Ask Mark Gonzales

Mark, thanks for keeping me up to date on my beloved Sox in jolly Old England. I see people in your columns ripping on Brian Anderson a lot. What they forget, and what I've seen (I get over my computer) is that Rob Mackowiak and Pablo Ozuna are not good outfielders. I remember earlier in the season, when Brian was in his slump, several games where if he had been in center field, the games would have gone the other way. We always say pitching and defense, but forget it when we don't get the whole package. Anderson and Uribe are worth their weight in the lineup because their gloves balance things out a lot. Keep Anderson out there. He's going to be a good ball player overall in my opinion. --Jim Hecimovich, Oxford, England

Jim, thanks for your interest across the Atlantic. I agree with your observations on Anderson. But Uribe better start improving, as Alex Cintron is a capable replacement.

The Sox look like the team from 2004 -- trying to hit five-run homers at every bat. Why aren't Paul Konerko and Joe Crede hitting the ball to all fields, and why doesn't Jim Thome slap the ball to left field when the shift is on and why isn't Pods attempting to bunt more when it is unexpected? --Dan Bowman, Marlette, Mich.

A veteran AL scout pointed out to me in June that Konerko and Jermaine Dye do a great job of hitting to right center, and Joe Crede has shown signs of settling for a single to right. In the case of Thome, he's a dead pull hitter who doesn't go away from his strength. Podsednik needs to bunt more, but I don't see him beating out as many close plays as last year.

Thanks for including me in your last emails. Can you explain why you believe it's too late to stretch McCarthy for starter innings? I believe Ozzie has to try B-Mac as a starter to try everything possible to get the starters on track. Or have B-mac give each starter a break by allowing them to skip a start or two and see if that recharges some of the starters mentally and or physically. --Tom Pappalardo, Chicago

McCarthy needed 83 pitches to throw four-plus innings in mid-May. Brandon will be a nice piece of the rotation next year but it's too late to get him stretched out for this year.

Many organizations have difficulties throughout the year and when the camaraderie diminishes it must be restored quickly or the ship sinks. Have you noticed any loss of camaraderie on the Sox? What are your suggestions to change this, if necessary? --James Poulsen, Viera, Fla.

The mood has been fine, but this 24-game stretch will test everyone's patience.

Any idea why Kyle McCulloch has pitched so few innings at rookie ball? He has started five games and has only 22 innings -- with a team-best 1.61 ERA. --Andrew, St. Louis

Andrew, thanks for your interest with the prospects. In the case of high-drafted college pitchers, it's common for organizations to keep their initial workloads low. Kyle had more than 100 innings this season before he signed with the Sox. It's wise to slowly break him in, since they didn't have supervision over his work at Texas. This is not meant as a slap at the Longhorns program or head coach Augie Garrido, who should have been considered for the USC job after Mike Gillespie was unfairly let go last June. I think Kyle has a chance to move up quickly, and ensuring his health is a good start.

Why is Ozzie so patient with Javier Vazquez? This is a guy with one of the worst ERAs in the AL. For all his so-called potential, he's failed to produce in NYC, AZ and now with the Sox. The guy seems capable of pitching a couple of good innings. Why not put him in the pen and let McCarthy start? If Vazquez doesn't like that, trade him. --Rick Schwartz, Tucson, Ariz.

The conventional wisdom in national media circles is that the White Sox did little to help themselves at the trade deadline: "On the South Side, the sinking White Sox missed out on an opportunity to boost their pitching staff, which is gassed from all the innings it logged last season." If this is true, and it makes sense, why not get McCarthy more starts and maybe bring some fresh arms up from the farm in September to ease the starter workload? --Paul Nelson, Auburn, Wash.

How about using Vazquez for five innings and McCarthy for the final four? The Sox need to trade a starter this off-season. If Vazquez has a strong finish, it will help their trade options, with Freddy Garcia being the other candidate. Neal Cotts as a starter might be an option the Sox might want to revisit this off-season, since Boone Logan is starting to pitch well at Triple-A Charlotte.

Although he seems to coming out of it now, Jermaine Dye had a hitting slump coming out of the All Star Game. Is this possibly related to the dreaded Home Run Derby that seems to screw up some hitter's strokes? --Ted Schenk, Austin, Texas

Yes, but Jermaine has put the Home Run Derby out of his mind. I think he was very tired at the start of the second half but has rebounded nicely.

What happened to the Hawaiian shirt in your picture? --Erik, St. Charles, Ill.

They didn't tell me about the change, but I have another (more conservative looking) tropical shirt.

Am I alone in thinking that if Juan Uribe could be coached into using his lower body, both at bat and at shortstop, he would be much more effective, strike out, pop-out and overthrow first base less? It seems to be such an obvious adjustment and one that could easily improve his ability to go to the opposite field. --Sam Marotta, Plainfield, Ill.

Sam, I think it's safe to say that Uribe is a work in progress. The Sox just hope his hot streaks can offset any slumps in the batting order. There is no excuse for his defensive lapses.

Great job with the column. It seems unfair that the Trib characterized Kenny Williams as "doing nothing" while Jim Hendry made two last-minute moves. Kenny picked up a reliever and a catcher. And sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make. Everybody wanted us to trade Crede last summer; what a mistake that would have been. Also, is the July 31 deadline part of the MLBPA CBA? It seems like every year it's like a feeding frenzy. If the deadline was more like May 15, it would force teams to compete instead of just surrendering in July. Any chance of this getting changed? What do you think about the deadline? --John Engler, Highlands Ranch, Colo.

John, thanks for bringing up Crede. I was stunned to read a Baseball America survey in which the AL managers didn't rank Crede in the top three among defensive third basemen. I think you can make a case for Crede being the best third baseman in the league this year, especially because of his defense and clutch hitting.

Two years ago, SF Giants GM Brian Sabean brought up the idea of moving the deadline back to Aug. 31 because of the glut of teams contending for the wild card. I think May 15 is too early. I like the buildup and progression to the July 31 deadline. I haven't covered an All-Star Game since 2004, but trade talks usually dominate the event.

Mark, I was a little disappointed that Kenny Williams wasn't able to make any moves to improve our team, though I certainly believe we are capable of winning the World Series again with the team we have. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that players were not as available as they were made out to be. As good as we are I believe, oddly enough, that we need not only a starting pitcher, but an ace. I also think we need a bona-fide .300 career hitter at the top of the line-up. Somebody should be scoring 120 runs with the line-up we have. After we win our second World Series in October, I hope we address these areas in the offseason. Can you imagine this team with Ichiro at the top of the order and Jason Schmidt at the top of the rotation? --Dan Kascher, Elgin, Ill.

With an open checkbook, I'd take Ichiro but not Schmidt. But you might have to settle for Josh Fields and Ryan Sweeney and maybe a "surprise' player via trade.

Why is it the White Sox are playing long ball like they did when they had Carlos Lee, Jose Valentin, Big Frank and Paul Konerko. They have forgotten all about small ball. --Russell Dixon Sr., Minneapolis, Minn.

I don't see any problem with hitting home runs as long as there are runners on base, and that's been lacking in the second half.

A prospect question for you: Who do you see being called up after Sept. 1 and do you see them helping the Sox out down the stretch? I was at the Aug. 2 game in Durham when Josh Fields hit two homers off the famous Durham bull in left field and he looked pretty good to me but can he (or anyone else at Charlotte) help this year? Thanks for a great column! --Dan Jukic, Durham, N.C.

Thanks, Dan. I can see Fields, Ryan Sweeney, Jerry Owens, Sean Tracey, Charles Haeger and Chris Stewart getting promoted. But the current 25-man roster is very versatile, so playing time will be rare for these potential call-ups.

I was looking at the Sox's Triple-A roster and saw Tim Redding is down there and is pitching pretty well. He is someone who has succeeded in the bigs in the past. With so many teams looking for pitching, was he someone other teams were interested during the deadline? Do the sox see him as a backup, or merely as a roster filler? --Carlos P., Chicag

Redding was projected as an insurance policy while Garcia and Vazquez were pitching in the World Baseball Classic. Right now, Charles Haeger and Heath Phillips are pitching better, but you would think some team would take a look at Redding's major league experience.

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