Mark Gonzales' White Sox mailbag

Tribune staff reporter

The Tribune's Mark Gonzales answers the final batch of questions, including inquires involving Jared Mitchell's rehabilitation and potential roster moves.

What's up with all these broken bats this season? Mayor Daley almost got hit in the head with one that shattered and flew into the stands. Now a player was slammed in the chest with one. What's it going take to get these things out of the games and replaced with something non-lethal? -- Dawn, Saint Anne

I don't know what it's going to take, but the Tyler Colvin incident was one of the scariest things I've seen since Steve Yeager got nailed on the on-deck circle about 30 years ago. I know the maple bat companies have taken a hit over this. I don't want to endorse certain companies, and I know the cost of bats went up to about three digits last spring. I wish there was a safer and more affordable way to produce bats that are safer for everyone involved.

How is Jared Mitchell's rehab going? I haven't heard much about him. -- Steven, Northbrook

Mitchell is currently in the Instructional League in Arizona, and he'll play in the Arizona Fall League, which starts Oct. 12. His rehabilitation is going well, from what I was told a week ago. He's also developed a little more power than your typical leadoff hitter. This amounts to a short season for him, but I think 2011 will be a better measuring stick as to how soon he joins the Sox.

The Sox gave this season away before it started. Explain why they let Jim Thome and Scott Podsednik go and didn't bring back Jermaine Dye. These three guys would have made a huge difference. Plus no need for Manny Ramirez! -- Steven, Northbrook

I completely agree with you on the latter part. The Thome story has been explained numerous times. They wanted a DH who could play other positions. Jim would not have received as many at-bats as he ended up getting had Justin Morneau not gotten hurt. In the case of Podsednik, you'll get different stories from each side. No one signed Dye, so the Sox weren't the only team who had issues.

Finally I am able to understand Kenny Williams moving out all our young talent for so-called veterans. We have lost Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Richard, Daniel Hudson, Ryan Sweeney and the list goes on and on. Now he talks about hoping for an offer from the Oakland Raiders, because his real love is with football. In other words, he is suffering from the 10-year itch as GM with the White Sox and wanted to win now, not later. Unfortunately, this also explains why Ozzie winds up with an endless bench of players who want to play every day but cannot because there are too many of them. Good luck, Kenny, sure hope that West Coast offer materializes. -- Tom Culligan; Alt. Springs, FL

If Kenny gets the Raidahs' GM job, then I want Lane Kiffin's duties at USC.

I am not a Ozzie Guillen/Kenny Williams fan, and never have been. I believe Ozzie does not manage his team, he defends his players. Kenny wouldn't know talent if someone walked into his office with Justin Verlander and Joe Mauer. -- Alan; Cherry Valley

If Ozzie would have departed after the 2010 season, who would have replaced him? I'm not saying Ozzie is perfect. The Sox have their own culture, and it would be tough to bring in a new manager unless they planned to clean house from top to bottom. People outside the organization have asked me since 2007 why Ozzie still is the manager. It's simple. Enough people within the organization are comfortable with him, and he's comfortable with enough people here.

The 2011 season will be a big test if there's a changing of the guard if there's no Konerko and Pierzynski, whom each helped police the clubhouse. But Kenny, with a few exceptions, is comfortable with Ozzie in this current landscape.

The White Sox, Ozzie in particular, are constantly praising the Twins organization and how they stress fundamentals. Yet, when it comes to his own team, Ozzie says they are adults who know how to play the game, yet he can't make them practice fundamentals. When is he going to wise up and start copying the Twins methods instead of admiring them from many, many games back? -- Ramona; Chicago

The Sox bettered the Twins in 2005 and 2008, primarily because they had better pitching, timely hitting and defense. It's not necessarily a matter of copying the Twins' methods as much as it's playing at least as smart as they do. The Sox didn't display the greatest baseball acumen during the first two months, and that was just as costly as their poor starting pitching and lack of clutch hitting in the first two months.

Looking to next year, I think it's already evident the Sox found a gem in Brent Morel. His glove is outstanding. He is patient at the plate and doesn't seem fooled by pitches outside the zone. He's showing some good power and most of all, he doesn't look intimidated at all when he faces big league pitching. I think he'll be a Joe Crede-like player. The Sox need to pencil him in at third. NOW! -- Peter; Dallas

I think the Sox can start Morel at third as long as they add more seasoned hitters to next year's lineup. If Morel is batting higher than seventh next year, that could be a problem.

I completely agree with you on his fielding prowess. He's very polished.

As a member of the BBWAA you get a vote in the Hall of Fame balloting. Why is there no category that covers men who contribute to the game and their team but never seem to get any recognition? I'm talking about coaches that are worth their salt and specifically longtime White Sox pitching coach Ray Berres. People tend to think Don Cooper walks on water for the reclamation projects he's had success with since he became the Sox pitching coach. Berres did this for nearly 20 years and under six or seven different managers. Without the likes of him the Sox would not have had 17 straight winning seasons and competitive teams when they had no hitting. What will it take to get someone like Ray some recognition beyond those of us who remember the job he did? -- Joe Allen; Castle Rock, CO

I'd like to see scouts get special recognition as well. I don't forget the days of covering high school under conditions much less comfortable than an MLB press box and watching the scouts try to find a future pro player under poor conditions.

There was a big emphasis this year on manufacturing runs, but I am not sure it worked. What percentage of the Sox's runs were scored on home runs this year compared to the last few years. -- Tim Sweeney; Villa Park

The Sox hit 177 home runs, 103 of which occurred with nobody on base. They scored 278 of their 252 runs on home runs (36.9 percent).

What weaknesses must the White Sox address during the off-season, and which players do you think will be released or traded in order to improve the ball club for next season? -- Perry

Shoring up the closer situation is nearly as important as adding a left-handed bat. The starting pitching should be good enough to stay in games after they learned a lesson last April and May. But not having a dependable closer is demoralizing to any team.

Do Ozzie and Kenny ever talk about how the team quit on themselves, Ozzie/KW and the fans? This was a flawed team from the beginning with two good months and the other four losing months. Paul Konerko, Alexi Rios, Alexi Ramirez and shadows -- sad. -- Florida Jim; Viera, FL

I would say they were out of gas at the end. Despite their impressive ascent into first place, they left themselves with no margin for error. Look at Tampa Bay. They struggled in the final two weeks but won the AL East with the help of a 32-12 start.

In your opinion, are the Twins totally inside the Sox's heads? It seems like they have absolute voodoo on them. It makes you wonder how we ever finished ahead of them in 2005 and 2008. Maybe Ozzie should quit gushing about how great they are. -- John Browning; Flemington, NJ

I think there's a culture that obsessed with the Twins. They do a great job over there, top to bottom. But, as Jim Fregosi once told a disgruntled pitcher, sometimes you have to look in the mirror to figure out what the problem is. It's time to everyone associated with the Sox to stop their man crush on the Twins, work on polishing their fundamentals and do the little things.

The little things, such as Scott Podsednik scoring a run in the first inning and three different closers (Shingo Takatsu, Dustin Hermanson and Bobby Jenks) doing their job, helped the Sox win the 2005 World Series. Buying marquee free agents isn't going to solve the problem of conquering the Twins. It starts from within, and Konerko alluded to that in his final news conference.

Let 'realistically' be the operative word here. With the starters all having labored mightily to finish at a .500 win-loss record, do you see any really positive hope for the starters? Buehrle was OK for one or two consecutive starts, and then terrible for for or five of the next six. Freddy is very close to over the hill. The jury is STILL out on Gavin Floyd. Edwin Jackson is questionable, as well. Other than Danks, I don't see a great potential for this starting staff to make a 180 degree turn, in 2011. Now, position players. I'd keep Paulie for one or two more seasons and I 'think' Beckham will have a rebound year. Omar Vizquel (I love him) should be released due to his age. Mark Kotsay and Mark Teahen, and possibly Brent Lillibridge and Ramon Castro are not productive enough to warrant keeping them. A.J. Pierzynski's best years are behind him. In conclusion, even Ozzie may not be the right fit after a five-year hiatus from the World Series. -- Don Hirth; Gulfport, MS

The starters should have a chip on their shoulders after their poor start. I think Chris Sale has a chance to help the staff, especially since this could be Buehrle's final year in 2011. Gavin's inability to finish seasons should be more of an issue than anything else. I don't understand the criticism and skepticism toward Freddy. He was on the staff as No. 5 pitcher, and he could have won 16 games with better support. The Sox should be thankful for what they got from him.

The bullpen will be restructured for the reasons you mentioned.

Teahen is signed for two more years. Castro's $1.2 million option is an insurance policy. I wouldn't be surprised if Quentin or a starter is moved for a left-handed hitter.

Do you think Joey Cora is ready to be a manager in the big leagues? I do think it's time to let Williams and Ozzie go! -- John, Antioch

I think Joey has been ready for a few years. I'm just not sure it's with this organization, but he's deserving of an opportunity. He's paid his duties in the minor leagues and in winter ball.

First let me say that I am extremely proud of this year's White Sox team. With that said, do you think there is any chance in getting Prince Fielder this winter? He would solve the left handed DH problem and can play first if necessary. I think Prince would love the short fence in right field and the fans would love to see him in nlack. Thanks for a great season! -- Mike Mucker; Wichita Falls, TX

The Sox explored the possibility of acquiring Fielder last July. I think the Sox would want assurances to to have a player of Fielder's caliber past 2011. Fielder also is represented by Scott Boras, who will be trying to land a deal close to what Ryan Howard received.

I don't think the Sox have an above average fielder on the team. Most are just average because of their arm, range, reaction time, or high amount of errors. To have truly good pitching staff you have to make the occasional great play behind them. I think that the Sox must get an input outfielder to compete with the Twins next year. -- Bill Wiggins; Rockville, VA

Third base was a problem for the first two months. Konerko did a fantastic job picking throws out of the dirt. The catchers and pitchers have to work better at cutting down opponents' stolen bases. Juan Pierre will be a year older next year, but he played better in left than anyone could have expected. For all of Carlos' inconsistencies at the plate, he looked comfortable and played fearlessly in right field.

I would say there are bigger defensive issues than the outfield.

KW seems to have a long history of not offering his top free agents arbitration, then losing them without compensation to offers from other teams. Might he break that pattern this winter with AJ and PK? Wouldn't it make sense to offer arbitration to the two of them to (a) be committed to only a one-year contract if that's his concern, and (b) preserve his rights to draft pick compensation if they jump ship. Seems that both players are deserving to return to the Sox; the concern should be their ages and the length of the deal. Neither player should make a whole lot more in 2011 than they made for 2010 and they both deliver solid value for the amount they were paid. Personally, I hope they both sign back on and for more than one season, but it seems as though KW can cut his risk by at least offering arbitration. -- Michael; Cape Elizabeth, ME

I think Konerko could get a significant raise from his $12 million through the arbitration process. I think the shortage of dependable catchers around baseball works in A.J.'s favor, not the Sox. The salaries of Rios and Peavy will rise, and John Danks and Quentin are in line for significant raises through the arbitration process. As of now, there's not much wiggle room for the Sox, in my opinion.

How long of a contract do you think Paul Konerko and AJ would be looking for from the White Sox? -- Tom Horvath; Highland, IN

Retaining A.J. and Konerko. What do you think the odds are and why? -- Charles Royce; Appleton, WI

I think contract terms are only part of the equation for Paul, who is destined to get a two or three-year deal similar to what he earned this year. But I think Paul wants to play for a team that he knows can contend for a playoff berth.

A.J. wants to stay with the Sox, but I think he'll have plenty of multi-year offers similar to his annual average of $6.25 million.

I'd say there's a slightly less than 50 percent chance that Paul returns, and the odds are even less for A.J despite his preference to stay.

For 2011, does it make sense for the Sox to free up a big chunk of payroll to re-sign Konerko by trading Mark Buehrle, particularly to the National League? The Sox would still have a strong rotation. I realize that there is a risk of Peavy not coming back, but Chris Sale had looked strong in his relief role this year. Trading Buehrle would be a risk, but not as big a one as losing Konerko, who makes Alex Rios better by protecting him in the lineup. Even though Konerko is in his mid-30s's, he takes care of himself and has overcome the thumb problem that bothered him two years ago. In addition, Buehrle would bring value in return, either in hitting or relief pitching. -- Christopher Johnson; Evanston

Buehrle has full trade veto rights. I'm not sure St. Louis can handle his $14 million for next year, but I think that's one place he would consent to a trade for one year.

Rios definitely needs protection in the lineup.

Under what circumstances would the White Sox consider trading Jake Peavy or Edwin Jackson during the off season and having that vacant spot in the starting rotation filled by Freddy Garcia? -- Perry; California

Peavy is recovering from his injury, and I can't see anyone taking that risk immediately. Jake is ahead of schedule, but his status won't be more definitive until he's throwing off a mound.

I look for Sale, not Garcia, to make a push. Freddy pitched himself into a decent situation for next season.

Don't you think it's time the Sox dumped Kenny Williams and promoted Rick Hahn before Hahn goes elsewhere? Kenny has made a couple of good moves in his tenure, but many, many bad ones (Uribe, Sweeney, Gio Gonzalez, Swisher). -- Phil Milsk; New Lenox, IL

Thanks for mentioning Uribe. I know he had his share of detractors, but he's in a good place in San Francisco. His teammates love him for his clubhouse persona as much as he production at the plate.

The Sox traded Gio twice, and look what's happened!

But Kenny is staying at least as long as the chairman is in his current position, and I expect Kenny to give this team a much-needed facelift.

As worthless as the Manny deal worked out, will the Sox get any compensation depending on how he leaves? -- Frank Saran; Arlington,TX

Do the Sox have any further financial obligation to Manny Ramirez after the close of the 2010 season? -- John Dyckman; Albany, CA

Frank, I'm headed your way Friday for Game 3 of the ALDS. I might have to park at your house because of the Arkansas-Texas A&M game.

Maybe Manny will leave one of his mini-speakers or one of his dreadlocks as compensation.

The Sox owe Manny the balance of $3.8 million in deferred payments through 2013.

My biggest hope is that they bring back A.J. -- Virginia Sexton; Downers Grove

Virginia, I'm sorry but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

With the Sox looking for a left-handed bat, what are the chances of them making a real run at Carl Crawford? Putting him in the outfield and moving Quentin to 1B/DH would improve the Sox. However, I'm sure he will come at a steep price. -- Kurt; Glen Rock, NJ

Yes, Crawford will be one of the marquee free agents, and I expect the Angels to make a strong push for him. The last time the Sox got involved in a free agent bidding war involving a marquee player, it was Torii Hunter. And we know how that turned out.

I'd like to thank everyone for supplying insightful questions. I hope everyone has a peaceful off-season.Although this Sox team fell short of many people's expectations, they were a very accommodating group to deal with.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad