Why did Charles Haeger start against the Angels instead of McCarthy? Wasn't he the backup plan at the beginning of the season? I think he deserved it. I don't care how good one of our minor leaguers is pitching when you have him waiting in the bullpen. Brandon should get the next start in my book. -- Patrick Armon, Darien
Patrick, you got your wish as well as those of others when Brandon started Tuesday at Tampa Bay. But Brandon was good for only 83 pitches and four innings. Pitch count is very important, and Haeger was more equipped at that time to face the Angels.
There are few, if any freebies, these days. The total paid attendance varies, based on the number of freebies. Please remember that players now must pay for their tickets. That now goes toward paid attendance and helps the paid figures.
Hey Mark, the Sox are looking pretty tough to beat. I believe they are ahead
or near pace of the 2005 champs. What do you thing their chances of a repeat are
and who do you think will be their biggest contender in AL? -- Charlie, Peoria
The Sox have a good chance to repeat as division champion and go far if they stay healthy and their bullpen improves. Detroit won't go away, and I expect Cleveland to make a run. Boston and the Yankees will be tough. The AL West seems down, but Oakland is a second-half team.
Hi Mark, enjoy reading your work. Hope you can help answer this. It's clear Bobby Jenks isn't comfortable (yet) coming into a game in the middle
of an inning. The results show he isn't, yet Ozzie continues to insist on doing it (twice for example between May 5 and May 10). Why? And with respect to Ozzie, saying 'because I'm the manager' isn't an answer. I like Ozzie and you can't calculate what he has meant to the organization but I think he 'out-thinks' himself at times, tries to act like Tony La Russa with all this 'matchup' garbage and has cost the team wins. If a pitcher is capable, he can get out BOTH left and right-handers ... it shouldn't matter. Yet Ozzie obviously thinks it does. This bullpen is shaky right now, why exacerbate the situation by putting your 'closer' into spots he doesn't like? -- Mark Liptak, Chubbuck, Idaho
Mark, thanks for your interest and tidbits. But "Tries to act like Tony La Russa?" Ouch. I think Ozzie will start using Jenks sooner than the ninth inning if the bullpen remains shaky. He did this on Sunday in Minnesota. It's obvious the bullpen could use some help, if not more consistency.
What is the contract status of Joe Nathan and if the Twins continue to reel, is there a chance to pry him away to help solidify our bullpen? Also is it
verified that Contreras is really 34 years old and if so, does the team feel he can be their ace for another 3-4 years or, given the possible overuse of his arm
in Cuba, is this injury the beginning of his inevitable breakdown? -- Harvey Schatz, Teaneck, N.J.
I think the Twins need to keep Joe Nathan and Torii Hunter to help their chances to get a new downtown stadium. Jose Contreras' agent emphasizes that his client's age is accurate and hasn't been altered from the time he signed with the Yankees. We don't know how many innings he threw in Cuba, but he is one of the best pitchers in baseball right now so it's time to ride that wave.
From what I hear, Chris Singleton isn't filling in for John Rooney on the radio broadcasts. Is there any hope to bring back Dave Wills, a great broadcaster and a great Sox fan? -- Tim Koncel, San Francisco
I think Dave Wills is well-liked and comfortable in Tampa Bay. And Ed Farmer and Chris are in the first year of five-year deals.
Mark, I'm curious as to why the White Sox don't look to use Charlie Haeger in a middle relief role. It seems to me that after two at-bats against high 80s to low 90s pitches, staying back on pitches in the 60s would be difficult even without it dancing. Then with Jenks coming in with high 90s to end the game the batters will have to make another large adjustment. Plus, knuckleballers usually don't tire their arm as much, so back-to-back, 2-3 inning games is possible. What are your thoughts? -- Erich, Barstow, Cal.
I think we'll know more about Charlie's potential in his next major league start. When that comes, I don't know. But it's obvious he was trying too hard, as evidenced by the fact he was throwing his fastball 10 m.p.h. harder. Haeger did pitch well in his next start for Charlotte.
Mark, how big of a concern is the bullpen, especially the setup for Jenks, for Ozzie & the front office? It seems to me they are missing Jose Vizcaino, Dustin Hermanson, and the old Cliff Politte. There is simply no veteran presence in that area right now. Is Jeff Nelson the answer? Or will the Sox look outside the organization for help? -- Steve Schucker, Chicago
The bullpen is a concern. I think Jeff Nelson can be the answer, but he needs at least one more week of work. I know they're looking at some pitchers outside the organization, but any serious discussions usually don't take place under June.
What happens with J.D. next year? I believe his contract is up after this year. I don't want to lose J.D., although Sweeney does seem like he'll make the big club next year. Also, what of Josh Fields? I know Joe Crede's a free agent again, but I think the Sox are crazy to let him go if he keeps playing like
this. But Josh Fields is leading Charlotte in average and homers and is second in RBIs. He's ready after this year too. Where do we put these guys? -- Andrew, St. Louis
What are the chances Jermaine Dye will be back with the club next year? I know we got him on a discount because of his back-to-back hurt years and his production was down. I imagine now that he's healthy and had awesome back-to-back years he will command a lot higher salary. Our payroll is already too high. Will we hand Sweeney or Owens the job, or lock him up a few more years? Or here is a crazy thought -- bring back C. Lee. And have a trifecta of sluggers. Robert M., Holland, Ohio
I think it would be crazy to not pick up the option on Jermaine Dye. Ryan Sweeney is a natural talent but only 21. Jermaine provides enough protection behind Thome and Konerko. Crede will be arbitration-eligible next winter, and I think it would be wise on both sides to at least examine a multi-year deal. But it wouldn't be the end of the world if they couldn't reach an agreement. Josh Fields needs some work on his defense but has made improvement there. Sweeney is ahead of Owens at this point. Carlos Lee is looking for Konerko-like money, so I don't see him returning.