Mark Gonzales' White Sox mailbag

SportsBaseballFootballChicago White SoxPaul KonerkoSpring TrainingJermaine Dye

The Tribune's White Sox beat writer answers questions throughout the season. This week, more Paul Konerko trade propositions, a few farm questions and Joe Crede's error count.

Do you know where the White Sox are going to be for spring training? Tucson or Glendale? --Phil Breitbach, Fenton, Mo.

Phil, I wish I could give you a firm answer. The main stumbling block is whether the Sox can present a plan that would satisfy various officials in Tucson. The Sox's contract at the Kino Sports Complex runs through 2012, and they can't get out of this unless they can get another team to replace them. I'm not sure there's a way that the Sox can get around this without some form of financial compensation.

But there's just as much at stake for the Tucson community since Colorado can pull out of its lease if there aren't three teams training in Tucson. And the Diamondbacks would seem to have plenty of suitors in the Phoenix area once their contract at the Kino Sports Complex expires in 2012.

How about this scenario: The Sox train full-time and play enough games in Glendale to fulfill their obligations with Glendale officials, and also send a split sqaud to Tucson to play enough games to meet the requirements for games played at Tucson Electric Park?

Two months ago, I talked to Katy Feeney, Major League Baseball's senior vice president/scheduling and club relations, about deadlines for spring training schedules. She didn't say there was a deadline for the schedules to be finalized, adding there could be schedules tailored for adjustments.

I see this issue dragging out as the Sox seek ways to move to Glendale and try to satisfy those in Tucson who care about spring training.

This White Sox team can be very frustrating to watch, and sometimes they can be very enjoyable to watch. I think the enjoyable time to watch them is when Paulie is not in the lineup. We have given this guy enough time to figure it out, and each day that passes, he looks even more clueless. Bench him, please for the sake of the team. Both the offense and defense will excel. --Peter, Bartlett

Hi Mark: Paul Konerko has been one of my favorite White Sox players for some years now. However, Paulie had a terrible year last year, and here we are past the All-Star break and, if I remember correctly, he is still batting below .220 and has only 8 homers. Isn't it time for Ozzie to say, "Paulie you gave us your all three years ago, but you are now hurting the team. Swisher is now starting at first"? --Garey, Urbanna, Va.

Sorry but I've got another Paulie question for you. Is Konerko still officially the team captain? I know he can't be traded because of his no-trade-clause, and he probably can't sit because he makes too much money, but his constant "it all evens out in the end" quotes (that's called .500 Paulie) are almost too much to bear. --Bill, Crystal Lake

My god, my fellow White Sox fans are a bunch of whiners. How many questions did you field about Jim Thome—he's raised his average 50 points in the last month—or how Paul Konerko is "washed up"—without mention his injuries? Every question in your email box should be about what to do with Jose Contreras … geez Louise. --Brian, Homer Glen

Paul didn't ask to be the team captain but was given that title by Ozzie after the 2005 season. Paul had some pretty good at-bats in Friday's win over Kansas City, but one game doesn't make a season, as you all know. This might be a telling week as to how long Ozzie sticks with Paul. I still think the Sox need Konerko's bat, but we're getting close to the final two months of the season and it's time for heroes to step up.

As far as the leadership goes, there are enough veterans in the clubhouse to police each other instead of forcing Paul to become a sheriff. I've seen some of this since the start of spring training, where a veteran was making sure that an inexperienced player was arriving ahead of the team bus so that player could take extra batting practice instead of relying on his talent.

Mark, I see a lot of your questions suggesting Paul Konerko will be the designated hitter next year. I think Ken Williams has seen one too many slumps from Paulie, and both he and Jim Thome will be gone next year. Look for Jermaine Dye to be full-time DH. Your thoughts? --Kurt Livingston, Marion, Iowa

I actually think Jermaine's defense in right field has improved over last year. He is making catches on line drives and fly balls that he couldn't reach last year because of leg injuries. I think he can play through 2009 in right field.

I can't see Konerko AND Thome gone next year.

What are the odds of the White Sox pursuing Xavier Nady of the Pittsburgh Pirates to put in right field, move Jermaine Dye to first, and in return Pittsburgh would get three top prospects, Paul Konerko and cash to help alleviate paying Konerko all the money he doesn't deserve? --Jason Jordan, Bryant, Ariz.

I can't see it. The Sox's current issues deal more with pitching. Nick Swisher is a better first baseman than Jermaine, and Brian Anderson can play center. I don't see Paul waiving his no-trade rights to accept a trade to a non-contender.

Will the Sox be looking to acquire another starting pitcher to replace Contreras? His starts have mostly been awful and we can't continue going forward with such sub-par performances. --Ryan, Batavia

Since Jose is on the disabled list because of elbow tendonitis, he won't be eligible to pitch until Aug. 2, after the non-waiver trading deadline. I don't think the Sox will land a front-line starter to replace Jose, but stranger things have happened.

I'm still curious to see if Jose regains his velocity after he returns.

Can we get Raul Ibanez from the Mariners? --John, Elgin

I think it's possible, but the Sox's concentration should be on pitching. They have plenty of outfielders.

Was there any more said in the clubhouse or from Ozzie Guillen concerning Orlando Cabrera's decision against Texas to run past third base coach Jeff Cox's hold signal that ultimately allowed Cabrera to score? Is this a sign of disrespect in the clubhouse or would Ozzie be more inclined to side with Cabrera since he scored? --Ryan, Batavia

Nothing more was said. In this case, Cabrera felt confident he could score but I think Ozzie would talk to a player if he felt he blatantly disrespected a coach.

