Mark Gonzales' White Sox mailbag

My question is since everyone but fans dislike interleague play, why don't they limit these games? I would like to see only three Sox-Cubs games a year, with the home teams alternating sites each year. It's not fair to have to play top teams six times a year (ex.Cubs, Sox, Yanks, Red Sox). Seems that players and managers are always glad to end all this. -- Bob Sagen, Ft. Mohave, Ariz.

Bob, you make a great point, but I don't see this changing until at least 2012. Limiting the major rivalries to three games a year builds up the hype even more, as it does in college football (Notre Dame-USC, Florida- Florida State, and so on). But the home-and-home interleague series are great money-makers, and we know how money talks when it comes to Major League Baseball.

Mark, How come Bobby Jenks' velocity is down so much? He used to on occasion hit the 100 m.p.h. mark, but now he's around 94 m.p.h. Every time I watch him come in to close now I watch between my fingers as Bobby "Drama" walks someone or gives up a hit. Is he still our closer of the future? -- John Read, Merritt Island, Fla.

Now that Bobby's left back injury has been revealed, it will be important for everyone to see how Bobby rebounds in the second half from this ailment and how soon he can get his 96 m.p.h. velocity back. If he rebounds nicely in the second half, this bodes well for the Sox as well as Bobby, who could earn up to $6 million as an arbitration-eligible player for the first time. At the same time, I'd keep an eye on Adam Russell for the future.

What do you think the chances of Kenny offering or Orlando accepting a 3-year deal? Beginning of the year and as recently as a month or so ago he just did not seem like a happy player. He's still really hard to get a read on. -- Mike, Phoenix

I can't see it happening, with the Sox having several major financial decisions ahead of them after this season. Orlando is playing better since Ozzie moved him to the leadoff spot in mid-May. It's probably best for everyone in uniform to concentrate on this season and worry about the off-season when it arrives.

Mark, I'm a displaced White Sox fan who still gets to watch them over the Internet with my son. Watching them this year I still can't believe how exciting the club is and in particular Alexei Ramirez. I think he's one of the most all-around talented players the White Sox have ever had and is right now a rising star. What do you think the Sox will do with their shortstop situation now that Orlando Cabrera has finally come to life and is proving his worth? -- Greg Salomon, Oklahoma City,

I think Ken Williams will evaluate all facets and scenarios in putting together his 2009 roster, but my gut feeling is that Ramirez will be the shortstop in 2009.

Hey Mark, thanks for the good work covering the Sox. I have been watching them for just about half a century but there's always stuff I learn. I've always felt defense doesn't slump, so I can't figure out Crede and his, as of tonight's opener vs. Cleveland, incredible 16 errors. What gives, do you suppose? -- Dan Cronin, Franklin, Tenn.

Why is Joe Crede making so many errors this season? Is his back limiting him, has it put a mental block in his head, or is it a lack of focus? Crede has always been stellar defensively in the past and he has made some spectacular plays this year, but he's booting way too many. -- Larry, Calvert City, Ky.

Any insights into why Joe Crede has so many defensive troubles this year? Rust from the layoff? Other? -- John McFerrin, Beckley, W.V.

I think Joe just needs to get in his defensive rhythm, as Ozzie suggested a few weeks ago. We're used to seeing Joe field and throw in one smooth motion, and sometimes he has paused after fielding a hard grounder and has let up on his throws, which have led to the errors.

Mark: Earlier in the season, readers were suggesting Alexi Ramirez be sent down because he appeared "overmatched". With Uribe's injury, he has proven differently with increased playing time. He looks like a five-tool player, in fact he can even bunt! With a batting average over .400 with runners in scoring position to highlight his outstanding rookie numbers, how come he isn't being touted as "rookie of the year?" Other than maybe Longoria in Tampa Bay, who is showing more than Ramirez? -- Peter Mark, Dallas

Mark, Why is it that I don't hear anything about Alexei Ramirez being a rookie and I hear about the guy on the other side from Japan as a candidate for Rookie of the year? -- Gloria Moreno, Chicago

Can Alexei Ramirez be considered for Rookie of the Year? -- Ginni, 60609

It's easy to become instantly impressed with Ramirez. When it comes to AL Rookie of the Year voting, I hope voters take into consideration what Ramirez has done since taking over as the starting second baseman in mid-May. I think voters also will be looking closely at what Joba Chamberlain has done as a starter. Jacoby Ellsbury's average and on-base percentage aren't high, but he's already stolen 35 bases. The second half will tell a lot about who stays in contention.

