Ask Mark Gonzales

If the last two seasons' abysmal swoon and record doesn't speak for itself, how can we Sox fans help get Mr. Reinsdorf to terminate Messrs. Williams and Guillen? Williams just took Guillen off the hook. Give me a break ... what has Ozzie done to motivate better performance? Not a thing. Seriously, do we have to see a third straight year of inept play in '08 with the same leadership? -- Terry, Schaumburg

Not if you add the skills and instincts of Torii Hunter and more players with a sense of urgency.

Why do we only have 9 players left from the 2005 World Series roster? I think it's about time Kenny Williams gets his due credit for improving our once great team into what we see now, which is not pleasant to watch. Typical of his great deals is dumping Thomas and getting Thome, compare their numbers for the past 2 years and tell me this was a great deal. The Aaron Rowand deal has also paid off with great players, and Ross Gload, the list goes on. -- Dale Rehberg, The Villages, Fla.

You forgot Chris Young of Arizona.

We Seattle fans are almost afraid to ask it: is this Mariner team good enough for a real playoff run? -- Robert Rudolph, San Francisco

Yes. The Mariners need to strengthen the back end of their rotation, but they've put together an impressive bullpen. They've done a solid job of incorporating some young players into the mix while scoring enough runs without overwhelming numbers from Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson.

My question to you: Is Jose Contreras worth trading for … over keeping Horacio Ramirez as a No. 5 starter?

Hey Mark, I've been wondering for a while now as to who the White Sox would have to give up if they were to ever make a deal with the Yankees for A-Rod. I'm guessing Garland and Crede along with a handful of prospects including Brian Anderson and possibly a pitcher like Haeger. -- Eren, Naperville

The Sox would need assurances that A-Rod would intend to honor the balance of his contract. If he opts out after this season, I can't see the Sox getting in a bidding war for his services.

I've written before about the need to fire Ozzie but the fact that Williams had to meet with the team to, as you put it, tell them to play with more "passion and patience" confirms that this team is not listening to Ozzie or his bull. ... Managers like Ozzie have a short shelf-life. Players are only motivated for short periods by managers who are always putting on an act, especially when the act is about Ozzie. These guys aren't listening to him anymore and probably have just tuned him out. As long as Ozzie's the manager, this team is going nowhere -- this year or next. –- Jeff, St. Louis

Your question?

I just watched Uribe let in three more runs against the Mariners. No range at shortstop, swings from the heels like a power hitter, refuses to hit to right or bunt, average speed, refuses to advance runners and has the attention span of an 8-year old. Is he related to Ozzie or have photos on Ken Williams? -- Jim Petullo, Reading, Pa.

I suppose you'd want former Reading Phillies manager Greg Legg to have a chat with Juan. I played Little League ball with Gregg, and he was as intense as they come. Juan's stagnation is baffling. I thought he turned the corner with his play in Game 4 of the 2005 World Series. But the Sox don't have a full-time alternative to him from within the organization. The Sox's staff has implored Juan to hit to right more often because of his power, but the results haven't worked out. Oh well.

Mark: Just read your article on the Dye signing. Will you please tell Kenny to STOP TALKING ABOUT TRADING JON GARLAND. He doesn't get injured, he's good for at least 15 wins a year, WHY WOULD YOU TRADE THIS GUY?? For God's sake please beg him to get this idea out of his head. -- Tom Underwood, Elmwood Park

Kenny never mentioned Garland by name. But Jon's contract status (one year left at $12 million) and his durability make him a trade target for 2008. And if you're looking to improve, Garland might be one of your best bargaining chips.

Why hasn't someone questioned whether or not the White Sox scouting department was doing its job properly when the decisions were made to get Danks, Sisco, Floyd, Aardsma, etc, in trades? Personally, I've never been overly impressed with the scouting in regards to evaluation of talent, both inside of the organization and outside. In my humble opinion, besides having a major league arm, the prospective talent should have what it takes between the shoulders to get the job done. I hope I've asked this question in such a way that you know what I'm driving at. I probably wouldn't have thought about this had it not been for the dismissal of the Sox director of scouting. -- David Whipple, McCordsville, Ind.

Kansas City scout Gene Watson once talked about finding players with a sixth tool. Gene is completely right in seeking this trait, and it's why he was part of a successful organization with Atlanta.

I wouldn't write off Danks. I think Sisco's days are numbered with the Sox, and Aardsma needs to produce immediately if he's recalled. I talked to a lot of people about Aardsma after the Sox acquired him and got different answers. I would have liked to have seen his development at this time had San Francisco not rushed him, but they thought he had the tools to take over for Robb Nen.

The Sox's scouts didn't all of a sudden become dumb. These are the same guys who put together an impressive set of reports on the Los Angeles Angels and Houston in 2005.

Mark, if Joe Crede proves to be healthy next year, could Josh Fields or Joe Crede move to first base and then have Paul Konerko DH and use Jim Thome in a trade to acquire a middle reliever? -- Dan Bowman, Marlette, Mich.

I don't see it happening, given Kenny Williams' appreciation for Thome's on-base percentage.

Mark: I pretty much agree with you on Uribe. At times I am absolutely exasperated when he throws away an at-bat going for a ball on the verge of being a wild pitch. But I doubt that anyone in MLB has a better throwing arm and covers any more territory. And when looking at his statistics, he can hit the long ball and drive in a remarkable number of runs. Do you think he will start next year? -- Garey

His costs, if they keep him, are fixed (at $5 million). I don't know how much patience the Sox have left with him, but they had intended to keep him heading into this season.

Hey Mark: Come September when the rosters get expanded, who will get called up? I'm thinking Sweeney, Gonzalez, Broadway, Russell, Aardsma and Jason Bourgeois. Who do you think will get the call? -- Jonny, Iowa

I think Sweeney, Russell, Aardsma, Masset and Donny Lucy will get called up. There will be no scholarships handed out in September.

Mark: I hear the Sox want speed in the lineup, well what about Jason Bourgeois? He has 34 stolen bases in the minors, and is hitting over .300, I think he can play anywhere, any chance he gets called up in Sep or possibly becomes the Sox shortstop next season? -- Isaiah, Chicago

I don't think he'll get called up in September and is perceived as an organizational player. But if he keeps improving, he'll get a shot as Ryan Bukvich did.

Are Chicago sportswriters asleep? Bobby Jenks is doing something that no other baseball player has done ever. You should be giving him a lot more love. -- Dewayne Richardson, San Jose, Costa Rica

Dewayne, I'm fully awake as I write this at Sea-Tac Airport waiting for my red-eye flight. Bobby Jenks? Oh, he hasn't pitched in a week. That was shortly before I left e-mail and telephone messages with Jim Barr, whom he currently shares the major league record for most consecutive batters retired.

If the Sox move Fields to left field next season, does this mean they trust Jerry Owens to be a leadoff hitter better than Pods? I believe the Sox are near .500 this year when Pods is in the lineup, and because of his injury history, he probably wouldn't cost that much. I would sign him with the intent of him starting, but have a good backup (Fields) in case he can't. I truly hope we don't give up on Pods -- when he is healthy, he creates runs. Plus, I believe if they do put Fields in LF and go after a free agent CF, then the only position for speed would be a new SS. -- Kevin, Deerfield

Kevin, I think Scott will be playing somewhere next year. To his credit, he is playing hard, is healthy and hasn't complained about not getting a shot at the leadoff spot. I think injuries were a major reason why he's not in the leadoff spot.

Signing Torii Hunter would present some interesting options with Owens in left or Fields unless Crede recovers from his back injury.

Can you please ask Ozzie why he is hitting Fields in the No. 2 spot every day?! That's an odd position for him. He seems like he should be in the 6th or 7th spot. It seemed especially strange Saturday night with Cintron, Erstad, and Podsednik all more likely candidates to hit 2nd. Surely this is not the long range plan! -- Greg, Hanover Park

Tony La Russa has been known for putting sluggers, such as Carlton Fisk and Larry Walker, in the second spot so they'd get more fastballs. With a healthy roster, there are more options at the second spot.

Mark, I have to say, Steve Stone in the booth with "Hawk" was great. He tells it like it is and his knowledge of the game is awesome. The Sox need to sign him long-term. DJ just doesn't compare to "Stoney"! At least the Sox will have a first-place broadcast team! -- Butch, Normal

I believe DJ is under contract through next year.

What seems to be the real issues regarding the White Sox and Scott Boras? I understand that he inflates his clients' value, but he represents too many young prospects and top tier athletes that can be in a White Sox uniform if they would just work with the guy. -- Clifton, Chicago

We'll see what happens in the 2008 draft if the Sox pass on a major talent because of that player's decision to use Scott as an adviser. The Sox need a big draft in 2008.

The Sox were upset after not signing draft picks Jeff Weaver, Bobby Hill and Bobby Seay in the 1990s -- all were advised by Boras.

There are two schools of thought. First, some people wonder why amateurs should seek top bonuses when, if they're good enough, they'll get the money anyway down the road.

Second, Scott's record has been overwhelming better for his clients, especially those seeking top dollars. Just look at the cases of Kevin Brown, Magglio Ordonez and Barry Zito, for starters.

With the Sox losing 2 of 3 to both the Ms and Indians on this last homestand, this season is officially over. No, I don't mean to win their division. I mean to play .500 ball. Is it still possible that they might move another pitcher like Garland if they can sneak him thru waivers? If not Jon, who else might be departing before 9/1? -- Allman, Tempe, Ariz.

