The Tribune's White Sox reporter answers reader questions throughout the season. This week, shifting Paul Konerko to DH and Swisher to first, tracking Ken Williams' trades and Nick Swisher's pants.
I know trades are too hypothetical to ask about effectively, but if Ken Williams truly thought Carlos Quentin was going to blossom, why did we trade for Nick Swisher, especially if moving Paul Konerko before he earned 5-and-10 rights wasn't going to be the next step? Going into the season - we didn't get Swish to hit leadoff or play CF, and Paulie was our most marketable chip to trade away if Contreras didn't return to form. --Al Bloom, Montgomery, Ala.
Quentin was recovering from shoulder surgery when the trade was made, and it was uncertain whether he would be ready by the start of the regular season. Swisher had a more proven track record entering this season.
Jim Thome hasn't hit left-handed pitching in at least three years. In that period he has hit over a hundred points better against right-handers. His current production is not a slump, at least not so far as left-handers are concerned. It is normal. Why don't the Sox sit him against all left-handers? They could play Brian Anderson, move Swisher to first and Konerko to DH. --John McFerrin, Beckley, W.Va.
I think he can hit certain left-handers in which he pokes the ball to left and left-center. For instance, he's done well against Detroit's Nate Robertson.
We White Sox fans really appreciate your patience with stupid and repetitive questions, Mark. I hope this one is neither. In your "" story posted late on June 4, you quote Walker saying "It's my job to (get the hitters to) turn home field into an advantage. Let's go play our style of baseball and have some fun." I've read elsewhere that the minor league system values power over other skills and generally promotes prospects based on their ability to hit for power, not for their ability to execute situational hitting or even to field their positions well. From your perspective, to what extent does the Sox organization preach and teach a "Swing for the Fences" philosophy, and to what extent does it limit the Sox's ability to manufacture runs when the homers are not flying? --Matt Hinckley, Plano, Texas
I think the Sox would have moved Ryan Sweeney sooner had they placed a bigger emphasis on power. The Sox need to draft, sign and develop more position players, and the selection of Gordon Beckham is a step in that direction.
If Paul Konerko is hurt/hurting/crippled/whatever why is the team not protecting him by putting him on the disabled list now instead of September when we're in the middle of a playoff race? Give him some extended rest now, help him figure out his swing and fill-in the holes now and not in September when we will need him to be producing like Konerko of 2005. --Bryan, Alsip
Paul is well enough to play, as evidenced by his game-winning homer on Monday. The four days off during the All-Star break will do him plenty of good, as well as the next two days off on consecutive Mondays.
With the White Sox still struggling at the leadoff position, has anyone thought about Kenny Lofton? Had good season last year and can still steal the odd base and bunt and he will not cost $10,000,000. Not sure who would move out to make way for him. --Gary Burns, Johannesburg
Gary, thanks for your interest from afar. The offense seems to be running better at the top now that Cabrera is feeling more comfortable. He's not the typical leadoff hitter, but his numbers have improved tremendously since the switch from second.
This year, most of Kenny's trades have worked except for the Nick Swisher trade. Swisher is a lifetime .250 hitter. At best you are going to get .250 from him, and when he is in a slump, .200. Kenny blundered by not giving Aaron Rowand a fifth year. We could sure use his .335 average in the lineup. Trading him for Jim Thome was the start of the downward spiral for the Sox, It is time to dismantle the Mendoza trio (Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Swisher). In today's age of hitters, .200 is the new Mendoza line (it is no longer 190). -- Ed Wise, Schererville, Ind.
Question for you: What constitutes a "hot dog and Coke hitter?" A .160 average? For those who have never heard of this, a "hot dog and Coke" hitter is a batter who is so feeble that fans go to get a hot dog and Coke when he comes to the plate.
I am hoping to get past your new rule of only one question. With all the Sox hitting woes, why does Jermaine Dye continue to get a pass on his production? As I write this, he's hitting .328 with the bases empty, .222 with runners on. Plus, eight of his nine homers are with the bases empty. I don't see where he can be called Mr. Clutch. Secondly, what's with all of Joe Crede's throwing errors? It doesn't help to make a great play to keep a runner off base, then put the next one on with a bad throw. -- Tom Dixon, New Braunfels, Texas.
There's only one Mr. Clutch, and that's Jerry West.
Joe's errors can be attributed to an occasional lapse. He's made more than his share of mistakes, but the pitchers love having him at third.
A major responsibility of a batting coach is to help the batters prepare for specific game situations. Greg Walker has been the White Sox batting coach for several years and as a result the White Sox's tendencies in these game situations are well documented. They are too predictable. In my opinion, the Sox hitters need to take what is given to them and adjust swings accordingly. This would force the competition to adjust. What are your thoughts on this subject? --Tom, Park Ridge
Greg has told me that on occasion in past years he's brought Harold Baines in to talk to the hitters and has proclaimed that there's not many better than Harold at applying the "take-what-the-pitcher-gives-you" style.
First, do you agree with me that the biggest surprise for the White Sox this year has been the consistent quality starts of John Danks and Gavin Floyd. I really believe we would not be on top of our division without those two. --Skip M., Madison, Wis.
I agree with your assessment on the consistency of Danks and Floyd. It speaks to the maturity of those two pitchers and the faith of the Sox's staff to stick with them, rather than sign Bartolo Colon.
Who would you compare Gordon Beckham to? Some people say he's like Derek Jeter. Is that because of his bat or his defense or both? When do you think we'll see him in Chicago? --Vik, Chicago
Ozzie, based on watching tape, made a comparison to Michael Young. I heard another comparison I likeRick Burlesonfrom a scouting director of a major league team. I watched Beckham on television last Friday and liked the way he kept his bat level and lined a hanging breaking pitch rather than try to lift it.
No question Bobby Jenks is a premiere closer. But is there any reason to be worried about the velocity on his fastball, which doesn't seem to top 92-93 m.p.h. very much any more? --Paul Aspan, Havertown, Pa.
I think Bobby can still throw 95 on occasion, and his velocity seems to rise in the summer months. I'm not concernedyetbecause he's throwing strikes consistently as well as anyone on the staff.
Since the White Sox just signed Esteban Loaiza, it seems like a decent pickup considering they're only paying 390k and it provides a good long relief option. Do you think he has anything left in the tank? Thanks. --Nick, Lansing, Mich.
Nick, thanks for your interest. I was very impressed with the Lansing/East Lansing area and the Dairy Store on the Michigan State University campus is one of the best-kept secrets in the area.
I like the addition of Loaiza, especially since the Sox are paying him only $260,000 (with the Dodgers picking up the rest). The Sox might need him in a starting role if they have to play a doubleheader or someone needs to skip a start.
I need to preface this by saying that I truly do root for Ozzie to stick around, regardless of what he says in his rants or how often they happen. That said, don't you think its only a matter of time before we get a real gem out of him, like Dennis Green's "they are who we thought they were" tirade? As a comedy fan, my fingers are crossed, and I'm prepared to make t-shirts. Tyson Shroyer, Peoria
Maybe the Sox can invite Lisa Lampanelli to a game and have her critique Ozzie's rants.
I was wondering where the 16-year-old shortstop is that the White Sox signed last year? Is he playing in Latin America somewhere or will he be joining one of the rookie league teams when they start their seasons? Thanks and keep up the good work. --Dan Dibble, Bloomingdale
Thanks, Dan. The plan is for Juan Silverio to join a short-season team later this month. I don't expect that to change with Buddy Bell now running the entire farm system.
I honestly have no complaints with the team Kenny Williams put on the field this year. Our bullpen went from joke to asset, and our starting rotation leaves very little room for complaint. My question is about the announcer's booth. Do you think Steve Stone will eventually find his way back to TV, maybe as a replacement for Darrin Jackson, or even the Hawk? I personally am getting tired of having to find an AM radio to play every time I watch a game. --Joe Bugajski, Homewood
I don't anticipate any changes in the television and radio crews. Those teams get along well.
Since the start of divisional play, what's the latest in a season that both Chicago teams were in 1st? Why not a Subway Series in Chi? --Rick, Renton, Wash.
I can't wait for the reaction of the newcomers, such as Swisher and Cabrera, to their first Cubs-Sox Series. I think they'll find out quickly it's not like the Bay Bridge or Freeway Series.
Editor's note:The Cubs and White Sox were in first place in their respective divisions on September 10, 2003.
Why won't Ozzie switch Joe Crede with Paul Konerko in the lineup? I mean seriously, why is Crede batting eighth in this sorry lineup? It makes no sense. You'd think until Konerko shows signs of being permanently out of this slump Guillen would at least give Crede a shot at being in the middle of the order. Could you ask him, because I really want to know what he's thinking. --Jeff Reece, Jacksonville, Fla.
