Do you think Sox overpaid for Brett Myers? The player to be named later is most likely a high 2011 draft pick, which is why they have to wait. Jim F., Denver
Jim, thanks for your patience. I realize you submitted this question before the player to be named later was announced. Pitcher Chris Devenski wasn't drafted until the 25th round of the 2011 draft, but he struck out 59 in 66 2/3 innings with Class-A Kannapolis. I'd say the trade was worth it for the Sox. Judging by the three pitchers Houston acquired from the Sox, I'd say the Astros were looking at 2014 for those those pitchers to start making an impact.
Can you remember a player whose skills went south as quickly as Vernon Wells? And do the Sox need a second baseman? Ernest H., Grand Rapids, Mich.
Do you think the Sox will finally give up on Gordon Beckham after this year? It's his fourth dang year and he still can't hit. South Side Cliffy, Chicago
I haven't seen anyone's skills decline so rapidly as those of Wells, although he did make an impressive catch last weekend. And he did predict in early March that Alex Rios was going to have a rebound year. The second half of Jermaine Dye's 2009 season wasn't pretty, either. Remember that the Sox and Cincinnati had talks the previous winter about Dye and Reds pitcher Homer Bailey, so the Sox must have known something was up with Dye.
Gordon is playing a Gold Glove-caliber second base, and the Sox can afford him at second only because the offense has been so productive. Nevertheless, I expected better production out of him. Maybe a productive two months can salvage his season.
How serious is the injury to Keon Barnum at Advanced Rookie-Bristol, and when might he play again? Leonard M., Oak Lawn
What's up with White Sox prospect and high draft pick Keon Barnum? He played five games with the Sox A ball affiliate in Bristol, is listed as being active on the Bristol roster, yet hasn't played in over a month now. Jack L., Lake Forest, Calif.
Barnum missed nearly six weeks because of a shoulder injury but returned Saturday and has hit safely in his first three games since returning.
The departure of Ozzie Guillen seems to have had a positive impact not only on the the players in the clubhouse but also on management as well. Kenny Williams seems to have come to life and has been acting like a savvy veteran GM for a change. His focus and creativity is reminiscent of 2005. Do you think that getting Ozzie out of the picture helped KW snap his streak of being on the wrong side of one-sided trades? Al H.
No, because the only player Ozzie pushed for re-signing was Mark Kotsay. The theory of bringing back Kotsay for 2010 was good because it gave the Sox a rotating designated hitter setup and a chance to keep guys fresh. It would have worked beautifully had Kotsay hit in the clutch or hit left-handers with some semblance of success.
Alejandro De Aza played well the final two months under Ozzie.
I know pitching is important, but you have to score to win. Why don't the Sox realize they need more hitting? Reed Johnson would been a good addition. In fact, the Cubs traded everything the Sox needed. Why didn't the Sox go there? Ted Cee, Las Vegas
Just like the Jermaine Dye situation in 2007, it would have to be a lopsided trade in favor of the team trading the veteran player. I still think they could use a veteran left-handed reliever to take the load off Matt Thornton.
Regarding regulars with expiring contracts, who do you believe will still be with the Sox next year? I think we can't let Youk and A.J. leave with no one else there to get a hit once in a while. I don't agree with Hawk that Tyler Flowers is having a great year by "putting the numbers" down. I believe Thornton, Jesse Crain and Jake Peavy are also in walk years. I'm pretty sure Orlando Hudson and Rey Olmedo will not be back, so the bench will have to be addessed too. Bob S., Fort Mohave, Ariz.
What are you hearing about resigning A.J. and Peavy for the next season or seasons? Cary, Grayslake
Youkilis gives the Sox a dimension they haven't had since the Middle Ages: a No. 2 hitter who works deep counts and can hit for power and to all fields. He's been a terrific addition, and I think the Sox should look into bringing him back. Kevin will likely become a free agent, so he owes it to himself and his family to see what's best for him.
A.J. has played himself into a lucrative situation. This will be his last lucrative contract, so he owes it to himself as well to see what's out there. His performance might have put him elsewhere for more money, and he's deserved that.
Thornton and Crain are under contract through 2013. The Sox hold a $22 million option on Peavy with a $4 million buyout. Like Youkilis and A.J., Jake might owe it to himself to see what the market is for him. But I've seen him evolve into a bonafide leader of the pitching staff.
Do you think A.J. gets a new contract offer for next year? John, Antioch
If the Sox don't move quickly, I can see a Mark Buehrle-like situation where the offers are too great for the Sox to match. There aren't many productive catchers on the market with A.J.'s durability.
I was curious who you might think the Sox will call up from the minors in September. I was thinking that Brent Morel, Dan Johnson, and Dylan Axelrod were likely, plus any healthy, veteran relief pitchers that may be stirring around at Charlotte. Ed Sikora, Auburn, Ala.
I think they'll need Josh Phegley, especially since Flowers is being lifted for a pinch-hitter with more regularity. I also can see left-handers Hector Santiago and Donnie Veal returning, along with Conor Jackson and the players you mentioned.
If the playoffs start today, who is the third starter: Gavin Floyd, Francisco Liriano, Jose Quintana or Phil Humber? I like Quintana. John B., Flemington N.J.
I'll take Liriano, followed by Quintana. A lot could depend on matchups -- assuming the Sox reach the playoffs and know their first-round opponent so they can set their rotation. They didn't have this luxury in 2008.
Thornton now has a 4.63 era since the begining of May and leads all major league relievers with seven losses. The Yankees seem to have a mandate that their whole roster needs to be filled by guys 34 and older. Can't we ship him off for a beer vendor or a Bob Sheppard bobblehead or something? Brian, Lemont
Even Brian Cashman, the Yankees' general manager, said before the 2012 season that possessing a left-handed power reliever of Thornton's caliber was more of a luxury.
Why has Thornton been using so much off-speed stuff lately? Hendricks didn't come close to his high heat, but got the game-winning hit off of a "junk" pitch. Dave K., Rockville Centre, NY
I know of at least one talent observer in the organization who was baffled that Thornton got beat with his second-best pitch.
Do you have any concerns that the Sox are going to "burn out" their starters by not giving them regular rest? I understand that the bench is very weak but, Rios, Ramirez, Viciedo, De Aza and Youkilis never get any days off. I am especially concerned that Youkilis may need an occasional breather. Brian L., Woodridge
Yes, I do think it's a concern in some cases. I think De Aza could use a break on occasion, and it might be time to give Viciedo a mental health break. Ramirez and Youkilis have been down this road before, so I think there's less concern. It also might be wise to give Dunn a start at first base during a night game, instead of having him play all the day games after night games at first base.