The Tribune's White Sox beat writer answers reader questions throughout the season. This week, re-signing Mark Buehrle, trading for Aaron Rowand and whether it's time to can Ozzie.
The first letter writer in your went on a rant about Reinsdorf being cheap. I don't get it. Mr. Reinsdorf has brought seven championship banners to the city of Chicago, which is exactly six more than have been produced by the other major sports teams in the city over the last four decades. This perception of Reinsdorf being cheap is not only grossly inaccurate, but it is also detrimental to the reputation of the White Sox organization. I'd be thrilled to have the opportunity to shake Mr. Reinsdorf's hand and thank him for all he has for the Chicago sports scene. --Larry Bristow, Calvert City, Ky.
I'm sure he'd be grateful for your support and appreciation for his commitment to the Sox.
I'll grant that compared to the rest of the lineup, Darin Erstad has a better batting average, but your conclusion was that he's produced, period. Relative to the entire league, he's been awful. His OPS+ (on base plus slugging, adujusted for ballpark and league by baseball-reference.com) is a deplorable 72 (where 100 is average). This could be forgivable if it just meant an absence of power. However, according to thehardballtimes.com, the average on-base percentage for AL players is .333. Erstad has managed a mere .297 OBP. The job of the leadoff man is to get on base, and he's abysmal. He's 5th worst in OBP and you'll find that his walk rate is worse than those comparable. A supportable claim is that he still plays good defense and that he's stealing bases, suggesting that at least he's maintaining his wheels. All I'm asking for is a retraction. --Colin, Chicago
Are you kidding? Erstad's asset at the top of the order is to adjust to every situation. If he doesn't get that clutch two-out hit , the inning doesn't roll around for Pierzynski to hit the grand slam. Monday, he contributed to rallies with . He's been a perfect fit for this team in the leadoff spot and a life saver since Podsednik went down with an injury. It's not his fault that he draws a leadoff walk Sunday and Pierzynski hits into a double play.
Entering Monday's game, he ranked sixth among AL leadoff batters with a .296 average. There is more to mastering the leadoff spot than just on-base percentage. Ask manager Ozzie Guillen, bench coach Joey Cora or any of the Sox's players, and they'll tell you Erstad is the Sox's best person at the leadoff spot right now.
Why does everyone constantly want Rowand back? I would never make a trade for himwe'd have to get rid of too much. We don't need him! Erstad has been playing just fine out there and center field has not been our problem this year. In addition, Rowand is an overrated fielder, as well. Our team can use some offensive help, but I think it would be a big mistake to trade for the over achieving Rowand. What do you think? --Chris, San Diego
I think Rowand is an exceptional center fielder. My only concern with him when he played with the Sox was that he grounded into 17 double plays. He brought a solid presence in the clubhouse. But I don't think Philadelphia would get rid of him now, and Erstad fits the Sox's needs better as a leadoff batter, regardless of what some think.
Could there be any possibility that Reinsdorf is nickel-and-diming the Sox so he can pay the Bulls young guns the money they will all command to stay in Chicago? Face it, I think most Chicago fans would rather see the Bulls win for the next 10 years or so than see the Sox have a chance at just making the playoffs. --Scott Halasz, Dayton, Ohio
I can't speak for the fans' preferences. But I'm pretty sure both teams operate on separate budgets. I think Jerry's passion is with baseball but he isn't about to downplay his joy over the Bulls' championships.
Reading articles on comments of players who are struggling, it almost seems like it is no big deal for them. Konerko is probably the most quoted and the lowest average of the supposed big bats. Dye, Crede and Iguchi are among the rest making Mario Mendoza look good. How long do you think Sox brass will go with the above under achievers efforts before benching them? --Joe Hendrickson, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Joe, great to hear from Southern California. I think Kenny Williams' stern comments Sunday say it all about his thinning patience.
Mark, could the Sox please sign Buehrle already? It's my opinion that we need to keep this guy and that the wheels will fall off without him. Plus, he was on the Wheaties box! What can Kenny be thinking? --John Browning, Flemington, N.J.
John, I said last year that evaluating left-handed starters who don't throw hard is difficult. I don't blame both sides for tabling talks until after this season. It may cost the Sox more to sign Buehrle, but the season is only 25 percent over and Mark still has something to prove.
Hi Mark. I'm writing you from upstate New York. I'm like the only White Sox fan in the state but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Question: What was the White Sox all time won-loss record at old Comiskey Park? Thanks. --Corey Taylor, Queensbury, N.Y.
Sox were 3,024-2,926 for a .508 winning percentage. Many thanks to the Sox's media relations department for listing this record in their 2007 media guide and saving me valuable time.
Mark, Kenny Williams is looking mighty foolish for not unloading Mike MacDougal and Rob Mackowiak for Aaron Rowand in spring training when the Phillies were reportedly begging him to do so. When are the White Sox going to trade or sign a legitimate starting third outfielder? Heck, I'd take available free agents Phil Nevin or Carl "The Truth" Everett right now in a heartbeat! Your thoughts? --Bill Wermes, Elmhurst
The phone wasn't ringing off the hook at the office of the agent for Phil Nevin, and Carl is playing in an independent league. MacDougal was doing well until the past three weeks.