Hi Mark, How many teams have four(five if you include first) new position players like the White Sox and are doing this well? -- Brian R. Sullivan, Chicago

None, but don't forget the Sox had plenty of work to do after a 90-loss season.

Mark, With the trade talks starting to heat up this season, I started wondering why is it that in MLB, players are not traded for draft picks? Wouldn't you rather have a draft pick than a low level prospect in most cases? -- Brad, Chicago

Depends on the player and the following season's draft pool. When Ken Williams was listening to offers for Jermaine Dye and Mark Buehrle, he took into consideration the value of prospects and whether it was equal to the talent of two high draft picks. I think teams will start to invest more heavily in the draft, which will temper some of the talk about trading picks.

How do the Twinkies keep so close behind the Sox? Just look at their runs scored and runs allowed. They barely have more scored than allowed, and they're nowhere near the Sox in either stat (less runs scored, waaaaaaay more runs allowed). They're winning with smoke and mirrors! -- Buzzcut, Munster, Ind.

I wouldn't go that far. The Twins hit well with runners in scoring position, and their pitchers limit their walks. They don't beat themselves and are competitive in many games.

Hi Mark, I try to keep up with our minor league teams and for about the past week to ten days, I haven't seen Josh Fields, Jerry Owens or Brad Eldred in the box scores. Are they hurt? I don't even see Jeff Liefer on the roster any more, did we release him? Thanks. -- Wendell, Iowa

Josh is currently at Winston-Salem on a rehab assignment after hurting his right knee. Owens is on the DL with a foot injury. Eldred broke his hand last month. Liefer retired.

Mark, Great job on providing detailed and realistic answers to questions posed. Do you see the Sox making any deadline deals? Although seeing Brian Roberts or a guy like Brian Giles in a Sox uniform would be nice, there is no room (with Ramirez emergence) unless they shipped out a guy like Konerko (10 and 5 prevent this) or Thome. I guess I wouldn't mind seeing them upgrade with another better starter but that is tough to come by. -- Chris, Chicago

I think the possibility becomes greater with Bobby Jenks' injury. The Sox have very good pitching depth, but it might behoove them to get more insurance. I agree with my neighbor Doug Melvin in stating that you need pitching depth in the second half.

What is the likelihood the Sox trade Crede to Baltimore for Roberts, moving Ramirez to third, in your judgement? -- Ralph Segall, Evanston

I can't see it. Ramirez is too good of an athlete to move away from the middle of the infield.

Mark, How many No. 1 draft picks of other teams has Kenny Williams acquired in recent years? The names Thornton, & Floyd come to mind... -- BoB G, San Antonio

I mentioned this to Kenny a few years ago when he had more than a dozen former first-round picks in training camp and that this drew similarities to Al Davis. The Sox have seven former first-round picks on their major league roster -- John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Matt Thornton, Paul Konerko, Brian Anderson, Carlos Quentin and Nick Swisher. Two more, Lance Broadway and Fields, are on the 40-man roster.

I got nothing against BA or Ozzie's judgement but why on earth is Anderson hitting in the 2 hole when AJ is resting? -- joe j, Chicago

The only realistic alternative in the second spot Saturday was Ramirez. Brian runs pretty well and might see more fastballs in the second spot. And Brian hits left-handers for power pretty well, as evidenced by his homer off Greg Smith.

Mark, my question/comment is about the trade that brought John Danks over to the Sox. I'm not trying to throw Brandon McCarthy under the bus, but I always had the sense that Kenny and the whole organization were sandbagging their opinion of him, as I just never saw the grand promise that they kept spouting. It's still too early to evaluate the value of that trade, but thus far it seems to be one of the best deals Kenny has ever made. -- Mark Rouleau, Indianapolis

I like Brandon very much and I hope he has an injury-free year soon to have a chance at regaining the promise all of us had for him. But his fastball didn't sink enough to the liking of the decision-makers, and that was a warning sign. The Sox thoroughly scouted Nick Masset and John Danks, and much of the credit should go to Bill "Yogi" Young, who proves he's a better scout than he would be as a hitting coach under Bob Brenly, and Gary Pellant.

Mark: First-time writer, but longtime reader and fan of your work. Over the last two or three years there have been rumors of the Sox trying to get Ken Griffey Jr. and nothing ever came of it for different reasons. Is there any chance he could come here or to another team to have a last chance at a ring like a lot of older players get in the NBA? I just wanted to ask this after seeing Junior hit his 600th HR in June. Thanks Mark, a loyal reader in Ft. Misery, Fla., where people come to die not retire. -- Kevin Jacobson, Fort Myers, Fla.

