I didn't always root for the home team growing up in the Bay Area, but I'd make an effort to see an opposing star if he came to town. That's the best I can tell you if your heart isn't in the Sox this season.
Have the White Sox ever had a truly great, five-tool center fielder? We pine for Aaron Rowand, who was pretty good, or, if we're old enough to remember the '59 Sox, wax nostalgic about the fast but weak-hitting Jim Landis. Chet Lemon was okay. Ken Berry was good defensively but couldn't hit. Good teams are built up the middle, right? We've had our share of great -- or at least near-great -- shortstops (e.g., Luis Aparicio, Guillen) but why not center fielders? Isn't this as good a place to begin rebuilding as any? -- Steve Goldberg, Oak Park
One of the biggest misses was believing (including yours truly) that Brian Anderson was going to be a dependable five-tool player. The Sox had a solid five-tool center field prospect. He was Chris Young, who was dealt to Arizona as part of the Javier Vazquez deal.
Trayce Thompson might have a chance to be that kind of player as a left-handed hitter. I look forward to watching him in spring training, although he's a few years away.
I am probably the biggest Sox fan in Pennsylvania, and when they went to the World Series for the reasonable price of $1,000 to sit in the last row, I saw Game 1 of the World Series. I always said if they made it, I would go. My question is with a new manager, who seems that the players will respond to, do you think Beckham, Rios, Peavy, and Dunn can have bounce back seasons? Will a new voice, Ventura, make a difference with these players? -- Paul Greenberg; Jenkintown, Pa.
I think all of the players you mentioned are capable of bouncing back, but I don't think all of them will. It's just asking too much to believe that.
I'm not sure how much of a difference Robin will make with those guys, with the possible exception of Beckham. I'm more curious to see how new hitting coach Jeff Manto does with Rios and Dunn.
Much has been written and said about the White Sox minor league system being bereft of talent. Obviously, the strategy over the past number of years has been to trade prospects for major league veterans in an effort to 'win now.' This past off-season, however, the opposite was true. They hired a new Latin American scouting director, but are the Sox serious about using their minor league system to produce talent for the big league club, or should we expect that the Sox will continue to use minor league players as currency for major league veterans? Does Rick Hahn view the purpose of the minor league system the same way Kenny Williams does? What are the Sox doing to improve their minor league system from a structural, cultural, talent evaluation and development standpoint? And, how long will it be before the minor league system can be in a position to consistently produce major league players? -- Dishonest Abe, Bourbonnais
I answered some of this earlier. When you aim for division titles every year, you're going to pay the price sooner or later if you keep dealing prospects without a deep reservoir of minor league talent. This happened to San Francisco during the latter stages of the Barry Bonds era, and they eventually made a commitment to their farm system and won a World Series three years after Bonds retired.
Do you think that Kenny will clean house and trade any moveable veterans by the July trade deadline? -- John Kennedy; Fairfield, Iowa
Absolutely. But keep in mind that some players, such as Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Dunn, Jake Peavy and Danks have full trade veto rights for 2012, and Rios has a limited no-trade clause.
What can the Sox do about their low rated farm system? Also, why can't the Sox pull off and trade rather than lose free agents and get nothing in return. -- Frank Johnson; Whitefish Bay, Wisc.
The Sox don't care for those rankings, and certainly they've been able to make trades because other teams have been interested in their younger players. They just need to have more successful drafts like the 2008 class and strike gold with an impact player.
The Sox did try to trade Carlos Quentin before the trade deadline, but at least two teams were leery of his health.
Did not Mark Buehrle sign for about the same money that the Sox had been paying him and did the Sox really have an opportunity to keep him? -- John Hollingsworth; Sioux Falls,S.D.
Buehrle got a $2 million raise over his previous contract, and I don't believe the Sox were interested in giving $58 million over four years to a 32-year-old pitcher, no matter how successful and healthy he was.
I'm not sure I understand the level of pessimism that surrounds the Sox going into 2012. Although 2011 was a big disappointment, there seems to still be plenty to be excited about going forward: emerging young players (Chris Sale, Viciedo, Addison Reed, etc.) veterans capable of nice bounce-back seasons (Dunn, Beckham, Rios, etc.), less drama in the dugout. It seems during the last 10 years when expectations have been the lowest (2005, 2008), the team has had its best seasons. Isn't there some room for optimism? -- Robert, Madison, Wisc.
Given what has been said about the White Sox; past, present, and future, shouldn't they just disband the team? -- Joe Dorchack, Bolingbrook