The Tribune's Mark Gonzales answers questions about the future of the White Sox, umpire Joe West, Ozzie Guillen's future, and why the Sox didn't claim Brian Fuentes on waivers.
Ken Williams has a "win now" attitude and traded away some good pitchers like Richard and Hudson, but the Twins are a CONSTANT pest for the Sox every year because they bring up bats drafted through their farm system. They do it every year and lose guys who sign bigger contracts elsewhere, but another one ALWAYS comes up again. Meanwhile, KW brings in "big name" guys like Carl Everett, Griffey Jr, and now Manny. Viciedo could have done the job, but Ozzie and KW stubbornly decided to stick with Teahen and Kotsay. Why are Minnesota's GM and scouts so much better than the Sox at evaluating talent from their system and why do they bring it in to be a pain to the Sox EVERY year? Who's to blame most for the Twins always being the Sox's Achilles' heel? - year in, year out: Ken Williams, Ozzie, the scouts, or the players themselves? -- Cy, Beaverton, Ore.
Everyone. Last year during the American League Championship Series I wrote a story about the structure of the Twins' front office and how they include everyone in their decision-making process and how well their organization is structured.
Ron Gardenhire is a very good manager, but a lot of those players that are called up are ready to perform without any deficiencies. This is a credit to their scouting and player development departments. I think this tends to be overlooked, as many seem to have a man crush on Gardenhire.
There's a lot of trust that goes on in that organization, and it shows in the fact there's little turnover in the front office.
Any idea if Sox would want to and will be able to re-sign Omar Vizquel? Does he want to play next year? If so, how much money would he want and would other teams try to make a play for him considering how much he helped our infield defensively? -- Adrian C., Streamwood, Ill.
He told me on July 6 that he felt so good he wanted to dictate on his own terms when he would retire. I think the Sox need to get younger, but there is a place for him because the lack of playing time in the first two months actually kept him fresh. I think he's a great fit here for many reasons and he's one of baseball's class acts.
Tony Pena has saved the bullpen a number of times this year, but he's also had a very inconsistent year with an ERA near or over 5.00. Do you think the White Sox would consider non-tendering Pena considering that he will get a decent raise from arbitration? -- Gordon W., Elgin
There would be a stronger chance of Pena getting non-tendered if the Sox had other options within their organization. But I'm not sure how much leverage Pena will have with an ERA over 5.00.
Do you think that the Sox might consider getting rid of Ozzie at the end of the season? A lot of questionable decisions lately. Why did he let Jones hit in the bottom of the ninth last Saturday when he had Kotsay sitting on the bench? You knew that Jones would strike out and we needed to get a man on base. Second guessing I know, but I think that Ozzie gets outmanaged by Gardenhire and the Detroit manager all the time. -- Le Roy Poellot, Rockford, Ill.
I think the off-season will be eventful. Ozzie is signed through 2011 and certainly won't give up that money, but I can see a situation where he's allowed to go elsewhere. There are too many issues that have surfaced dating back to last winter that make his current status very fractured and questionable as to whether it can work for both sides.
If he doesn't return in 2011, it will have nothing to do with his managing.
So I know Hawk Harrelson is a homer, always has been, and will always be. But how do Hawk and the CSN television crew get away with the public flogging they gave Cowboy Joe West? Don't get me wrong, I think there was a great deal of merit in many of the things Hawk brought up, but this was over the top. Do you think they went too far by essentially creating an afront on the credibility of the game. -- Al B, Montgomery, Ala.
First, here's my observation on the controversial rainout. West, the crew chief, checked with a groundscrew worker 20 minutes before the game. The Royals were in charge of the game until they gave the lineups to West. The Royals could have simply delayed the start (until the rains arrived). And West could have elected to not start the game, because the weather radar indicated that the rains were arriving no later than 30 minutes after first pitch.
So I blame the Royals and West for that.
Each team seems to have problems with specific umpires, but they eventually vanish. As for West, he has better job security than pitching coach Larry Rothschild does with the Cubs. West is president of the World Umpires Association, so he has a lot of power.
As for the verbal flogging, I only heard parts of it. But it had to do with West's duties on the field and not his weight or his bush-league behavior in an elevator at Kauffman Stadium after the Aug. 22 game.
Freddy Garcia has done great this year. What do you think the chances are of the White Sox resigning him are?-- Becki. Everett, Wash.
I think there's a chance, especially if Danks is traded to acquire a catcher or left-handed hitter.
Is the Padres' closer Heath Bell heavier than Bobby Jenks? Padres list Bell at 6-3, 250 pounds. Bell does not look on TV to be a pound under 300. -- Ken Bill, Clarendon Hills, Ill.
Heath Bell looks solid as long as he does his job, and he stands to make a lot of money because of his work this season. But I think he's much heavier than Bobby.
Do you know the current diagnosis/prognosis of Jared Mitchell, White Sox prospect after having surgery a few months ago. Do you think he will be on the Sox radar in 2011? Kurt Kohout, Green Bay, Wis.
Mitchell will participate in the Instructional League in Arizona and probably the Arizona Fall League. Missing an entire season was rough for Mitchell, but he showed a great willingness to learn in spring training, and he could be one of the Sox's better first-round picks in the past 20 years.
I'm sorry, why couldn't Jackson go again on Saturday at Kansas City after throwing seven pitches on Friday? Is it a mindset thing? -- Brian, Lemont, Ill.
Starting pitchers are trained a lot like race horses, and Ozzie felt Jackson threw too many pitches in the bullpen and in the game to risk bringing back the next day. Many pitchers also like to stay in routines, although Jackson was more than willing to pitch Saturday.
Thanks again for all of the insight on the Sox. You mentioned that the Sox couldn't start play on Saturday in K.C. until 6 because of the Fox contract. Why is that the Yankees regularly start scheduled Saturday games at 1 p.m. EDT? -- Dave Krasula, Rockville Centre, NY
Because the Fox's window is usually from 4-7 p.m. EDT, and the Yankees' 1 p.m. start usually doesn't interfere with that unless Jeter is fouling off 10,000 pitches.
What are your thoughts on Kenny Williams' philosophy of "Win Now", and the heck with tomorrow? I, for one, find this "live for today" strategy disconcerting. Countlessly trading away our future for washed-up veterans in the hopes of catching lightning in a bottle rarely works (2005 being the exception). -- Rich Nowak
It's a high-wire act that could catch up with the franchise at some point. The fact that they draft a lot of pitchers in the early rounds has helped them make trades for more proven players, but they're currently very shallow in terms of talented position players.
And if you finish with a sub .500 record, you usually end up having to overpay for free agents. The Sox were willing to give Torii Hunter $75 million over five years but were still out-bid. I like Torii Hunter a lot, but having him go to the Angels was a blessing because it allowed the Sox to spend in other areas.
In Williams' defense, he knows he has to provide the fans with a contending team.
There have been many comments over the years from Jerry Reinsdorf about running the Sox from a family perspective like the Disney Corporation. What happened? How can he have Ozzie spitting out bleeped words every six seconds and still tout the family atmosphere? -- Ron, Palos Heights
Isn't there always one family member a little different than the rest?
Regardless of Ozzie's comments to the contrary, the Sox's failure to retaliate against the throwing at Pierre, Quentin and the shot to A.J.'s head, left us emasculated. -- R Dimitri, Tampa Fla.
Did anyone else notice that Gardenhire pinch-hit for Young in the ninth inning of the Aug. 19 game with the Twins trailing 11-0?
Mark, I watched the Rockies-D'backs game on Aug. 22. Dan Hudson pitched for Arizona. He was lights out. No runs, 10 K's, he retired the last 10 in a row. One ball was hit hard, a single up the middle. Twice, the announcers asked: How can the White Sox trade a guy like that?? Minimum salary, to boot.--- for a guy with ERA of 5++ and much higher salary. -- Jim Fainter, Denver
Jim, was this telecast on the Rockies' feed or the Diamondbacks feed? I have great respect for Rockies analyst George Frazier, and I exchanged e-mails with Greg Schulte, the Diamondbacks' fine radio announcer, after the trade.
This was a perfect case of a trade that has helped both teams. I think Hudson will be a fine pitcher, and it won't be necessarily because of changing leagues. The Sox just needed someone like Jackson who was more experienced.
I am really impressed with the poise, mound presence, and fastball of Chris Sale. Do you think he will be the Sox' next closer or do you see him as a starting pitcher next year? -- Tim Sweeney, Villa Park, Ill.
I see Sale as a starter. The Sox will need depth because Buehrle will be a free agent after 2011 and Peavy is rebounding from his surgery.
I've heard that the players of other teams don't like Manny Ramirez. Have you heard from anyone on the White Sox indicate that they would rather not have him on the team? -- D J Hritsuk
Nope, at least not yet.
