We have a good young group of left-handers out of the pen. Matt Thornton has been great over the years, one of the best steals ever. But is it time to shop to see his value? -- Keek; Tucson, Ariz.
Not yet, unless the return is overwhelming at this point. The main reason I hesitate to be eager to move Thornton is because Detroit hasn't shown any signs of running away with the division, and Cleveland shouldn't scare anyone.
Why are Sox catchers now throwing out would-be base stealers? It has only been 38 games, but their effectiveness is in stark contrast to the last several years, when AJ was throwing out 20 to 30 percent of would-be base stealers. -- Frank; Indianapolis
The biggest reason is a greater emphasis on stopping the running game in spring training, from bench coach Mark Parent supervising the drills from the pitchers making a greater effort to change their tempo and hold runners to the catchers working on their throwing.
Shortstop Alexei Ramirez also has done a better job of holding his ground around the second base bag.
Mark, why haven't the White Sox named Addison Reed their new closer? All he seems to do is throw his 97 m.p.h. fast ball for strikes consistently, is poised, focused and intimidating. It has been frustrating to watch several of our relief staff constantly fall behind in the count then have to come in with a "get me over" curve or fast ball and watch our opponents hit it out of the park for a heartbreaking loss. Reed's last outing showed me all I need to know about this kid. -- Mike Mucker; Wichita Falls, Tex.
Who is the closer now? Reed? It doesn't seem they have anything solid or set. I hate when Thornton closes, he's not good at closing but is good as a seventh-eighth inning guy. I would like to see Jesse Crain as our closer. I hope he comes back from injury strong. I think he is fitting to have the closer role. Unlike Reed, Crain has experience. -- Sam Gold, Chicago
Remember during the latter stages of spring training how the general manager, manager and pitching coach took great delight in keeping the identity of the closer a secret, only to blow up in their faces?
I never understood the secrecy, but it was their prerogative. This time, they've all but said Reed is the closer but still aren't afraid to use Thornton in closing situations against a predominant left-handed hitting lineup.
I would venture to say that they like Reed as the closer without saying it. Crain is still working his way back after his oblique injuries. I'm not sure he'll get a chance to close but he'll serve as a valuable member of this rotation.
This Chris Sale situation is driving me crazy. How is Nester Molina doing in the minors? I was hoping Sale and Jake Peavy would take up the slack of Mark Buehrle going to the Marlins. I wish Don Cooper would stop talking for a while. -- Mike K.; Buffalo Grove
Molina is 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA at Double-A Birmingham and pitched one game for Triple-A Charlotte. His ERA inflated after his last start, when he was tagged for six runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings on May 12.
I think Sale and Peavy have done an exceptional job of picking up the slack. With all due respect to Buehrle, his name has rarely surfaced because of the success of the starters.
This has finally bothered me enough to ask. What is the correct way to say Ramirez's name. Hawk says it like as I think it should. Al-lex-ay. The stadium announcer says Al-i-say. Which is right? -- Scott Buhl; Elmwood
Mark, with all the rumors flying, let's improve the Sox. 1. The Indians need a right-handed bat. Give them Alex Rios for Shin Soo-Choo and even pay the salary difference. 2. Offer the Red Sox Philip Humber, Zach Stewart and Thornton for Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis. 3. Have our great Chairman come up with the money for a hitting outfielder to replace Dayan Viciedo. Viciedo and Brent Morel need more seasoning. With these changes, we would be equal or better than the Tigers, Rangers, Angels, Phillies or any other good team. -- Mark Spiranovich; Cleveland, Ohio
I don't think the Indians are willing to make deals with a division rival like the Sox. I think Thornton would be an asset to the Red Sox's bullpen but I think the White Sox would like to get a pitcher with the potential of an Alex Wilson in any deal.
I don't see the Sox adding payroll for an outfielder as long as attendance is down. But I like your imagination in these proposals.