Reader Q&A: Mark Gonzales' White Sox mailbag

SportsTicketsHomesBaseballContractsChicago White SoxCompensation and Benefits

In regards to trade deadline -- I'm NOT for the White Sox adding Adam Dunn. I've enjoyed their transformation away from the plodding strikeout-prone slugger ( Jim Thome), and Dunn is a step backwards. Is it possible that the Sox extra bat in the second half could come from a turnaround of Gordon Beckham or A.J. Pierzynski or Mark Teahen (a la Carlos Quentin)? And who goes down when Teahen returns? Any chance of Scott Linebrink sent out -- it's a roster spot that Ozzie Guillen doesn't seem to use (plus the $)? -- Dennis Enrietta; Coal City

Dennis, you make great observations. Would there be any issue about adding a bat if Beckham, Pierzynski or Teahen hit with any proficiency in the first two months?

As long as Dayan Viciedo doesn't get much playing time, I can't see why they would keep him when Teahen returns. Viciedo needs to play, and he's not getting the playing time he needs to improve his defense. Teahen must show he can play third better than before his injury.

Linebrink will earn $5.5 million next year. That's a big chuck of money for the Sox to swallow. I can't see it happening.

Who is our No. 3 catcher on the bench? I don't like to second-guess Ozzie, but in the July 11 game, he pinched hit the DH with Ramon Castro. Now I know that if A.J. goes down he can put Castro in at catcher as long as the pitcher hits. If there was a situation where both catchers get hurt, who do we have in an emergency. -- JohnChandler, AZ

I would say Brent Lillibridge by default. Ozzie never likes to play two catchers in the same game for this reason. That's why you saw guys like Jamie Burke linger in professional baseball for a long time, because of their ability to catch and play other positions.

Is there any truth to the rumor that the Sox are still strongly pursuing Roy Oswalt as a starter to fill Jake Peavy's spot, even though he seemed uninterested in joining the Sox and Tigers earlier. -- Jim Troksa; Schaumburg

Roy Oswalt wants to win, which is why he suggested to Houston ownership that it would be best to trade him. With Andy Pettitte out for about five weeks, I think the New York Yankees will make a stronger push -- especially after they lost out on Cliff Lee. Oswalt also is signed through 2011. The Sox would have three pitchers -- Peavy, Mark Buehrle and Oswalt -- making at least $14 million apiece if they acquired Oswalt. I think the price is too steep.

Attendance is always a question mark when it comes to the White Sox. I know the Sox have great fans, but they are inconsistent when it comes to supporting the team at the box office. I live in the southwest suburbs and would like to go to more games, but I don't want the expense of parking and the hassle of driving to the game. When is the Metra Rock Island 35th street train station going to be complete? And are there plans to build a train station along the southwest Metra train line? -- Brian Feehery; Frankfort

I would never tell fans how to spend their money, but I was surprised there wasn't a bigger crowd at the final home game of the first half against Kansas City.

Improving public transportation would be a huge plus to everyone. I know the Red Line gets plenty of use and stops at a convenient location. But a station near the park on the Southwest line would be beneficial. A worker at Target Field told me Sunday that their rail service accommodates about 16,000 Twins fans per game.

Assuming Dan Hudson is not quite ready for the big time and the Sox refuse to overpay for a starter, what are the chances they elevate either Tony Pena for Sergio Santos to the starting rotation? -- Sam A.; Irving, TX

I think it's too late to try to stretch Pena into a starting role for this season. He's certainly saved the Sox in the games when Buehrle was ejected at Cleveland and in the Kansas City game after Hudson was knocked out after four-plus innings.

I think Santos' future is as a late-inning reliever. He's got enough pitchers to be a decent starter, but the transition from a position player is smoother when he's used as a reliever.

It's all too good now for Sox fans. Are we in White Sox fantasy? Conversely, what do you thing could keep them "2005-like?" -- Scott McEwen; Glen Ellyn

Another injury to a starting pitcher or Matt Thornton would severely hurt the pitching staff. Committing errors like they did last Friday at Minnesota or not moving runners into scoring position as they failed Sunday would cost them in a tight pennant race.

A Brandon McCarthy-like effort from Hudson would be welcomed. A surge from Beckham, Pierzynski or Mark Kotsay would further enhance the offense. And perhaps Chris Sale could fortify the bullpen like Bobby Jenks did in the second half of 2005.

There has been a lot of talk about what is responsible for the June turnaround, starting pitching, hitters finally getting it done, more support off the bench. All are probably important, but winning the close games seems to be key. Any idea in the Sox's successful years whether having the advantage in close games made the difference? Thanks for pointing us in the right direction. -- Hank Balikov; Moorestown, N.J.

I firmly believe that starting pitchers must have some run support or some margin for error. With a runner at third, that pitcher must have the confidence to throw a low breaking pitch without fear of having it result in a wild pitch that scores the tying or winning run.

