Help me settle a major, major bet: Does Frank Thomas have any qualifications that would get him into the Hall of Fame? --John Lucas, Madison, Wis.
That's such a great question, it has no right answer. I asked two long-time baseball observers about this earlier today. One said he's a lock. The other said no way. I fall somewhere in between.
Thomas, 35, is a two-time MVP and five-time All-Star. If he's gonna get in the Hall, it will be as a hitter (obviously). So it would help if he gets to, say, 2,500 hits and 450 homers.
Right now he's at 1,942 and 385.
I sent you an e-mail on this subject last week but did some follow-up research. The White Sox are 6-14 when Sandy Alomar starts behind the plate and 15-9 when Miguel Olivo starts. I noticed that Manuel has used Olivo for Colon's last three outings, despite doing the opposite at the start of the season. --Brandon Fox, Chicago
Since you wrote this, Alomar has improved to 8-14 and Olivo has fallen to 16-13. That said, Olivo has a huge statistical edge in catcher's ERA. Pitchers have a 3.45 ERA when working with Olivo, compared with 5.41 for Alomar. Does that mean Olivo calls a better game? Not necessarily. I remember last year that Todd Hundley's catcher ERA was far better than Joe Girardi's. But ask any pitcher on the Cubs who called a better game, and I'd bet they'd say Girardi.
When a big-league pitcher continually gets pounded the way Rick White does, what is the reaction from his teammates in the clubhouse? Do they pat him on the back, leave him alone, get in his face? --Jim Foster, Denver
Good question. I think with White they either pat him on the back or leave him alone. He's new to the team, so I'm sure a lot of guys aren't sure how he would take ribbing or ripping. In general, though, I'd say guys rarely pounce on one another. All players know they're going to slump eventually, and I doubt they want to hear about it when they do.
What are the odds that we'll see Royce Ring in Chicago anytime soon? --John Fitch, Lake in the Hills, Ill.
If anytime soon is September, I think the chances are pretty good. Although this is only Ring's second season in the minors, he pitched three years at San Diego State. Plus his numbers this year at Double-A Birmingham (0.41 ERA, 12 saves) have been sensational.
Why do people consider the White Sox's defense so poor when statistically it is about average? As of today the Sox rank 15th in number of errors and 17th in fielding percentage. The Cubs rank 27 in errors and 28 in fielding percentage but I have not heard word one from your fine paper about that. --Mike Lohmeier, Arlington Heights, Ill.
You ripping our old friend, Paul Sullivan? I believe he has written a word or two about the Cubs pitchers and their horrendous fielding. As for the Sox, yeah, they have the eighth best (or sixth worst) fielding percentage in the league. You expect more from your team, don't you?
Once again, the Sox have "kicked the dog" by firing a coach. Though I doubt that Ward was much of the solution, he certainly isn't the source of the problem. Who gets sacked next? The bullpen catcher? --Jim Lewis, Notre Dame, Ind.
Now that would be a true injustice. Bullpen catcher Man Soo Lee is known as the Babe Ruth of Korea after hitting 252 bombs for the Samsung Lions and winning a triple crown in 1984. The guy could probably still out-hit a few of the catchers in today's game.
Is Ken Williams King Midas in reverse? --Bob Peterson, Sanford, Fla.
What would that make him, King Sadim?
Whatever happened to: Carlos Lee batting second, Frank Thomas' open batting stance, stolen bases from a supposedly speedier team and Joe Nossek as a managerial candidate? --Joel Kweskin, Charlotte, N.C.
you confuse me, Joel. I don't recall the Sox talking about stealing more bags this year. But I'll tell Nossek you're looking out for him.