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Powell: Patience Is A Must For Rebuilding White Sox

White Sox and Astros play in Chicago on April 22, 2018. (WGN Radio)

By Kevin Powell

We knew the White Sox were going to lose a lot of games this season. The only thing that really matters is individual growth and staying healthy. Outside of a couple of spring training injuries, so far all is good in the health department. The individual growth part is murky.

Heading into the series finale with the Astros, the Sox had the third worst record in baseball at 4-13. They rank 29th in the major leagues with a .182 (27-148) average with runners in scoring position, ahead of only San Francisco (.170). Their starting pitchers have issued more walks (93) than any other club.

“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Nobody’s going to have some magic pill that will miraculously turn things around. The bottom line is, we have to pitch well, we have to drive in runs, and we have to create things.”

As tough as it is to watch, this is all part of the process. Trust the Process. We’ve heard that from another manager in town.

“We understand that we’re kind of in the middle of a rebuild,” shortstop Tim Anderson said. “Struggling is going to happen. So, you know, we just have to learn from it and just keep playing.”

The past two World Series champions went through exactly what the Sox are dealing with now.

Let’s look at the Astros record year-by-year dating back to 2011.

2011: 56-106

2012: 55-107

2013: 51-111

2014: 70-92

2015: 86-76

2016: 84-78

2017: 101-61

They lost 100+ for three years straight seasons and at least 90 games for four years straight. The Astros were awful. But it paid off, and the city of Houston is still celebrating their first World Series.

I’m not so sure the Sox competitive window is as far off where they’ll lose 100+ for three seasons in a row, but more losses are coming. And again, that’s just fine.

The Cubs finished last in their division from 2010-14 before a 97-win breakout in 2015 that led to a playoff berth. And we all know what happened in 2016. Bottoming out before building a championship contender is all the rage in pro sports these days.

The obvious point here is that losing is part of a rebuild. I understand that it can be frustrating times for the Sox, but the larger picture needs to remain in focus.

So when the Sox lose 10-0 to the Astros and James Shields is on the mound, it doesn’t matter a whole lot. Shields’ days with the Sox are waning. But when they lose 10-1 with Lucas Giolito on the hill, it carries more weight. The righty is a major part of the rebuild and projects as a top-of-the-rotation type guy.

Carson Fulmer not being able to find the strike zone is an issue. He’s walked nine in just 12 innings.

Is Tim Anderson capable of being an everyday shortstop, or is he better suited in center?

How about Avi Garcia? Does he fit into the championship window? It’s starting to look like probably not.

These are the sorts of things that need to be top of mind for Sox fans this season. Not wins and losses.

So after a miserable home series against the defending champion Astros, losing all three and getting outscored 27-2, just keep in mind that better days are ahead. And in a couple years the Sox could be like the Astros, sweeping rebuilding teams trying to emulate their success.

Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720