I feel the same way about Tucson. One former major league manager said of Tucson, "if someone told me I had six months to live, I'd pick Tucson because it would feel like an eternity." The Sox have a surplus of outfielders, and I think pitching will be their main concern, not Ken Griffey Jr.

Mark: Has it occurred to anyone else that the Sox are a better team without Paulie in the lineup? Nick Swisher is terrific at first base, and with Anderson or Wise in the lineup, we have some real needed speed and we wind up with far fewer rally killing double plays, which Konerko did almost every game. What do you think? -- Daniel Pritchett, Smyrna, Del.

Gonzo: Kenny Williams and Ozzie have a real dilemma on their hands; part of this situation is caused by having better talent than the 2005 season. Many Sox fans believe that we have a stronger and more balanced team without Konerko in the everyday lineup; a case in point, look at the record since he departed. It looks like Konerko will be given back his starting position when he returns. My question is what happens if Konerko continues to bat .200? At what point will Kenny and Ozzie show the necessary courage to bench him if he is not producing? If he produces, it is just a moot point. But if he doesn't, Sox fans are not going to let this point go. I think we all agree we should be playing the players that give us the best chance of winning, and batting near .200 isn't going to meet the mark from your cleanup hitter. -- Ed Lasak, Riverside, Calif.

Is it possible to keep Paul Konerko on the injured list? It seems like the Sox are hitting far better without him grounding into double plays every other day. -- Tom, Downers Grove

I'm very curious to see how much Jermaine and Paul rotate as designated hitters, and how much Jim sits against left-handed pitchers. Since the second half is around the corner, it's important to recognize that the Sox play 16 of their first 19 games against AL Central opponents (including seven straight at Detroit and Minnesota), followed by four games against Boston. After the All-Sar break, the Sox will have only two days off until Aug. 21. It's essential to keep the players sharp, but they must be effective during this tough stretch. Therefore, it will behoove everyone to give Dye and Konerko a break as a DH while hoping that Jim hits with more consistency.

Francisco Rodriguez has 34 saves through 85 games. Thus, it appears that Bobby Thigpen's single season record is definitely in jeopardy. What do you think? -- Matt Zickus, Elgin

I think Rodriguez has a great shot at breaking Thigpen's record and hope Rodriguez respects the record and handles himself with class if he sets the record.

Mark, Any chance that the Sox would consider Gordon Beckham at third base if Crede is not re-signed and Fields does not work out? -- Doug Whisker,Geneseo

I cannot see it at this time, but I wouldn't rule out a position change well down the road. I think Beckham should be given every chance to succeed as a shortstop before considering a position change.

The Sox have made a number of trades over the last few years of prospects for major league players. Other than Chris Young, I haven't heard many of their names in the Bigs. Could you do a "Where are they now" of the players traded? -- Fred, Clarendon Hills

David Paisano -- .253, 2 HRs, 9 RBIs -- Class-A Spokane
Fautino De Los Santos -- out for year. Reconstructive elbow surgery
Gio Gonzalez -- 5-6, 4.84 ERA -- Triple-A Sacramento
Daniel Cortes -- 3-4, 3.64 ERA -- Class-A Northwest Arkansas
Tyler Lumsden -- 3-8, 7.09 ERA -- Triple-A Omaha
Chris Carter -- .250, 22 HRs, 61 RBIs -- Class-A Stockton
Aaron Cunningham -- .304, 7 HRs, 27 RBIs -- Double-A Midland

Mark, what has become of Josh Fields? Don't see him on the active roster for Charlotte. Thanks! -- Clark Daly, Midlothian, Va.

Josh is on a minor league rehab assignment at Class-A Winston-Salem.

Hi Mark, You do a great job answering all of our White Sox questions. I have a change-up for you. Can you tell me why TBS is not broadcasting Atlanta Braves games this year? Thanks and keep up the good work. GO SOX!!!!! -- Steve, Fort Wayne, Ind.

TBS elected to switch from the Braves to a selected national baseball package.

Hi Mark, I am curious why the Sox did not bring up Brad Eldred when Konerko went on the DL. He has a ton of homers in AAA ball. Is he being groomed as a DH next year if the Sox do not resign Jim Thome? Thanks! -- Tim Sweeney, Villa Park

Tim, Brad is on the DL at Triple-A Charlotte because of a broken hand. The Sox were looking for a player more athletic than Brad, who moves pretty well for someone 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds.

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