White Sox Follow Cubs’ Blueprint As They Start Rebuilding Process
For Rick Rentería, the circumstances of leading the Chicago White Sox are very similar to his first experience as a manager in the majors. Once again, he is in charge of taking over team in which he must mold a squad of young players.
He did it in 2014,during his only season as a Cubs manager. Although he received praise for his managerial job, Renteria was fired as soon as Joe Maddon became available.
In November, while the Cubs celebrated their first World Series championship since 1908, Renteria was starting work on a similar project with the White Sox.
“I like the challenge of working with a young team.I like what we have here.The organization has decided to follow the example of what others have done, which is to look for something that is sustainable.”
It’s a new era on the South Side of Chicago, after five seasons with Robin Ventura as manager the White Sox promoted Renteria to the top managerial job.
For a long time the White Sox refused to rebuild the squad from scratch as they acquired players such as Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier and David Robertson.
They finished in fourth place in the Central Division of the American League and their streak of four straight seasons with a losing record is the longest since a ten-season streak that went from 1941 to1950. They have not won a postseason series since the team led by Ozzie Guillen won the World Series in 2005.
Fed up with the same results, the White Sox prompted general manager Rick Hahn to embark on a rebuilding job, and they did just that through some key trades.
Chris Sale was traded to Boston and outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington. In return, they received several of the most wanted prospects: Cuban infielder YoanMoncada and pitcher Michael Kopech of the Red Sox, as well as pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez of the Nationals.
With those moves the White Sox placed themselves at the start of a developing process that will, however, go through some growing pains.
More moves could be coming as players such as left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana, third baseman Frazier and closer Robertson are still on the trading blockand could leave the Windy City after the season starts and before the trading deadline.
At 28, Quintana looks like the most attractive piece for any contending team in search of a dominant starter. In 2016, the Colombian had a season-high 13 wins and for the fourth year in a row he pitched over 200 innings while earning a 3.20 ERA and striking out 181 batters.
Although Jose Abreu is also part of the players that could be traded as the season advances, for now he’s staying with the club, where he will be expected to contribute with solid batting, but more importantly serve as mentor to the team’s young players.
When the Cuban first baseman began arrived to the White Sox four years ago he was surrounded by veterans like Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn. Now the 30-year-old is one of the veterans and determined to help and mentor fellow Cuban Moncada and the rest of the young players.
Last year Abreu hit .338 with 14 home runs in the last two months of the season. He managed to finish with a .292 batting average and 25 homers while driving in 100 runs for the third consecutive season.
As for the future, it’s important to note that young shortstop Tim Anderson excelled in his first major-league season, averaging .283, nine homers and 30 RBIs in 99 games. Convinced by what they saw, the White Sox front office gave him a new six-year $ 25 million contract in March.
As forMoncada, Giolito, Kopech and Lopez they will be sent to the minor leagues, where the front office hopes they will develop sooner rather than later, in hopes of emulating the process undergone by their North Side neighbors.