Help me settle a major, major bet: Does Frank Thomas have any qualifications that would get him into the Hall of Fame? --John Lucas, Madison, Wis.
That's such a great question, it has no right answer. I asked two long-time baseball observers about this earlier today. One said he's a lock. The other said no way. I fall somewhere in between.
The man was so dominant from 1990-97, he still ranks as the game's active leader in on-base percentage. He's also ninth all-time in that department.
Thomas, 35, is a two-time MVP and five-time All-Star. If he's gonna get in the Hall, it will be as a hitter (obviously). So it would help if he gets to, say, 2,500 hits and 450 homers.
Right now he's at 1,942 and 385.
I sent you an e-mail on this subject last week but did some follow-up research. The White Sox are 6-14 when Sandy Alomar starts behind the plate and 15-9 when Miguel Olivo starts. I noticed that Manuel has used Olivo for Colon's last three outings, despite doing the opposite at the start of the season. --Brandon Fox, Chicago
Since you wrote this, Alomar has improved to 8-14 and Olivo has fallen to 16-13. That said, Olivo has a huge statistical edge in catcher's ERA. Pitchers have a 3.45 ERA when working with Olivo, compared with 5.41 for Alomar. Does that mean Olivo calls a better game? Not necessarily. I remember last year that Todd Hundley's catcher ERA was far better than Joe Girardi's. But ask any pitcher on the Cubs who called a better game, and I'd bet they'd say Girardi.
When a big-league pitcher continually gets pounded the way Rick White does, what is the reaction from his teammates in the clubhouse? Do they pat him on the back, leave him alone, get in his face? --Jim Foster, Denver
Good question. I think with White they either pat him on the back or leave him alone. He's new to the team, so I'm sure a lot of guys aren't sure how he would take ribbing or ripping. In general, though, I'd say guys rarely pounce on one another. All players know they're going to slump eventually, and I doubt they want to hear about it when they do.
What are the odds that we'll see Royce Ring in Chicago anytime soon? --John Fitch, Lake in the Hills, Ill.
If anytime soon is September, I think the chances are pretty good. Although this is only Ring's second season in the minors, he pitched three years at San Diego State. Plus his numbers this year at Double-A Birmingham (0.41 ERA, 12 saves) have been sensational.
Why do people consider the White Sox's defense so poor when statistically it is about average? As of today the Sox rank 15th in number of errors and 17th in fielding percentage. The Cubs rank 27 in errors and 28 in fielding percentage but I have not heard word one from your fine paper about that. --Mike Lohmeier, Arlington Heights, Ill.
You ripping our old friend, Paul Sullivan? I believe he has written a word or two about the Cubs pitchers and their horrendous fielding. As for the Sox, yeah, they have the eighth best (or sixth worst) fielding percentage in the league. You expect more from your team, don't you?
Once again, the Sox have "kicked the dog" by firing a coach. Though I doubt that Ward was much of the solution, he certainly isn't the source of the problem. Who gets sacked next? The bullpen catcher? --Jim Lewis, Notre Dame, Ind.
Now that would be a true injustice. Bullpen catcher Man Soo Lee is known as the Babe Ruth of Korea after hitting 252 bombs for the Samsung Lions and winning a triple crown in 1984. The guy could probably still out-hit a few of the catchers in today's game.
Is Ken Williams King Midas in reverse? --Bob Peterson, Sanford, Fla.
What would that make him, King Sadim?
Whatever happened to: Carlos Lee batting second, Frank Thomas' open batting stance, stolen bases from a supposedly speedier team and Joe Nossek as a managerial candidate? --Joel Kweskin, Charlotte, N.C.
Uh you confuse me, Joel. I don't recall the Sox talking about stealing more bags this year. But I'll tell Nossek you're looking out for him.
I read the Tribune sports pages (online) to keep up with the Sox. Why on earth would the paper devote one inch of space to the alleged misdeeds of Mr. Williams' children? It is only the business of the family and the local police in the area of the alleged infraction. --Mark G. Manuel, Kenai, Ark.
In a word, prominence. When you're famous (or have a famous dad), you're gonna be in the paper if you get arrested. It's not fair for the kids but at least they get great tickets to watch Sox games. Seriously, though, if the kids are exonerated, the media should play it up as much as then they were arrested.
Among all the mysteries of this season, the biggest has to be Mark Buehrle's recent troubles. I realize he's getting no run support, but he's never had this bad a run in his career. Is he hurt? Or what? --Steven Krause, Madison, Wis.
From the best we can tell, he simply wasn't changing speeds enough. And the defense behind him has been - how can we put this? - brutal.
With the recent trouble that Mark Buehrle has been experiencing, do you think that he made a mistake by not signing that contract extension? --Ira McCray II, Alsip, Ill.
I think you or I would have taken the money, but I have a feeling he won't be stuck in the poor house either way.
Being a former college baseball player, it blows my mind the amount ofcomplaining Frank Thomas does about how pitchers pitch him. HELLO. If you can't make adjustments and start ripping the inside pitch to left, why would and should they stop pitching you there? What gives with this whiner? --Jeff Guest, Chicago
I'm guessing that you think Frank calls charges in pickup games.
I agree with Torii Hunter, who said that the White Sox's defense has killed the team for the past three years. That said, when I saw an outfield of Carlos Lee, Mags and Brian Daubach, I wondered what Jerry Manuel was thinking. With Willie Harris injured, we just called up Joe Borchard, a slumping, defensive question mark. Why not give us a quick look at Jeremy Reed, a speedy outfielder who's hitting the daylights out of the ball in A-Ball. I believe in rewarding good play, not huge signing bonuses. --Greg Kubly, St. Louis
You had me with you until you mentioned Reed. What are you, his agent? The kid's 21 and playing in the Carolina League. Anyway, your point about defense is obviously legit. The Sox are 21-10 when playing error-free ball but 3-18 otherwise.
After the amateur draft in early June, Chuck Finley can be signed without giving up draft picks. Does he have a chance of coming to the White Sox? What are the chances? --Steve, Chandler, Ariz.
Slim to none. The Sox say they have little money to spend, and with the team out of contention - at least for now - I can't imagine Reinsdorf digging deep for Finley. He makes much more sense for St. Louis.
Hey, Teddy, Do you know what has happened with Mike Sirotka's comeback attempt with the Cubs? And also, are you looking forward to fielding questions from T.J. in Alaska? --Keith Rainville, Bishop, Calif.
From one T.J. (Theodore Jay) to another, bring it on. Sirotka, as you probably know, injured his shoulder about a month ago. He is said to be debating whether to rest, have surgery or call it a career.
Teddy, is your job as glamorous as we'd like to think it is? You meet the players, visit great ballparks, and get all the insider information. What should we know that we don't about the life of a sportswriter assigned to a baseball beat? --Nori, Chicago
If you consider ordering room service and waiting in airports glamorous then, yes, I should be on the cover of People magazine.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times