Welcome to The Stew’s annual team elimination posts. We’ve done similar posts in the past. Last year was done in a video game theme. This time around, we’re going with a “Game of Thrones” look. Each eliminated team will join the “army of the dead.” But we won’t just talk about their demise. We’ll also highlight some positives, pick out a memorable moment, tell you their biggest need and let you know when the club might be good again. Enjoy.
Sorry, Chicago White Sox, but you won’t sit on the Iron Throne this season.
But, and this might be the real point of the 2017 White Sox season, ruling the land might not be too far away. The White Sox went into complete rebuilding mode this year, after trading ace Chris Sale in the offseason. The win total? Well, it wasn’t looked at as much as the prospect list this year.
This year’s team started to give glimpses of what the future could hold and still offered the stellar bat of Jose Abreu. It all equaled a quicker-than-most postseason elimination and a lot of losses, but such are the pains of a rebuild.
UNBOWED, UNBENT, UNBROKEN (aka WHAT WENT RIGHT)
The White Sox continued stacking prospects after trading Jose Quintana and other key chips at the deadline. Those deals continued their full-scale rebuild and quickly revitalized their minor league system, which essentially was the front office’s goal coming in. The White Sox also threw a pretty epic jersey retirement ceremony for Mark Buehrle. Jose Abreu remained awesome too, putting up big numbers again and even hitting for the cycle on Sept. 9. (Mark Townsend)
THE RED WEDDING (aka WHAT WENT WRONG)
Not nearly as much as the 2016 season, when the Drake LaRoche in the clubhouse and Chris Sale cutting up jerseys controversies dominated the headlines. The White Sox problems were limited to the field, which is no surprise given their rebuild. If there was a major disappointment though, it had to be veteran left-hander Derek Holland. The White Sox hoped to catch lightning-in-a-bottle with the idea of flipping Holland for a prospect. Instead, he’s arguably been the least effective starting pitcher in the league. (Townsend)
THE NORTH REMEMBERS (aka MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT)
The most memorable moment(s) of the White Sox season didn’t even happen on the field. They weren’t playing to win games this year as much as they were playing to win trades. And they did a pretty good job. Most notably, they acquired Eloy Jimenez from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana deal. He’s a much-hyped hitting prospect who can do stuff like this. They got Blake Rutherford and another group of prospects from the Yankees for Todd Frazier and David Robertson. The best part of the White Sox season? Definitely the trade deadline.
WORDS ARE WIND (aka MOST IMPORTANT THING TO FIX)
When a team is in a rebuild like the White Sox are, it’s hard to find one thing to fix since theoretically, everything needs to be fixed. But also, nothing needs to be fixed because they’ve got a boatload of prospects in the minors that will one day come up and fix everything. This year they took the plunge and fortified their farm system with trades of big players, and now there’s nothing left to do but draft and wait. It’s not so much about fixing things as it is about staying the course. The team will be better in the future as long as the front office remains dedicated to developing their prospects. (Liz Roscher)
A DREAM OF SPRING (aka HOPE FOR THE FUTURE)
Phase 1 of the rebuild is complete. The White Sox sold off assets and built the best farm system in baseball. Now, the team will charge forward with Phase 2, which involves developing and getting all those future studs to the majors. That was a mixed bag in 2017. Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito all saw time in the majors, and each experienced some struggles along the way. They’ll have to show growth and improvement in 2018.
They should be joined by Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez — both of whom turned in strong seasons in the minors in 2017. After graduating those guys, the club will have to focus on making sure their lower-level prospects like Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Jake Burger and Zack Collins and Blake Rutherford (we could keep going, honestly) continue to move up the ladder and adjust to the better competition. Expecting contention before 2019 seems aggressive, but the future is bright. (Chris Cwik)
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