I had an idea. After a 10-27 start to the season, I was going to break out the old stand by for you White Sox fans. I was going to break out the 2015 Cubs. Yes, we’ve been through this many times. I know 93% of White Sox fans hate the Cubs, but 98% of Sox fans reading this article understand the relevance of that year’s Cubs team to our rebuild. The Cubs started to peak a year early, and that’s what we want on the south side.
I jettisoned that idea though. No more pie in the sky b.s. We know that story, and the Sox version of it isn’t anywhere in the vicinity. Anthony Rizzo was in his 4th season, the unofficial young leader of the Cubs at 25 years old. Javy Baez was 22. Kyle Hendricks was in his first full major league season, while Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber were getting their first tastes of the big leagues. Dexter Fowler came over in a trade, and John Lester was the big free agent signing that indicated to the world the Cubs were tired of losing, rebuild or not.
Side note: There was also a move made that year for the Cubs that needs to be emphasized, aside from everything else this article conveys. A guy Theo Epstein picked up so he could flip him for a prospect later on, Scott Feldman, and a back up catcher, Steve Clevenger, were traded to the Baltimore Orioles for a struggling, hard throwing reliever, Pedro Strop, international bonus pool money, and a failed, big time prospect that was no longer big time anything, Jake Arrieta. His ERA was 7.23 when the Cubs picked him up. 7.23. We all know what he became.
All successful organizations have stories like this. An under the radar guy that doesn’t just become good, he becomes essential. He becomes an ingredient that takes the team to the next level. Can Rick Hahn find his Jake Arrieta?
I’m done referring to the Cubs 2015 season as a way of cheering up Sox Nation. That could be us! We’ll be there soon! Maybe and no.
We are 37 games into Year 2 of the rebuild. So if the Cubs are the template, let’s work from the reality of their rebuild.
Epstein was hired in October of 2011, six months prior to the 2012 season. He gutted the organization and started fresh. In 2012, the Cubs were 61-101 (that’s probably where the Sox are headed this season). In 2013, they were 66-96. In 2014, they were 73-89. Then, of course, the 2015 season proved the rebuild worked; the Cubs went 97-65. The Sox don’t seem to be on the verge of that kind of turn around by 2019, but take a look at the 2014 Cubs to see how bad it looked for them before the clouds gave way to a blue sun.
These long forgotten or never knew ‘em fellas were in the Cubs bullpen in 2014: Zac Rosscup, Jose Veras, Blake Parker, Carlos Villanueva, Jacob Turner, and Kyuji Fujikawa. Chris Coghlan, Arismendy Alcantara, Nate Schierholtz, Junior Lake, Ryan Sweeney, and Ryan Kalish patrolled the outfield. When was the last time you heard any of those names? Mike Olt (sound familiar Sox fans?) got 225 at bats at 3rd base. Darwin Barney batted .230 in 204 at bats at 2nd base. Starter Travis Wood was 8-13, Edwin Jackson was 6-15 (we feel that pain), and Jeff Samardzija (sorry to bring up that name Sox fans) was 2-7.
There was discomfort, failure, and pain everywhere.
So, it’s assumed we are envious of the Cubs template. As fans, we want exactly what they had in 2015 and 2016. Yet, just because the Sox decided to rebuild doesn’t mean it will work out like it did for the Cubs. A turn around season seems like it’s a million miles away right now for the White Sox.
The turn around season is possible, not guaranteed.
To make yourself feel a little better, check those Cub records from 2012 to 2014. The Sox are in the midst of that right now. Things look drastically different for the Cubs now. Take a second to dream on 2021 for the Sox.
Enjoy Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Leury Garcia, Daniel Palka, Trayce Thompson, Luis Avilan, Omar Narvaez, James Shields, Hector Santiago, Joakim Soria, and Chris Beck while you have them. In 2021, they’ll be ghosts.