Rozner: Reinsdorf will be key to White Sox rebuild

  • Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf will be an important role during the team's rebuilding phase. It will come down to patience, Barry Rozner writes, to determine whether the new Sox program ever gets off the ground.

    Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf will be an important role during the team's rebuilding phase. It will come down to patience, Barry Rozner writes, to determine whether the new Sox program ever gets off the ground. Associated Press File Photo/June 2011

Posted12/11/2016 1:00 AM

So where are all the people who hated the plan?

Maybe they've forgotten all the pontificating, all the times they trashed Theo Epstein and Tom Ricketts, how upset they were when the Cubs traded the likes of Scott Feldman, Ryan Dempster and Jeff Samardzija.


But now, they say, Epstein is a genius who should run for emperor and cure the world's ills.


Oddly, this amnesia can only benefit the White Sox, who finally -- after years of middling their approach -- have gotten permission from Jerry Reinsdorf to start over.

And GM Rick Hahn is off to a very good start.

The trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton have brought a stark upgrade to the farm system, their top four prospects not even a part of the organization one week ago.

The top 10 is star-studded -- and this is just the beginning.

Hahn is likely to move Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Jose Abreu sometime between now and July 31, depending on the desperation of the market.

Keep dealing and keep collecting prospects and get to somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 20, at which point you hope one becomes great, two or three become really good players and maybe a few more contribute at the big league level.

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You lose 100 games a couple times, you draft high and score big at the top. You sign a few midlevel free agents and you move them in late July for young players.

Do it enough times and you can find yourself with a sustainable minor league system that produces players who can help you compete for a postseason spot year after year, and players who can help you get what you need through trade.

Not nearly as simple as these words suggest, but not nearly as complicated as the Epstein detractors made it out to be.

What is unsustainable is spending to fix your mistakes year after year -- unless you have an unlimited budget -- something Epstein explained at his very first news conference, though much of it fell on deaf ears.

If you think in terms of a five-year project, the Sox are essentially finishing Day 1.

It's just amazing that the White Sox are in charge of the market and controlled the winter meetings from the bottom rung on the ladder.


It's about time.

As was the case with the Cubs, this will be a long and painful process, filled with bad players at the major league level, place-holding for the talent of the future.

The Sox won't rush anyone here just to sell some tickets and they won't give up halfway through and go for it before it's appropriate.

At least, that's the hope -- and this is where Reinsdorf comes in.

It was Ricketts' patience that made the Cubs' World Series possible. He didn't fall apart when things were at their worst, and he didn't break down when the haters crushed Epstein for trading Samardzija and Jason Hammel for Addison Russell.

"Theo laughs about the days when I was too patient, and thinks I should have been yelling at him more," Ricketts said before the World Series. "Once you see the plan, and once you understand what you have to do to build the organization, you know it takes time and you know if you take a shortcut, it'll be a dead end.

"And you know if you rush it, you'll screw it up."

It won't be fun, it won't be easy and it won't lack for ugly days, and there are no promises it will work, though the last 10 years are proof enough that the Sox had to try something different.

So it will be up to Reinsdorf to hold it all together by allowing Hahn to do his job and giving young players a chance to develop at their own rate.

If he panics or moves too early, before the time is right to strike, the Sox will be right back where they were, wondering where it all went wrong.

So Reinsdorf deserves the credit for being willing to start over.

But his patience -- or lack thereof -- may yet determine whether the White Sox ever get this program off the ground.

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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