The Tribune's White Sox beat writer answers reader questions throughout the season. This week, Kenny Williams and the bullpen, Jenks' velocity, Danny Richar and Chuck the Knuck.
Mark, if you were the GM, who would you move and who would you keep? To me, it seems Jose Contreras' time is winding down. Maybe move him for some prospects. Plus, he has a rather large salary, that could be used in other areas. --Griff, Omaha
Mark, it is well-documented that the Sox possibly have a lot of holes to fill as far as position players and bullpen help next yearespecially if they let Dye and Iguchi go. Any indication what general strategy Kenny is going to use? Is he going to stockpile young players like he has with the starters recently, sign stars, or look for bargainslike Dye and Iguchi were? I think these are about the only choices. If I were him I would stockpile the young talent, although he tried that with the bullpen this year and it didn't work. --Kevin M., Champaign
Griff, when you finish in the second division, you usually have to overpay to entice free agents to sign. That's why I'm a firm believer that you listen to as many offers for as many players as possible to address certain needs. In a perfect world, if you move Contreras, you free yourself of $20 million over the next two years, open competition for his spot and hopefully address an area or two in return for a pitcher like Contreras.
The Dye situation is delicate because the Sox currently don't have a power-hitting outfielder ready to take his place. Getting draft picks as compensation is always a possibility, as well as perhaps re-signing him (although that's unlikely with some teams looking more at his past than this season).
Rob Mackowiak attracted interest from San Diego earlier this season, and his current hitting makes him very attractive to a team seeking a left-handed hitter.
Are you sure Posednik has a stronger arm than Luis Gonzalez? I think I have a stronger arm than Posednik even though I turn 70 soon. --Jim, Viera, Fla.
I saw Luis Gonzalez play every day for four consecutive years (2000-03). He started a throwing program midway through the 2003 sesaon, only to develop arm problems that led to reconstructive surgery.
Can the Sox really afford to have two such slow runners as Thome and Konerko in the center of their lineup? I am a big fan of both, but this seems like a huge liability. --Jim, Vienna, Va.
At this point, the Sox have no choice. If the batters ahead of them got on base more frequently, their lack of speed wouldn't be so noticeable. That's not to say they're acquitted here. I thought Jim would hit more homers, but maybe he's capable of a home run surge before the season ends.
I'm mystified by all the talk about Josh Fields as a ready replacement for Joe Crede. I can see where he might become an offensive replacement for Joe (though it remains to be seen whether he'll be the kind of clutch hitter Crede is), but his defense is woeful. It's not the errors, it's the balls he doesn't get to, the tough plays he doesn't make. --Mark Pollock, Chicago
I think everyone understands what a defensive loss it was when Joe was lost for the season. But the bullpen's woes are more severe than Josh's fielding.
Am I the only person who heard Ken Harrelson say "Goddammit" on Saturday's telecast when closer Bobby Jenks wild-pitched in the tying run in the ninth? Will this cost him his job? --Benny Fontane, New Iberia, La.
Benny, I didn't hear the telecast because I was in Baltimore. I can tell you Hawk is baffled by the performance of the team. I can also say that Hawk's security is as strong as anyone's in the organization.
In a you stated, "Contreras is 1-7 with a 6.92 ERA in his last nine starts. But he remains healthy, and the fact that he's under contract the next two seasons at a total of $20 million is appealing to teams, considering the escalating market for starting pitchers." Please tell me what team would want a pitcher who may or may not be 36 and is putting those numbers up and allowing free reign on the base paths at $10 million per season. --Mike S., Bonita Springs, Fla.
I can't see the Sox eating $20 million to get Jose out of Chicago. There's more than a week left in the non-waiver trading period, and strange things have happened. Remember when the Mets traded for Victor Zambrano and gave up a young left-handed named Scott Kazmir?
I'm not saying this is going to happen, but if Victor Zambrano can get traded
Iguchi should stay, no better replacement. Crede, if his career is not over, can be signed for less money. We will get no one better than Dye. Erstad and Pods are question marks. Fields can play the outfield. Contreras to the bullpen or to the Mets for El Duque and somebody good. What do you think? Ron Churlin, Chicago
Ron, the question with Iguchi will be his asking price in the free agent market. Crede's representatives will point to his production prior to 2007, so I'm not sure a pay cut is automatic in the goofy world of salary arbitration. Jose has been a starter for his entire career, and I'm not sure how he would adjust to the bullpen. El Duque has been hurt quite a bit, and I think he's a better fit for the Mets right now.
