The Sox will end up way behind the total 137 bases they stole of last year. Is that a big factor in their record and how they pitch? I think the lack of speed has changed the whole team. Didn't they learn that being a home run hitting team did not work in 2004? --Jerry Bartos, East Dundee, Ill.
I think the addition of Jim Thome addressed the need for more offense. But they didn't compromise their speed because Carl Everett and Frank Thomas were no speed merchants. I don't think they've gotten enough speed from the top and bottom of the order because Scott Posdesnik and Brian Anderson didn't get on base enough, and Tadahito Iguchi didn't want to take the bat out of Jim Thome's hands.
What will the Sox do between now and next year to shore up the defense in base-stealing situations? Everyone is running on the Sox. Where is the weak link and when and how will it be addressed? --Terry Tyrpin, Schaumburg, Ill.
Either make the pitchers hold runners more effectively by throwing to first more often or holding the ball, or trading those pitchers who don't conform.
Trade Paul Konerko (as was suggested in the )? Does James from Chicago remember 2005? Whether the Sox make the playoffs this year or not, they're still set up nicely to be contenders for the next few years. Honestly, it disgusts me the way so many Sox fans have turned on this team already. --Jeff Ponczak, Chicago
That's a lot of years--1917 to 2005--to wait for a world series win. Please give this team credit for another great season; the Tigers have just been unreal. If pitching and defense win championships, I still like our chances. What about you, Mark, do you still believe? --Vinnie Ryan, Robinson, Ill.
I'm baffled by what's happened in the second half, particularly the last week. When you increase payroll by about $25 million and don't see an improvement, it leads to a lot of questions and analyzing that will go through this off-season.
I know Kenny Williams has a cold relationship with Scott Boras, but do you think Williams will make a push for Zito in the offseason? That would allow two starters, Freddy Garcia and Javier Vazquez, to be traded. Regardless of what happens over the next month, the rotation needs to be revamped a little. --Rob, Lime Rock, Conn.
I can see Garcia and Vazquez being dealt, but I believe Kenny will try to land some young power arms. I see Barry Zito headed to New York or maybe the Dodgers.
I don't understand why the Sox are so intent on getting seven innings or more from there starting pitchers. If they give up five to eight runs in that time, it doesn't do any good. Maybe these guys would be better going as hard as they can for as long as they can and let the bullpen take over. --William Downie, Carson City, Nev.
William, can you tell me where's I can get fresh fish in Carson City now that Bodine's has closed? You make a good point. There are times when the bullpen should take over earlier. We've seen it recently with Jose Contreras coming out earlier but you can make a case for other pitchers in previous starts.
I know you ran one of my questions last week and no one should get in too often. But it is mea culpa time. Earlier in the season I criticized Jon Garland and asked if the Sox should make a move on him. Now he is 12-1 in his last 14 starts and leading the AL in wins. My apologies to Mr. Garland. But that's what is great about being a fan. The Sox can't fire me for my screwy ideas--and they don't have to listen, either. --Larry Siegel, Manteno, Ill.
Larry, a lot of people made the same assessment toward Garland. It's why evaluating pitchers can be so tricky.
The Sox win last year, play at a 95-win pace this year and what does everyone want to do? Trade half the team. Why break up a team that could very well win it all again? --Steve Gantz, Baton Rouge, La.
Because they might not win it all this year, and there are flaws this year. Kenny Williams changed nearly 1/3 of the roster from last year, and I suspect he'll nearly do the same this off-season.
Is Charlie Haeger a major league pitcher and who would they get to catch him? --Jim Harlan, Chicago
Haeger has done everything possible to get to the majors. He made a wise decision by purchasing a large catcher's glove. Chris Stewart and A.J. Pierzynski are among those who have praised Haeger for his purchase.
A-Rod clearly could use a change of scenery from New York and Ozzie's tired of Juan Uribe's frequent mental gaffes in the field; since Kenny Williams is committed to trading one of the White Sox current starters this off-season, and NY pays A-Rod "only" $11M/year (the balance being paid by the Rangers), how about a Freddy Garcia and Juan Uribe (who clearly has the arm to play 3B), trade for A-Rod and then the Sox moving A-Rod back to SS where he belongs? After all, the salaries involved would basically be a wash. --Jack Lucas, Mission Viejo, Calif.
The Sox's main thrust this off-season will be acquiring a young power arm and addressing the top of the order. I'll take Joe Crede over any other AL third baseman right now because of his defense.
