Leave it to Ken Williams to muck things up even when everything seems to be going well. Correct me if I am wrong. Rick White got canned for something he said to the media. It took Manuel two-thirds of the season to misuse most of his pitchers and nothing happens to him. White spoke the truth and gets fired. Forget White's numbers as the main reason he was dumped. Williams has exposed his banana republic dictator mentality once again. If I am a player on this team, Williams is public enemy No. 1. How does the media feel about White getting dumped for talking to them? Does this mean, in Kenny's world, that the media only can be privy to and write the sugarcoated stories? --Walt Didomenico, Deerfield Beach, Fla.
I know one thing: Kenny can't fire me. I can write whatever I want. (As long as I don't try to describe where Paul Konerko got hit by that bases-loaded pitch in Toronto.) Anyway, it's hard to blame the Sox for dumping White, even though he was a delightfully honest guy. He had a 6.61 ERA and criticized his manager in the middle of a winning streak. (And his claims really don't hold up.) Sure, reporters love outspoken guys. But there's a time and a place.
I was covering the Cubs last year, but I was on the Sox beat for Frank's great slump of 1998-99. At the time, a lot of people (including those employed by the Sox) belittled his ankle injury. It turned out that he had to have a golf-ball sized bone spur removed. Frank also should have been cut plenty of slack last year, given that he was coming off that triceps injury.
I agree that Konerko got plenty of sympathy during his first-half struggles. But I think that's because he's a genuinely good guy who treats reporters kindly and answers questions thoroughly even in his darkest hour. I don't think it has to do with race. Frank's also been a pleasure to deal with this year. When he was hitting in the .240s-.250s in May, the only guy I saw take shots at him was the angry columnist across town. We know how hard Frank works and how badly he wants to re-emerge as the hitter he once was.
I've noticed Manuel likes to put in the rookie Miguel Olivo for defensive
purposes in the late innings whenever Sandy Alomar Jr. catches. I'm
perplexed by this. Yes, Olivo has a better arm to throw guys out, but he
drops too many balls and a passed ball is much worse than a stolen base if
the runner is at third. Wouldn't you figure given Alomar's knowledge of the
hitters and game that he would be better to just stay in the game and enter
in those tight, late-inning situations? --Michael LaPlaca, Orland Park, Ill.
Uh, are we watching the same team? Even before Olivo's shoulder injury, Alomar finished the last four games he started. Now that you mention it, though, I wouldn't be surprised if Olivo did replace Sandy late in one-run games. He's nailed 45.5 percent of would-be basestealers when he makes a throw. Although Alomar calls a better game, his percentage is 23.1.
Looking ahead a bit (enthusiastically), do we have any hope of keeping this
lineup/pitching staff together next year? Specifically, re-signing Loaiza,
Colon, and Roberto Alomar? Maybe add a closer that's not a dud like Koch (I'm
still bitter about the Koch/Foulke trade)? Or is it outside the Sox's budget
to accomplish all this? --Mel Schramek, Pacific Grove, Calif.
The Sox have a club option on Loaiza. It will be worth $4 million, assuming he makes three more starts this season, and the Sox would be ruled clinically insane not to pick it up. Colon and Alomar are bigger question marks. The Sox's payroll is at $51 million, ninth from the bottom. Magglio Ordonez gets a $5 million raise, Paul Konerko gets another $1.75 mil, Carlos Lee and Mark Buehrle stand to get big-time boosts through arbitration.
So here's the major question: Will the Sox significantly increase their payroll next season or will they continue to pretend that they're a small-market team? GM Ken Williams has said that it will take a deep run in the postseason to change the culture of the Sox--i.e. the season-ticket base. So the better the Sox do this season, the better the chances the Sox will try to re-sign Colon and Alomar.
I'd like to see Brian Daubach get more opportunities. As long as the Sox
don't plan to start him, would it otherwise make sense to rotate
him with Lee, Konerko and Thomas so that--theoretically--he'd get into
roughly three games per week while the other three guys mentioned get one
game rest per week? I know the Sox want to ride the "hot hand" when they
can, but this would at least get Daubach some much needed plate time. --Joel Kweskin, Charlotte, NC
Little tough to justify playing Daubach over Konerko, given that the Dauber is hitless in his last 19 at-bats and Konerko is batting .375 in his last 10 games. I do agree, though, that you don't want anyone on your roster to simply rot away on the bench.
Who does Neal Cotts have to kill to get a chance at the fifth starter spot?
With a 2.21 ERA, he's allowed 60 hits after facing over 400 batters and he
has 124 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched. I know people say that that's
minor league ball. But the fact remains he has pitched significantly better
in the minors than Dan Wright, Mike Porzio, Josh Stewart, and Matt Ginter and all of those guys
have been given a shot. --John Fitch, Lake in the Hills, Ill.
Can't disagree. His numbers at Birmingham are comical. I'd be surprised if Cotts isn't up with the big club before too long. They might even be considering starting him on the [current] road trip.
Whatever happened to Josh Stewart? He looked good in spring training and in
his brief early-season stint in the Majors? If Dan Wright again struggles in
the No. 5 spot, is there a chance we'll see Stewart in Chicago again this
season? --George Bremer, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Stewart still hasn't fully recovered from taking a line drive off his chest in an April 24 game at Baltimore. He suffered circulation problems that resulted in some numbness in his fingers. Stewart has started just five games at Triple-A Charlotte, going 0-3 with a 6.15 ERA.
Why does Jerry Manuel refuse to use Kelly Wunsch in the middle of the game when
the situation calls for a lefty in a key spot in the game? Twice recently
he has left in a right-hander to get tagged by a left-handed hitter while
Wunsch combs his mustache in the bullpen. --Jim Foster, Denver
And here I thought he was combing the goatee. Not sure which games you're talking about here, but Wunsch is gonna be a key guy down the stretch.
Have the Sox thought about bringing in some sort of consultant to help their
hitters with bunting? I don't think it is too much to ask your catcher and
nine hitter, who is also batting .217, to lay one down. I also don't think
it is too much to ask your shortstop, who is batting .237, to also lay one
down. This has become an absolutely embarrassing problem. -- Dom Nicolini, Corpus Christi, Texas
Teddy Greenstein on the Sox
The Tribune's White Sox writer answers readers' questions every two weeks throughout the baseball season.
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