Hi Mark, great column. As a long time Sox fan who has seen five owners, the best thing that could happen to the Sox is for Reinsdorf to sell the team to Mark Cuban. With five big holes in the field and no relievers and no minor league talent, it is going to take Mark Cuban-like money to turn this team around into a contender. Mr. Chairman, if you are truly a Sox fan, admit you don't have the money to turn this around and sell the team to Mark Cuban. --Joe Kiernewicz, Chicago
Thanks, Joe. I'm not sure the Chairman would sell to Mark Cuban, but I think Cuban would put some much-needed spice into a franchise like Pittsburgh.
Without a doubt the bullpen has been by far the reason for the Sox woes this season. I did a little research and I have the bullpen blamed for 15 losses, which is 30 percent of the team's total. Based on that number, if they had converted just half of those chances, the Sox would be 48-43 and 6½ games behind the Tigers, 5½ back of the Tribe. Is there anyway they can at least make the bullpen servicable next year? --Matt Hoeppner, Lansing, Mich.
Yes. Maturity will help the current relievers heading into next year. There's also the chance of acquiring an effective reliever through a trade, although several teams would prefer to keep their own.
Since 2005, Ken Williams has shown poor judgment on putting together a worse-than-poor relief corps that he had trumpeted would be among the best. How much input did Cooper have? --Garey, Urbanna, Va.
Why can't the Sox find some reliable dependable pitchers for middle relief? Everyone knows they need it and have needed it since the season began. What's going on in the front office? --Sanford Evans, Boston
Would you consider Kenny Williams' tenure a success? He does have a world championship on his résumé, but he also has six teams out of seven that didn't even make the playoffs. I happen to think he's been a bust. --Charles, Homer Glen
Please tell me that all this talk from Kenny Williams of hoping for a run and having faith in these players is just talk. This team hasn't been good since July of last year. --Mike Kamper, Oak Lawn
Does Kenny dare risk going into the 2008 campaign with the same bunch of relievers? If he does, in my opinion, he risks losing his veterans. You have to think some of the position players and starting pitchers are simply getting tired of it. --Mark Liptak, Chubbuck, Idaho
What's the chances of the Sox trading two of their starters before the trade deadline? --Roy Hofmann, Lostant, Ill.
Don Cooper was advised as to what the relievers' talents were, and he made some calls and watched some video after the deals were made.
I was surprised to hear of the optimism of a turnaround. Being around 10 games under .500 with about 10 weeks left is a telltale sign that changes are needed.
There have been six different world champions since the Yankees went back-to-back in 1999-2000. The Sox haven't had a losing season Kenny took over as GM. That's better than what Andy MacPhail did in 12 years with the Cubs. Brian Sabean, whom I had the pleasure of covering for three years (1997-99), is facing another losing season but was rewarded with a two-year extension. I wouldn't say it's time to fire Kenny, but he's responsible for putting the bullpen together and not getting a veteran to stabilize the other relievers.
I doubt the Sox would trade two starting pitchers unless they received a starting pitcher in return as part of those deals. Gio Gonzalez, Lance Broadway and Adam Russell (who probably will be a major league reliever) aren't ready yet.
The Sox wanted Russell to finish the minor league season as a starter, but the current problems at the major league level have accelerated his timetable.
An ineffective bullpen is about as demoralizing to a team as anything. I don't blame the veterans for raising their curiosity over changes in the pen. But there aren't many options left at this point, especially with teams trying to secure bullpen help.
It seems to me that the Sox always overpay in a trade. For example, Carlos Lee for Pods and two mediocre relievers. The next year, Milwaukee traded C. Lee to Texas, even though he was playing out his contract, for some pretty good talent. Same thing with the Thome dealRowand was a lot to give up for an older player, but then to throw in two pitching prospects? Do you think that Kenny Williams is being made to overpay as a result of the Mike Sirotka deal with Toronto, which must have put a question in all GM's minds? --Dan Chapman, Las Vegas
No. I think Kenny wanted to add more speed in the Lee deal, and Luis Vizcaino gave them innings. The Sox received more than $20 million from Philadelphia in the Thome deal. Rowand didn't have the greatest year, statistically, in 2005. But he's done a great job of displaying his all-around talents this year, and I think everyone is happy for him.
