CHICAGO – There are plenty of teams the White Sox have been, or should be, looking at as the try to move past the rebuild phase and into contending mode.
The Houston Astros are an obvious team to emulate.
In town for a three-game series, the Astros will play a straight doubleheader against the Sox on Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field after Monday night’s game was rained out. Game 1 is set for 3:40 p.m.
In 2005, the Sox swept Houston in the World Series, and the Astros gradually bottomed out.
Houston lost 106 games in 2011, 107 in 2012 and a staggering 111 games in ‘13.
So, how did the Astros get back on top?
They rebuilt the roster with young talent and did well in the draft despite some big misses (Mark Appel, Brady Aiken) with high picks. George Springer, Carlos Correra and Alex Bregman were all first-round hits.
When it needed outside veterans to fill holes, Houston made smart trades and signings, getting players such as Justin Verlander, Michael Brantley, Gerrit Cole and Yulieski Gurriel.
“They’re really good baseball players,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said of the Astros. “They have a lot of talent; they can do a lot of different things. They can hit, they can hit for power, they can run the bases. It’s multifaceted. They play a limitless type of baseball that we talk about, being able to do the little things, move guys over. But they can score in big bunches as well.
“They’re pretty well-equipped, good pitching from the rotation to the bullpen and then obviously the skill that they have on the diamond.”
Houston picked up veteran starter Zack Greinke right before the trade deadline July 31 and is running away in the American League West with a 77-41 record.
The Astros are heading for the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, and they won the World Series in 2017.
The Sox are not even close to being as good as Houston, but they should be a competitive team starting next season.
“Every time we play really well-equipped clubs, you use it as a measuring stick because you have to,” Renteria said. “You want to be realistic in terms of assessing where you’re at and what it’s going to take to be able to compete and win.
“[The Astros] are certainly one of the best clubs in baseball, so playing against them and seeing how we fare is certainly something that we look forward to doing and having some positive outcomes.”