The rebuilding White Sox, owners of baseball’s third-worst record, haven’t often looked across the diamond this season and seen a team in the same spot as they are.
In this week’s sweep at the hands of the visiting New York Yankees, the gap between the developing team and the team competing for a world championship looked particularly big.
The South Siders believe they competed well with the Bronx Bombers, and in typical “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” fashion, no one was questioning the effort. Jose Abreu’s game-tying homer in extra innings Tuesday was as big a “never give up, never surrender” moment as the team has had this season.
But the White Sox were outscored 18-6 in the three games.
Of course, there’s a good reason the gap is as big as it is. The White Sox are in the process of developing a perennial contender, a process these Yankees underwent at a rapid pace in recent seasons. The so-called “Baby Bombers” are now one of baseball’s best teams, powered by a new generation of home-grown heroes like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar. And, in true Yankee fashion, that group has had its own superstar additions from outside the organization like Giancarlo Stanton and Aroldis Chapman.
The Yankees will always be a unique case, thanks to their championship history and big-budget ways, but that’s a pretty good rebuilding template to follow. The White Sox are hoping to soon amass a similar list of talented players called up from the minors to power a championship-caliber club, meaning it could be just a matter of time until that gap is closed.
“They are a very good organization,” Abreu said through a team translator after Wednesday’s game. “They have a very good system. Right now, we have a very good system and have a lot of young guys just like them. It’s a matter for us to wait for the right moment to all the effort and all the progress those guys are doing to come to fruition. We are going to be in a very good position as soon as that happens.”
Every rebuild has its own story, so no one should expect the White Sox next couple years to be a carbon copy of what the Yankees — who underwent a sort of “soft rebuild” — or Cubs or Houston Astros have accomplished. But the end goal is the same for the White Sox as it was and remains for all those teams.
And so while the White Sox, 32 games below .500 after this series, don’t have much to play for in terms of a place in the standings or a spot in the playoffs over the season’s final month and a half, what will happen before fans’ eyes is the development of some of the rebuild’s biggest stars.
Bon Scott once sang it: It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll. The White Sox most definitely want to rock n roll, and that journey is an ongoing one that will continue to play out over the season’s final 48 games.
“What matters the most is we are moving forward in this process of teaching the guys, developing the guys. We are on the right path,” Abreu said. “It’s just a matter to keep grinding, keep learning and to keep moving forward and push forward the new guys to try to do their best. We have a lot of talent, and I think it’s going to be exciting to see this team play in the future.”
That’s the plan, for the White Sox to go from waiting for the future to watching it happen on a nightly basis. And once all these highly touted prospects — Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, Luis Robert, Dane Dunning and the rest — reach the South Side, then this team can become the “Baby Pale Hose” and finally the annually contending White Sox.
Then a sweep at the hands of these Yankees will seem a lot less likely.
“The thing that they have to learn is that execution is really, really important,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We are of the mind that at some point in time we’re going to be on the same side of that coin as well in the near future, and we’re going to be able to compete.”