Last weekend’s SoxFest event provided us with our first look at the 2017 White Sox as they’ll likely be constructed. It also gave Rick Hahn his first opportunity to speak about the challenges the team faces as it undergoes its most drastic rebuild in two decades.
Hahn’s statements throughout the weekend, both to reporters and fans, seem candid as he addressed the long-term goals for the White Sox after trading away both their best pitcher and position player for gaggles of prospects.
“There’s still going to be entertaining elements of the 2017 season, even if it doesn’t wind up that we’re competing. But I do feel it’s important for us to be as transparent as we can be about what we’re trying to accomplish and the timeline it may well take.”
There’s really no urgency, there’s no deadline, there’s no financial pressure to make a move. The only reason to be motivated to make a move is based upon receiving what we feel is appropriate value and helps advance what we’re trying to accomplish over the long term.”
Taking these quotes at face value, this is a refreshing take. Acknowledging that this will be the first year in recent history in which the White Sox don’t expect to compete isn’t a necessary proclamation — nobody would have blamed Hahn if he got up on stage and said he thought the White Sox could compete for a playoff spot, particularly at an event designed to build fan morale ahead of the season (and he did sprinke in some of that) — but it does exude the confidence of a general manager and organization comfortable with where they’re at and ready for this drastic change.
Still, words are just words, and as the months and years go by, losses pile up, attendance numbers dwindle, and the hot shots in the minors progress, the pressure will be there to expedite the rebuild if the opportunity presents itself.
The White Sox should resist these temptations.
This is not a blanket statement, of course. Nobody knows the timeline for when the White Sox will be competitive again. But whatever individual plans they have for their future — the progressional expectations of the likes of Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and Lucas Giolito — the financial decision making, whether or not they ever actually intend on splurging in free agency, should be followed to fruition.
Hahn’s ability to do this — and honestly, I’m less concerned with him than with his being ordered from above — is integral in not only the White Sox ability to eventually break their playoff drought, but build a consistent winner and year-after-year playoff and championship contender.
For the first time in a long while, the White Sox seem to have a plan. No more half-assed attempts to contend, no more impatient acquisitions despite an inability to supplement their core with adequate players. But the next step is following through.
Patience is required for any fan base going through a rebuild, but it’s just as important for the front office executing it. Only time will tell how much the White Sox have.
Lead Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports