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I love the Sox and still get goosebumps thinking about 2005, but let's face it what can we expect to see in 2007? Bob, San Antonio, Texas
Some major changes. Look for some retooling of the pitching staff.
We need a shortstop for next year and it's looks like the Sox don't like Joe Crede's agent too much. So would you trade Crede, Pods and one of our starters to the Yankees for A-Rod, Hideki Matsui and Scott Proctor? Our SS, LF and bullpen is taken care of in one trade. Josh Fields plays third. If we have to sweeten the deal with something minor, throw it in. --Ken Trojan, Whitehall, Mich.
Call me crazy, but I like the way Crede saves runs as much as he drives them in. Even with a big raise, Crede does more for the Sox right now than A-Rod. I like your creativity, but who bats leadoff in your proposal?
With rest this winter and no Baseball Classic in the spring, Sox pitchers might be strong and ready next season, but who do we send on their way? I think Mark Buehrle has been the biggest disappointment, but could he bounce back next year? Garcia might be stronger without the baseball classic and Vazquez has started to pitch better. What do you think? --David Ciasto, Silvis, Ill.
This is where Kenny Williams earns his money this winter. Whoever can bring the Sox a starting pitching prospect and a reliever works for me.
The Rangers are a team loaded with hitters, but are weak in the bottom of the rotation. Do you think a trade of Javier Vazquez, Juan Uribe and Sean Tracey would be enough to lure him out of Texas? --Russell Hoskins, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Who? Michael Young? Maybe.
What prospects among Josh Fields, Ryan Sweeney, Jerry Owens and Charlie Haeger do you see having a legit chance of opening '07 on the big league roster? --Rob, Lime Rock, Conn.
I think the Sox have to be careful about making sure that whoever gets promoted from Triple-A Charlotte gets enough playing time so their growth isn't stunted. I think Fields is ready and Sweeney could be ready. This will be an important Arizona Fall League season for Jerry Owens. I think Haeger will be the wild card this winter.
I was at a recent West Coast game and the Sox looked awful. They didn't pitch that well, didn't hit (against Esteban Loiaza of all people) and looked really sloppy on defense, making a number of inept, or bone-headed plays that cost them. And against Seattle they were positively embarrassing. Have they simply quit? --Gerald Reese, Alameda, Calif.
Gerald, I think it comes down to opponents exploiting every weakness (throwing breaking pitches to Uribe, stealing on pitchers, etc.). There will be an emphasis on addressing these shortcomings next spring, but I don't think the players quit.
You disagreed last week with my analysis of Jim Thome because he hasn't been 100 percent. If that's the case, then someone should have sat him down a long time ago. He has cost us big time since the break. We would have been much better off with Pablo Ozuna's bat in the lineup everyday. It would have been the perfect place for him, lead-off as the DH. Keeps his bat and wheels in the line up and his glove out of left field. It also allows you to replace Pods with someone who can both hit and field better. --Spiro, Hagerstown, Md.
Spiro, for some reason the Sox don't think Ozuna should play more than he does. One of the great mysteries of the season.
I am not piling on, but after watching Joe Crede hit into three DPs last night, I realized the Sox did that a lot this season. Am I right on that? Have they hit into more this year than other teams? More than last year? Which players have hit into the most? --Charles Gedge, West Chester, Penn.
Entering Tuesday's game at Cleveland, the Sox have grounded into 116 double plays, six fewer than last year's total. Believe it or not, 10 teams have grounded into more double plays than the Sox. But the Sox have grounded into 56 DPs since the All-Star break.
Paul Konerko has grounded into 25 DPs, followed by Joe Crede (18), Jermaine Dye (15) and Tadahito Iguchi and Juan Uribe (10 each). Last year, Aaron Rowand grounded into a team-high 17 DPs, followed by Iguchi (16) and Dye (15).
How can I get Ozzie's job? He has ruined Brandon McCarthy, is ruining Brian Anderson and continues to lose games for us with his incessant pitching changes. Soon he will be changing pitchers after every pitch. We need to either get rid of Ozzie or get rid of Anderson before he is worthless like McCarthy is now. I will take the job for free, just buy me some Chicago pizza. Hook me up. --Steve, Austin, Texas
Do you think Ozzie Guillen can manage effectively under pressure? Last year, he had a very easy time of it for a World Series manager. But faced with more injuries and other player issues this year, they have floundered down the stretch. Each and every player needs to stand up and be responsible for themselves, but Ozzie seems to have made numerous bad calls when the pressure was on. What do you think? --Robert Shaffer, Matteson, Ill.
