The White Sox have managed to win two baseball games since the All Star break, going a whopping 2-12 in that span. Their fall off the competitive cliff has vaulted them right in the mix to secure the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s MLB Draft.
Of course, this is all pretty much by design. The Sox have traded core guys like Quintana, Frazier, Robertson, Kahnle, Swarzak, Jennings, Cabrera… (catches breath) in that time, resulting in an influx of talented prospects into the Sox farm system. None of these moves were necesarily surprising, considering the rebuild plan that has been in place since the offseason. We knew many of these guys would be on their way out of town. We knew the roster would look dreadful after the trade deadline. And now we’re here, faced with a lot of losing over the final two months of the season.
But how much losing is too much losing? SB Nation’s “South Side Sox” made some great points in this article by editor Patrick Nolan (smart Sox guy, great twitter follow). Basically his point was that the White Sox losing in 2017 is indeed pretty much meaningless, but what causes it is not. Getting the first pick is nice, but not if guys like Anderson, Moncada, Rodon, etc aren’t making positive strides in the process.
To this point I agree. The Sox could lose every game the rest of the way and I wouldn’t care… as long as those three guys are personally getting better along the way. It’s discouraging to see Tim Anderson in the midst of a sophomore slump. Granted, there have been real off the field distractions on his mind all year. He is young, and we’re going to have to be patient. But it still isn’t encouraging to see Timmy so undisciplined at the plate and unsure on the field.
The Sox can lose, but it’s not worth losing if it’s being caused by poor play by guys like Anderson. The Sox can lose, but not because of Yoan Moncada working 3-2 counts and then staring at strike three. The Sox can lose, but not because Carlos Rodon is all over the place.
The new core pieces, and all that follow, need to continually be making strides forward developmentally. If there’s one thing that sticks out to me about the Cubs’ rebuild is that none of their guys, maybe with the exception of Schwarber, had significant falls backwards development wise once they got up to the big club. The same has to happen for the Sox to be successful. Continual steps forward and positive development will lead to positive morale, which will then snowball into something great.
On the flip side of the coin, there is a real prize that comes with losing a lot of games during a rebuild. The Sox are pretty much guaranteed a Top 5 pick, and have a real shot at No. 1. There is so much talent at the top of the draft that it will be hard for the Sox to miss no matter where they pick. But the ideal situation would be at No. 1, where they can ensure that they get their guy no matter what. Either way, they’re going to have the chance to draft another impact player, the position they wanted to be in from the start.
So can the White Sox theoretically “win” by losing right now? Absolutely, and fans should want them to get as high of a pick as possible. That’s a no-brainer. Our only hope can be that our future pieces aren’t what completely causes it.