The Tribune's White Sox beat writer answers reader questions throughout the season. This week, what is up with the bullpen stinking, when will the Sox abandon hope for 2007 and sending Ozzie to anger enhancement?
Mark, is it safe to say that Javy Vazquez will never be a second or even third starter for this team? He is over 30 years old and everybody acts like he just needs to "figure it out." I only see him getting worse, and that contract will prevent the Sox from being able to demote him or risk all of his "value." And will the Sox continue with Vazquez instead of trying a younger, possibly better option? --Brendan McCaffrey, Elmhurst
My feeling is that Javy is here to stay, primarily because of his durability and ability to pitch like he did Friday at Toronto.
With the obvious need for a true leadoff hitter with speed (especially with the recent injury of Ozuna), what are the chances that Kenny Williams tries to acquire a young talent like Tony Gwynn Jr. who can't seem to find enough playing time in Milwaukee but certainly has a knack for getting on base and can play all outfield positions? --Steve von Horn, Madison, Wis.
Mark, we have got to get some team speed and manufacture runs to take some pressure off of the bullpen late in games. We cannot win when we need three hits to score a run. Jerry Owens should get a look until Pods is ready to return. At that point a decision can be made. --Dan Bowman, Marlette, Mich.
Mark, I wrote a while back asking if the Sox would consider disarming to add a legit leadoff hitter like Rocco Baldelli. Your response was to point to the job Erstad was doing. Despite the obvious injury-prone nature, Erstad is great, but if we're relying on Owens to set the table now that he and Pods are down, we're asking a lot. Would the Sox consider Baldelli as an alternative or do they have others in their sights? --Al, Montgomery, Ala.
As for Gwynn, I'd ask my part-time neighbor Doug Melvin, but he's currently trying to keep the Brewers in first place in the NL Central. Maybe I'll ask in the off-season.
The jury is split on Jerry Owens, but it's good that he's getting a look until Podsednik and Erstad return. He almost beat out a bad bunt for a single and can run. But I want to see him perform this way over an extended period.
I was told at the end of the winter meetings that several Sox officials liked Baldelli except one prominent decision-making official. At some point, Tampa Bay will have to move one of its outfielders. I like Baldelli but you have to wonder about his health. His contract isn't an issue.
I have a question. I've been to Birmingham and Fort Mill (where Triple-A Charlotte plays). Why isn't double-A in Fort Mill and Triple-A in Birmingham? Especially if it's hard to evaluate pitchers at a Triple-A field. Getting to Triple-A is suppose to be rewarding! --Francine Bukvich, Brandon, Miss.
Francine, several fringe prospects or "Four-A" players fill Triple-A rosters while the bulk of Double-A rosters are filled with players still considered prospects or suspects. Some of these Triple-A players are paid well but usually are told they have little or no chance of making the big league roster.
That doesn't mean these players can't make the major league roster. But in most cases, they must excel much more than the organization's prospects to earn consideration for a major league promotion.
There's usually a progression a player has to make from Double to Triple-A, but it's not uncommon for pitchers (rather than position players) to make the jump from Double-A to the majors because of the belief that pitching talent can make the jump easier than a position player who hasn't faced or solved Triple-A pitching yet.
I don't understand why people (including, it seems, Kenny Williams) are looking for us to trade for an outfielder, a right-handed bat, a new Ozunasomething. Let's get real. We need to start looking at trades for prospects and then setting our sights on some free agents in the off-season. This team is going nowhere fast. Do you think the Royals will give us Tyler Lumsden and Daniel Cortes back for Mike McWALKal? --Andrew, St. Louis
It appears that the advance scouting has already caught up to the new Sox pitchers that Williams traded for this past winter. Because of that and not being able to beat teams in their own division I don't have much hope for the 2007 Sox. If I'm correct when do you believe they will start a fire sale. Who, in your opinion, will stay and who will go? --Bob Tietz, Tempe, Ariz.
Sisco and MacDougal are so bad that I have to wonder, did Ken Williams actually think that the lowly Royals would actually give up 2 pitchers that were any good? --Paul Zimmerman, Walnut Creek, Calif.
So when the Sox trade Iguchi, Dye, Crede and Buehrle next month, are they going to load up on "can't miss" prospects and then use 2008-2011 as "rebuilding" yearsor will they try to sign free agents this next off-season and try to field a winning club before the next decade is upon us? --John Fitch, Cary
Hello Mark. The Twins have a lot of young up-and-coming talent, Do you think losing Torii Hunter to free agency will be that big a blow to them? I don't mean to discount his talent, but Terry Ryan and his development staff always seem to do a great job of having a constant flow of young talent in their organization. There is one guy this year playing for a contract that no one has mentioned yetEric Byrnes. --Tyson Shroyer, Peoria
The Sox have the look of a team that couldn't get it together if they wanted to. That being said, when does Ken Williams decide to make sweeping changes in hopes that the new troops can mesh and make a run yet this year? I'm afraid if it doesn't come soon, the fans are going to turn on them. --Irv Kaage, Park Ridge
The Sox aren't going to make the playoffs this year. Who can they get the most trade value for? Thome and Buehrle? Also will Williams admit the mistake and send Vasquez to the bullpen and pull up a young starter? --Keith Rainville, Bishop, Calif.
Mark, it's pretty obvious the Sox don't have it this year. What players do you foresee the Palehose getting in a fire sale of their vets? --Sam, Ottawa, Ill.
What do you feel needs to happen for the Sox to start a fire sale come July? I think Kenny overestimated every aspect of this team from signing Vasquez to an extension to believing that a bullpen full of young flame throwers would be able to save the day. --Clifton, Chicago
Mark, it's May 31, and the Sox are done. There is so much talent on this team, this is a real shame. Where do we go from here? Is it time to ask if Ozzy and Kenny really have it or was 2005 just a fluke? I'm thankful to have lived long enough to see a championship, don't think I'll see another any time soon. --Bob, San Antonio
Is there anybody on the Sox worthy of even being a bat boy in the All Star game? Right now the team is bad. --George Walkow, Monument, Colo.
Why do the Sox suck? --Wendell, Belvidere
I think this team has played older than its age. I think Podsednik's injury has hurt the offense more than anyone imagined. There's more upside to Lumsden and Cortes, although Lumsden has a 5.63 ERA at Triple-A Omaha. Cortes has struck out 35 in 31 innings at high Class-A.
Paul Zimmerman makes a great point that several scouts warned earlier: "Kansas City was willing to trade MacDougal and Sisco, why would the Sox want them if Kansas City needs pitching in the first place?" These guys simply haven't thrown strikes.
A question also can be raised that MacDougal and Sisco each pitched for a team that wasn't expected to win, and now the stakes are higher with the Sox.
I think there's too much at stake to rebuild immediately, but some re-arranging of the furniture wouldn't surprise or bother me. I would keep Buehrle and Dye as long as possible up to the trading deadline because of the value they could bring to a team desperate to make a move. And at the same time, a mid-season run can vault the Sox back into contention with plenty of division games in the second half.
I would be more excited about Torii Hunter if he hit for more power. Terry Ryan and his scouting and player development staff do as good a job as anyone in baseball.
I was at an Arizona State-Arizona game in late February in Tucson, and ASU was up by about 20 runs (that's right). I stayed until the ninth inning just to watch a left-handed reliever from the U of A pitch. Sure enough, there was a Twins scout among the five talent observers in attendance.
I like Eric Byrnes, but he's not the answer.
Mark, MLB rules question. Runner on third, two outs, two strikes on the batter. The batter strikes out, the catcher drops the third strike. Catcher throws ball to third baseman, third baseman throws the runner out at first. Does the run score? --Stu, Reisterstown, Md.
I'd like to keep this limited to Sox questions, but if the runner crosses home plate before the third out was made at first, then the run counts.
