The Chicago White Sox continued their free fall into baseball obscurity on Thursday after suffering three consecutive defeats to the Minnesota Twins. The club has now lost seven of their last eight games and look to be sellers at the upcoming trade deadline.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales, teams have begun contacting the White Sox about the availability of players. While most of Chicago’s attention has been focused on the Blackhawks, the White Sox have been on a downward spiral throughout June.
This season has been a house of horrors for the Southsiders. A once frightening offensive lineup has collapsed into one of the worst in the majors. The Sox currently rank 27th in runs and slugging percentage, and 28th in on-base percentage. The pitching has been a touch better with Chris Sale leading the charge with a 2.69 ERA. Unfortunately, Sale’s great numbers haven’t translated to victories as he currently has a 5-6 record.
One of the few bright lights for the Sox has been the performance of Jesse Crain. On Thursday he broke the record for the most consecutive scoreless innings for the franchise. Crain has been magnificent sporting a 0.55 ERA and striking out 43 in 32.2 innings pitched. This makes Crain a prime target for the MLB teams contending in their divisions. The Detroit Tigers could possibly be a destination for Crain to take over as closer.
Crain may not be the only White Sox player traded. The White Sox farm system was ranked as one of the worst in baseball before the 2013 draft, so an infusion of talent may be needed if the White Sox need to rebuild.
The 2013 White Sox may be the end of an era if they are forced to commit to a major rebuild. Paul Konerko could be moved, signaling the departure of the last of the 2005 World Series champions remaining on the team except for pitching coach Don Cooper. Chris Sale may be the only safe commodity the White Sox won’t have on the trading block. However, if the club has to go through a long rebuild, similar to the Cubs, attendance numbers may drop even further. Currently U.S. Cellular Field averages about 22,000 in attendance through 30 games, according to ESPN. This ranks 24th in the majors.
The White Sox should obviously target getting the best prospects they can in return for any of their current trade pieces. The question for Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams is whether to have a major rebuilding effort with long term talented prospects or to attempt and turn the team around in a shorter time frame with current Major League players who may just need a change of scenery. Either option is a gamble but a long term rebuild may have terrible effects on the bottom line.