The Tribune's White Sox beat writer answers reader questions throughout the season. This week, Joe Crede's durability and whether the Sox will re-sign him, the disappearance of Ozzie Ball and a struggling Paul Konerko.

Do I have this correct: the White Sox would receive two picks as compensation if Orlando Cabrera signs elsewhere because he is a Type A free agent, but no matter how good a season Joe Crede has, we won't get compensation for him because he was injured all of last season? -- Andrew, St. Louis

Andrew, free agent rankings are based on a player's performance over a two-year period. If Cabrera comes anywhere close to repeating what he did last year, he'll be a Type A free agent, and the Sox will receive two draft picks. Crede's situation is tricky because he missed nearly four months last season, but the Sox should receive at least one pick and even two if Joe duplicates his 2006 season.

Don't you think that the White Sox gave up too soon on Ryan Sweeney? It seems that Sweeney was there for only like a year, while Brian Anderson has been with the Sox for like 3 years and no results! --Norberto, Oranjestas, Aruba

A scout told me after the Arizona Fall League that Ryan needed a change of scenery, and general manager Ken Williams has been a longtime supporter of Brian despite Brian's past wish to play elsewhere. Oakland was going to hold out for an outfielder in the Swisher trade, and I think moving Ryan was good for everyone involved. And I wouldn't rule out Brian making a significant contribution to the Sox in the future.

Mark, given how Quentin has established himself as an everyday player, it seems Brian Anderson and Alexei Ramirez are having their growth stunted with so few at-bats on the big league club. If Quentin keeps this up, couldn't (or maybe, shouldn't) the White Sox find a journeyman veteran or two to fill those bench roles and allow BA, Al-Ram, and Owens the further development they need in AAA? --Brian Pollina, Chicago

Why would we not want a healthy Jerry Owens leading off for the Sox? It would add speed at leadoff, giving Ozzie more options, sliding Swisher over to left. Although Quentin is playing well, I believe a healthy Owens makes the Sox better than a healthy Quentin and sending Anderson down since he seems to haven been relegated to just pinch running. --Heath Ober, Omaha

You make a good point about Anderson, Ramirez and Owens needing some seasoning. But I think Brian deserved to make the opening day roster based on his spring training performance. He and Ramirez should get more playing time when the Sox embark on a brutal travel schedule that starts at the end of the month and continues through mid-May.

Ozzie has made it clear that he's in the business of winning, even if it stunts the growth of Brian and Alexei. The Sox want to win now, and it can be tough finding the right veteran who will accept a reserve role.

Keeping Owens in Triple-A was the right move, for now. Jerry missed valuable time this spring. Even though he's 27, he still needs to play every day somewhere and wasn't going to get that opportunity right now with the Sox after injuring his groin.

Swisher leads the Sox with a .421 on-base percentage and was leading the American League with 17 walks despite his lack of speed from the leadoff spot. As Meatloaf once said, "two out of three ain't bad."

Mark, can you offer a guess as to when so many White Sox fans will end the annoying habit of comparing every White Sox team that wins seven out of 10 games to the 2005 White Sox? It makes those fans look silly and almost like the Cubs fans most of them undoubtedly deplore. Please tell them that 2005 was 2005. This is 2008. It's time to move on. -- Jon B., Ottawa, Ill.

It is time to move on, but 2005 still brought plenty of joy to those who waited decades for a World Championship. A division title might silence some of the comparisons, but never all of them.

Mark, if Josh Fields rebounds in Triple-A after getting off to such a horrible start, do the White Sox need to start to thinking about bringing him up to play first base or DH. Thome seems to almost be a hole in the 4th spot lately. --Ryan, Evanston

Why doesn't Thome ever try to hit to left field when the shift is on against him? He is costing us games with his seeming stubborness. --Jim, Viera, Fla.

Jim will be the first to say that it's not easy to hit. I think he'd accept a few hits to left field, but there might not be a better gift for a starting pitcher than for Jim to hit a home run in the top of the first inning.

We could see a Dave Kingman-like year from Jim, but as long as he's taking his walks and Dye and others behind him are producing, the Sox can tolerate a low batting average.

It has gotten to be painful to see Mike MacDougal enter any ball game. It has been since we got him from Kansas City. We as White Sox fans constantly hear that "he has the talent but it's all upstairs." I am sick and tired of hearing that and it is time to bring up Ehren Wasserman. --J.P. Morr, West Lafayette, Ind.

Mike has one minor league option, but he's also signed through 2009.