The Cubs are getting ready for the Red Sox, and Ask Paul is ready to answer your questions about Matt Clement, Yosh Kawano and whether most Tribsters are Cubs or White Sox fans.

This team is absolutely dead. It's almost June and they are getting worse, not better. Even if they get all of their injured players back, it still would not energize this team. Please tell me that Jim Hendry will soon start dealing players, either for prospects or for some new blood. I cannot believe how useless several of the players are. --Scott Rosenberg, Charlotte, N.C.

Imagine waking up every morning and having about two dozen e-mails like this waiting in your inbox? Welcome to Ask Paul's world.

The Cubs seem to designate a pitcher each year, usually one of their best, who is given no run support. Last year it was Matt Clement. Lately, Carlos Zambrano seems to be on the receiving end of this unfortunate honor. Is this a psychological thing? Maybe the Tribune will pay for some group counseling. --Greg Haab, Urbana, Ill.

This happens to just about every team in every season. Cubs fans seem to take it more personally than others, perhaps as part of their persecution complex.

Remind me again why the Cubs didn't re-sign Clement. I wasn't quite sure what they planned to do with the money they saved. --Dan Marx, Fairport, N.Y.

As you recall, Clement was removed from the rotation at the end of 2004, which coincided with the Cubs collapse, even though his replacement, Glendon Rusch, pitched well. The idea was that Rusch was a cheaper and better alternative to Clement, and that Angel Guzman would be ready by June or July. Guzman is at Double-A and remains out until July (at least) with a forearm strain. Rusch is one of the Cubs' most valuable players both in the pen and in the rotation, where he should remain for the rest of the season. Clement seems happy, so be happy for him.

How would you explain the ascension of Glendon Rusch? Two years ago this guy was a doormat, now he is probably the team's best pitcher. He seemed to become great overnight. There must be some explanation. --Shane Heilman, Sioux Falls, S.D.

I can't answer it. He was always considered to be a guy with a good arm with no results. I think last year's success helped him gain confidence, and now he realizes he's one of the best left-handers around, and it's reflected in his numbers.

Do any Cubs players ever smile while being interviewed or do they save that for their personal time away from the ballpark. Whether they win or lose, they all seem to have the same expression. Who do you think smiles the most in the clubhouse? --Ken Loredo, Franklin Park, Ill.

Definitely the writers.

Yo, Paul. How is the support of the Cubbies at the Tribune? I don't mean from a corporate standpoint, I'm talking fan support from the folks working there. Do you guys have Cubs mousepads and mugs? Can they put the game on in the office and root for the team? Is there any static with the Sox fans? Fill me in, buddy. --William Burke, Tokyo

Yo, William. Believe it or not, the Tribune is infiltrated with Sox fans, including many of the higher-ups who sit in offices with a great view. Most of the Cubs supporters keep it to themselves, for fear of getting jumped by the Sox fans. One former Tribune Co. chairman who ran the Cubs for years, grew up as a Sox fan. I'll leave him nameless so we can have another special edition of Ask Paul in two weeks.

You Chicago sportswriters are too good at your jobs. You have to post a column almost every day during the season and you're forced to find juicy stories. This year has been mostly free of that muckraking, but I can think of a couple instances where Dusty accused somebody of fishing for a story that wasn't there by framing questions to a particular Cub who wants to play second base every day. This type of thing adds stress to the poor, pathetic players and seems to happen only in the largest markets. Does feeding the monster hurt the Cubs? --Joe Alberts, Chicago

Feeding the goat is the proper term, and it has nothing to do with the famous tavern goat that allegedly cursed the Cubs in 1945. It's true that some players do not perform well in big-market cities with lots of media, but just as many don't perform in one-paper cities with hardly any media. I don't believe in the concept of media-related stress, but I always like to hear a wacky theory or two.

Cub fans here in Houston have taken the LaTroy Hawkins trade hard. Do you think when LaTroy goes into the Hall of Fame he will wear a Twins, Cubs or Giants hat? --Bob Butler, Houston

Sorry, no more LaTroy bashing here from bitter Cubs fans. Try "Ask Ray Ratto" at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Maybe I've missed this, but my husband and I have been wondering about Yosh Kawano. Any info? --Jan Burton, Norman, Okla.

He's still working in the visitor's clubhouse at Wrigley and penning his tell-all book, "Yoshed!"