White Sox general manager Rick Hahn

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Dziepak: Show Some Patience By Remembering The Purpose Of The 2018 White Sox

The team's struggles were expected and part of the purpose of this season.

Kevin Dziepak
April 18, 2018 - 12:29 pm
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By Kevin Dziepak--

(670 The Score) Do the ends justify the means?

It’s an age-old philosophical question, and it’s one that’s usually proposed in the context of much larger issues. But I like baseball, so this column is about baseball.

We’re barely halfway through April, and while the weather has drawn the ire of many Chicagoans this month, the state of our two baseball teams hasn’t helped matters. The Cubs have stumbled out of the gate in a 7-8 start, and the team’s success since 2015 has turned some fans into raving, impatient jackals, demanding the heads of their favorite scapegoat depending on what day of the week it is. 

While the expectations are high for the Cubs -- and rightfully so -- the White Sox's unimpressive 4-10 start to the 2018 campaign has resulted in an equal amount of frustration within some sectors. This baffles me. 

On one hand, I get it. Millennials are supposedly responsible for the deaths of many things, including our collective attention span. You can order a movie, food or just about anything imaginable within two or three taps of your cell phone. We're no longer slaves of having to sit in front of the television at a fixed time to see your favorite show. Almost everything is available on demand. 

On the other hand, have we, the baseball enjoyers of the world, learned no lessons from the recent success of the Astros and Cubs?  Let’s take a look at Houston’s lineup from Openign Day in 2013. 

Leading off and playing second base: Jose Altuve! He’s pretty good. After that, however, there was a steep drop-off,to put it lightly. First baseman Brett Wallace hit second that day, and you may not know who he is. Perhaps it’s because he’s been out of the big leagues since 2016 and was a negative WAR player during his career, per FanGraphs. Other luminaries from that lineup included outfielders Justin Maxwell and Brandon Barnes and Cubs legend Ronny Cedeno at shortstop. The 2013 Astros lost a staggering 111 games, but two years later, they were in the playoffs.

The Cubs’ lineup on Opening Day in 2013 featured more well-known names but a comparable number of bad players. First baseman Anthony Rizzo would be the only player retained two years later when the Cubs broke into the playoffs as well.

The 2013 Astros and the 2013 Cubs weren't attempting to compete. I’m sure the players themselves were trying to win, but the architects who constructed those teams weren't. They knew that the only way back from baseball purgatory was to tank, a word that has now permeated sports culture to the point of excess. But it worked. As mentioned, both teams made the playoffs in 2015. The Cubs won the World Series in 2016, and the Astros in 2017.

Which brings me back to the 2018 edition of the White Sox, whose play so far has been objectively awful. The team’s batting average with runners in scoring position has been hovering around a ghastly .150. The majority of the starting rotation has been ineffective, and the bullpen has only been marginally better. But wasn’t this the idea?

The White Sox began their rebuild in earnest in December 2016 with the trade of ace left-hander Chris Sale to the Red Sox. And while general manager Rick Hahn (smartly) hasn't placed a timeline on when the White Sox will be ready to compete again, many prognosticators and pundits have settled on 2020. If we’re going on that assumption, how many of the White Sox's starers on Opening Day this season will still be in the big leagues at that time, let alone on Chicago's roster?

The only two Opening Day starters on this year’s White Sox team who will be around two years from now are likely to be shortstop Tim Anderson and second baseman Yoan Moncada, both of whom are youngsters. They'll struggle at times this season and moving forward. They will make mistakes. They will make your tear your hair out. 

But throughout the trying times, they will be improving. They will be making adjustments, not only on a game-to-game basis but on a pitch-by-pitch basis. The purpose of the 2018 White Sox isn't to compete for a division title or even to be entertaining. The purpose of the 2018 White Sox is to let players like Anderson and Moncada grow. The job of the veterans is to occupy space until the next group of prospects can make the leap to the majors. With all due respect to Adam Engel and Nicky Delmonico, they’re just keeping spots warm for players like Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez.

So let’s all try to cite the recent history of the Astros and Cubs as a way to exhibit some patience during these rebuilding years. Ask any fan of those teams if they enjoyed watching the seemingly endless string of 90-loss and 100-loss seasons. They didn't. But then ask them if they enjoyed watching the World Series parades that followed. 

The ends certainly justified those means, and Hahn is banking on the same for the South Side.

Kevin Dziepak is a producer of the "Mully & Hanley Show," update anchor and weekend host on 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @Kevbo_.