Originally Posted by Lip Man 1
Good question...the overall approach or philosophy has been a point of discussion around here for years.
I honestly don't know other than maybe "rebuilding while contending" which usually doesn't work very well.
I'm of the mind you either do one or the other, not both at the same time.
The Atlanta Braves of the 1990s probably came the closest to the "rebuild to reload" approach that the White Sox have failed with. They were able to acquire players via free-agency (Greg Maddux) or trade (Fred McGriff & Kenny Lofton), but also drafted well (Steve Avery, David Justice, Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez, Ryan Klesko), so it was never difficult for them to field a competitive team, even as they worked to overhaul the roster to unload veterans who were no longer producing (Sid Bream, Otis Nixon, Terry Pendleton).
The Braves also understood that one must build a team by focusing on pitching and defense, rather than trying to win via the home run. Their pitching staff was the envy of baseball, as it contained two legitimate number-one starters (Maddux and Tom Glavine), a strong number-two starter on most teams (John Smoltz), and solid veterans at the back end (Kent Mercker and Pete Smith), along with the aforementioned Avery. Their bullpen was also strong (Mike Stanton, Greg McMichael, Kerry Lightenberg, John Rocker).
The White Sox, with the exception of 2005, have been a team that's relied heavily on trying to outhit opponents, even going back to the latter half of the Jerry Manuel years, as those teams looked more like a weekend softball team than a complete Major League roster, and it showed in their play. Granted, I always believed that those teams significantly underachieved, largely due to Manuel's misuse of the bullpen and constant tinkering with the batting order, something that he should have left alone. A seven-year-old would have understood that the lineup should have been as follows, and left as is until there was sufficient reason to change it:
2B- Roberto Alomar
LF- Carlos Lee
DH- Frank Thomas
RF- Magglio Ordonez
CF- Carl Everett
1B- Paul Konerko
SS- Jose Valentin
3B- Joe Crede
C- Miguel Olivo
The problem with the "home run or nothing" approach is that most teams that live by this philosophy lack the plate discipline and the understanding of the strike zone needed to hit Major League pitching consistently. The Sox of the Manuel years were notorious for smacking around Roger Clemens and David Wells, only to throw up a "zero spot" against Billy Chapel a week later. Manuel seemed to believe that this phenomenon had nothing to do with him, as I recall his criticizing the entire team for "keeping guys in the league" by virtue of allowing them a quality start. I would actually be interested to know the number of starting pitchers who managed to limit the Sox to three runs or fewer while making either their Major League debut or their first start with a new team, between 2001 and 2003, when this scenario seemed to happen two or three times each month, if not more.