The clutch hitting has resulted from creating more situations with runners in scoring position and not trying to pull the ball all the time. There's a take-what-the-pitcher-gives-you theory that made Harold Baines a clutch hitter, and I see that employed by hitters like Alex Rios and Quentin. Paul Konerko is no longer a dead pull hitter, and I think he's become even more polished at 34.

I think there's more superstition to the jersey question than just comfort... Since June 6, the only time they wore something other than the alternate black was July 6, when Peavy detached a back muscle. Even all three games in Texas, the starter picked black. We might not see the whites and grays for the rest of the year if they stay in first place! -- Rae; Elgin

There seems to be a lot of discussion about which jerseys the White Sox wear. I remember reading that they will wear the same jerseys until they lose a game. The next day they will wear a different one. I am correct? -- Frank Bizon; Munster, Ind.

I'm a traditionalist, so I hope the whites and grays are worn at some point. It's usually up to the starting pitcher to decide, and many players are superstitious so they're not always apt to change.

Do we truly need to add a left-handed bat in the middle of our lineup? It seems like the offense is really clicking and I don't like the idea of tinkering for the sake of it. I am far more concerned with adding a starting pitcher to the mix. Can Dan Hudson really be the answer? What if Freddy Garcia got hurt, like his history suggests? -- David; Bucktown

I believe Hudson is capable of doing the job, but he needs to do well in his next two starts in pitchers' ballparks at Seattle and Oakland. He's a smart kid who knows what he needs to work on, but we're certainly not at the developmental stage so he knows what's at stake.

I'm not crazy about adding a left-handed bat. I think the main thrust should be on pitching and what the cost could be.

Do the White Sox have any insurance policies on their players if they get injured? I've read that the Twins had a policy on Joe Nathan. -- Tom Horvath; Highland, Ind.

It's very common for teams to buy insurance for big-ticket players with multiyear contracts. In recent years, there has been a hesitancy for companies to insure contracts of more than three years on pitchers. Pitchers like Mike Hampton and Kevin Brown are proof of that.

What is going on with Jermaine Dye? I don't recall a player at 35 losing it so fast in midseason as he did. Were there any health issues or was it a loss of talent overnight? -- Jeff Lichtenstein; Palm Beach Gardens

Jeff, I e-mailed Dye's agent about one month ago to check out a rumor that he signed a minor league contract with a team but never heard back, so he's still at home.

For as much that was made about his second-half slide last year, it was his defense that fell under more scrutiny. According to a general manager of another team, there was an evaluation service that gauged players' defensive range. That service detected that Dye didn't get the greatest jumps on balls hit in his direction and convinced this GM to pursue another player. This was reported by another outlet as well.

The conclusion I make is that all the exceptional catches he made last year would have been routine plays by other outfielders.

I've got a spreadsheet where I project wins out to the end of the season. I use runs scored vs. runs allowed, comparing them between the teams. If a team has 10% more runs than a competing team, I project that they'll win 10% more games between them. So if the Sox are really somewhere between the futility of April and May and the awesomeness of June and July, this spreadsheet will be spot on. As of this second, I've got the Sox at 90 wins, Detroit at 88, and the Twinkies at 86. I've been doing this spreadsheet for over five years now, and it gets the final number of wins within a game or two, usually. -- Eric Krieg; Munster, Ind/

Eric, I hope you're right because I predicted the Sox would win the American League Central and that 90 wins could clinch it. There are two trips that should cause some concern -- the three-city trip to Cleveland, Boston and Detroit in late August-early September and a trip to Oakland and Anaheim toward the end of September.

I've seen the Sox make many unconventional and gambling moves over the years. Do you think if Hudson doesn't pan out soon, the Sox take a chance on Carlos Zambrano if they can get the Cubs to eat some salary? -- John; Joliet

I would be shocked if this were to happen, although I never saw Peavy's lat tear coming. Zambrano isn't in pitching shape right now, and I'm not sure what kind of fit he would be in the clubhouse with a team that gets along pretty well.

Perhaps Zambrano would be the left-handed hitter off the bench. His contract is very, very expensive, and I don't think the Ricketts family wants to eat more money after buying the Cubs.

Are the Sox on the hook for the balance of Peavy's salary this year or will insurance cover it? -- Irv Kaage; Park Ridge

Yes, they're responsible for his salary. From what I was told by an official from another team, the insurance money kicks in only if he misses a certain number of games at the start of a season.

What happened with Nick Swisher on the Sox? He came in with a bang and went out with a whimper. He seems to be producing for the Bombers. -- Joe; Bartlett

According to a few clubhouse sources, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ken Williams each detected a flaw in Swisher's back leg (when hitting from the left side). Swisher's hearing tended to waver when these observations were made aloud.

But I really think Swisher should thank the Sox's pitching staff for kick-starting his 2010 season. He was batting only .250 with two home runs and 11 RBIs until going 5-for-9 with two home runs and four RBIs against them on May 1-2 in New York.

He's batting .301 with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs entering play Monday.

