By Mark Gonzales
Tribune staff reporter
11:14 PM EDT, May 2, 2010
I see that both Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Sweeney are off to good starts with the A's. Does Kenny Williams know this? -- Jim Fainter; Denver, CO
I'm sure he knows about Gio, even before Torii Hunter said that Gonzalez had the best curveball in the game.
I'm a life-long Sox fan (65 years old). It's been my observation that a team that does well in spring training usually does well in the regular season. The Sox finished near the bottom of the pack in spring 2010. Hopefully, this does not portend a poor finish to the regular season this year, but so far it's not looking so good. Has anyone compiled stats on spring vs. regular season performance? -- John Dorsch; Dublin, GA
The Sox were 14-18 in the spring of 2005 when they won 99 games during the regular season en route to a World Series title. They had winning spring records (17-12-1 in 2003; 15-13-1 in 2004) in the two previous springs but didn't win division titles. They were 11-19-3 in the spring of 2008 but won the division title this year. In fact, they haven't had a winning spring record since 2004 but have won only two division titles during that span.
The Sox had a team in the Midwest League for roughly 50 years. It is still OUTRAGEOUS they no longer do. And the White Sox wonder why they have a small fan base ... Brooks Boyer cares much more about DOG DAY then downstate fans! Boyer should be canned. He couldn't find Peoria with a map. -- Bill Kauzlarich; Farmington
The Sox have aligned their five of their minor league affiliates in the Southeast. It's easier to make player transactions as well as give minor league instructions and their scouts more time for evaluation and help.
Brooks does know South Bend.
Last I looked, Juan Pierre hadn't had a walk yet this season. What's up with a leadoff hitter who isn't getting on base via the walk at least once in a while? It seems there's a lack of discipline on the part of the hitters. -- Paul; Denver
Paul, there was some considerable head-shaking when Juan hacked at the first pitch Saturday following a walk to Mark Kotsay that loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning of Saturday's game.
Through Sunday's game, Pierre has more walks (6) than strikeouts (4). The most walks Juan has had in a single season is 55 with Florida in 2003. He's never been a player who has worked deep counts. He had a .361 on-base percentage that season but he also batted .305.
Scott Podsednik wasn't a big walk guy, either, but you're seeing where a lot of leadoff batters hit their way on. But that's where plate discipline comes in, and it's been lacking. That's part of the season why Juan batted ninth in New York.
There's also the theory that pitchers don't want to walk Juan because of his threat to steal bases, so they tend to throw him more strikes.
With Jerry Reinsdorf pushing 75, I'm wondering what you think will happen when he decides to sell -- and if you think that is going to be anytime in the somewhat near future. I never hear about anyone interested in buying the White Sox. Of course, fans would LOVE for someone who buys it to significantly increase the payroll. God Bless Jerry -- and thanks for the ring! -- but he NEVER wins a bidding war for any coveted free agent. What was our offer for Johnny Damon, half of what Detroit was offering? We always have to mine for gold with guys coming off injuries, like Carlos Quentin or players past their prime, like Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon. -- Phil K; Aviano, Italy
Phil, thanks for your long-distance interest. I don't think Jerry will get out soon, although this season already has been taxing on everyone. He lost some close friends last year, and I think being chairman of the Sox keeps him busy and invigorated.
The Sox did win a bidding war -- with Dayan Viciedo! I'm sure you and other Sox fans would love a marquee free agent. But the formula has been the same for years here: Projected revenues minus projected costs equal player payroll.
If revenues increase, the Sox would spend. They increased their payroll by about $25 million after winning the World Series. But the threat they might run into is that if you finish in the bottom half of your division, you're usually overpaying for marquee free agents. That's why investing in the farm system is important.
I'm going to play devil's advocate for a second. All I have heard from the media since the start of spring training is that this is "this is the lineup Ozzie wanted." Ozzie even said so himself, citing that he should be to blame if the team fails. However, if you look at the everyday line-up, other than the decision to not bring back Jim Thome, who else is an Ozzie addition? I don't think Ozzie was angling to get Alex Rios last year or integral in demanding a trade for Mark Teahen. And the acquisition of Pierre was for a leadoff man was the point of contention coming out of spring training last year. -- Surly Pete, Chicago
It was more the style they were adapting to than the players themselves. Last year you had two guys in Thome and Jermain Dye that combined for 50 home runs, but many of them were solo shots. And the Sox were only sixth in home runs, so something had to change.
The additions of Teahen and Andruw Jones, as well as having Mark Kotsay, Rios and Jones for a full season, were designed so that the Sox would be more athletic and wouldn't have to rely so heavily on the home run. They've stolen 28 bases, but they're hitting only .223 and have grounded into 29 double plays.
Rios already has stolen nine bases in addition to having a .277 batting average, so he's not the problem compared to several of his teammates who having reached base enough or hit in the clutch with any frequency.
