Are there any closers out there that the Sox could pick up? I am ready to see Billy Koch get out of town right now. Considering Keith Foulke is an All-Star and never should have been traded, the least Kenny Williams can do is go out and get someone who won't load the bases and give up at least a run every time they try and close out a game. What's the deal? -- Luke Shaver, San Diego
The Sox have two other closers -- Marte and Gordon. Both have been lights out while Koch has struggled. It wouldn't shock me if Kenny tried to acquire another arm. Then again, Rick White has also been solid of late, posting a 2.22 ERA since May 30. And Kelly Wunsch is almost due to come off the disabled list.
White Sox fans continue to support Jerry Manuel when, except for the first half of 2000, he has delivered with painful consistency a .500 team? Also, his mismanagement of Frank Thomas by consistently using him as a DH when Thomas's current and career performance show substantially superior batting stats when he plays first base. -- Richard Donovan, New York
I'm guessing you sent this in before the five-game winning streak. Or maybe not, considering the Sox are a .500 team as I write this. Your opinion on Thomas is valid. He's hitting .244 as a DH and .352 at first base. But Manuel believes that the Sox are better defensively with Konerko/Daubach at first and that Thomas can thrive as a DH. (He went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer on July 22) If Thomas gets in a funk, Manuel will move him back to first, at least temporarily.
The team was starting to win just before the "big" trade. Now they are
chronic losers, like early in the season. Why does Kenny Williams make so
many bad trades and still remain? Why not take Colon out of the rotation and
get another hurler. He has lost his form, as has Koch. The Sox have two big
problems -- coaching and general manager. -- Dom Zaccone, Stuart, Fla.
Dom, I think Kenny has just knocked you from his Christmas card list. Looks like you needed a little more patience. Colon was dominant Tuesday (July 22) against Cleveland. Robbie Alomar's defense has been average but he's hitting .474 in his last six games. Carl Everett had a big two-out, two-run hit Monday (July 21). That's why the "chronic losers" have won five straight.
Hey, Teddy. I still wonder if the Royals should be viewed as a viable
force, based solely on their mediocre (if they're lucky) pitching staff.
They're young, inexperienced, and haven't played in any game even
approaching the pressure of a pennant run. Are they going to go ahead and
collapse for us? I hope so. -- Mitch, Chicago
It's hard to imagine a team with such a lousy bullpen surviving for the season's final two months. I'd bet that most baseball experts think the Twins are still the team to beat.
With D'Angelo Jimenez gone, Robbie Alomar apparently gone at the end of the
season and Willie Harris still below the Mendoza line, will Aaron Miles get
a shot at second base next year? -- Greg Cox, Dunwoody, GA
Way too early to predict that one. Depends on whether they re-sign Alomar and/or Everett. That will influence what they do with Harris and Aaron Rowand, which will affect whether Miles gets a shot in '04.
I was wondering how Joe Borchard is doing once he was sent down. What position
is he playing? What is his average? How will the Everett trade impact his future with the White Sox? -- Jim Meader, Sioux Falls, SD
Borchard has had some decent games of late, but he's still hitting just .230 with nine homers in 72 games. Borchard figures to have the first shot at center next year. Assuming the Sox don't re-sign Everett, he'll probably compete with Harris and Rowand.
Hi. I read that Esteban Loaiza is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season. I was under the impression that the White Sox held an option for next year. Are we really going to lose him after we gave him a shot? --Jonathan S., Los Angeles
No, the Sox do hold a club option for 2004. It's worth $3.5 million, or $4 million if Loaiza reaches his incentives this season for games started.
I thought when Paul Konerko was young in the Dodgers chain he played some third
base for them. If true, take Crede out and insert Konerko. If Paul hits, it will be the best lineup around. His range is nil, but could he make the routine plays. -- Dan Pecucci, Bartlett, Ill.
Yes, Konerko came up as a third baseman. He played 20 games there in 1998 for the Dodgers and Reds. But since getting traded to the Sox before the '99 season, he's been a first baseman. The lineup might be a little better with Daubach at first and Konerko at third instead of Crede, but there's no way it will happen. The opposing team would bunt 10 times a game.
Teddy, it appeared to me that you were at least somewhat supportive of
Manuel by a question you recently answered about him. While I agree some
blame must be placed upon the players when talented teams like the Sox are
struggling, Manuel's habit of "tinkering" with the ballclub is becoming
ridiculous. There is a line between keeping players from going stale on the
bench and "tinkering" to the point where players can't keep in rhythm
because of constant days off. Manuel far surpasses that line. What do you
think about things Manuel does such as the "tinkering" and do you think the
Sox need someone other than Manuel to manage the team? -- Ryan Jones, Chicago
By "tinkering," I guess you're referring to his penchant for altering the lineup from one day to the next. Manuel doesn't do this on a whim. He tries to get the best matchups on that day and keep his reserves fresh. Here's an example: I heard Manuel getting ripped on the radio the other day for not playing Alomar and Everett in the final game before the All-Star break. Instead, Manuel started Tony Graffanino at second and Aaron Rowand at center. Graffanino hit the game-winning, three-run homer and Rowand went 3-for-5 and threw a runner out at the plate. If that's what you call "tinkering," I'd imagine you didn't have a problem with it on that day.
What can be done to encourage ESPN anchors to stop referring to Boston as
"The Sox?" I can't be the only one who's had it with this East Coast prejudice. Don't sportswriters in Chicago ever give ESPN any crap for this? -- Paul Crania, Morgantown, W.Va.
Hey, I'm from New York, so I really don't care.
Many people, including me, have been critical of the Big Skirt when he didn't slide into home, etc. But when he battles against Eddie Guardado -- two outs, bottom of the 12th, 0-2 count and then battles for an eleven pitch at-bat that finally ends with a game-winning home run -- why was he not given the strokes and props he deserved? -- Ronald Reichman, Los Angeles
Uh, not sure what you mean by strokes, but we certainly played it up in that next day's Tribune. That's all I can do, Ronald.
Teddy, with the major league team resembling a little league team (at least 6-year-olds practice bunting), we may as well talk about the future. The Sox took three outfielders with their first three picks and they all have signed. From what I read prior to the draft, second-round pick Ryan Sweeney
was expected to be a first-round pick but his contract demands were too
high. He just signed for essentially slot money so I don't know where those
high demands were. With the emergence of Jeremy Reed, should Sox
fans see this draft as the end of the Joe Borchard hype, and was this the reason the Sox allowed Anthony Webster to slip onto Texas' list? --David, Lincoln, Neb.
You never know who's gonna pan out. That's why you assemble as much minor-league talent as you can and then hope for the best.