The word "fun" really deserves any derisive quotation marks you would throw around it. At least when talking about the Rule 5 Draft results for both Chicago teams.
Too be fair, it's been tougher to mine talent from this draft since MLB changed the rules for who is eligible before the 2006 draft. Organizations now get another full season to decide if a guy might be Johan Santana (taken by the Marlins from the Astros in 1999, then immediately traded to the Twins) or Andrew Sisco (taken by the Royals from the Cubs in 2004, a year later traded to the White Sox, perhaps soon toiling in an independent league near you!).
The idea of transforming under-appreciated, or maybe under-developed talent remains tantalizing, even if the pool of talent is diminished. And maybe you must be an optimist to think players unloved enough by their current organization to be left of the 40-man roster can be useful for your big league team the entire season.
So what was have the White Sox and Cubs hoped for then gotten from the Rule 5 Draft in recent years?
The Cubs have taken many more chances on guys in the draft. That's probably partly because the Cubs have had more "rebuilding" rosters, and because for some reason the Sox didn't look at guys like Andy Gonzalez, Lance Broadway, Jack Egbert or Donny Lucy and think, "Huh, maybe we could do better?"
Results since the rule changes:
Angel Sanchez (2012): Taken by the White Sox from the Angels.
An Optimist Might Have Thought: "Here's a middle infield with a slick glove, maybe he can make enough contact to be as good as Alcides Escobar!"
How He Worked Out: Sanchez appeared in one game and went hitless in both plate appearances. He got hurt, went on a rehab assignment to the minors, and was offered back to the Angels when the rehab was over. The Angels said no thanks, so he went back to Charlotte. Then the White Sox said no thanks when they released him.
Impact For Sox: Meh. He might have been better than Andy Gonzalez. That still probably makes him less good than an ideal utility infielder.
Hector Rondon (2012): Taken by the Cubs from the Indians.
An Optimist Might Have Thought: "Here's a right-hander who strikes guys out and doesn't walk many guys! He could be a setup man or closer!"
How He Worked Out: Rondon did stick with the Cubs last season, though with a low-90s fastball, he wasn't able to keep his strikeouts quite as high, or the walk totals quite as low as he did in the lower levels of the minors.
Impact For Cubs: That Rondon might be part of the closer discussion for the Northsiders next year says more about the Cubs bullpen than Rondon's ability. He is still around, and still back-end bullpen filler until he can start getting more pitches past big league hitters.
Lendy Castillo (2011): Taken by the Cubs from the Phillies.
An Optimist Might Have Thought: "Here's another solid bullpen piece! He doesn't walk many guys, give up many hits or home runs!"
How He Worked Out: During his 16-inning stint with the Cubs, Castillo walked or gave up a hit to almost half the batters he faced. He wasn't returned to the Phillies, but he continued to get battered around in the minors, his walks and home-runs allowed both rocketing upward.
Impact For Cubs: The hit Castillo gave up to pitcher Mark Buehrle could make it onto a Buehrle career retrospective DVD. Maybe if it's a box set.
Mason Tobin (2010): Taken by the Cubs from the Angels, sold to the Rangers.
An Optimist Might Have Thought: "The Cubs make a few bucks! We can apply it to payroll!"
How He Worked Out: He hasn't worked out for anyone.
Impact For Cubs: Whatever the Cubs made probably went to Alfonso Soriano's contract.
Mike Parisi (2009): Taken by the Cubs from the Cardinals.
An Optimist Might Have Thought: "Here's a guy with a little big league experience!"
How He Worked Out: Parisi's experience with the Cardinals was getting blown up for for an ERA over 8.00 for a couple months and 23 innings the year before. It remains his only experience.
Impact For Cubs: Zip.
Jim Henderson (2006): Taken by Cubs from the Nationals.
An Optimist Might Have Thought: "Here's a guy who really turned the corner in the minors last year after converting from starting to relieving!"
How He Worked Out: Henderson needed more work, but did toil a couple more years for the Cubs in the minors before they released him.
Impact For Cubs: None until the Brewers picked him up. Now he sports a career 2.98 ERA for them with 31 saves -- including seven against the Cubs.
Josh Hamilton (2006): Taken by Cubs from Rays, sold to the Reds.
An Optimist Might Have Thought: "Something for nothing!"
How He Worked Out: The Cubs got basically nothing for 2010 AL MVP.
Impact For Cubs: Fortunately the Reds also didn't think much of Hamilton, shipping him to the Rangers for what they hoped was pitching help. At least Cubs fans didn't have to see much of Hamilton while wondering what would have happened if they'd just kept him instead of signing Soriano.