There has been some buzz that Ozzie Guillen hated him, but Ozzie said as recently as Saturday that he merely wished Swisher would have performed better for the Sox.

I could write more on this subject, but it's been two years since Nick played for the Sox, and I'd rather devote my time to answering questions about the current state of the Sox.

Ozzie must be on a different medication this year. The Sox hitters seem to be getting hit by pitches on an almost daily basis. I think they have been hit at least three times at least twice. Ozzie seems awful calm about it. Are they leading the league in HBPs? -- Donald First; Plano

There are times when the Sox miss D.J. Carrasco and Octavio Dotel, and this is one of them. The batters never got comfortable when these guys were on the mound.

Granted, batters like Carlos Quentin are on top of the plate, so they're susceptible to getting hit. And if a team plucks Juan Pierre, it helps the Sox's chances of scoring a run.

I found it amusing that Milwaukee manager Ken Macha complained to MLB that his batters are getting nailed too many times. As long as they pull that act like they did last September when Prince Fielder's teammates fell down at home plate after he hit a walk-off home run, they're not doing themselves any favors.

How many more games will Jenks blow for the Sox until they get rid of him? -- Larry Oller; Lowell, Ind.

I think he lasts through the rest of the season. A bigger question is who is the Sox's closer in 2011? Bobby will earn $7.5 million in 2010 and will get a raise as an arbitration eligible player. J.J. Putz will be a free agent next winter and has proven that he's back a future closer and will get plenty of offers.

Sergio Santos needs to throw strikes more frequently, but I see him as a closer soon.

This loss Sunday will destroy the Sox's confidence for the remainder of the season, I know what Minnesota can put in their heads, The Sox will not even be close to winning the division this year! Do you agree? -- Doug; Hilton Head Island

I don't think it will ruin their confidence as much as it could haunt them if they finish one game out of first place. Blowing a three-run lead against a team without Justin Morneau is painful to a team like the Sox. They could/should have won three of those four games in Minnesota.

It just goes to show you can't add enough runs against the Twins, and that failing on sacrifice bunt and squeeze attempts also fueled Sunday's loss.

After reading Ozzie's comments on Bobby Jenks' pitch selection after Sunday afternoon's disastrous finish in Minnesota, perhaps you can help me understand who is typically making the call. Used to be the catcher called pitch and location, then the game changed to where the manager would relay to the catcher what he wanted. Ozzie got on Jenks for the cutters/sliders to Orlando Hudson, but who is telling Bobby what to throw? -- Mark Sherman; Elk Grove

There's no sense in trying to finesse pitches to Hudson, who struck out on a fastball in the dirt on Thursday against Bobby.

What do you believe Dayan Viciedo's ceiling is? In his limited role so far he has been very impressive with the bat but my gut feeling is that he is a defensive liability. Also, is he a prospect who we could build a trade around for either a power bat or a fifth starter without having to sacrifice Gordon or Hudson? -- Al; Chicago

Viciedo has tremendous upside as a hitter. He's only 21, so keep that in mind. He must learn to take more pitches and improve his defense. I've compared him to a young Pedro Guerrero, but Viciedo has plenty of time to make his defense better than Guerrero.

The power area is fluid, with the uncertainty of Konerko returning vs. risk losing a young bat by trading Viciedo. Plenty for the front office to ponder.

When did Mr. Big Bucks Konerko figure out it's OK for him to jog down the line watching his "big blast" bounce off the right field wall? Reggie Jackson he's not. What makes him think he doesn't have to hustle? The Twins crowd booed him off the field Sunday, and rightfully so. When will Juan Pierre realize that if he has ANY offensive value with his bat to the team he HAS to be able to get a bunt successfully down in a bunt situation. His effort Sunday was a disgrace for a big league player. -- Chuck Peter; Milford, IA

Chuck, that was Paul's blazing speed you saw. He was running as hard as he could. He knows that hitting an opposite field home run at Target Field is next to impossible. He just doesn't have the speed. The fans were chanting "Kuuuuu" for Jason Kubel's throw that easily nailed Konerko.

Agree with you on not getting the bunt down twice in that situation. Ditto for Kotsay.

Did the Dodgers pick up a big piece of Pierre's salary, as he's making $7 million and Scott Podsednik is making $1.7 million and I'd much rather have Pods. At least he hits the ball hard -- you rarely see Pierre hit the ball hard. What was Kenny's love affair with Pierre, though I know he's a better fielder than Pods. Was that the key? -- Skip Bartolich; Aurora

The Dodgers picked up about $10 million of the remaining $18.5 million of Pierre's contract.

I was wanting to know if a Philip Schuber plays for the White Sox. I met him a few weeks ago and that is what he told me but I couldn't find him on the MLB website. -- Rebecca; Douglasville, GA

There is no one by that name listed in the 2010 media guide or listed in the minor league statistics.

Sponsored Link: Buy Chicago White Sox tickets here

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Comments
Loading