One day its the pen, the next day the starter gets rocked. Then they don't hit. It's takes a little sychronicity to win and the Sox have lost that big-time. Ozzie has overstayed his welcome and needs to go. --Rick Schwartz, Tucson, Ariz.
Ozzie seems to have become very safe in his managing. Why not more hit-and-runs, suicide bunts, etc. I'd love to see Thome, Konerko and/or Dye lay one down every now and then, just to get the other teams' defenses rattled. --Jim, Cincinnati
I know what's wrongit was that "anger management" course that Ozzie had to take! Ever since then the Sox have been a bunch of wimps. We need to get a chip on our shoulders and run some people over! Send Ozzie back to Geeked and Angry School! Think I'm on to something? --Southside Cliffy, Chicago
Ozzie has lost the respect of his players. That's a given. He needs to be replaced. --Ron Munry, Surprise, Ariz.
Why do we always praise the Twins for the way they play but we don't play that way or get players like that? I want to win, and if these guys are going to be passive and just fold in big games, then praise teams after the game, then trade them. --Tom, Elk Grove Village
Ozzie, whose mouth is an endless and unneeded distraction, must go and be replaced by either Joe Girardi or Jeff Torborg, both solid managers. --Sid Skolnik, Los Angeles
No matter how you look at it, they are not the team of 2005. It's not just the hitting. They have lost the ability to play small ball and are very sloppy in the field. A.J.'s act has gotten old. Ozzie seems to have lost their attention. Time to reassess. --Fred, Denver
Unless Ozzie punches or severely offends someone, he's staying through at least the 2008 season. The chairman reaffirmed Ozzie's security last Friday in a telephone conversation. Maybe Ozzie stayed with MacDougal one or two games too long, but Ozzie's not striking out with runners in scoring position. The coaching staff is working as hard as always. This one is on the players, with few exceptions.
A scout raised the question of why the likes of Anderson, Sweeney, Rogowski and several other position players have stagnated since Double-A.
Hey Mark. I'm a Twins fan, and love being able to watch and listen to my team when they are playing the Sox, but both the radio and TV booths make it almost impossible to enjoy. These announcers complain more about Sox hitters getting bad calls at the plate than any other announcers I have ever heard. --Jeremy, Chicago
Ed Farmer is just awful, I actually listen to the Cubs on the radio rather than The Score and I hate the Cubs! Contract, loyalty, or nothe stinks and is costing the radio station ratings. --Matt Clark, Chicago
Hi Mark, I'm a defender of Ed Farmer. He and Rooney were named the second best duo in the ML in 2005, of course the Sox couldn't keep that together just like their championship team. --Steve, Zachary, La.
Is it just me or have Hawk and DJ been arguing a lot recently in the booth? They couldn't agree about A-Rod yelling at the infielders on that pop-up in Toronto, and they've disagreed about some other things recently, all on-air. Is it just me, or is Hawk getting testy? --Matt, Los Angeles
Jeremy, I'd be curious to hear what Sox fans in the Twin Cities have to say about Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven, although I don't mind their work when I'm able to watch Twins games on DirecTV.
As for Ed, he has his large share of loyal fans, and I think it's time to end the debate on Ed, especially since he's signed through 2010. Besides, Ed is not the cause of the Sox's woes.
As for Hawk, he was pretty fired up over the way DJ and Chris Singleton were stopped for an extended period at Canadian customs, so DJ knows that Hawk has his back.
Why didn't the Sox bring in Bobby Jenks instead of David Aardsma in the ninth inning of the 7-6 loss to Minnesota? He hadn't pitched in four days. --Howard Frieden, Pasadena, Calif.
