"Definitely. No doubt, it was a rough one," said Santiago, who was in Chicago this week to take part in the White Sox Amateur City Elite collegiate signing day event at U.S. Cellular Field. "It was like, 'Forget about it, get ready for next year and look forward.'"
The White Sox, as an organization, haven't forgotten about this past season. They certainly don't intend to relive it in 2014 or any other year, for that matter. But the season stands as a driving force to not only get the South Siders back into playoff contention, but build a base for sustained success for many years to come.
This message was delivered in a letter to season-ticket holders, signed by White Sox senior vice president, sales and marketing, Brooks Boyer. The White Sox thanked the season-ticket holders for their support during "what was a very trying baseball season," and added that their continued loyalty is the reason for the organization's success.
"We want you to know that we share your frustration and disappointment regarding the 2013 season, but everyone with the White Sox is confident we will be competitive again, and soon," the letter said. "We are going to be better. No one in the front office is willing to sit through another season like the past one. That is simply unacceptable to all of us, and I'm sure to you."
Boyer said the organization realizes an honest approach is the only approach to take with its fan base.
"We can't trick White Sox fans," Boyer said. "We are honest and direct, sometimes to a fault. We want to treat season-ticket holders with the respect they deserve, so we are very candid in our conservations.
"You look back at our history, and this [past season] was a blip. You have to pay the piper on having the attitude of going for it [every year], and sometimes that is your reality."
Senior vice president and general manager Rick Hahn and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf have met with White Sox sponsors and media partners since the end of the season, according to Boyer, sharing the plans for a significant turnaround. Since reaching the playoffs in 2000, the White Sox have had only three seasons under .500 prior to this year.
With a solid pitching staff in place, the White Sox hope to contend in 2014, but they are not looking for a quick fix. With increased spending in the First-Year Player Draft and on international talent, they are planning for sustained success.
There are pieces around which to build. Jose Abreu, who agreed to a six-year, $68 million deal at the start of this offseason, Avisail Garcia and Dayan Viciedo provide a solid young middle-of-the-order core, and Chris Sale is a Cy Young Award-worthy starter capable of leading any club's rotation.
Providing strong ballpark entertainment, aside from the action on the field, falls under Boyer's auspices and is his main concern. But he knows that winning is the team's best sales pitch.
"I've said it 100 times: The game is and always will be about the fans and to provide them the best possible experience," Boyer said. "This year, we tried to provide them the best possible value, taking what happened on the field out of the equation. It was nowhere near what we expected, what we wanted, what we planned.
"Our best marketing plan always begins with a few Ws. If we can have the success, the nice thing is in this town, when you look at the Bears, the Bulls, the Blackhawks, those are good teams. And the high tide will hopefully float a lot of boats and we'll be up there with them and be something that people see as an even better value."