The Chicago White Sox haven’t won anything in a while and they appear on their way to rebuilding mode. Robin Ventura’s second season has not panned out quite as he expected, rendering last year’s success a possible case of over-achievement. The White Sox, after grabbing an outfielder (Courtney Hawkins) and an infielder (Tim Anderson) over the past two years’ drafts, have now signed 16-year old Dominican outfielder Micker Zapata (6’3″, 225 lbs) to a $1.6 Million contract. The White Sox also have Keon Barnum and Keenyn Walker to go along with Zapata, who’s already at that age that has many comparing him to a Delmon Young or Giancarlo Stanton of Miami. The White Sox see this as an investment because Zapata is so young he won’t be ready for years but he’ll certainly now grow up as member of the White Sox.
The White Sox could do more here, especially with the amount of hitting they are trying to stockpile. Like the Cubs, the Sox would not mind seeing a couple of contracts get inked, but their situation is not nearly as problematic as the Cubs’ situation with Soriano. The Sox can be a destination for free agents because Chicago is considered a baseball town with a lot of player support, which is precisely the reason Jake Peavy accepted being traded here. Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Quintana, and – soon – Tyler Danish and Erik Johnson might be a pretty good five-man set.
The people that are really letting Sox fans down are the the guys in the lineup. While it’s tough to try to make the Southsiders face the truth, the team has to evolve from the Dunn-Konerko-Viciedo slugfest that currently constitutes as good night at the Cell. If the lineup looked more like Hawkins, Beckham, Pheglan, Anderson, Barnum, Walker with Ramirez and De Aza that wouldn’t be a bad team of future talent. The bullpen is strong and and the mediocre division could be taken back. The farm system isn’t one of the tops in baseball, but that isn’t all-important because Reinsdorf has such deep pockets. The Sox could sign Dariel Alvarez as well, but it’s uncertain how much money they’ll have in their pool after spending $1.6 million on Zapata.
With Konerko’s money coming off the books this year and Dunn’s and Rios’ money next year, that frees up Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn to stockpile assets over the next two signing periods and trade deadlines to bring in future players while shying away from bad contracts. This route should could put the team in contention with homegrown stars and shrewd acquisitions that don’t put them in a bind down the road. The Jake Peavy’s off-season two-year extension was perfect, and the club option for a third year keeps him happy while enabling the team to improve while rebuilding.