The batter who is hitting ahead of Crede has prospered, from Quentin to Swisher.
Why do you think so many fans enjoy blasting Kenny Williams? --Jim, Stevens Point, Wis.
I can't speak for the fans, but past e-mailers expressed that Kenny aimed too high this past off-season with his pursuit of Torii Hunter. But at last January's SoxFest sessions, fans seemed largely appreciative of Kenny's honesty and candid responses. And Kenny is always aiming for a championship.
Who are the leading candidates for AL Rookie of the Year? If Alexei Ramirez continues his solid play, what do you think of his chances? -- Randy Johnson, Rancho Cordova, Calif.
There are plenty of candidates, but here are only a few: Minnesota's Carlos Gomez, Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees' Joba Chamberlain and Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria. Time to start the push for Alexei.
Hey Mark, I love your mailbag. My dad and I were at the when Alexei Ramirez hit his first home run. We were in the left field bleachers and the ball landed a few rows in front of us. You could see my dad and me in all the highlight shows. I'm trying to track down a clip of this or of that whole game for a Father's Day gift. Any ideas of who I can get in contact with? Thanks a ton and I really enjoy reading your mailbag! --David, Livermore, Calif.
David, great to hear from someone from the Bay Area. That was quite a weekend at AT&T Park. I'd try to reach Joe Grube, who is involved with the telecasts and is known as "the Mayor."
I'm loving this roll that the White Sox are on. That said, what is up with Josh Fields in the minors? I'm still keeping an eye on next year and the possibility of signing Joe Crede and moving Paul Konerko to DH. Or would Fields be better of at the DH, since Konerko seems to be solid defensively? Also, how is Richar looking? --Chris D., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Josh is batting .261 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 40 games at Triple-A Charlotte. It's been a learning experience for Josh, but the Sox don't have to rush him to the majors with Joe producing and signed through this season.
Is there any chance that the White Sox might try to sign Dayan Viciedo? With Jose Contreras and Alexei Ramirez already aboard and doing well doesn't it make sense? --Bob, San Antonio
There's a question as to whether Viciedo is a free agent or will have to be selected in the 2009 amateur draft since he left Cuba for the United States. He's also not nearly the finished product that Alexei Ramirez was.
With the Red Sox in need of a DH (assuming Ortiz is out for a while), what do you think of Jim Thome for Coco Crisp? It gives Boston a left-handed DH on a short contract and leaves the Sox with Paul Konerko/Nick Swisher as first base/DH with Crisp in center. --Matt, Aurora
Sorry, Matt. I can't see it. Ortiz will come back at some point in the season and the Red Sox will be left with two left-handed hitting DHs.
Suddenly, last year seems like it never happened. Last week's Ozzie fury seems like it never happened. This feels more like '05. Can you describe the feeling in the Cell when the Sox swept the Twinkies? (Sweeping the Twins seems like '05 to me.) -- John Browning, Flemington, N.J.
Stunning, to say the least. I was very surprised by the manner in which the offense hit with confidence and rallied Monday from two deficits.
A request that i know is a lot of work, and will take some time to do: Summarize all the trades of Ken Williams, and the current status of the players that we traded, including minor leaguers, and those that have left by free agency, etc. Always like to try and keep tabs on former ChiSox. --Ron Reichman, Los Angeles
I loved the Freddy Garcia trade (from Seattle) as well as the Javier Vazquez trade, as crazy as it seemed moving Chris Young at the time. I'm happy for Ryan Sweeney. He needed a change of scenery.
Aaron Rowand is a leader in more ways than you know, and I'll explain later in this forum later this season.
The White Sox are firing on all cylinders now, but wouldn't it make sense to recondition hard-throwing Matt Thornton as a starting pitcher as insurance in case of injury to Javier Vazquez, Jose Contrares, Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle or John Danks? --Sid, Los Angeles
Big Matt Thornton raised the possibility of becoming a starter if needed at the end of the 2006 season, but I think the Sox need two left-handers in the bullpen. He's made a strong rebound from last season and gives Ozzie plenty of flexibility.
Was Swisher serious about wearing Toby Hall's pants? Between his playful demeanor and all the bizarre baseball superstitions I can't tell if he was serious! --Joe J., Chicago
I wouldn't put anything past Swisher, from wearing Toby's pants to sporting a different haircut.
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