The White Sox organization is like a gambler at the craps table. Craps, if you are unfamiliar, is a game in which money can appear or disappear at will. One moment, you are up $400. Ten minutes later, you are down $200. It all depends on how you spread your resources across the board.
That is how Kenny Williams ran the White Sox. Spread your chips across the table, and hope that the dice fell your way.
Occasionally, it worked. In 2005, it worked in spectacular fashion. In 2008, Kenny walked away a winner thanks to Carlos Quentin. In 2010, it worked because Paul Konerko found a second wind. In 2012, it worked because of Konerko, Kevin Youkilis (for a month), and because Adam Dunn finally turned into the player the White Sox wanted - for a little while.
But now, the Sox are in a situation where they have chips spread all across the table, and the dice aren't falling their way. In craps, you can lose a great deal of money in less than an hour.
The White Sox are tantalizingly close to first place. They are within striking distance of both the AL Central and the Wild Card. It is gut check time. But the Sox are only doing relatively well because of pitching. They are second to last in the American League in hitting, behind the Mariners.
Ideally, the Sox should have cut bait in 2010. The last two years would have been devoted to a rebuild. Instead, they went "All In," and they have been paying the price ever since.
The White Sox have three trade chits that would be interesting to other teams. Four, if you include Gordon Beckham. Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, and Gordon Beckham will have their tires kicked this July.
The good news is that the Sox don't have to jump at the first offer.
The Sox have the luxury of time. Rios is under contract through the 2014 season. Peavy and Ramirez are under contract much longer. Rick Hahn could be a seller at the trade deadline, but he can also wait until the Winter Meetings.
The era of the blowout trade deadline deal is over. The last "difference-maker" trade deadline deal took place five years ago, when the Brewers traded Matt LaPorta to the Indians for CC Sabathia. Sabathia single-handedly pitched the Brewers into their first post-season berth since 1982. LaPorta is currently playing in Triple-A.
The idea of selling makes White Sox fans twitch. The White Flag Trade of 1997 still leaves a bitter taste in fans' mouths. The Ray Durham trade of 2002 was detailed in "Moneyball," and one of the reasons why sabermetric fans still see the White Sox as a team that is hopelessly behind the times.
When the White Flag Trade took place in 1997, the thought leaders in local sports media were Jay Mariotti, Chet Coppock, and Mike North. Angry loudmouths, all of them. The old guard was still working at the time, and they consisted of guys who were members of the "some days you win, some days you lose, some days it rains" school of sportswriting. Prospects were Magic Beans.
Baseball writing is much smarter in 2013.
The upside to selling is that the Sox can, possibly, pay other teams to take White Sox at-bats.
The Sox should rebuild. If they can trade Rios, Peavy, and Ramirez, they should. Konerko should be allowed to walk ... or retire ... at the end of the season.
They should be able to build the team around Chris Sale (yes), Gordon Beckham (maybe), and Dayan Viciedo (maybe).
The Sox could rebuild, as long as they are honest with the fans. The Cubs have been up front about their rebuilding effort. Savvy fans know to watch Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and the pitching staff. The North Siders are two years away from contending.
A Sox rebuilding project would be more interesting than what we have now. It might me hard to punt on the next two years. But the Tigers' window is open. Let them go for it while the White Sox build a team that could consistently make the postseason for years.
Rick Hahn is the general manager. It is time for him to make his mark.
And it is time for the White Sox to become a consistent postseason contender.
Chicago deserves no less.