How can you defend the coaching staff? Just as an example look at the number of players who were sent to the minors for rehab and came back hitting or pitching better only to fall back in a slump when Greg Walker or Don Cooper were in the picture. It appears they help no one. Then you have Ozzie's attitude that they are pros and should know themselves what the problem is. If that were the case, why not save a bunch of cash and get rid of them. Walker says the need to find themselves. -- Randy A.; Reno, NV
Sergio Santos is the only rookie currently on the squad, and he's pitching great. That's a tribute to him and the player development staff.
The rest of the roster has plenty of veterans who should be doing better. Let's blame Brooks Boyer. All right. Just kidding. But the players have to take responsibility for their poor performances.
Suck! That's all I can say about this team. Cut your losses, trade some guys, bring up some of the young guys. This is as bad as I can remember from the early 80's. -- Rick Rannochio
It will be tough to move several players because of their various trade veto rights.
The other problem is that several of these players are off to horrific starts, so their value won't be so great. And several of the young guys aren't ready yet. It's the perfect storm right now.
I must throw in with the others who think that working hard is not the same as being an effective hitting coach. The Sox have had trouble for several years now with hitting in critical situations. Although the team has been largely re-constructed, the problem continues. When Gordon Beckham came up last year, he may not have had a perfect swing, but he was hitting with confidence and getting on base. After Walker "helped" him, he can't seem to get a hit and he looks confused at bat. Item No. 2, Pierre. He's got to be one of the worst outfielders in the major leagues. At bat, he looks even worse. I don't know if that is Walker's fault, but he was a better hitter before he came to the Sox. Now he, too, looks confused. -- Garey Conrad; Urbanna, VA
Well, many of you asked what Walker does. So I told you he (and Mike Gellinger, the major league computer systems analyst) work endlessly with all the hitters. After Gordon widened his batting stance (under the suggestion of Walker), he went 4-for-8 before striking out in six of his next nine at-bats. Sure, the jury is out on the stance but Gordon told me before Saturday's game that he felt comfortable. I still think his swing tends to get long, although Gordon doesn't think so.
Walker was a first baseman, so he has nothing to do with Pierre's defense. And I think you'll see Juan as the designated hitter more often when Carlos Quentin is healthy and Alex Rios returns.
Do you think Jermaine Dye maybe an option for the Sox?-- Adrian Delgado; Chicago
I don't see it because it's already May, and no other teams have offered him a contract lucrative enough to satisfy him. Many people forget that the Sox were talking about a trade with Cincinnati after the 2008 season involving Reds pitcher Homer Bailey and Dye. You think the Sox didn't know something about Dye possibly slowing down?
In the 9th inning of Wednesday's game, was Andruw Jones pinch-hitting one batter too late? It's always easy to second guess, and maybe it was the righty-lefty matchup ... but Pierre had already hit into two double plays and Jones is hitting 60 points higher and is a proven RBI guy. What am I missing? -- Tim; Granger, Ind.
Tim, a lot of fans agree with you. I know it's after the fact, but I believe your wish would be granted if this situation occurred again.
The Sox would be so much better with Scott Posdesnik and Thome instead of Pierre and Kotsay. Pierre swings like he is hoping to get an infield hit. Kotsay is a No. 7 hitter, not a No. 3 hitter. I wonder if I can get some money back if I cancel my MLB package. -- Rich K; Anthem, AZ
Well, you have a pretty good Arizona State baseball team to follow.
Don't you think it's about time Ozzie makes Matt Thornton the closer? When was the last time that Bobby Jenks has had a clean inning? Every time he pitches, it always ends up being a nail biter. He hasn't been that good since he lost his velocity. He just doesn't have it any more. Time to bite the bullet. -- Jim Whalley; Southwick, MA
If the team continues its slide, I think Bobby would be a prime candidate to be dealt to a team needing a closer. But I see J.J. Putz, not Thornton, getting the nod as closer if Jenks is dealt. The decision to move Thornton to closer would be easier if Randy Williams was more dependable.
Not that you have any influence on who the Sox trot out there as their closer -- but WHY JENKS? He is horrible and has been not very good for at least three years. Why do teams -- have a guy like Matt Thornton -- who pitches one inning, gives up no runs, and then bring in Jenks. Are these short relief guys incapable of going two innings? -- Paul Bellinger
Paul, will you tell other readers that I don't make out the lineup or make pitching changes?
As for Jenks, the decision makers in the organization will point to his 5-for-5 save rate. That will change if he slips up on those situations, as the Sox have options in J.J. Putz, Thornton and now Sergio Santos.
Regardless of whether or not the Sox can pull out of the slump they are in, some things are obvious. The emergence of Santos as a dominant force in the bullpen has made Bobby expendable. What is Bobby worth on the market right now? -- Sasha; Chicago
Santos has to cut down on his walks, but he's a fast learner.
As far as possible trades go, most teams usually don't start identifying their status as contenders or pretenders until late June. But Ken Williams is aggressive (as we saw with his attempts to get Jake Peavy last May) and could be willing to shake things up sooner rather than later.
What the deal with Bobby Jenks? He has been especially terrible lately. Could he be trade bait before he loses his appeal to other teams? -- Jim; Washington, D.C.
Jenks, like several closers, does better in one-run situations. He's 5-for-5 in save situations but his ERA is 4.50 as the result of giving up runs in non-save situations or entering with a multiple-run lead.
Anybody mention Podsednik's batting average and stolen bases for Kansas City to Kenny Williams? -- Mike Accadia; Park Forest
No, but I wrote it for Monday's editions.
A scoring question.: The Sox won Thursday 7-5, which means the winning run was the sixth run. The sixth run was scored by Jones on Konerko's homer in the ninth. The pitcher of record at that time was Thornton; Floyd having left after seven and Jenks yet to arrive. Why was Floyd given the win instead of Thornton? -- Luther Snow; Decorah, IA
The Sox took the lead for good in the top of the seventh, and Floyd was the pitcher of record at the time they took the lead and even pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh, so he gets the win.
Every time I see Pierre and Omar Vizquel batting next to each other, I cringe. The best you can hope for in that situation is two singles. No team in their right mind would fear facing those two back-to-back. I know Ozzie likes the NL style of play, but this is taking things a bit too far. Why doesn't he split them up if the two are playing on the same day? -- Brian; Tinley Park
Brian, I clearly see your point. In the case of Saturday's lineup, Vizquel's past success against Javy Vazquez made him an ideal choice to bat leadoff.
Is there some reason known only to insiders why Jones has not been penciled into the every-day starting lineup? Yes, his last two years were bad, but given his evident physical condition, his age, his defense, his speed/baserunning, his arm, his obvious power -- do the Sox really have a better outfielder than he has been so far this year, and still just 33? Why not Jones-Rios-Quentin as a fixture? -- Bob Hammel; Bloomington, Ind.
Bob, Jones told me last Saturday that his back spasms originally flared up during the final game in Toronto and that's why he missed a game in Cleveland. I think your Jones-Rios-Quentin alignment makes sense as long as everyone is healthy. There will be times to mix in a left-handed bat, but not at the expense of Jones.
With Juan Pierre struggling on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, are the Sox any closer to calling up Jordan Danks. And same with A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers? -- Joshua Strong
The top prospects at Triple-A Charlotte aren't close to being promoted, although Daniel Hudson rebounded from a horrible start at Columbus with seven shutout innings and 10 strikeouts Sunday in a win at Toledo.
Outfielder Stefan Gartrell has been impressive with a .316 batting average but has 28 strikeouts. He did impress Guillen in spring training.
As for the big names, Tyler Flowers is batting .286 with four home runs and 21 RBIs. It's tough to break in a new catcher with a veteran staff, although Flowers has handled many of the Sox's pitchers.
Jordan Danks is hitting .276 but has 24 strikeouts.
So the team can't hit, can't pitch and can't field. They won't let Beckham play shortstop and are in the process of ruining him. Alexei Ramirez hit a lot better when he played second, but they won't even consider a move. They trade for Teahen, the only reason I see is that they were tired of him killing them. Jenks is a disaster waiting to happen. Tell me why I root for this over-priced, under-hearted team. -- Matt Terlap; Littleton, Colo.
Maybe you follow this team because of the thought of watching the Denver Broncos' quarterback competition.
After watching Linebrink's only pitch -- a straight fastball right down the middle over and over and over again -- leading to countless Sox losses last year and now this year (more to come), I am astounded that we can't TRY someone better than him: Randy Williams (absolutely pathetic WHIP of 2.6) and Tony Pena. Putting these guys is equivalent to conceding the game. This is absolutely no exaggeration. Which leads me to my question, to you, -- why aren't you doing your job? If you aren't asking Ozzie why he bothers putting them in, you are as irresponsible as he is. -- Luke; Chicago
Luke, your memory is about as short as my fingernails. Linebrink had five scoreless outings before blowing the lead in the sixth inning -- too early to bring in Putz (he was saved for the eighth and struck out Derek Jeter). Santos and Pena pitched the night before.
If Linebrink can't hold a three-run lead after five scoreless outings, then it's time for him and Pena to reverse roles. But then Pena gave up six runs Sunday.
And keep in mind that Linebrink is signed through 2011. There's always Ryan Braun (10 scoreless outings at Charlotte) or left-hander Erick Threets (whom I wrote before spring training could get a strong look and nearly made the opening day roster).
Or you could have Ryan Bukvich or Dewon Day or Heath Phillips.
Sponsored Link: Buy Chicago White Sox tickets here
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC