White Sox, not Cubs, forging path to success

By Steve Shonder

There are two approaches to recovering from disastrous baseball seasons: rebuilding and reloading. Both are on display in Chicago.

The question most people should be asking is which scheme is better: rebuilding or reloading? While there isn’t a right answer until someone wins a World Series, just taking a look at which team is closer to one can give some guidance.

The Cubs are in year three of a who-really-knows-how-many-years-this-thing-will-take rebuilding process under the tutelage of alleged baseball geniuses Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. The Cubs have gone with the old NBA style rebuilding process known as tanking, where the organization blows up the team and hopes it can draft the next big thing every year. They do have some potential all-stars waiting in the wings, including Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.

The White Sox are in year one of reloading. Coming off the third-worst record in baseball, general manager Rick Hahn rebuilt the team with Cuban sensation Jose Abreu and undervalued players like Adam Eaton. In the meantime, they have promising players like Matt Davidson, first-round pick Carlos Rodon and Avisail Garcia ready to make a big splash.

Sure, the White Sox are on a four-game losing streak, but at least they’re nowhere near as dismal as the Cubs. People are hoping the Cubs lose 100 games again — not out of spite — but to get another high draft pick. The White Sox have some semblance of hope, while the Cubs have their eyes on some 21-year-old kid, hoping he’ll be a great player by 2020.

If you had to choose which team is closer to a World Series, the White Sox are the obvious answer. They’re not looking four years down the road on every decision; they’re trying to win now and in the future.

The four-game losing streak aside, the White Sox have not had a terrible season. Chris Sale has been dynamite with an ERA of 1.97. Abreu has been all the team hoped he’d be. Pitching has been the problem, but it’s likely the White Sox can fix this deficiency either this season or next pretty easily. The pieces are there. Rodon could potentially be on the big league roster later this year. Or they could make a trade to pull in some new arms.

The White Sox are moving in the right direction. They’re trying to field a competitive ball club now. The Cubs, who could have a competitive team if they looked to add, are instead preparing to trade away 29-year-old ace pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Hoyer has talked about the Cubs maybe spending money on quality free agents this offseason, but that’s still a long ways away. The future for the Cubs is in the minors with some guys who could — in all likelihood — be as successful as Corey Patterson.

Big league talent is more important than minor league talent. Right now the White Sox are stocking up on the more important one, while the Cubs are staring five years down the road.