What's the book on Jon Link, the closer at Birmingham? His numbers look good. Is he regarded as a top prospect? --Charlie Frago, Little Rock, Ark.

I like Jon's strikeouts to innings pitched (39 to 39 1/3). He's 24, so keep that in mind when evaluating a player at Double-A. He could be considered a late bloomer, and the fact he hasn't allowed a home run this year is very encouraging.

As a disclaimer I want to tell you I am a Cubs fan, but I appreciate good baseball wherever it is played. So I can understand why the White Sox feel slighted that they only had a pair on the All Star team. I think A.J. Pierzynski or Jermaine Dye or certainly a couple of their pitchers deserved a spot on the squad. My question, though, is why Sox fans and/or the media dwell on the comparison between the number of Cubs on the National League team and the number of Sox on the American League team? A better and more relevant question is how did Texas land four players while the Sox only had two? --Terry Hunt, Big Rock

Several Texas position players are having great offensive years. I also think you could have made a strong case for A.J. and Jermaine for the AL All-Star team, and Scott Linebrink was superb in a set-up role and deserved strong consideration.

The Cubs benefited from having a great first half and that their fans made a strong push to see their players in the game as starters.

I have been wodering why it seems Ozzie Guillen lets the starting pitchers give up so many runs before pulling them for a relief pitcher? --Ken Pojman, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Ken, great to hear from someone from one of my favorite towns in America.

I think Ozzie wants to show faith in his starters and wants to allow them to get out of the jams they created and pitch with their heads as well as their arms. With the bullpen struggling recently, the starters may be asked to get out of major jams.

I understand why the White Sox are pushing Javier Vazquez back a few extra days for rest, and to get him back on track. But why wouldn't they pitch him against K.C. in the final game of the series vs. pitching him against the Rangers? Wouldn't he have a better chance against a weaker K.C. lineup? --J. Wilson, St. Louis

One of the options was to have Javy start the second half against the Royals. I'm not sure having 11 days off is the perfect cure, but I expect Javy to regain some of the dominance he displayed earlier this season. He's also lined up to pitch on the road against Detroit and Minnesota.

I have come to the conclusion that if you looked up "career .500 pitcher" in the dictionary you would find Javier Vazquez's picture. For all the talent in the world, it's hard to believe he doesn't have an awesome winning percentage. He has the 2nd most strikeouts of all pitchers since 2000 but yet continues to get traded because he doesn't win often enough and especially in big games. How can the Sox rely upon him for the 2nd half? --Marty Peters, Brandon, Fla.

Entering Monday's start, Javy is 122-120 lifetime. I find it alarming. I thought he'd have a better winning percentage than Andy Benes (155-139). There are a lot of factors for this, but I think they'll be forgotten if Javy can give the Sox a strong second half that helps lead them to the playoffs.

His performance becomes even more magnified with Contreras out for at least the rest of the month.

Why don't the White Sox have a relief pitcher who can induce ground ball outs in late-inning situations? (Does anyone remember Bob Locker?) I attended the recent Texas series and can tell you first hand the ninth inning of the second game was a nightmare. With runners on base each pitcher they brought in got hammered because they were trying to strike the batter out instead of trying to induce them into an inning-ending ground out. Does anyone of our relief pithers know how to throw a "slider?" Thanks Mark, keep up the good work! --Michael Mucker, Wichita Falls, Texas

Bob Locker! I remember him when he pitched for Oakland and helped the Swingin' A's to the 1972 World Series and had a 2.75 ERA in 576 career appearances.

The acquisition of Scott Linebrink was due in part to his ability to throw sinking fastballs, which is important at U.S. Cellular Field. Some times the situation calls for a strikeout, which is why Octavio Dotel is used in certain situations. But I think right now the bullpen is just going through a slump that it needs to snap out of soon. The bullpen did spoil a lot of people in the first half with its success.

Just trying to figure out why Pablo Ozuna is out and Juan Uribe is in. Could it be they want Uribe for second base next year with Alexei Ramirez moving to his natural position at shortstop? --Bill, Roseville, Calif.

I can't see Uribe staying next year unless the Sox can't find a bona fide alternative. But Ramirez's defense at second keeps getting better. Ramirez has one of the strongest arms I've seen at completing double plays.

What is going on with the White Sox's first-round pick Gordon Beckham? Has he signed yet with the team? Is he playing in the minors? --Brent, Athens, Ga.

Brent, great to hear from someone from Athens. Looks like the Bulldogs will be the football team to beat in the SEC, if not the entire country. They'll get a chance to show their skills against Arizona State and Kyle Williams, son of Sox GM Kenny Williams, early in the season.

I expect negotiations with Beckham to accelerate soon. Only three of the first 11 picks have signed. Expect Beckham to receive a bonus of more than $2 million, based on the slotting system.

Do you think the uncommon number of errors Joe Crede is making is related to his back surgery? I notice he still makes diving stops to his left or right without problems but when he has to bend over on balls hit directly to him he has problems. --Michael Mucker, Wichita Falls, Texas

I think Joe's back is as fine as can be for someone who underwent this kind of surgery. He's performed all the back exercises. I just think he needs to stay in a rhythm of fielding and throwing in one smooth motion.

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