The Tribune's White Sox beat writer answers reader questions throughout the season. This week, who stays and who goes, re-evaluating the Thome-Rowand trade and some bald-faced optimism.

I have always wondered what the numbers in front of the pick to click mean on the TV broadcast of the Sox games. Can you help me out? --Peter, Bartlett

The number refers to how many times that person who makes the pick is correct. For instance, Hawk gains a point after Monday's game for picking A.J. Pierzynski, who had three hits.

Has Thorton thought of adding a change-up or a forkball to get hitters off his fastball? He gets ahead 1-2 all the time but can't put guys away, because everything he throws is hard and it gets easier for hitters to get their timing down on his fastball. --Grant, Warrenville

Too often this year Matt has given up a broken-bat hit or grand slam after getting ahead on the count. It's been a very mystifying year. He's better than his numbers but he's still not getting the results. One of the bigger mysteries of the season.

It seems to me the Sox bullpen troubles stem from pure arrogance on Kenny W's part: Sure, these guys all failed with the Royals (the Royals!) or Seattle or the Cubs, but we're the White Sox and by God we can fix 'em. Yeah, right. --David, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Mark, when does the rebuilding project begin and how many years will it last? Do the Sox make the playoffs again within the next decade? The World Series title gave them a five-year flyer in my book, but there just seems to be no future hope for this team. --Jason, Chicago

Mark, please make it stop! I have been a Sox fan my whole life and never, never have I been so disappointed. I think I finally know what it feels like to be a Cubs fan! --Bob, San Antonio

Sox fans, we did our part. We filled the stands as Reinsdorf wanted. He said if we did, he would spend the money to put a true contender on the field. What he put on the field is a hodge-podge of injury-prone bargain basement retreads. Our season tickets are a sunk cost, Mr. Chairman! --Joe Kaminski, Chicago

It's time to surrender and plan for the future. Trade Buerhle, Dye and Contreras. And shame on Joe Crede, I love him, but he should have listened to management and had surgery in the off season. --AJ, Los Angeles

I wouldn't say the shakeup started Saturday, but the acquisition of Danny Richar from the Arizona organization was a move toward the future, especially in the event Tadahito Iguchi seeks and receives a multi-year deal elsewhere. I've been hearing more encouraging reports from people no longer with the Diamondbacks organization on Richar, so we'll see how he fares in a different organization with a chance to succeed.

I would hold onto Mark Buehrle and Jermaine Dye as long as possible up to the trading deadline for three reasons.

First, if the team embarks on a winning streak and makes a push toward the top of the division, you still possess two of your most valuable components.

Second, if the team continues to slide and other teams define themselves as contenders, you still have two of your most valuable players to deal to the highest bidder. Buehrle arguably would be the best pitcher available should the Sox fail to make a push in the division. National League West teams desperately could use a right-handed hitter with power like Dye.

Finally, if you can't move them before the July 31 trading deadline, you can receive two draft picks for each player if you can't re-sign them next winter. The Sox need to fortify their farm system, particularly with infielders and catchers.

I would like to see the Sox rebuild their staff around Buerhle, Garland and Danks. Any chance we will see the Sox trade Contreras and/or Vazquez and use the money they save to re-sign Buerhle? --Bob O'Connell, Hoboken, N.J.

The White Sox need to unload Uribe, Crede, Dye and most of the other outfielders. On the pitching staff, unload Vasquez, Contreras and all the middle relievers. --Frank, Watertown, N.Y.

If you want to trade a starter, keep in mind that Vazquez is signed through 2010, Garland is very durable and his contract expires after 2008 and Contreras' velocity has dipped. And Kenny Williams is very fond of Gavin Floyd.

If Alex Cintron's arm allows him to play over an extended period, then you can make a case for trading Juan Uribe (if you don't get a shortstop in return).