White Sox are focused on return to postseason

Hahn well aware that club's last World Series title was in 2005

March 11th, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The retirement of Brandon McCarthy after the 2018 season didn’t directly affect the White Sox, but it did bring the most significant moment in franchise history full circle. 

McCarthy, who was selected by Chicago in the 17th round of the 2002 MLB Draft, also was the final active player from the 2005 World Series championship squad. That fact makes sense considering it has been 13 years since that title.

“Keep in mind, I have a son who was born in July of 2005, so I have almost a human growth chart in my house in terms of showing me how long it has been,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com during a recent interview. “He’s like on the doorstep of shaving.

“It reinforces that it’s been a little while. It’s time for us to go get another one in the not too distant future.”

As the White Sox sit as an organization today, Hahn feels encouraged. They embark on Year 3 of the rebuild with the goal of not only developing frontline talents such as outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitchers Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease, but also to build depth insulating them from injuries and under performance.

Take a look back at 2016 as one example supporting the rebuild. The White Sox raced out to a 23-10 start, punctuated by Todd Frazier’s game-winning grand slam in the top of the 12th inning during a May 9 contest at Texas. But by the 69-game-mark of that season, no fewer than 36 games later, the club had dropped to 33-36.

“From the start of this rebuild, the fundamental problems with those rosters, the ones we were piecing together on an annual basis, wasn’t the top end,” Hahn said. “As you dipped closer down to the middle and back end of a 25-man roster, much less down into the system, we lacked the depth to sustain any runs or withstand injuries or inevitable under performance.

“We want to get ourselves in a position where there’s obviously still going to be trades and free agent signings from outside. But over the course of the season, we have multiple viable options inside that can step in when needed and help us sustain a championship roster.”

Memories of that 2005 roster live on throughout the White Sox organization, beyond the pictures on the walls at Camelback Ranch and Guaranteed Rate Field. Jose Contreras serves as a special assistant to baseball operations. Aaron Rowand is the Minor League outfield/baserunning coordinator and Frank Thomas is a special consultant, business operations as a few examples.

Fans will never forget that well-balanced team leading from wire to wire. They also are more than ready for another title run or at least a playoff push for a team with one postseason appearance in ’08 since the championship.

“When I look back over the last 13 years since the '05 championship and see we only managed to make the playoffs once in that stretch, that’s absolutely disappointing,” Hahn said. “We had some clubs in there certainly capable of going to the postseason and doing some damage, and we weren’t able to convert on that. That is disappointing.”

“Yeah, absolutely frustrating,” said reliever Nate Jones, the longest tenured White Sox player on the roster. “But the key part is learning from the year before, like what we did wrong and what can we improve on, especially during this rebuilding process. I believe you can see that [with the ’19 team]. You can see the focus, you can see the drive and determination in guys’ faces. I truly believe it’s going to be an exciting year.”