Mark Gonzales' White Sox mailbag

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When are we going to see Josh Fields at first base? --Kirpal, Denver

Not any time soon. Paul Konerko is signed through 2010, Nick Swisher can play first and there was talk of Jermaine Dye moving to first before Konerko re-signed with the Sox after 2005.

With Carl Everett retired, any chance the Sox will pull off a deadline deal for another surly switch-hitting Texas slugger, Milton Bradley? What are the odds the Rangers would part with the pending free agent, and what might the Sox have to give up to get him? Pat G., Indianapolis

I can see the Rangers moving Bradley, but not to Chicago.

Is that a misprint or does Brad Eldred have 24 home runs in Class AAA? Also, why do the Sox prefer Brian Anderson over Jerry Owens as a backup outfielder? Wouldn't you rather have a guy on your bench who can steal some bases? Lastly, how does Juan Uribe continue to get in the lineup? I'm tired of Ozzie throwing his tantrums like he's a two year old and then he turns around and puts Uribe in the lineup three days in a row. The guy can't hit, can't bunt, can't run, and doesn't put the ball in play. --Mike, Manteno, Ill.

Mike, only one question per e-mail, please. Brad Eldred now has 26 home runs. He's an interesting study who deserves a shot with a major league team, but the Sox already have their share of sluggers.

It seems to me the biggest problem with the offense is every right-handed hitter going after sliders down and away, usually in the dirt. What is it about these pitches that don't come remotely close to the strike zone, that they find so appealing? --Brian, Homer Glen, Ill.

It's why a lot of us are watching and evaluating and not playing.

I have sent a few questions to you starting in pre-season asking your opinion regarding the possibility of the Sox picking up Kenny Lofton. I could hear your laughter! Now, I read that Kenny Williams has gone after Lofton without success so far. I still believe he would be a decent addition to the club even playing part time. Any thoughts? --Mike V., Crystal Lake, Ill.

I'm not laughing. A player like Lofton could help the Sox, provided he's stayed sharp and understands his role.

Mark, is Jim Thome capable of taking a first pitch? It would be a different thing if pitchers were throwing him strikes on the first pitch, but they are not. If my limited knowledge of baseball is correct, it is much easier hitting 1-0 or 2-0 than the other way around. --Rick Smetana, Lee's Summit, Mo.

Yes, but Jim likes to take a good look at a pitcher's array of pitches, except in a situation like last Friday against Kerry Wood.

Why do you suppose so many Sox fans are so up-and-down when it comes to supporting their team? The minute a guy goes into a slump, everyone seems to want to ship him out, regardless of his past track record (see Thome, Konerko, etc.). Or they want Kenny to trade away everybody for prospects and start from scratch, even though we have a 4 1/2 game lead in the middle of June. The Sox will be right in the middle of things come September, so everyone needs to sit back, enjoy the season and let it unfold. If the team is out of the playoff picture at the end of the season, then they can complain. --Greg Pearson, LaPorte, Ind.

Let's face it, it's been a wild ride with the roller coaster of winning streaks and losing streaks, hitting droughts and now a speed bump by the starting pitching. I think everyone realizes the division is winnable.

Trade Paul Konerko to the Giants for Randy Winn, who plays center field and put Swisher at first base. --Bill Lewin, New Orleans

I have Brian Sabean's cell phone number, but I'm not so sure he'd return Kenny Williams' call for this.

I read a Pirates blog by a part-time scout and he said that every time Javier Vasquez was in the stretch, he tipped his pitches. Wondering if you could ask about that and see if the Sox believe it to be true? Thanks as always. --Southside Cliffy, Chicago

Cliffy, good to hear from you. This might be an area of revisiting, since there has been a thread to Javier's struggles. I was surprised as anyone, however, with Javier's control problems last Sunday.

Mark, I'm so mad. First game of the Cub series, ninth inning, game tied and Anderson doubles with the pitcher due up next. Instead of sacrificing with Ozuna, who is one of our better bunters, Ozzie sends Thome up. What's he thinking? Is he trying for two runs before getting the go ahead run? Thome fails as well as the next two batters. Two minutes later the Cubs win. A perfect spot for Ozuna to pinch bunt and Ozzie goes for the home run. Why carry Ozuna on the team if there is no use for him? I would like to know of one reason to pinch hit Thome at that point? --Bob Sagen, Ft. Mohave, Ariz.

If the Sox fall short of the playoffs by one game, I think many fans will point to Friday's loss as the signature game. Maybe it's because I loved the way Earl Weaver managed, but I thought it would have been a waste to have Ozuna up there to bunt (and waste an out) with Anderson already at second with one out (and Anderson should have been at third).

There were plenty of warning signs in that game, and the failure to deliver a key hit with runners in scoring position prior to the ninth was just as costly as not advancing Anderson from second.

I've been digging around online and can't find any specifics about Thome's contract. Do you have any info on how many plate appearances he needs for the option to vest? I've heard Jim say he'd like to retire in a White Sox uniform, and I wouldn't mind that idea one bit. --Tyson Shroyer, Peoria, Ill.

Tyson, as of June 23, Jim has 272 plate appearances. He had 536 plate appearances last year and needs 392 more plate appearances for the 2009 option at $13 million to automatically vest.

Are the Sox, especially Swisher, Anderson, and Cabrera, incapable of bunting? I am so frustrated seeing lead-off doubles come to nothing by the Sox's ineptitude at moving runners along. At this point I'd even rather see Thome lay down a mediocre bunt to move a runner to third than watch him strike out or hit an unproductive, weak first-pitch fly out. Why can't/won't the Sox move the runners along? They're getting plenty of hits lately. They seem to be swinging for the fences too much. What do you think? --David Sinaiko, Fairfax, Calif.

The lack of executing in bunting situations is alarming. It's been feast or famine when it comes to clutch hitting, and I think this team is at its best when they work deep counts and take what the opposing pitchers give them.

To keep my mind off being swept on the North Side I was looking at the future of the Sox. How long do you think it will take Gordon Beckham to move up through the system? Can you give us a bit more info about Beckham and how he projects both at the plate and in the field? --Chris D., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ozzie Guillen compared Beckham to Michael Young, based on videotape he had seen prior to the draft. But a scouting director for another major league team drew comparisons to Rick Burleson, a three-time American League All-Star shortstop. Based on what little I've seen of him, I like his swing and that he rarely uppercuts. His defense is good enough to play shortstop, and it's not the end of the world if he moves to second base.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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