We all knew the rebuild would be painful. That’s kind of the main aspect of a rebuild: growth through suffering. But this year was supposed to be a step forward and instead it’s the middle of May and the White Sox have the worst record in all of baseball by multiple games. Oh bad things are bad.
The future will be better almost certainly because it’s hard to imagine the White Sox staying at the absolute bottom of the league for an extended stretch of years without some sort of improvement solely from the horde of prospects they’ve collected (and should add to with this and sadly next years’ drafts). But it’s not hard to wonder how things would be going if the grand exodus of almost every talented player past their arbitration years was still on the roster.
Chris Sale- Unsurprisingly, the best Sox pitcher of our lifetimes hasn’t skipped a beat since being traded to Boston. Sale became the first American League pitcher to strike out more than 300 hitters in a season since Pedro Martinez in 1999. He finished second in the Cy Young voting last season and will likely finish in the top 3 yet again this season while pitching in the post-season yet again. Sigh.
Jose Quintana- Things haven’t been going nearly as well for Sale’s former rotation mate. Quintana pitched in line with his career norms last season after being traded to the Cubs. This year? This year he’s looked like a fifth starter. Hitters are absolutely thrashing him to the tune of a .274/.357/.482 slash line. His BABIP isn’t terribly out of line with his career rate and his LOB% is within a reasonable enough range as well, so what’s happened? He’s walking twice as many hitters as he did in his peak-Sox seasons and his fastball has somehow lost velocity. I keep expecting him to bounce back, but the season just keeps going and he’s stuck in neutral.
Adam Eaton- As bad as things have been for Quintana, Eaton has had it even worse. Adam lasted 23 games last season before blowing out his left knee doing his awkward lungestep into first base. A torn ACL and meniscus ended his 2017 season before it really even got started. What no one knew was that his left ankle also sustained heavy damage during that play and he re-injured it almost immediately this year, playing in 8 games before hitting the 60 Day DL and currently looking at a 6 week recovery timetable that I sadly would bet against. Eaton plays like a more reckless Aaron Rowand and it’s safe to wonder how many full seasons Washington will be able to get out of him.
David Robertson- Robertson’s return to the Bronx went very well last season and he’s been a useful enough piece of the Yankees bullpen so far this year, though a diminished one. Neither team really lost this deal as the Sox got out from under his salary and the Yankees soaked up more useful relief innings.
Tommy Kahnle- Tommy Boy continued to thrive in New York as well until injuring his pitching shoulder after 6 appearances this season. He’s due back by the end of the month, but shoulder injuries are never simple so we’ll have to wait and see.
Dan Jennings- Jennings continued his mid-career resurgence in Tampa through some impressive tightrope walking (1.08 K:BB, 1.63 WHIP). While far from the most confusing move the Tampa Bay braintrust made this offseason (hey there Corey Dickerson), the Rays released Lt. Dan during Spring Training, ultimately letting him become a Brewer for nothing. Jennings continues to be a useful reliever for the surprisingly contending Brew Crew while Tampa languishes once more.
None of the following players were guaranteed to be on the Sox this year, but are still worth taking brief looks at. Melky Cabrera couldn’t find a contract this winter and his playing in the minors for Cleveland. Miguel Gonzalez happily returned to the Sox before succumbing to injury. Todd Frazier took the train to Queens before tweaking his hamstring. Anthony Swarzak wrenched his oblique after 2.1 innings for the Mets.
Honestly, other than Sale no one is having the best of times since leaving the South Side. Baseball forever remains fickle and unfair.
Lead Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports