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Mark Gonzales' White Sox mailbag

ContractsBaseballMusical TheaterChicago White SoxJim ThomeManagement Change

You've probably been bombarded with this suggestion, but I can't help but ask it: With the second half upon us and pitching being so huge a commodity, what are the chances of Kenny Williams re-signing Freddy Garcia? I've heard he's healthy again, and he would added depth to the Sox pitching staff. --Kevin Campbell, Carol Stream, Ill.

Freddy was tentatively scheduled to pitch in front of scouts toward the end of the month. Given Jose Contreras' struggles, the Sox could be looking outside the organization for help. Bay Area media outlets reported that the Sox had a representative watch Oakland's Justin Duchscherer on Sunday, but I'd be surprised if the A's move him because he's effective and relatively cheap.

I was told late last month that there were internal discussions about Freddy but the Sox elected not to pursue him. That could change, but I'd think Freddy would want some guarantees for 2009 as well.

We can all look at the standings and see where teams stand. But where do the Sox feel their biggest competition is going to come from -- the Tigers or the Twins? --Doug, Westwood, Kan.

I'd say the Twins, because of their clutch hitting and the few walks their pitchers allow. Detroit's task is tough because of the loss of two starting pitchers, Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis.

Had Kenny Wiliams signed either Type A free agents Aaron Rowand or Torii Hunter last season, would the White Sox have lost their No. draft pick, eighth overall that turned into promising SS Gordon Beckham? --Elmhurst's famous Blogger Bill

No. The Sox's 2007 record was in the lower half, so they would have kept the pick but lost another pick.

I've checked out the projected center field free agent crop for next off-season and it's very slim pickings. Assuming that the Sox let Jim Thome and his big $12.5M option go and move Paul Konerko to DH and Nick Swisher to first base, who plays center for the Sox next year? --Jill, Hammond, Ind.

Anderson and Wise. I would think the Sox would give Brian the first shot at starting.

Since the Sox, despite leading the Majors in ERA, didn't land one pitcher on this year's All Star team, it begs the question: Has this ever happened before? Has any other team ever lead the Majors in ERA at the break and not had a pitcher make the team? It seems very unusual. --Roy R., Simi Valley, Calif.

The Sox's staff ranked second to Oakland in ERA at the All-Star break. I think it's a blessing in disguise that the Sox don't have a pitcher going to the All-Star Game because they need the rest, especially after the way they were worked in the final trip of the first half.

name: Chris Dcity: HCMC, Vietnam

Do you see any trades on the horizon for the Sox? I think it would make sense to move Jim Thome if we could add some pitching depth or even some young prospects. Dye and Konerko could then split time at DH. This would also open up some space in the lineup for Swisher, Anderson and Wise. --Chris D., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Thome has a no-trade clause and is warming up at the plate. I do see them looking for pitching help.

What are the prospects for starters on the Sox farm teams? Are there arms ready to promote if one of our big five falters or gets injured? Would Nick Masset get the nod or is someone ready to go in the minors? --John Browning, Flemington, N.J.

I think Masset would stay as a reliever. Lance Broadway got roughed up in his last start but could be used as a spot starter, and Wes Whisler and Clayton Richard have made great strides this season.

I'm worried about both Jose Contreras and Javy Vazquez. Both of these guys have been awful for the last month. Why not start Nick Masset as opposed to this duo? What about Wes Whisler or Lance Broadway? The Red Sox have no problem bringing up kids on a regular basis and it seems to work. If Jose and Javy don't straighten out, this club will not win the division in my opinion. --David Lee, Westfield, Mass.

Boston has had great drafts, and it's showing. The White Sox are trying to catch up in this department. Right now, D.J. Carrasco would be a better option to start than Masset.

When someone is put on waivers, how do other teams know this? Is there a "Waivers for PC and Mac" program? Is there a waivers email that goes out? I just read about some team trying to sneak a player through waivers earlier this year so I was wondering how the other teams know who's on waivers. I hope this isn't too dumb of a question but I really like to know obscure things like that. I have more but I'll just ask the waivers question right now. --Chris Steimel, Valparaiso, Ind.

There's an information bank that teams have access to that provides this information.

I've heard rumors that Juan Uribe might be on the move as the trade deadline approaches. If this is the case and Juan goes elsewhere, what do you see us doing for a backup utility infielder? --Bill, St. Paul, Minn.

Unless the Sox can land a better utility player and find a taker for Juan, I think he stays in Chicago for the rest of the season.

Now that Jordan Danks has dumped pariah agent Scott Boras, what are the Sox chances of signing him? He sure would make up for losing the Sox's second pick in last month's draft due to the Scott Linebrink signing. --Pasquali, Crown Point, Ind.

A: I think the Sox will sign Jordan. I was told by a source familiar with the situation that they just started negotiations and I think he'll be signed before the Aug. 15 deadline. Jordan wants to sign with the Sox.

The Brewers GM has stated that if he doesn't resign Ben Sheets and/or CC Sabathia that he'll be content to settle for two draft picks for each. But what happens, for example, if the Yankees first sign another Type A free agent (like Jon Garland), then sign one of Milwaukee's Type A free agents. Am I right in assuming that the Yankees would have already forfeited their top draft pick in the next amateur free agent draft, thereby leaving Milwaukee with only "sandwich" compensation picks at the end of Round 1? --Jack Lucas

It's no guarantee yet that Garland will be a Type A free agent. But the Brewers will get two high draft picks for each Type A player they lose. Doug Melvin knows the system well and has fortified the Brewers' farm system with this method.

Is Jim Thome done? I know he is probably a great teammate in the clubhouse and all that, but it seems that in RBI situations he strikes out or grounds out. Wouldn't the Sox be better with Paul Konkero at DH? --Jim, Summit, Ill.

I wouldn't write off Jim. He's hitting the ball to all fields with authority and hitting left-handers OK.

It may seem far fetched but if Thome's option doesn't kick in and Crede doesn't re-sign, won't the Sox have the cash to go after CC Sabathia in the off-season? If they traded away one of their pitchers (Contreras?) they could get some prospects or potential middle infield help in the process. Is this a possibility or a pipe dream? --Brian, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Lately, the Sox haven't invested heavily in free agent pitchers but have done well in keeping their own pitchers before leaving for free agency (Buehrle and Vazquez). Their big investment next off-season probably will involved closer Bobby Jenks, who is arbitration eligible for the first time.

Any news of Gordon Beckham signing? Is there a problem here? Or did I miss it? --T. Maze, Wantagh, N.Y.

I think the Beckham negotiations will go close to the Aug. 15 deadline but he'll get signed. I wouldn't be surprised if he signs a 2009 contract, which would mean the Sox wouldn't have to put him on the 40-man roster until 2013. But I see him moving through the farm system quickly.

Since his promotion to Class AAA, Clayton Richard is 6-0 with a 2.37 ERA and an impressive 29 strikeouts to only four walks. Why is he under the radar? Possibly a trade chip for Kenny Williams? --Nick, Chicago

Before watching Clayton Richard start the Futures Game I had never really heard anything about him other than the fact he was the backup QB for Michigan in 2004. Do the Sox view him as a successful future starter or is he a great bargaining chip that can help us land an additional starter and/or bullpen help for the stretch run here in 2008? --Ryan Rabe, Chicago

Richard might be a trade chip, but he's doing very well and the Sox will need a replacement for Jose Contreras by 2010. Richard is left-handed, but I think he'd get more attention if he was selected higher than the eighth round.

Why did the Sox want to keep Uribe instead of Ozuna? Where's the logic? It seems completely asinine to me, especially since Pablo could play anywhere in the infield or outfield. --Jacob Peklo, Wheaton, Ill.

The issue here was who could start over an extended period at three positions. Pablo has thrived in a spot-starting role. Uribe was perceived as a better defender at three infield positions, and the Sox's outfield depth limited Pablo's playing time there. The Sox felt more comfortable keeping Uribe, if they had to start him for an extended period over Pablo.

Why on earth does Ozzie Guillen persist in using Scott Linebrink as the emergency closer? Linebrink is lights out as a setup guy, but his closing resume has been absolutely terrible this year. Dotel has much more experience in closing and would seem to be a more logical choice. I realize that Dotel had been used already in the July 8 game against the Royals, but couldn't Ozzie have planned a little better? --Erik, Peoria Heights, Ill.

With the expected return of Jenks and Dotel's experience as a closer, I think you'll see Linebrink stay in his set-up role in the second half. Matt Thornton also can close games.

In a recent round of mailbag, you printed comments from three different fans who think the offense is better off without Konerko. These fans asked your thoughts on that notion, but you didn't really reveal any. The closest you came was saying Konerko and Jermaine Dye should receive plenty of breaks in the second half because the schedule is so full. Do you think the offense is better off without Konerko? --Jeff, Granger, Ind.

(Sigh). During the final four weeks of the first half, the offense was obviously better without Konerko. But I think it's fair to give Paul a shot for the first homestand of the second half. If his production doesn't improve, then I think Ozzie will have to opt for a lineup that includes Swisher at first base and Anderson and Wise in center.

The main point is that the Sox will need contributions from everyone in the second half -- Konerko included. That's why I mentioned him as part of the offense in the second half, as well as the need for players to get breaks during a challenging stretch.

I just got back from KC seeing the Sox in person for the first time and am struck by this thought: If they really want to go far this year, we need a first baseman who can hit more than .215 and catch a double play throw AND we need a center fielder who can hit more than .235 and can cover more ground than the circumference of the center jump circle in the United Center. Coco Crisp and Ross Gload should come pretty cheaply! --Dan, Franklin, Tenn.

I'm not so sure Coco Crisp will come that cheaply, but I see your point.

So who was going to catch Sunday if the Sox tied it, with Hall out for a pinch runner and A.J. hurt? --David L. Beck, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Mark Salas.

Just kidding. A.J. was moving better Sunday morning. In the event Hall and A.J. are each out of games or unavailable, Guillen said that (drumroll, please) Juan Uribe would be the emergency catcher.

Ozzie is rightfully upset over the 12-11 loss to Texas, but answer me this: Why take out Massett? Again, it's Ozzie over-managing. He contributed to the loss just like Konerko and Thome striking in the ninth. Imagine what La Russa or Gardenhire would do with this team! --Jeffrey Hartnett, St. Louis

Jeffrey, great point about Masset. He had thrown only 20 pitches in two innings.

I was disturbed to read in the Dallas Morning News that Ozzie Guillen was taunting C.J. Wilson during the ninth inning of Sunday's loss. Usually I ignore the typical "Ozzie stuff" but now it is getting more embarrassing. What is the image of the Sox's around the league? I believe that if Ozzie really wants his team to be respected nationally he needs to show some class. --Mike S., St. Charles, Ill.

Mike, I'd like to hear what Ozzie says about this before making a comment. But I can tell you he wouldn't be the first manager to rag on an opponent. Bob Brenly has some great stories about Tommy Lasorda getting all over opponents with his colorful language, and Billy Martin did the same.

Wilson said he took it "to another level" after saying Guillen yelled at him? He needed motivation after blowing nearly all of a four-run lead in the final game of the first half?

That play that ended the second game against the Rangers was the most fantastic play I've ever seen. Young Alexei Ramirez is going to be around for a long time. Let's hope the Sox don't blow it by losing him with a stupid trade or free agency. He is great! --Tom Gregory, Sylvania, Ohio

The Sox have Alexei signed through 2011, so I think he's staying for a while.

Do the Sox lead the league in hitting into double plays. It seems like an automatic when Konerko is batting in a DP situation. Why not hit and run in that situation? --Basil Genetos, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Before hurting his left oblique muscle, Paul was showing more signs of hitting to the opposite field, and I think that could help him as much as it did for Thome.

At the end of the first half, the Sox had grounded into 91 double plays, with Toronto (101) and Boston (92) leading the AL.

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