I remember the first Sox game my grandpa took me to was when Early Wynn won his 299th game right before he was traded. Can you tell me the date of the game and the opponent? ! -- Katie Wilmoth. Atlanta
A 6-3 win over the Washington Senators on Sept. 8, 1962.
I love AJ's spirit and gamesmanship, but his game has really gone south this year. Now that he has the no-trade clause, I fear we are stuck with him. I'm ready to give Castro the starting job. Thoughts? -- Bruno von Bruno, West Frankfort, Ill.
A.J. will be a free agent this winter, but it appears that so will Boston's Victor Martinez. This will make for an interesting off-season for both.
I'm not sure Castro can catch on a daily basis, but I thought he was deserving of more playing time this season.
Why is Kenny Williams passing up a reliever (Brian Fuentes) when we have two (maybe now three) hurt and insisting on getting a disruptive influence like Manny Ramirez who may or may not hit or even play hard for us? Then on top of it, Fuentes goes to our arch rival. I don't get it. -- Bill Johnson, Sugar Grove, Ill.
In a conference call with reporters, Kenny mentioned that Thornton would probably return by Labor Day weekend, that Erick Threets was still healthy and that Chris Sale was throwing well. Williams didn't believe that Fuentes was worth the price.
My argument to that would be: Who would you rather have: Fuentes or Threets? With more scrutiny on games heading down the stretch, wouldn't you rather have more bullpen help so that you could use a Fuentes or Sale in the sixth or seventh inning and still have Thornton in the eighth or ninth especially against the likes of Hafner, David Ortiz, Johnny Damon and the Twins' quartet of Mauer, Morneau, Kubel and Thome?
I know there would be some issues with players' options and when they could be recalled, but I've seen some peculiar things done before.
Simply, I would have taken my chances with Fuentes.
When will the Sox cut ties with Quentin? He is just too streaky. Since the K.C. game before the break, he has not done a thing, a hit here and there not much.. What do you think?-- Rick Rannochio, Aurora, Ill.
I think all options will be explored this winter, including a trade.
Could you list the percentage of inherited runners scored for each of our relief pitchers (including those on disabled list) and compare to league average. I have the feeling that Pena's is much higher than even his ERA, to the extent that maybe he shouldn't be called in with any runners on base. Seems as if Ozzie loves him because he can save the bullpen and pitch four or five innings, but when he's called on with men on base, he just doesn't get the job done. I'm looking for some statistical verification of my Gestalt. -- Ron Reichman, Los Angles
Entering play Monday, the Sox had allowed 49 of 180 inherited runners to score.
Pena had allowed 11 of 40 inherited runners to score, while Sergio Santos had allowed nine of 28.
Does Ozzie realize Jenks' road ERA is 6.75 and WHIP is almost 1.60? And that his home ERA is 2.77 and WHIP is 1.23? The answer seems simple to me. Someone else has to close on the road. He changes closers from time to time anyway. The stats don't lie. -- Tony Rich, Shelton, Conn.
With Thornton and Putz on the DL, there aren't many options.
Mark, Since the White Sox retired Frank Thomas' number Sunday, I thought I would share with you the letter I wrote Frank at the beginning of the month. You are welcome to use this in print to honor him and dignify his day:
August 5, 2010
This is a letter I've have been wanting to write to you for many years.
When my son Preston was born in 1985 in St. Louis, I hoped he would become a baseball fan, especially a White Sox fan, since it has been a family tradition to cheer for the White Sox since the early 1900s.
Of course, his first game was at Old Comiskey Park in 1989. By the time he was seven, I began a quest to take my son to all the major league ball parks in America and quickly, you became his favorite player. When we went to an American League city, we timed it so the White Sox were playing there and the prize in his life was to get your autograph. And you were terrific! In every city we went, you took time out before the game to sign autographs. You were the only player to do this.
You will always be a hero to me and my son because you were willing to take the time to give the children the thrill of the game. I am very grateful to you for the excitement you brought to our lives. You literally stood out among the major leaguers in your willingness to make yourself available before games.
We just found out that the White Sox are retiring your number on August 29th. We have bought tickets behind home plate and will be driving up to Chicago to be there to celebrate the honor with you. We also look forward to the day you are enshrined at Cooperstown and I hope to be there with my son to give you the recognition that you were kind enough to give him and countless other children while you wore the uniform.
Warm Regards & Best Wishes,
Flip Becker Wildwood, Mo.