Yes, there is some room for optimism, but a lot has to happen.
During the 2004 winter meetings, a high level talent evaluator told me KW was doing the right thing in shifting the Sox's emphasis from slugging to more pitching, speed and better defense.
We keep hearing how the Sox must have bounce back years from Dunn, Rios, Beckham,and Peavy. What if they don't come back? Is there a contingency plan for second base and DH? -- Nicholas Goetz; Lockport
Robin has stressed competition throughout the roster, so they should hope Lillibridge or Martinez is ready if Beckham struggles, and that Fukudome or Dan Johnson can contribute as a DH if Dunn starts off miserably again.
While most "experts" are picking the Sox to be one of the lower rung teams this year, the level of talent (sans last year's stats) seems to be much higher. Am I being too much of a homey to think that we will be still playing meaningful games in September? -- Bill Schreiber, Roseville
The schedule makers didn't do the Sox any favors by scheduling six of their first nine games against defending AL champion Texas and runner-up Detroit. They also will play at World Series champion St. Louis and against NL runner-up Milwaukee in interleague play.
I wouldn't call you a homer as much as saying you might be a tad optimistic. But stranger things have happened.
Do you think the Sox have a better shot this year because they have more players who have something to prove? Also do you think what's required is a total rebuild? A slow start this year and that's likely to happen at 35th & Shields, eh? -- Paul Nelson; Seattle, Wash.
I think too much has to happen. Specifically, the rotation must make up for the loss of Buehrle's innings, and Dunn, Rios and Beckham (or at least two of the three) must rebound, as well as Viciedo picking up the power that Quentin once provided.
I honestly could see a rebound in 2013, but that's based more on the ascent of Ramirez, Viciedo and Danks as marquee players.
If either Rios or Dunn start the season hot, are they movable? -- Ray Mark, Westmont
Yes, but Dunn has full no-trade rights and Rios has limited no-trade rights.
The radio and TV guys should ask-on air-for interesting questions from viewers ... on the game, the Sox' history, strategies, suggestions, etc. Listeners would learn a lot. It would spice up the broadcasts. -- Steve Thulander; Fairfield, Iowa
I'm all for spicing up the broadcasts! You know it will be a long season if Ed Farmer starts discussing Notre Dame's quarterback situation in June.
Although we lost some strength in our rotation with Buehrle and Sergio Santos gone, I believe we still have a strong rotation with Sale taking the mound. I'm also predicting Peavy will bounce back like an ace along with Dunn and Rios. But my concern is Beckham. I don't like his swagger to his swings. It seems like he just swings for Holy Marys! Can his swing be corrected? Also, why did the Sox trade a young powerful slugger like Quentin? And to end up with Fukudome? Where's the logic in this? -- Dan Moreno, Garfield Ridge
Gordon needs to show better plate discipline. Quentin was one year away from free agency, had plenty of nagging injuries and Viciedo is ready. The Sox aren't expecting Fukudome to play every day, but he's an intriguing option.
Can you tell me where Jeff Cox has landed? What a great character and representative of baseball -- I will miss him on the Southside. -- Mike Rogan; Ashland, Ore.
I'll miss his dissertations on base running in spring training and some of his theories on sending runners and testing the arms of outfielders.
One of the reasons I wrote a story on Cox becoming fully vested in Major League Baseball's pension plan was because of the possibility he and others could be out of work some day. MLB has one of the best pension plans in the country if you're fully vested, and I know a few coaches around baseball who are grateful for that, and some former managers/coaches/players who are bummed that they have to share that with their ex-spouses.