What do you think will become of Juan Uribe? -- Trevor Kelly, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Even with the emergence of Alexei Ramirez, I still think Uribe is a fit for the Sox throughout this season. With Danny Richar hitting .226 at Triple-A Charlotte, there's a strong need to keep Uribe here, even if it's a backup role.
One veteran scout mentioned to me during a recent trip that he'd even consider re-signing Uribe and returning him to shortstop in 2009 (in the likely event Orlando Cabrera isn't re-signed) and Ramirez starts at second.
Would Toronto be interested in Jim Thome for a couple of prospects? Thome is in the last year of his deal with the White Sox and many scribes indicate the Sox have a depleted farm system after all of Ken Williams' deals the past few years. It seems to me that a team who wants to compete in the AL East has to do better than Matt Stairs at DH. Brian Anderson is ready and Jermaine Dye can be shifted to the DH this year instead of waiting until next year. -- Steve Kasperski, Chicago
With Paul Konerko's injury, the Sox need Thome and the return of his productive bat more than ever.
Think about this for a minute. The Sox pound the ball for their entire home stand and hit like the 1927 Yankees. Then they go to Detroit and forget how to hit again. Might somebody be tipping pitches at Da Cell? They didn't exactly face Cy Young type pitchers in the Motor City! -- Allman, Tempe, Ariz.
Justin Verlander looked like Bob Gibson against the Sox last Wednesday. The only suspicions I had were the scouting reports that said to try to hit fastballs early in the count that led to some quick innings for Verlander.
Why do you only do the mailbag when the White Sox are on a downturn? I noticed that you didn't have one during their eight-game winning streak, and had a weekly one before that and after, until they won seven. Then you were quiet, now that they've lost two (whhooooa), you're back to portray Sox fans as losers. What gives, Mark? Company policy? -- Anna, Chicago
As far as company policy goes, I'm asked to try to file this early in the week (Monday or Tuesday) and this isn't dictated by the fortunes of the Sox. To paraphrase what Bob Brenly once told a Denver radio reporter when he managed Arizona: "Congratulations on submitting the dumbest e-mail."
Editor's note: Mark did a Q&A on June 11 that was posted on ChicagoSports.com, Chicagosports.com's White Sox front page, ChicagoTribune.com/sports but not the Ask the Writer headlines. We have rectified the problem and apologize to Mark for exposing him to tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists.
Mark, it appears ever more likely that this team will at the very least, be in it around the All-Star break. That being said, our biggest glaring weakness is an inconsistent offense (which is much better than last year's biggest problem, the bullpen) and I believe Ken Williams will go out and make a move if it makes sense. My question is who gets bumped out of the lineup if this were to happen? Could you see the White Sox possibly releasing Jim Thome mid-year (and doesn't his option automatically get picked up after a certain number of plate appearances)? -- S. Avitan, Skokie
I can't see the Sox releasing Thome at mid-season. His on-base percentage is .341 (as of Monday, Anna). Kenny believes very strongly in the personnel of this team, and the only batters who will get bumped out of the lineup are those who continue to struggle and leave the manager with little choice.
Mark: Watched another failed effort on Father's Day where the White Sox left a ton of guys on base. Has this situation where the team seemingly can't drive in guys in scoring position become a "mental" thing? It's tough enough to play at this level in the best of times. Under the circumstances and what's gone on since July 2006, it must be extremely hard right now. -- Mark Liptak, Chubbuck, Idaho
I'm not sure it's entirely a mental thing, except in a few individual cases where an already-struggling player might have put too much pressure on himself. Before Paul Konerko got injured, I noticed he was hitting more to right field. That was an encouraging sign. And Jim Thome is more effective and dangerous when he hits to all fields. I'm not saying they should radically alter their styles, but sometimes it's better to take what the opposing pitcher gives you.
After seeing the White Sox get swept by a division rival that happens to be a better team, I think the Sox are done for this year. I don't care what the standings say. It's early and we don't get to play the Royals, Twins and Giants all year. The Sox simply lack talent, and what little of it they have is just waiting to get hurt. Time for a sell-off, even though few of our players are worth anything. -- Jeff Kay, Chicago
Let's take a look at the schedule. Pittsburgh is in town this week, but the Pirates can mess with teams (just ask the Cubs 3½ weeks ago), followed by a tough stretch that includes six against the Cubs, three at Dodger Stadium, three against Cleveland and four against a pesky Oakland team. This season has proven to be unpredictable, based on what the Sox have done on the road this season (a 7-3 West Coast trip sandwiched by an 0-6 swing and 3-7 since sweeping SF). So I wouldn't say that the Sox are done.
Mark, after watching Willy Taveras run wild on Saturday night, it reminded me how poor the White Sox are at holding runners on base. Why are they so horrific in this facet of the game? -- Jacob Peklo, Wheaton
Well, Ozzie was quoted as telling John Danks not to worry about the runners and just get the hitters out. That works as long as the runner doesn't score, but it puts a lot of stress on the pitcher (and catcher).
It takes a collective effort by everyone to stop this, from the pitcher keeping the base runner closer while making a quality pitch and giving the catcher a chance to throw the runner out. And slide steps and pitchouts are only parts of stopping the running game. Much of it has to do with disrupting a baserunner's rhythm, such as stepping off the rubber, faking throws to first while stepping off the rubber, etc. And during this, a pitcher still has to make quality pitches.
My MLB Game Cast pictures a strike zone and indicates where the ball crosses the plate. Does electronic magic allow that this data is accurate? If so pitchers rarely throw strikes. The ball usually crosses outside of the strike zone or below it. A pitch above the waist is called a ball. No wonder baseball opposes technology to call balls and strikes. -- Richardson, Sta. Ana, Costa Rica
And Joe West and other umpires agree with you, especially when it comes to the accuracy of QuesTec.