For next year besides inserting Brandon McCarthy and possibly Matt Thornton into the starting rotation, I would also like Kenny to trade for a SS who can lead off like Felipe Lopez or Michael Young or Bobby Crosby. Trader Kenny could offer Vazquez, Pods, and Uribe and possibly a minor leaguer. This would be addition by subtraction plus by getting a SS to leadoff then Josh Fields can play LF. Kenny has lots of chips to trade and I hope he uses them. --Tom Pappalardo, Chicago
Tom, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
How can I find out how many (rally killing) double plays Paul Konerko has hit into this year? Thanks. --Colleen Fehlauer, Chicago
Colleen, entering Wednesday's game, Paul has hit into 16 double plays with runners in scoring position.
With Monday's loss at Boston the ship has capsized! This team has played uninspired baseball the entire season and all season long they have made excuses and said stuff like "there is plenty of time." Well they are just about out of time. You watched every game, when this team misses the playoffs with all that talent, who's fault is it? What changes do you think need to be made in the off-season? For my money you can take this team, and all their home runs, and give me back the team that pitched, played defense and did what ever it took to win! I guess winning spoils everybody. --A.J., Los Angeles
I think everyone can share in the blame, from the pitching staff to the lack of clutch hitting lately to the questionable defense.
Mark, I like Konerko just fine as a player, but as a captain, he needs work. When I was the captain of my college team, when things weren't going well, I took guys to task. It generally worked. Paulie seems soft to me in this department. Maybe, he doesn't want to be captain. --Michael Klempin, West Frankfort, Ill.
He was reluctant to be the captain in the first place, but I think the Sox's problems run deeper than Paul's role as a quiet leader.
Mark, would be interested in any comments on why Ozzie Guillen continues to put a third basemen, Rob Mackowiak, in center when everyone knows he cannot play the position and it costs the Sox games. Is it just stubbornness on Guillen's part? The more people criticize his decisions, the more likely his is to continue with them. --Vik, Oakland, Calif.
Rob makes no excuses for his poor defense and will work on it this winter. I think the Sox have more options in center with the promotion of Ryan Sweeney.
Clearly we're going down to the final week this year. And here I am watching "Big Game" Freddy Garcia heave another mediocre start, this time against the Royals. His ERA is high and his attitude appears to be indifferent, at best, and yet he complains about the rest of the team (lack of run support, etc.). He doesn't seem to have it in him to give a shut-down performance, and hasn't all year. Do you sense any concern in the clubhouse that Freddy, a big part of last year's success, is phoning in his starts when the team is trying to make the post-season? --David Sinaiko, Fairfax, Calif.
I think Freddy knows he has to improve and did a better job of holding runners in his last start at KC. But it would behoove Freddy and the Sox if he finishes strong to help his trade value or convince the Sox he should stay. Freddy does work very hard between starts, so he's not taking any shortcuts.
Is there any concern about A.J. Pierzynski's game calling? Seems some pitchers are getting burnt on questionable pitches. --Mike, Tinley Park, Ill.
Mike, that's a good question, but I haven't heard any complaints about that. It's been primarily poor location by the pitchers.
I've been hearing a lot about Brandon McCarthy being inserted into the 2007 rotation, with Charlie Haeger and possibly Sean Tracey also receiving consideration. But what about Heath Phillips? Wasn't he just named the International League pitcher of the year? And speaking of Haeger, I watched him pitch the other night against the Royals and he looked great, but A.J. had trouble holding on to his pitches. Will his AAA partner, Chris Stewart end up serving the Doug Mirabelli-type role? Thanks for your continued insight! --Jonathan B. Wasserkrug, Lees Summit, Mo.
Phillips has been described by a team official as a poor-man's Mark Buehrle. But his numbers indicate he deserves a shot. Haeger has a future, and I'm told Stewart's defense improved this season at Triple-A Charlotte.
How does Mike Lowell, who was a throw-in to Boston, deliver a big hit off Bobby Jenks for the second time this season while our so-called heavy hitters, Konerko, Crede, A.J., Thome do not seem to have the intestinal fortitude to focus and deliver. Coco Crisp delivers last night while Konerko and Crede hit into double-plays. When you are a big-leaguer you must deliver, and we are not. Our MVP is a no-show and the rest chokers. The Sox players keep saying they are "playing one game at a time" but we have Konerko, A.J. ,Uribe, Anderson, Cintron and Mackowiak all below .208 in the last week. I played ball years ago, and I fail to understand why these guys are choking after winning it all last year. They blamed the pitching and after the last two well-pitched games now what is Ozzie's excuse? You must be more firm with Ozzie (since I can't reach him). --James Poulsen, Viera, Fla.
James, can you still hit?
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