Flip Flop Fly Ball has a lot of really awesomely created infographics, and this White Sox-centric one is no exception. It shows the 2005 White Sox team that won the World Series, along with each player’s tenure in the Major Leagues.
Paul Konerko is the only player who remains on the White Sox from that championship team, but more interesting is the fact that there are only five players from that team currently on Major League Rosters (Konerko, Juan Uribe, A.J. Pierzynski, Mark Beuhrle, Brandon McCarthy). Granted this team played 8 years ago, and it was made up of mostly castoffs (Jermaine Dye, Carl Everett) and short term successes (Tadahito Iguchi, Bobby Jenks), but it still seems like a surprisingly low number1.
I think it speaks highly to how well this team was assembled. They pretty much caught lightening in a bottle. Outside of Frank Thomas, there is not another Hall of Famer on the roster, and Thomas didn’t even play in the World Series. Konerko and Buehrle are the only other players who would have been desired by other teams for an extended period of time. Iguchi was a Japanese All-Star who played just a couple of seasons in the Majors. Scott Podsednik was a late-blooming speedster who was amazing for just about three years and barely passable the rest of the time. Joe Crede was the heir apparent to Robin Ventura, but ended up being a great glove man who never really improved over his career as a hitter. Aaron Rowand was a fan favorite who peaked at the right time despite also never really hitting his potential. Jermaine Dye, Juan Uribe and A.J. Pierzynski were players that other teams had given up on. The same can be said for Jose Contreras and Bobby Jenks.
The Sox assembled a great bullpen, which despite what most people will say, it mostly about luck. It just so happens that Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts basically had career years. After Shingo Takatsu bombed out, Dustin Hermanson was handed the reigns as closer. When he got heard, an unknown Bobby Jenks become a phenomenon. Even the manager was just in his second season, and now is out of a job.
Looking back, it’s easy to understand why this team didn’t string together playoff appearances. At the time it was easy to look and see all these players coming into their own, and being the foundation for a dynasty, but the reality is that just didn’t happen. Jon Garland didn’t get better. His 2005 breakout season was a complete fluke. Joe Crede had a much better 2006 before getting hurt for good. Guys like Podsednik and Freddy Garcia couldn’t maintain what they had.
It’s clear almost a decade later this wasn’t the signal of a paradigm shift. The idea that the White Sox would take their World Series victory and parlay it into becoming one of the top tier franchises didn’t happen. They didn’t strike fast enough while the iron was hot. They tried to grow what they had, and in places that worked out (letting Rowand walk((He had just one better season after he left))), and other places it didn’t (counting on Crede and Iguchi, trading Brandon McCarthy((McCarthy yielded John Danks, and struggled in Texas, but he is finally a front-end guy))). Instead the White Sox are right back where they were pre–2005: occasionally making a flashy move (Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn), but never the flashiest. And trying to turn downtrodden guys around (Franciso Liriano, Alex Rios) instead of investing more heavily in fixing their poor draft record.
In the end, the White Sox are the same team they always were: mediocre, semi-contenders that will always be the long shot instead of the favorite. And just like in horse racing, sometimes that comes through with a big payoff, but most of the time all you have is the ride.
- It didn’t end up being as low as I thought. The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals have just 4–5 guys remaining in the Majors. [↩]