I haven't heard much about Dustin Hermanson. Is he done for the year or worse his career? --Vince Ackerman, Elk Grove, Ill.
Dustin is giving his comeback another shot at Triple-A Charlotte.We should know more about his future at the end of the month, as heis trying to avoid career-threatening surgery on his lower back.I'm told he looked good in his first appearance last week, movingwithout any discomfort and throwing about 89 mph, which is good forhis first outing. But he will need to stay pain-free and effectiveto have any chance of rejoining the Sox.
Hi Mark, I just finished reading the latest ask the writer. Can you tell me why every reader is moaning and groaning about one or many of the players on this team? Lets trade Pods, demote Anderson, get rid of Garland, and on and on. Where is the loyalty? Have they seen the standings? These guys are winning and that's all that matters. If these "fans" want to complain about something then go be a Cubs fan. Thans. I just had to get that off my chest. I feel better now! --Paul Shields, San Jose, Calif.
Paul, please tell me you didn't attend Leland High School. I breakout in hives when I recall all the complaints from parents andreaders from that high school when I worked in San Jose.
You make some great points, but I think some people feel the talentis there for a repeat. It's tough to knock a team that won 57 gamesin the first half. The Tigers have raised the bar in this division,and I think Sox fans are used to being on top after last year'swire-to-wire first place finish.
I hope you feel better. I look forward to our trip to California inmid-September.
Hey Mark, I'm a 16-year-old life-long White Sox fan. I think your work is great, but I think many fans need to sit back and relax. It seems since we have gotten our first taste of victory in 88 years, we are over anxious and eager to jump the gun to point fingers for petty mistakes that in other years would be completely overlooked, such as Jon Garland's inconsistent pitching. Do people not realize he was always just a 12-game winner and asking for much more from him would be over zealous? I understand that five 12 game winners would not make a stellar starting rotation, but a 12 game winner as a fifth starter is not too bad. I wish people would just relax, sit back and let the team play rather than demanding for more talent which could possibly be detrimental to the team chemistry. --Eric, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Eric, you write and sound much more mature than 16-years-old.Thanks for the kind words and insight.
Brandon, I thought Ozuna would get some spot duty there whileAnderson was serving his suspension. He played a few games incenter for Colorado and held his own. He's a decent athlete andplays very fearless.
Why is it when there is a bench clearing brawl after a batter gets hit, no one goes after the manager? Is the some unwritten rule that a jerk like Ozzie can't get his butt kicked? --Bob Tietz,Tempe, Ariz.
I've seen Derrek Lee and Joe Carter call out Tony La Russa aftergetting hit, so Ozzie isn't the first manager in this position.
Scott Posednik drives me nuts with his inconsistent play, taking third strikes, not drag bunting, bunt pop-ups to second, bad angles in the outfield, seemingly lackadaisical effort at balls along the left-field line, banging into center and shortstop and then he walks or leads off with a nice hit steals second and scores. Man, I love him! --James Poulsen, Viera, Fla.
You summed up his performance very well!
Just to answer one of your questions, the D-Rays want two top-of-the-line pitchers/pitching prospects for Carl Crawford. So I don't foresee Kenny doing anything of that nature. I don't know about you. --Pat Woyna, Oak Forest, Ill.
Pat, you jumped to conclusions when I mentioned that Kansas Cityacquired Joey Gathright for a thrifty price (left-hander J.P.Howell) and that the Sox should at least find out what Tampa Bay isasking. Podsednik is arbitration eligible next winter and could bein line for a decent raise from his $1.95 million salary, so itdoesn't hurt to explore other options.
I know Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, and you're no Joe Maddon.
Mark, I love your column. Thanks very much. What is your opinion of Ross Gload? Did he ever have power potential, for like 10-15 homers a year? If so, where has it gone? Or has he just not gotten enough playing time? --Jim S., Fort Wayne, Ind.
I think Ross can hit 15 homers if he plays every day. Weknow that's not going to happen here. I am surprised that Rosshasn't attracted interest from other teams because of his abilityto play first base, the outfield and hit left-handed.
I've been a Sox fan for 50 years, and I watch every game on the dish. My observation of the team so far this year is they seem to be playing very tight. I don't see them having fun playing the games, like they did last year. What are your thoughts?--Marty, Las Vegas
Marty, this team has done a pretty good job of keeping things loosesince we got past Hairgate in April. I think they've handledthemselves well, but I think the second half will present a greatermeasuring stick of their poise since they start the second half onthe road and in second place.
I attended the 19-inning game Sunday, and was surprised at how poor the Sox fundamentals were. Ozzie seems to have gone bunt crazy, despite the fact that neither Pods nor Iguchi seem able to bunt this year. You already wrote about the atrocious base-running in the 11th, but didn't mention that Cora's coaching of Gload and Dye was inexcusable. The home runs have been covering for the Sox's failure to do the little things they did last year, but those little things add up. What can be done to get the small ball skills back? --B. Miller, Chicago
I didn't cover that game but watched it from my living room. As forcorrecting the mistakes - practice, practice, practice.
What is the status of Jermaine Dye's contract for next year? It's impossible to find player salaries for future years or info on how much of Thome's and Vasquez's salaries are being picked up by their old teams. --John Wegerzyn, Champaign, Ill.
John, the Sox hold a very affordable $6 million option/$1.15million buyout for 2007 on Dye. About $27 million was received bythe Sox in the Thome and Vazquez deals, with most of that moneybackloaded to offset their rising salaries in subsequent years.
