Three years ago, the Chicago White Sox were an exciting team on the rise in Major League Baseball. Talented young position players such as shortstop Tim Anderson, designated hitter/outfielder Eloy Jimenez, third baseman Yoan Moncada, and center fielder Luis Robert Jr., along with promising pitchers like Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez had the Sox poised to be perennial contenders for the next decade.

Oh, how things have changed in those three years. Entering this week, the Sox had a 43-64 record and were hopelessly out of contention in the American League’s Central Division. 

In the past several days, Giolito and Lopez were traded to the Los Angeles Angels, starting pitcher Lance Lynn and reliever Joe Kelly were sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers and reliever Kendall Graveman was shipped to the Houston Astros. 

With the MLB trade deadline on Aug. 1, after Wednesday Journal’s print deadline, Anderson, Jimenez, Kopech, Moncada and catcher Yasmani Grandal were rumored to be available for contending teams.

So, what exactly went wrong with the Sox? To me, it starts with the front office, particularly at the top with owner Jerry Reinsdorf. 

I think Reinsdorf’s biggest problem is that he’s too loyal to the executives that run his teams (he also owns the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association), no matter how they fare each year. 

I guarantee this doesn’t happen with serious pro sports franchises in other cities, especially Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Owners in those places don’t hesitate to make necessary changes whenever expectations are not met. But Reinsdorf has never shown that attitude.

Plus, he makes decisions that are very much shortsighted. For instance, take the hiring of Tony La Russa after the 2020 season. Yes, La Russa is in the Baseball Hall of Fame and deservedly so for what he has accomplished as a manager. 

But he was 76 years old and hadn’t been in the dugout since 2011 when Reinsdorf — not executive vice president of baseball operations Kenny Williams nor general manager Rick Hahn — made the choice to bring him aboard. I thought it was an awkward fit for a young, talented team like the Sox.

While they won the AL Central in 2021, they were quickly dispatched from the playoffs by the Astros. However, instead of adding more veterans that could get the Sox to the next level, Hahn and Williams foolishly opted to largely stand pat, and the result was an 81-81 record last year. 

At the end of the season, La Russa stepped down due to health concerns and was replaced by Pedro Grifol, who said the Sox would be a more fundamentally sound team in 2023.

Instead, the Sox endured a 10-game losing streak in April, all but sinking this season. While injuries have been a big issue the last two years, they are part of the game, and the lack of depth in the farm system has been problematic. 

Hahn and Williams’ development of their minor-league players has been terrible to say the least, as those who have been called up have been mediocre at best.

So where do the Sox go from here? Conventional wisdom says Hahn and Williams should be fired for the underachievement of the last two seasons, but Reinsdorf is not a conventional owner. In my view, he won’t order another full rebuild like the Sox had from 2016 to 2019, which brought them much-needed young talent. 

Instead, he’s more likely to want a retooling around the players who remain after the deadline. The thing is, I don’t trust Hahn and Williams to handle this right. 

Unfortunately, however, I don’t see them losing their jobs either because Reinsdorf is stubborn to change the executive leadership of his teams.

“Change the Game” was the Sox slogan not long ago. While they did have an exciting style of play for a couple of years, they’ve fallen back, and I don’t know if they can catch up. 

If Reinsdorf isn’t willing to come into the 21st century and stop running the Sox like a mom-and-pop operation, then he needs to sell the team to someone that truly wants to win every year and will emphasize player development on all levels

But don’t worry Sox fans, the Bears have begun training camp. I say focus your attention on them and not fret over a team that’s on the road to nowhere.

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