Turn out the lights, the party's over! Unmotivated, underachieving and just plain uninspiring, the 2006 White Sox were truly a disappointment. Maybe they were tired, maybe they just didn't have the fire. Ozzie is full of it. I'm not giving Detroit or Minnesota a lick of credit. This team should have won 100 games in its sleep. Look n the mirror Ozzie! For all the credit we gave you last year, step up and take the blame this year! --AJ, Los Angeles
How could Guillen keep Mark Buehrle in the rotation throughout the second half of this season when he has been so predictably awful? There is poetic justice in Buehrle being the man to lose the first of three games that the Sox had to win to keep in contention. I bet Joe Torre, in similar circumstances, would have passed on Buehrle more than once when his turn came to pitch. --Terrance J. Mullin, Miami
Take a deep breath, everyone. If you want a laugh, Ozzie said he received an e-mail that read:
Guillen + (Hugo) Chavez = Bevington
Seriously, everyone is to blame, including the manager. I'm not sure McCarthy was ever comfortable in the bullpen, but he has more talent than the other options. Everyone is to blame regarding Anderson, who needs to distinguish himself soon. Managing for pizza? It better be from Piero's in Highland Park because this isn't the easiest job. I think the honeymoon is over with Uribe, and I believe Cintron could have played a few more games but isn't as solid defensively as Uribe.
Ozzie did his best job of managing in last year's post-season because he managed for the moment and not the entire series. He wasn't afraid to use all his bullets, but the regular season is a different story. Buehrle has the best track record among the Sox's starters, so it would have been eye-raising to pull him out of the rotation sooner.
What can we do to improve our team next year? I love the Sox and want to get to where we were last year. Is it an attitude or is it talent? By the way, I feel we need some new pitchers and players who play each game like it was their last. --Cathi Griffith, Algonquin, Ill.
Cathi, great observations. I think the attitude needs to be tweaked but some roster retooling is in store, as I addressed after the first question.
The Phils most likely will not trade Jimmy Rollins unless they are faced with a solid knock-your-socks-off trade. He is a GREAT defensive SS. He does hit in some tough situations, yet is not a good lead off hitter. He would be a better hitting seventh. --Rich Shivers, Clayton, N.J.
Rich, I love Jimmy Rollins as a player, and he was one of the most pleasant players I've interviewed when I talked to him two years ago about base stealing. It doesn't hurt to ask what it would take to get him.
Mark, many thanks for your Q&A forum. Since McCarthy has not pitched many innings this year to build up his "core strength" that Kenny Williams wanted him to have before he became a starter, why not resign El Duque to spot start for him and be long reliever? He was a great influence not only on Contreras, but the entire pitching staff last year. And we all know he is a great weapon to have in the playoffs too. --Diego, Chicago
I think El Duque won't return unless it's a World Series reunion. I think Contreras fared well without El Duque.
Here's one scenario I see for next season: Neal Cotts goes back to AAA to work on another pitch so that he can return to the majors as a starter. Boone Logan impresses enough in spring training to be the second lefty in the bullpen. As far as which starter will be traded, Freddy Garcia probably has more trade value, but could the Sox get an everyday player for Javier Vazquez? Thanks for your column. Way down yonder in New Orleans, I looked forward to it all season. Go-go Sox in '07. --Bill Gallagher, Metairie, La.
Bill, I can't see it, simply because Neal has three years of major league experience. Boone Logan hasn't shown he can be the second left-hander in the bullpen in his second stint and needs a lot of work. Bill, thanks for your interest from New Orleans.
Do you think Kenny Williams will be a man and admit that his comments on Frank Thomas earlier in the season were dumb and unprofessional. By the way Kenny, Frank has played in more than a couple of games back to back this year and, in case you forgot, the Sox were 22-7 with him in the lineup last year. --John Avery, Ann Arbor, Mich.
John, are you related to Steve Avery, the former Taylor High star who turned down an scholarship to Stanford to excel with Atlanta in the 1990s? I don't think Kenny is going to back off his earlier comments about Frank, but it is Frank who is enjoying the last laugh right now.
I enjoy your responses to the myriad questions we ask and thank you for your patience with us. --James Poulsen, Viera, Fla.
James, thanks for the kind words and your questions.