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Skeptical, with a hint of optimism

On paper, the White Sox rebuild appears on the right path. But based on the history of the franchise, it’s hard to believe it will actually work out.

Chicago White Sox Photo Day
In order for the White Sox rebuild to be successful, Eloy Jimenez needs to turn into a star, not another failed prospect.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The 2005 season was the pinnacle, a historic accomplishment 88 years in the making. Since then, it has been a slow and chaotic ride into the abyss.

The White Sox have provided one single, lonely postseason victory since winning the World Series … and a number of embarrassing or downright awful moments ever since.

That’s why it’s a bit hard to fully buy into the rebuild currently taking place at 35th & Shields. It’s difficult to trust this franchise, put faith in them or believe Rick Hahn and company have finally figured out how to scout with some semblance of competence and develop young positional talent.

Hahn, after all, is the same guy who was on board with former GM Kenny Williams in thinking it was a good idea to make Robin Ventura manager — the same Ventura with zero coaching or managing experience at any level of baseball prior to being handed the job. Ventura’s lone qualification was that he had been a fan favorite as a third baseman two decades prior. This is the equivalent of putting the janitor at NASA in charge of a launch simply because he’s well liked around the office.

While the franchise was publicly acknowledging, circa 2010-11, it couldn’t rely so much on the long ball and needed a change in its offensive approach, Hahn was presumably on board with Williams’ signing Adam Dunn. Hahn would follow that up with a similarly boneheaded move of wasting money on Adam LaRoche for the 2015 campaign.

Hahn is the same guy who couldn’t build a playoff team around Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, two of the top 15-20 starting pitchers in the league, while under team-friendly contracts.

So, you’ll understand why there is still skepticism about the blow-it-all-up-and-rebuild approach that is about to enter season two. Sure, scouts around the league agree the White Sox are on the right path. Their minor-league system is the envy of baseball, with prospect rankings that suggest a dynasty is possible.

Unfortunately, numbers next to names on top prospect lists don’t guarantee World Series victories. MLB will not be canceling the 2021-24 seasons and handing the White Sox the Commissioner’s Trophy because they have 10 of the top 100 prospects.

As White Sox fans know all too well, prospects have a funny way of not living up to the hype. That’s why, before going all-in and hopping on board the train steaming towards a winning season in 2020, the kids are going to have to prove they’re deserving of such high praise by performing on a major-league field.

Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs
Once considered the center fielder of the future, Brian Anderson managed to hit just .225 in 334 games with the White Sox.
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Yoan Moncada must turn out closer to Robinson Cano than D’Angelo Jimenez.

Eloy Jimenez needs to prove he’s closer to a steroid-free Manny Ramirez than a right-handed version of Joe Borchard.

Luis Robert has to be closer to a Ken Griffey Jr. than Brian Anderson or Dayan Viciedo.

Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen and Lucas Giolito need to show they can be a healthier trio than Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, instead of simply a more highly touted version of Scott Ruffcorn, Aaron Poreda and Brandon McCarthy.

White Sox fans are loyal to the team, sometimes to a fault. It’s perfectly normal to have high hopes. But don’t give Hahn and his staff a pass just because of high rankings and minor-league stats. The proof soon will be in the pudding at the ballpark formerly known as Comiskey.

For all of our sake, this gamble had better pay off, or the White Sox are well on their way to another World Series title … in 2093.