With the Sox' offense in a coma, didn't it seem odd to you that Ozzie didn't arrange his rotation to give his best-hitting pitcher, Garland, a start against the Cubs? As for the bullpen: What good is a "power arm" if it gives up five hits in a row? --David L. Beck, St. Petersburg, Fla.
David, the Sox have rarely, if ever, juggled their rotation. They've remained pretty fresh. And you have to like that Nick Masset laid down a sacrifice bunt Sunday. The bullpen is suffering some growing pains, which is one of the perils of a powerful but young bullpen.
I didn't like the Ross Gload-Andrew Sisco trade when it was made, and I sure don't like it now. I know the Sox have had loads of problems with their bullpen recently, but Sisco continually underperforms and it looks like his confidence is shot. Assuming the Sox make a change in the near future, who do they like best in the minors to come up and help close out some of these games that we are giving away? --Jim Kessler, Tampa
Andrew has been given a long look and has been a standup guy when discussing his problems. If the Sox look to their minor leagues, Bret Prinz is throwing very well and left-hander Carlos Vasquez is showing the promising that was missing in spring training.
Love the White Sox but have had it with Guillen. The opening line-up against the Cubs was a joke and the love affair with Logan and MacDougal is really perplexing. I'm ready to give the team over to Razor Shines or Don Cooper. Your thoughts? Also, Konerko seems anything but a team captain to me. Ole Paulie looks like he's in it to collect a check. A captain takes his ill-performing team to task. --Mike Klempin Jr., West Frankfort
Having watched Ozzie and his coaches for years, do they have any plans for each game before the game starts or do they simply "wing-it"? It appears they are clueless, to me. --Jim, Viera, Fla.
How much would it cost to fire Ozzie Guillen since he has lost the fire to win and would rather try to make funny comments to deflect the situation of how bad he is managing the team? --Chauncy Chipman, Chicago
I'll say it again: Time for Ozzie to adios. Two observations. One, Ozzie's is an example of him thinking the team is about him. Second, it appeared to me that the Sox dugout has no enthusiasm. In the second Cubs game, guys were sitting on the bench after home runs, instead of standing up and greeting Konerko et al. Don't you think Ozzie has to go? --Jeff Hartnett, St. Louis
What a surprise! Once again Ozzie is outmanaged. Two days in a row facing the Cubs Ozzie brings in a left-handed reliever, two days in a row Piniella counters with Derrek Lee. Who didn't see that one coming? That's right...OZZIE! --Mark W., St. Louis
I see a lot of hate at A.J. saying that he wants to be in the lineup. Sure looks like the Sox needed him Sunday to prevent a sweep. I guess Guillen can say stuff about players and what they need to do, but A.J. can't suggest that his team play their best catcher? I sense a little hypocrisy. --Joe, Chicago
I actually thought there would be more e-mails asking for Ozzie's head, but I think Ozzie received those directly.
The only other player who can play third besides Ozuna is Cintron, but Ozuna gives the Sox more versatility near the top of the order. I think some forget that Toby Hall got two hits in that first Cubs game. You can make a case that Pierzynski might have come into the game late for defensive purposes, but that would have left the Sox without a catcher if A.J. got hurt, and MacDougal's slider that resulted in a passed ball was very difficult to catch.
Ozzie and his coaches pore over the possibilities that go into each game's starting lineup. Ozzie also carries a small card listing the pitcher-batter matchups for late-inning situations. It's not that eye-candy stuff you see with other teams that bring out their binders as if they're showing everyone they're studying.
Ozzie is under contract through 2008 with a club option for 2009. The bad language on the radio was inexcusable, but don't expect him to get fired soon. He still has control of the clubhouse.
As for Konerko, he never wanted the title of captain in the first place, but I wonder whom Kenny was referring to last Sunday when he suggested that some veterans need to put something in the youngsters' ears.
Mark, could you please help? It's about official scoring in baseball. Let's say there is a runner on first base with one out. The batter singles to right center. The runner on first heads to third base and the centerfielder throws the ball all the way to third base in the air and the runner slides in safely. The throweven though it went straight to the bag and was a close play at thirdwas over the cutoff man's (shortstop's) head, allowing the batter to go to second base on the throw. Should the centerfielder be charged with an error? --Gary Corbine, Ogdensburg, N.Y.
No. There are a lot of judgement calls an official scorer must make. As long as the center fielder's throw doesn't skip past or over the head of the third baseman that allows the runner to move up to second, there is no error charged. I also don't see many outfielders hitting the cutoff man on plays at third unless the throw comes from right field.
Hey Mark, I find it a little strange all of the negative fan reaction to Sox senior management. The last time I checked, the Sox had the 5th highest payroll in the Majors. Clearly, these guys have to start hitting and A.J. seems to be causing some chemistry problems, but they're just 4½ games back with a shaky start from their starting pitching, still no hitting, and only lately a struggling bullpen. Expectations are high, but when was the last time you saw a Chicago team make the financial commitment to keep a competitive, possibly championship ball team in place? I may be alone but I think fans should be more supportive and patient. --Jim, Peoria
Thanks, Jim. Fans are entitled to their opinion, but I think we can all agree that the standards were raised once the Sox won the 2005 World Series, and Kenny Williams doesn't aspire to field an average team. That's why these next two months are going to be interesting as it relates to whether the Sox are contenders or pretenders.
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