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Reader Q&A: Mark Gonzales' White Sox mailbag

We have lost five games that Gavin Floyd has started. I continue to notice that our pitchers cannot go more than six innings.  If this is the case, manager Robin Ventura better start using his relievers at least two innings before switching to matchups. Keep the pitcher in who is doing the job.  Do any of these clowns know how to bunt? --  Phil de Giulio, Denton, Texas

You won’t have to worry about Gavin much longer. I expect him to undergo reconstructive right elbow surgery, and I wish him well. He’s an interesting study as far as what were realistic expectations for him after he won 17 games in 2008.

With only one left-hander in the bullpen, the biggest issue is finding a right-handed reliever besides Jesse Crain who can retire left-handed hitters. There was a situation in Sunday’s game where they missed not having another left-handed reliever because Matt Thornton already had been used and was out of the game, as was Crain.

It also would help if the starters would pitch deeper into games, but it’s unfair to ask Hector Santiago to pitch deeper than he did in his first start last Thursday at Texas.

It would seem to me that the pressing question is not whether the Sox will ultimately become competitive this season, but when to push the "blow up button" and how shrewdly they can leverage their not-insubstantial player assets. Stretching the inevitable rebuild out for one more year serves no little purpose when it is becoming clear with every minor league call up that the high minors -- at the least -- are completely bereft of any major league talent (except perhaps Sanchez the middle infielder). The price for Ken Williams' ceaseless efforts to be competitive, each year, has come due -- and it looks like it will take several years to pay in full. --   Michael W. Peregrin

The biggest issue right now is staying close until Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham return.  If the deficit gets out of hand before they return, I think you can start to see the changes.

There hasn’t been a noticeable spike in attendance, so I don’t think it will break many hearts if the dismantling starts and there’s an emphasis on the future. It’s going to be a tough task to move large salaries and get market value for those players as well as moving some contracts that might be too pricy to bring back a semblance of value.

I think Triple-A Charlotte pitcher Andre Rienzo has a chance to help the major league club at some point this year, as does Double-A Birmingham pitcher Erik Johnson. The Sox have enough outfielders at the major league level to not accelerate the development of outfielders Jared Mitchell, Keenyn Walker, Trayce Thompson and Brandon Short until they’re absolutely ready for the majors.

When will we really start to see Rick Hahn's fingerprints on this team?  As this current collection of uninspiring ballplayers is largely a Kenny Williams parting gift, do you think that Hahn actually has the fortitude to throw this collection of junk on the scrap heap and start over with the younger talent in the Sox farm system? --  Sam Athens, Dallas, Texas

I think Rick will start to make changes as he sees fit. Missing Viciedo and Beckham have changed the landscape of the offense, and in the case of Beckham, the defense has suffered.

The key is for the team to not fall behind any farther in the standings before Viciedo and Beckham return. If the Sox keep slipping, you can expect talks with other teams to start or start accelerating. There hasn’t been a shortage of top notch scouts at Sox games in the first five weeks.

As far as help from the minors, I’d like to see those players earn promotions instead of calling them up for the sake of taking a look. They need to earn their promotions.

What is your gut feeling about Paul Konerko? Do you think he will be back with the Sox  next year possibly signing a one- or two-year contract for less money? --  Roger Doering,  Morrison, Ill.

Roger, I hate to make the call now, only because we saw Paul get off to an amazing start in the first two months of 2012, only to have his production slip dramatically in the final four months.

Based on my gut feeling now, I say this is it. But I think Paul can help a team. He’s one of the smartest hitters, but the issue will be how much playing time he will get, how much longer he wants to play after this season (he’s been the designated hitter for quite a few games), how comfortable he would be with the Sox if they rebuild or how comfortable he would be playing in another city.

We still have 20 weeks to go, so we’ll see how this plays out.

Between A. Dunn, De Aza, Viciedo and Flowers, they are to strikeout over 500 times. Five hundred times without touching the ball, and they think they are contenders? HA HA HA  They a boooooring team to watch. --  Hector Fabian Rivera, Chicago

There’s always the Bulls and Blackhawks to watch.

While many fans may be stressing over the Sox inability to score runs and the bullpen inconsistencies, I am concerned with the inordinate number of errors and passed balls.

Truth be told, we may not have more at this point in the season from last year, but my paradigm is that the pitchers have had a hard time pitching over mistakes so far this year, and this makes them more glaring.

Going into this season, the one constant that I would have bet on would have been defense. Grant you, our catching was unproven but quite frankly, I thought they would throw out a higher percentage of runners stealing and that would be a huge trade-off defensively.

Can not having Beckham and AJ make that much of a difference defensively? -- Robbie
Memphis, Tenn.

I think they miss Beckham’s defense and A.J.’s clutch hitting. The Sox are 6-7 in one-run games and 2-4 in two-run games, so you got to believe they would have won more games with better defense or clutch hitting that’s much better than their .198 average with runners in scoring position.

What happens to hitters when they join the Sox? Keppinger and Dunn hitting less than .200. In Saturday’s game against K.C., the Sox had four starters hitting less than .200. How can they possibly expect to win with that lineup? It is embarrassing to say the least, especially Dunn. This is his third year, and he still can't hit a lick. Boy, did the Sox get suckered. From a really suffering Sox fan.   -- Ted Cee, Las Vegas, Nev.

It is very mystifying from several aspects. De Aza is starting to incorporate bunting more frequently, and he’s hit very well against left-handers. But his on-base percentage is only .298. Keppinger hasn’t drawn a walk in the first five weeks. Rios’ batting average has dipped by 48 points in the past week. Dunn is stuck below the .150 mark. Flowers has struck out 26 times in 73 at-bats. After an impressive start, Conor Gillaspie has cooled off.

I think the current woes show how everything had to go right as it did in 2012 for the Sox to be competitive out of the gate. The lack of hitting and solid defense have put a lot of pressure on a pitching staff that will be hard-pressed to continue pitching well under duress.

What is up with Adam Dunn? It's like the Sox are playing eight against nine every game. It's pathetic the way he strikes out or grounds out just about every at-bat. I guess they are just stuck with him. He was OK before they signed him, but since they signed him its been unbelievably bad.I know they wont pay him to sit on the bench, but he should be working anyplace but on the field. -- Alvin Walker Sr., Oklahoma City

Adam will be on the field for at least one of the games against the Mets at Citi Field. It's going to be a long climb should he get to the .200 mark.

You make an interesting point ab out how he was "OK" before he signed with the Sox. Be careful about players switching from the National to the American League.  Adam did well last year from a power standpoint, but it took him awhile to adjust.


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