When the Twins arrive in Chicago to open a five-game series on Monday, White Sox players such as Nicky Delmonico will be waiting for them.
And Adam Engel. And Yoan Moncada. And Aaron Bummer.
Oh, and Mike Pelfrey.
The White Sox are in full rebuild mode, one that began during the offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton and then went next-level during this season as Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera were moved. And the Chicago roster is now full of unfamiliar names — as well as Pelfrey, the former Twins pitcher who is 3-10 with a 5.15 ERA.
As a result, the White Sox have sunk to the bottom of the AL Central. At the same time, they have built one of baseball’s deepest farm systems. According to mlb.com, Chicago has eight of the top 100 prospects in the game. A few of them are getting close to the majors. And one, Moncada, ranked as the best prospect in the game, was recently called up and already has flashed his elite skills.
The plan was greenlighted by 81-year-old White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Most owners in his shoes would sell out to win, but Reinsdorf has kept the big picture in mind.
“The decision I made was that I can’t be a factor in this thing,” Reinsdorf told USA Today. “As the owner of this team, I have an obligation to do what’s right for the fans. The real owner of a team is the fans, the owner is a custodian. I will be gone one day, but fans will still be there.
“I do, however, intend to live for a while longer.”
Moncada, 22, is one product of the wheeling and dealing. He is a switch hitter with a quick bat who is learning plate discipline. The Twins will see a lot of him this week.
The next wave of prospects also includes righthander Michael Kopech, 21, who came over with Moncada in the Sale trade with Boston. He has touched 105 miles per hour with his fastball. Righthander Lucas Giolito, 23, is one of the players the White Sox received from Washington for Eaton. He’s still finding his form after Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery but is highly regarded. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, 20, part of the package the Sox got from the Cubs for Quintana in July, is the third-ranked prospect in the game.
And shortstop Tim Anderson and lefthander Carlos Rodon are two 24-year-olds that have some major league experience and are considered part of the future. Anderson already has stung the Twins with big hits.
Rebuilding must be the thing to do in Chicago. The Cubs lost 100 games in 2012 before winning 103 last year — as well as the World Series. Now the South Side Sox have bottomed out — the Twins won’t mind that this week as they chase a wild-card spot — with hopes that they will build a strong core over the seasons to come.
ROYALS: Outfielder Lorenzo Cain was struggling at the plate but has gone back to hitting the ball hard toward the middle of the field, and it is paying off. He batted .424 during Kansas City’s recently completed eight-game road trip and took a .417 average in the month of August into the Royals’ weekend series vs. Cleveland.
TIGERS: Miguel Cabrera has played in at least 150 games in 11 different seasons. He had to play through injuries in many of those seasons. Even now, in the middle of a down year, Cabrera would rather play through back pain than take a few days off, go on the disabled list — or just shut it down for the rest of the season. “That’s not me,” Cabrera said after taking two days off last week.
INDIANS: Cleveland dealt for Jay Bruce just over a week ago when it needed cover for injured Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall. But it creates a dilemma for 2018. Both Bruce and Carlos Santana are free agents after this season, so which one do you bring back? Santana, a switch hitter who draws walks, should get the nod over Bruce.
WHITE SOX: Miguel Gonzalez was born in Mexico but grew up in Los Angeles and watched Dodgers games from the stands. On Tuesday, he pitched in Dodgers Stadium for the first time, giving up one run over six innings in a game the White Sox eventually lost 6-1. His second child was born three days earlier.
The 3-2 pitch
Three observations …
• Cleveland is postseason-ready. The Indians just need Andrew Miller and Michael Brantley to stay healthy. Miller is just off the DL, and Brantley is still on it.
• The Home Run Derby did not screw up Aaron Judge’s swing. He’s the latest example of how hard it is to dominate for six months, how pitchers and scouts exploit weaknesses. The game is not that easy.
• The Angels could be the surprise wild-card winner. They are 17-12 since Mike Trout came off the disabled list. Lefthander Andrew Heaney is back, and righthander Garrett Richards expects to return soon.
… and two predictions
• The Dodgers will rest position players and go easy on their starting pitchers down the stretch. So they will not break the single-season record of 116 wins shared by the 1906 Cubs and 2001 Mariners.
• Provided he stays healthy, Giancarlo Stanton, the best power hitter in the game, will reach 60 home runs.