"Rebuilding" is a term that has some pretty rigid standards in the baseball world. You ship out all your valuable trade chips for prospects, and dutifully wait through years of futility as they and your presumably competently selected draft picks mature. Low-cost veteran stopgaps, and low-ceiling youngsters will dot the big league roster in the mean time so that the fans don't rip their eyes out and pelt the field with them, but God help you if you block one of your sweet, blessed prospects!
There are exceptions. There's a Washington Nationals-style where you see the light at the end of the tunnel and start spending and trading like crazy to bring it closer, or there's the A's-style where this rebuild doesn't feel quite right, so you start it all over again with better prospects, but there's the same requisite dormant period.
But does it have to be that way? Kenny Williams would surely prefer not. He realizes the farm system is perma-terrible and something as be done about it soon, but egads! A full season of Zach Stewart starting?!?! Surely it doesn't have to reach depths that low.
What? You can't pay 26 year-old starters market value now and still rebuild? Why does a larger organizational focus on getting younger and restocking the farm system have to include a fire sale? Perhaps that's just something projected onto the concept by teams that don't have the resources and savvy of the Chicago White Sox! Yeah! That's right, hubris, dude.
I mean, where's that even in the definition of rebuilding?
[ree-bild] Show IPA verb, -built or ( Archaic ) -build·ed; -build·ing.verb (used with object)
1. to repair, especially to dismantle and reassemble with new parts: Ex: to rebuild an old car.
2. to replace, restrengthen, or reinforce: Ex: to rebuild an army.
3. to revise, reshape, or reorganize: Ex: to rebuild a shattered career.
4. to build again or afresh: Ex: with the insurance money we can rebuild.
1. Hmm, they have that "dismantle" part right in the definition there? Yeesh, wasn't expecting that. Uh-oh.
2. Replace? That just sounds like signing free agents! That's totally compatible with the organizational model...can't do it right now, though.
3. Reorganize? That just seems like shifting resources around! That's perfect! Shattered careers? Oh man! Soooo many of those!
4. Insurance money!?!? That's a great idea! /picks up axe, heads to Jake Peavy's locker
Clearly what the White Sox need is a consistent strategy to focus on acquiring younger, cheaper assets, while side-stepping the more thorough parts of the process where the big-league team slips into the abyss. There's gotta be a way...
"..some White Sox people cringed when Williams began talking openly about "rebuilding."
'We are not rebuilding,' one of them said forcefully."
"the word in both the international scouting community and among White Sox people is that the Sox could be very involved in the bidding for 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who should become a free agent next month."
Aha! The perfect alternative to rebuilding is to not rebuild at all. While that does nothing to quell the mounting problems of being over-invested with minor league talent pool to draw from, those problems are covered by spending.
Spending, spending, spending Reinsdorf's money until money is no longer a thing in the world. No players with starting potential in Charlotte? Buy that Cuban outfielder with this money we just finished printing out downstairs. He looked spry in his workout; give him this handmade diamond pistol as a signing bonus! He'll love it, and totally not be taken aback by that design that's engraved on the handle. Sure, we'd all prefer to have the guy who nearly OPS'd 1.600 in the same league, but Cespedes will do, and in time, that other guy will get bought too!
If reports are gospel, the Cubs have flip-flopped between being ready to sign the No. 2 free agent on the market and being completely committed to the rebuilding project they were planning all all along. That'd be interesting if it were true, because it would be a large and very visible business being run by violently bipolar individual.
But for the White Sox, the progression away from rebuilding seems more natural. They settled on a tact they viewed objectionable but necessary, toed the waters uneasily, and as the trade market continued to buck at the notion of the Sox re-shaping their roster on their own terms, where a fire sale meant reduced prices, they bucked entirely.
For the sake of the future, or just for entertainment, it'd be great if it sent them the other direction entirely. Competing within reason, and reloading without rebuilding has served neither end of the organization well.