A, why he’s not wearing an undershirt during games and much more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Yoan Moncada is back at the top of the White Sox batting order

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USA TODAY

Yoan Moncada is back at the top of the White Sox batting order

Yoan Moncada’s time down near the bottom of the White Sox batting order came to a quick end this weekend. After just five games, Moncada returned to the top of the lineup for Friday’s game and was there again for Game 2 of the series with the visiting Kansas City Royals on Saturday.

It ended up being the “break” that manager Rick Renteria described it as, and the skipper, for one, believes that short stretch was beneficial to Moncada, who was struggling mightily when Renteria made that move last week.

Through the first 19 games of the second half, Moncada slashed .122/.250/.216 with three extra-base hits, four RBIs and 33 strikeouts. It was as noticeable a period of struggles at the plate as he’s had in his first full season in the majors, a campaign that has to this point failed to meet the big expectations the former No. 1 prospect in baseball carried with him into this season.

Renteria said that bumping Moncada down in the lineup would allow him to watch opposing pitchers face several other batters and remove the need to do certain things that come with batting leadoff.

For what it’s worth, Moncada got four hits — two of them for extra bases and one a home run — and walked twice in 18 plate appearances over the five games against the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers. He struck out nine times. Friday, he returned to the leadoff spot and went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored (and no strikeouts).

“When we put him down in the bottom of the lineup, it’s because I wanted to have him see other players have multiple at-bats over the course of a couple of games,” Renteria said Saturday. “When you’re leading off, you have a chance of either working very well, working on base, getting your hits, whatever the case might be. But if it’s not working out, you start to get a little frustrated. You’re still grinding through it.

“The perspective that I’m giving him is, ‘Hey, listen, no matter who I put in there, they also make outs. Sometimes they don’t get on. Understand it’s just not you. It’s a difficult position in which you lead off the ballgame.’ I just wanted him to take a breath, take a step back, look at it, and then make an adjustment, allow him to get back into that situation.”

While the numbers from that five-game stretch aren’t enough to determine whether this is the start of a second-half turnaround for Moncada, Renteria said he did believe the experience to be a beneficial one for his second baseman.

“I thought it was beneficial,” he said. “I didn’t necessarily have this conversation to say, ‘Hey, did it work out for you for the last few days?’ Nothing like that. But as you’re talking to him, just in passing, as you go through conversations and you see where they’re at, hopefully we’re making the right decision and the right adjustments for them.”

Moncada still owns a .149 batting average in the second half. He’s on pace to strike out 235 times this season, which would be a new single-season major league record.

But this rebuilding season was always going to be about developmental growing pains. And the idea is that the experiences he’s going through now will pay dividends down the road, when the White Sox shift from rebuilding to contending and Moncada, the hope is, shifts from the developmental stage to the superstar stage.