Obviously this season is shot, so we should take a good look at what some of the kids who might be able to contribute next year. I think that Owens (and even Sweeney) should be given an extended look, but with Podsednik and Erstad coming back and Mackowiak as a key bench player, four out of five outfielders would swing from the port sideand that's assuming Dye is not traded. Do you think Pods and Erstad should be shopped along with Dye to keep the lineup more flexible? --Mike, Florida
Owens is getting an extended look now, but I think Erstad's return will cut into his playing time somewhat.
I'm not sure what Podsednik and Erstad can bring in a trade. I think Sweeney needs an extended look, perhaps in September.
I found it ironic that for a team whose bullpen has struggled so consistently, Bobby Jenks was our lone All-Star. Jenks worries me more and more as time goes on. I know he hasn't blown many saves, but he consistently gives up runs, and it seems he consistently gets behind hitters. --Greg, Indianapolis
What in the #@** has happened to Jenks' 100 m.p.h.-plus fastball?!? --Marty, Las Vegas
Is there any way the Sox fans can persuade the team to release or get rid of Jenks, like immediately? We are tired of being insulted by his throwing fire on any late-inning rally and turning late-inning leads into losses. I don't think we can boo him enough at home games. --Terry, Schaumburg
If you get rid of Jenks, who closes? I agree that his sub-95 mph fastball has been a mystery. I don't see many swings and misses by opponents, which tells me that batters are on to his breaking pitches as well.
This off-season, if the Sox look to move Crede, does he have a lot of trade value? Last off season we probably could have got Chone Figgins for him, but is that the case anymore? Could we get a good MLB player for him? --Isaiah, Ft. Wayne, Ind.
I think Joe has to return to the field and show that he's healthy before there's any serious talk of him being traded.
Is Cintron still hurt? It is hard to believe that Ozzie plays the undisciplined, low on-base percentage, fence-swinging Uribe everyday! Will Cintron get a shot as the starter at shortstop? --Alex Baluk, Skokie
I was wondering with the impending free agency of Iguchi and Uribe's future in doubt, what you thought of Luis Castillo at second and leadoff and Danny Richar at shortstop? --Adam, Joliet
I do not understand why Ozzie stays with Uribe. Since the season is gone,why not try someone else? --Jim Petullo, Reading, Pa.
Does Danny Richar have major league potential? What are his strengths and weaknesses? --Craig Strauch, Springfield
I don't think the Sox feel Alex Cintron can be an everyday shortstop, or he would have had his chance this year.
Danny Richar is currently getting a long look at shortstop as well as second. He's not considered a blazer, but he has enough arm strength and range to play short, from what two scouts told me. He's also a left-handed hitter.
I like Castillo's fearlessness dating back to his days with Florida and not bailing out against the likes of Randy Johnson. Another player who could help is Arizona's Orlando Hudson, who told a Phoenix radio station that he doesn't expect to be back with the Diamondbacks next season.
How many time this year have the White Sox lost a game when they had the lead going into the 7th inning? --Steve Peterson, Eden Prairie, Minn.
Entering Thursday's game at Boston, the Sox lost 10 times in games in which they had a lead after six innings.
Back when the Sox had Hoyt Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher, Sox catchers would use a larger and more flexible glove to when catching the knuckleball pitchers. Do the current Sox catchers use a different glove when catching Charlie Haeger? --Tim Sweeney, Villa Park
Absolutely. And those gloves are broken in.
What are your thoughts on Charlie Haeger as a relief pitcher? He did well last season and has looked good so far, Does he have an edge of being a knuckleballer or not? --Joey, Florida
I think Charlie is a good fit right now, and I think going back to the minors didn't hurt him for the long haul. Given the failures of the relievers, this might be his best chance to stick with the big club.
Regarding comments about a lack of , I visited Chicago last August for the series against the Yankees and Tigers. The staff members I met were excellent and I was allowed to take pictures behind home plate on the day I picked up my tickets, so not everyone's experience is bad! --David Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland
Dave, thanks for sharing your experience. The original e-mail was in response to the lack of taxis available, but another e-mailer wrote that there are an ample number of taxis available.
Today's Headlines Newsletter
A digest of essential news, insight and analysis from L.A. Times editors.