Baseball took a back seat to the NFL during draft week as new Bears quarterback Caleb Williams took over the city.

But the game marched on and some interesting developments occurred while the rest of the world focused on football’s future stars and busts. Here are three takeaways from this week in baseball.

1. Tale of two teams

Pete Crow-Armstrong and Tommy Pham have nothing in common besides being major-league outfielders who play on different sides of town.

But Crow-Armstrong, 22, and Pham, 36, are perfect representatives for their respective teams as the Cubs and White Sox navigate their way through the first month of the 162-game schedule.

Crow-Armstrong was called up from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday to replace injured star Cody Bellinger, while Pham was recalled to the White Sox on Friday to inject some life into an offense collectively hitting under .200, also known as the Mendoza line.

Something’s wrong with this picture, and it’s not too difficult to figure out what it is.

The Cubs, off to a 17-9 start and expected to be contenders all season, have given opportunities in April to prospects Crow-Armstrong, Ben Brown, Matt Mervis, Luke Little, Hayden Wesneski, Alexander Canario and others.

The Sox, off to a 4-22 start and trying to avoid becoming the worst team in modern major-league history, have given opportunities to the likes of Pham and 34-year-old outfielder Robbie Grossman. On Friday, they designated outfielder Kevin Pillar, 35, for assignment.

It’s not so much a rebuild as a wayward home for journeymen. At least Pham was honest about his reasons for signing, explaining Friday it was all about “economics” and that the Sox’s offer was better than the San Diego Padres’ when factoring in California’s taxes.

Sox manager Pedro Grifol insisted Pham has “an obsessiveness to win,” which would suggest the South Side would be the last place he would want to come. Next up is 33-year-old Mike Clevinger, who will soon return to the Sox rotation after declining his option in November and being left unwanted on the free-agent market all winter. Clevinger has yet to address the media, so we’ll have to wait to hear his reasons for returning.

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Either way, instead of seeing what they have in their farm system, the Sox officially have punted on the rest of the season. Nick Nastrini was sent back to Charlotte after one bad start. There’s no room for him to figure things out and no margin for error.

White Sox’s Tommy Pham is congratulated by teammates after scoring during the third inning against the Rays at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 26, 2024. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Retreads over rebuild.

The Sox began Saturday on pace to lose 137 games, which would eclipse the modern-day record of 120 losses by the 1962 New York Mets. The all-time record is 134 losses by the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who won 20 games. The Sox should at least exceed that win total.

The empty seats at Sox Park all summer should be seen as a message to Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who has remained out of sight and out of touch. Whether he’ll pay attention is another question.

The Cubs already know what they have in their system and feel comfortable letting prospects get their feet wet while still trying to win games without key injured players, including ace Justin Steele, outfielders Seiya Suzuki and Bellinger and relievers Julian Merryweather and Drew Smyly.

Cubs pitcher Ben Brown delivers to the Rockies in the second inning at Wrigley Field on April 3, 2024. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
Cubs pitcher Ben Brown delivers to the Rockies in the second inning at Wrigley Field on April 3, 2024. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

“Something (manager Craig Counsell) said in the offseason made a lot of sense — the health of the organization is in a strong place,” second baseman Nico Hoerner said. “I think that’s truly tested when a lot of things go wrong as far as injuries or challenging parts of the year.

“It speaks to our depth, it speaks to the quality of what we’re doing at the higher levels of the minor leagues, to get contributions right away from guys like Wes, Keegan Thompson and Brown, guys that have impacted us in a huge way. It’s been really cool to see them respond.”

It’s maddening for Sox fans to watch journeymen play for a team that’s already out of contention. It’s encouraging for Cubs fans to watch kids such as Crow-Armstrong, Brown, Little & Co. experience big moments, even if some are basically placeholders for injured veterans.

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It’s a Bizarro baseball world in Chicago and we’re just living in it.

2. Hall of Fame conundrum

Astros pitcher Justin Verlander delivers to the Cubs in the first inning on April 25, 2024, at Wrigley Field. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)
Astros pitcher Justin Verlander delivers to the Cubs in the first inning on April 25, 2024, at Wrigley Field. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Justin Verlander’s continued excellence with the Houston Astros at age 41 prompted a question Thursday in the Wrigley Field press box.

Other than Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, are there any current starters bound for the Baseball Hall of Fame?

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