To watch the release of excitement and banishment of frustration, brewed at once into a fresh mix of anticipation, is rather remarkable, really.

In the last 40 years of White Sox baseball, when has there been a feeling like this?

SoxFest this weekend was like nothing previous, not even in 2006.

Nah, that was a celebration. Coming off a World Series victory, it was all kicks and grins for a weekend party in Chicago.

Sure, there were great expectations, especially with the addition of Jim Thome, and it all looked like the Sox were lined up for a great shot at a repeat.

Since then, there have been many retooling efforts, attempts to reload and the often seen "all in" winters, when the Sox avoided the rebuild and tried just one more time to go for it.

There were too many one more times.

This has a very different feel. Maybe it's relief, more than anything else, relief that it happened and it's working.

The Sox have not only undertaken a massive rebuilding project, but in terms of the timeline they're also ahead of teams with similar plans -- like the Cubs and Astros -- because of the assets they were able to deal, players with team-friendly contracts signed by an astute management team looking to stay ahead of an exploding and expensive market.

Remember, this began only 14 months ago.

And now here they are, threatening to overperform and maybe even flirt with the .500 mark this season as more young players reach the big leagues and continue to foul up Rick Hahn's timeline.

The Sox GM hoped to do well dealing Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana and a cast -- seemingly -- of thousands, but the Sox have hit the jackpot, at the same time maximizing return and receiving performance from the minor-league stars along the way.

Add in some strong international signings and shrewd drafting -- the stealing of players like Alec Hansen and maybe Evan Skoug, to name just two -- and the Sox are the envy of every team trying to rebuild their farm system.

Still, there is much work to be done.

The Sox must remain diligent, deal off the remaining valuable commodities and develop the best of the young players.

It will not happen with all of them. In fact, you're doing quite well if 25 or 30 percent become what you think is possible.

So if you have 20 great prospects, you hope that two become stars, another two will be good players and find another handful to contribute.

It's a numbers game. The more you have, the better your chances.

And then you fill in with free agency, hoping a Manny Machado makes it past the open arms of the New York Yankees.

But that's also why you continue to draft catchers, third basemen and first basemen, knowing they may ultimately fit at a position of need, even if that wasn't the position they played when acquired.

That brings us to promotions, which is what everyone wants to know today.

It was about 30 years ago that Don Zimmer explained quite simply that the players will tell you when they're ready. They can make the decision very easy by doing their jobs and doing them well.

They can make it impossible for the Sox to keep them in the minors, notwithstanding the service time and financial responsibilities a GM must always keep close to his heart, closer than his own emotional ties to a player or the fans' desire to see them immediately.

Seven, after all, does remain more than six, and pushing back a year of arbitration could mean more room on the payroll for another free agent.

While that time may not be far off, that is yet for another time.

Today is for Sox fans to bask in the glory of a weekend festival when even cynics celebrate what is coming soon to a South Side ballpark near you.

It's been a long time coming. Another year -- or two -- is worth the wait.

brozner@dailyherald.com

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