As a former Chicago resident and still avid White Sox baseball fan, I have a question regarding the All Star players. If someone is voted in or chosen by the AL or NL manager but declines to play or is injured, do they still get to be All Stars? I would think in Jose Conteras' case, he's still an All-Star even though Ozzie scratched him because he will still dress and sit on the bench, but what about someone like Manny Ramirez? He was elected but chose to opt out due to an "injury." When we look back at his career stats, will 2006 All Star be among them and is he still eligible for an All star bonus some players have in their contracts? --Brad Gwillim, Maastricht, Netherlands
Brad, thanks for your interest. If a player is selected to theAll-Star team, he still receives All-Star status. Ramirez remainseligible for a bonus because he was selected as a starter.
Mark, hope you had a break for the All-Star Game! I am troubled by the seeming loss of efficacy of all of our starting pitchers--all have higher ERAs than last year, and only because of a much better offense, are we still doing so well. There has been some talk of tipping pitches by Buehrle and Contreras but have you ever heard of and could it be possible, that either the catcher of one of the players in the field is somehow tipping the pitches unconsciously? It's just hard to believe that everyone is less effective. --Ron Reichman, Los Angeles
Ron, I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean, but it was likesitting through a Boston-Oakland game. The movie could have beentrimmed by 30 minutes, but I'm not paid to review movies.
Some times infielders will tip pitches by moving before the pitchis thrown, but I don't think the Sox have this problem. It simplyboils down to location and execution.
Why was there absolutely no mention of Paul Konerko giving up the double play in the seventh inning of the All Star Game? If he slides, the batter is probably safe at first, but he ran out of the base path. What gives? I love Paulie, and I was disappointed, and surprised nobody even mentioned it. --Mike Ball, Fresno,Calif.
Mike, I think if Paul thought he was closer to breaking up theplay, he would have slide. I didn't even see him close to the bagwhen Sanchez received the ball. Please keep in mind that Paul isn'tthe fastest runner to begin with. But I see your point, based onPierzynski's slides that have enabled the Sox to win two games.
Mark, when are the Sox going to take a serious look at the kind of game Chris Widger calls for Mark Buehrle? A few starts ago good 'ol No. 56 was something like 8-0 with an ERA under 2.00 with AJ behind the plate and 1-5 with an ERA over 5.00 with Widger. I know Widger is a great "clubhouse guy" but the Sox really need a right-hand hitting catcher who is on the same page as AJ, Coop and the staff. It wouldn't hurt if he could hit a little, too. Widger is not contributing in any way this year and is an automatic out at the plate. I appreciate the way you cover baseball -- it is clear you know the game and enjoy what you do. Thanks for reporting baseball the way we South Siders like it -- honest and true.--Bob Rose, Princeton, N.J.
Bob, I know last year the Sox's staff was hot after Widger calledfor a breaking pitch for Bobby Jenks that Tony Graffanino smackedfor a homer at Boston last Labor Day, but I haven't heard of anyother complaints about Chris' pitch selection. I think Widger workswell with Freddy Garcia, but you can't have a situation wherepitchers have a selected catcher. I'm more concerned with Chris'ability to chip in with a clutch hit, as he did so well last year.I know Chris has tried to "calm" his stance and swing, but wehaven't seen many results lately. Good catching is tough to find,period.
Mark, I don't think it is a given that we sign Mark Buerhle when he becomes a free agent. He has always been a very hittable pitcher and his inability to get strikeouts prevents him from getting out of a lot of jams. I figure he's going to demand somewhere between $10 and $12 million a year and for that kind of money I'd rather sign a pitcher who can dominate the way a Santana or Halladay can. I'm not sure who will be available, maybe Dontrelle Willis via a trade. What do you think? --Dan Kascher, Elgin, Ill.
Dan, take a bow. After watching center fielder Aaron Rowand getdealt last winter, no "fan favorite" should be deemed anuntouchable. I still think that Mark has some good starts ahead,but he's been very inconsistent. When his location is off, he paysthe price. Mark is still young, so he should have some good yearsahead.
But I see your point about dominant left-handers. It's tough toevaluate left-handers who rely more on location. Look at how ScottKarl and Kirk Rueter lost their effectiveness in a hurry. Somethought that Tom Glavine was going to fade, but he regained hissharpness that makes him a real Hall of Fame candidate. I thinkit's up to Mark's performance that dictates his future with theSox, but I'd be surprised if the team doesn't pick up his $9.5million option for 2007.
The Sox pitching certainly has not been as consistent this year as last. Note last year's team ERA of 3.61 compared to a 4.44 ERA at the All-Star break. Do you think that during the second half of the season Sox pitching will be closer to what it was in 2005?--Michael Fleischhacker, Silver Springs, Md.
Michael, I think the jury is out. The bullpen might have to stepup, although the off-days are spread out enough in the second halfso that fatigue shouldn't be a factor for the starters. BrandonMcCarthy will play a big role in the second half as a reliever, fornow.
Hi, Mark, enjoy your break? Here's a crazy idea for a right hander to pick up: Bob Wickman. The Indians have three different guys ready to replace him, and it's said that Wickman may be traded and placed in a set-up role elsewhere. Do you think he would be affordable for the Sox, and a good fit? --Tyson Shroyer,Peoria, Ill.
Tyson, I enjoyed my break even though I'm minutes from leaving forNew York. I think Wickman would be a good fit, but I don't see theIndians dealing with the Sox because they're in the samedivision.
It has been reported that the sox are looking to trade for Jason Schmidt. I don't understand why they would do this. If they need a starter, demote Javier to the bullpen and put McCarthy in the rotation. I think McCarthy has earned a shot. --Hank the Tank,Davis, Calif.
I don't think it's out of reach to see either Jon Garland orVazquez move to the bullpen if there's an off-day and one of themgets skipped in the rotation. It could be cheaper than acquiringrelief help. But my gut feeling is that Kenny Williams will make adeal. I can't see Javier Vazquez getting demoted to the bullpen ona permanent basis. Kenny likes him too much.