Mark, do you know why Guillen didn't bring in Jenks instead of Aardsma in the ninth with the bases loaded against the Twins on Wednesday? If that's not a spot for your best reliever, I don't know what is. --Joel Wittert, Crete
I understand Ozzie trying to use his bullpen and roll the dice with them, but it's the ninth inning. I mean, don't we have a closer named Bobby Jenks who has beenif I recalllights out lately? --Corey, Chicago
The Sox didn't have a lead entering the ninth, so it wasn't a save situation. Ozzie said that Bobby "isn't Mariano Rivera" yet, but he will be willing to use Bobby for more than one inning in the future if needed. That time might be now.
Somebody in your last mailbag is "still sick about letting Magglio Ordoñez go." If the Sox had signed Ordoñez, they would have gotten two seasons in right field worse than Jermaine Dye, at a much greater cost, and more importantly, probably wouldn't have won the World Series. --Adam Newman, Buffalo Grove
I think you should correct people who think the White Sox "let go" of Magglio. They are forgetting that the White Sox made a very fair offer prior to his injury, and his salary demands after injury were unreasonable. Detroit rolled the dice and got lucky. --James, Santa Monica, Calif.
I think Magglio's departure helped the Sox and himself.
Hi Mark, how do you like Kenny and the Chairman now? The genius is gone. Trying to fix the bullpen on the cheap worked for a month. But in the end you get what you pay for. Add to that raised ticket and parking prices, and you are showing that all you care about is grabbing greenbacks from Sox fans. But we aren't gullible Cub fans, so your money bonanza is soon to end. --Stan Kaminski, St. John, Ind.
If you were Kenny Williams, what strategic vision would you have for rebuilding this team? --Ed Lasak, Riverside, Calif.
I'm curious to see what Kenny's plans are after spending at least a week evaluating minor league talent. Changes, whether it's major or minor, have to be made. The demotions of MacDougal and Aardsma are only a start, in my opinion.
Mark, why is the Chicago media giving Ozzie a pass for the loss to the Twins last Wednesday? He is the one who did not get Aardsma up until after Morneau made his out. The Twins announcers pointed out that he only got about 10 or 12 rushed warm-up tosses in the pen before coming out and that none of them were close to being strikes. They were laughing at Ozzie's handling of the bullpen all year. --Spiro, Maryland
Last time I checked, Ozzie didn't blow that big lead. It was Jon Garland, who accepted blame for that. The offense, not Ozzie, didn't get a hit after the third inning.
My question is, do you or anyone else feel as though A.J. Pierzynski's antics have had a negative influence on the team? Everything I've read about him since his playing days up here in Minnesota, and later with the Giants would lead me to think that to be true. I look forward to yours or any of your fellow beat writers' comments. --Jerry Duncan, Blaine, Minn.
Mark, now that Barrett is the lone common denominator in the last two major scrums in Chicagodoes AJ get a pass more as the victim of the ? Okay, A.J. getting a pass sounds like a joke even to me! --Al, Montgomery, Ala.
Jerry, thanks for your interest. A.J. was one of the key players to the 2005 World Series. He had a bad April, but so did other players. In fact, A.J. is one of the few consistent hitters they have right now.
The Morneau incident raised a lot of eyes, but I don't think A.J. would try to hurt someone, especially knowing that one of his teammates could get severely hurt in retaliation.
Here's an interesting column from Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist and fellow Wyomania member Pat Reusse.
I think the White Sox have never displayed the magic or verve of their 2005 season and need major overhauling. The injuries, poor hitting, bad pitching, lack of speed, lack of clutch hitting, penchant for double plays, and bullpen incompetence is an indictment against the entire team. Can you take a reader poll on how many fans think it is time to "back up the truck" as it were and make wholesale changes on this roster? --Terry, Schaumburg
Mark, the problem with this year's and last year's White Sox teams is that they look too much like the 2003 and 2004 teamsInconsistent pitching and defense, as well as an over-reliance on home runs. I'm a firm believer that what wins consistently is reliable pitching, solid defense, and team speed. --John Magdziasz, Sarasota, Fla.