There was a lot of speculation about Contreras when the Sox were in Seattle, and some teams might be very desperate to add a starting pitcher with Contreras' track record. But his contract scares a few teams.

Can you give an update on any of the Sox picks from the recent draft, is there any hope? Outside of the first-round pick, Poreda, all of the other draftees stats are not that impressive. Are there any sleepers? -- Scott, Springfield

The first year is usually an adjustment year, so next year represents a better measuring stick of what their upside is.

Hey Mark: 2 questions. 1: Is Lance Broadway gonna in your mind live up to being a first round pick and be a good number 3 or 4 guy in the rotation which most thought he would be … and how soon? And why don't the Sox promote Aaron Poreda? He has a 1.37 era in 26.1 innings and 29 Ks, but only in single A low ball. -- Isaiah, Chicago

Lance needs to cut his walks down, but he should be OK as a No. 4 starter. Poreda missed significant time with arm tenderness, so there's no need to rush him.

Mark, with a thin crop of free agent shortstops, and assuming we let Uribe go, what options seem most likely for the Sox? I have heard names ranging from Furcal, Tejada and Khalil Greene. Furcal seems logical assuming we take on his salary in exchange for Contreras' salary but does anyone really want Contreras? Baltimore never gets a deal done, and I don't see how we match up with the Padres. If we let Uribe go, what do you see us doing? Is Cintron a possibility at short everyday? -- Tom, Elk Grove Village

I don't think the Sox perceive Cintron as a shortstop. And the price for Greene might be prohibitive. I like Furcal and Izturis, but Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is pretty sharp and hasn't given in to Kenny Williams' asking price in past proposals.

Mark, any chances the White Sox sign Andruw Jones this off season? -- Jason, Chicago

No, doubtful.

Mark, if you could add any two players in baseball to the White Sox who would you add? I would go with Hanley Ramierz and Johan Santana, what about you? -- Joey, Idaho

What about A-Rod and Santana?

Hey Mark -- Having seen them for almost a full season, who would take for the future: McCarthy or Danks? -- Ron, Idaho

I would take Danks because he's left-handed, throws slightly harder and his fastball moves more effectively.

Mark, what do you think about the possibility of Pablo Ozuna playing shortstop every day next year? He also provides a lot of energy when he is in the lineup and certainly would not hurt the lineup if he batted ninth, serving as the second leadoff man. Additionally, Alex Cintron could spell Ozuna if he needed a break since he has not played regularly throughout his career. Your thoughts? -- Jacob Peklo, Wheaton

I think Ozuna would have been the full-time shortstop by now had the Sox thought highly enough of him at that position. Cintron missed most of the spring because of arm surgery and will come back stronger with the aid of winter ball for Caguas in his native Puerto Rico.

If the Sox determine Jerry Owens is their leadoff man next year, does he remain in center or do they continue looking for a CF upgrade? If they move Owens to left, what happens to Fields until a Crede trade? -- Mike Kamper, Oak Lawn

I think Jerry will move to left if the Sox can sign or trade for a center fielder. Fields is the x factor until Crede returns.

I often hear people talk about how they hate the Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome deal. A lot of the time people bring up Thome's numbers last year, which were great, but had we not made that trade our DH would have been Frank Thomas. I do believe that Big Frank's numbers were very comparable to Thome. Thomas made a great point when he left town. He mentioned Thome's injuries, which were just as serious and made his future just as questionable as Thomas. So in reality, I see that deal as Aaron Rowand and Frank Thomas for Jim Thome and Brian Anderson. Thome and Thomas may be equal in most ways, but I would rather have Rowand than Anderson. I believe one reason this happened was Kenny Williams' undeniable dislike for Frank Thomas. What do you think? -- Eric Hoy, Casey

There is no love lost between Kenny and Frank. But the Sox wanted to add a left-handed power bat to protect Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye. Their problems run deeper than Thome's recent struggles.

Mark this may sound kinda stupid, but as of now the White Sox have the seventh worst record in baseball, and that would mean we would get the 7th pick in the draft. It's been a while since we've had a top pick, and it's been a while since we've had a top pick in the draft … could it be a semi-good thing if we finish with a top five worst record in baseball? -- Isaiah, Indiana

Only if they spend the money for that slot.

Mark, What a summer. As of today (Saturday), the Sox are tied or worse than KC, Baltimore, Seattle, Florida, Washington, Houston, Milwaukee, and Colorado. All of this brings me to my question ... do you have a mean fastball and a wicked curveball by any chance? Perhaps a quick bat with a little pop and a decent glove? If so, please let Williams know. I think the Sox could use you. -- Screwball, Chicago

Screwball, sorry to disappoint you. I held my own in Pony and Colt League against Mark Langston, but Mark Davis was too much in Palomino League. I knew when to hang them up at the right time -- a long, long time ago. This game isn't easy. I know because I failed.