Terry, the e-mails above suggest a house cleaning may be needed. Detroit was terrible for a few years but got better through free agency and the draft. Cleveland's talent is coming together, and Mark Shapiro has made some timely additions. Minnesota always finds a way to compete, and one of Terry Ryan's best moves was the signing of backup catcher Mike Redmond.
It's tough to play Ozzie Ball when Erstad and Podsednik are hurt. It's tough to hit-and-run when runners aren't getting on base with any degree of frequency. But there aren't any excuses for the low average with runners in scoring position or the failure to bunt runners over.
The 2005 Sox seemed to give the starting pitchers an early lead, then add a run late in the game with a timely hit.
Mark, what was with the sudden release of infielder Pedro Lopez from Triple-A Charlotte? He was performing, is still very young, was a starter for the team and I believe hit a home run the night before he was released. He previously had been rated high by the White Sox and was ahead of Andy Gonzalez on the depth chart of infielders. --Kevin, Milwaukee
Lopez was claimed on waivers by Cincinnati. He was with the Sox for a brief call-up in 2005 but didn't make any progress at the plate. Another concern is the lack of hitting by Robert Valido, so the Sox could be forced to bring Juan Uribe back for another year, regardless of how he performs the rest of the season.
Gonzalez was promoted at about the time Kenny Perez got hurt. That caused Fields to move to short on a temporary basis. Tomas Perez was signed to lend depth.
How much longer are the Sox going to keep Aardsma and MacDougal? What a couple of launch pads. I'm sure they have somebody in the minors that couldn't do any worse. --Marty, Las Vegas
Talented starter comes out, inept relievers come in, Sox blow lead, game9-3 this time. Isn't it getting hard for you, Mark, trying to find new ways to write the same story? --David Beck, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Please provide some insight as to why the Sox' bullpen has been so horrible as of late. Is it merely confidence? Why do they get such a long leash? How many games are we going to lose before Williams does something? --Drew, Chicago
Why in the world have the Sox not called up Paulino Reynoso or Lance Broadway from Triple-A Charlotte? They are both pitching stronger than the Sox middle relief and set-up men. --Andy Freeman, Charlotte
I thought I understood the Triple-A option process, but recent demotions have conflicted with my understanding. My understanding was that during your first three years of major league activity, the major league team had unlimited options (i.e., the club could ship you back and forth as much as it liked). But after three years, you had to clear waivers. The recent demotions of Aardsma and McDougal seem to conflict with this understanding. --Bill Clarkin, Frankfort
Ozzie needs to stop putting MacDougal out there and Kenny needs to get bullpen help. Any idea if what a Chad Cordero would cost the Sox? They have to do something, this is 2006 post-All Star break all over again. --Steve Carter, Berwyn
I don't want to say, 'see, I told you,' because I thought the bullpen would do much better than this. But I wrote around the start of spring training that this was a big challenge for pitching coach Don Cooper because of all the new powerful but unpolished arms. It's why a finesse or veteran reliever would have helped.
As I said earlier, the demotions of Aardsma and MacDougal were deserved.
Bret Prinz has handled the setup role before with Arizona and is a tough-minded kid. Ryan Bukvich impressed many in spring training. Reynoso needs to cut down his walks. The Sox need effective relievers, not starters.
As for the option status, this is why it's important for teams to have administrators who know the rules thoroughly, such as the Sox's Rick Hahn and San Francisco's Tony Siegle.
MacDougal wasn't on the 40-man roster until he was called up in September of 2001, so an option wasn't used. Options on MacDougal were used in 2002 and 2004 but not again until Monday.
If three options are used up, then a player must clear waivers. A player with more than five years of Major-League service timebut who grants permissioncan sent to the minors if he has options left.
Sox are done Put a fork in them. --Steve, South Bend, Ind.
Hi Mark, just want to say the Sox are not dead yet. If they win two out of three for the rest of the year, the Sox will wind up with 92 wins and make the playoffs. It's not too late to turn it around! Tim Sweeney, Villa Park
The time is now, especially with no games against AL Central opponents until June 29.