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03/26/10 5:30 PM ET

Inbox: How many pitchers will make roster?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin fields White Sox fans' questions

The 2010 Cactus League schedule is coming to a close.

Final roster decisions are being made by the White Sox, and I'll be going to see Paul McCartney perform this Sunday night after baseball action is complete.

Ok, nobody really cares about my concert selection, and to be honest, I would rather go to Wrestlemania. I covered Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome and still remember trying to get out of the parking lot with 93,173 in attendance.

It was a great event. But we've gathered here today to talk about White Sox baseball, so let's take a look at this week's questions.

How will the final White Sox roster look when they leave Arizona? Do they take 11 or 12 pitchers?
-- Mark, Chicago

How about 13? That number still is a possibility.

Jayson Nix has earned the final utility spot, which manager Ozzie Guillen basically eluded to the other day in his postgame press conference. Nix's value doesn't always get appreciated as much as it should. He strikes out a bit too much for Guillen's liking, but he adds pop off the bench, some speed and versatility around the infield and even in the outfield.

Guillen likes to work with 12 pitchers, and my guess is they break with 12, with Sergio Santos getting that 12th spot. The White Sox don't need a true middle reliever with their stellar starting staff and would be better served by having Daniel Hudson start every fifth day for Triple-A Charlotte, in case they need him to fill in. Santos can pitch a couple of innings, if needed, in the middle, but he also has the stuff to work later in the game if called upon.

Santos is out of Minor League options. Unless he starts the 2010 season on the disabled list, some other team will claim him if he doesn't make the White Sox active roster. If the White Sox go with 13, Greg Aquino has an edge over Erick Threets.

Will A.J. Pierzynski stay with the White Sox past the 2010 season? In my opinion, he's one of the most important players on the roster.
-- Lauren, Evanston, Ill.

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I'm in agreement with you, Lauren. In talking to general manager Ken Williams and catcher-of-the-future Tyler Flowers over the past week, it appears Flowers has hit a little funk offensively and needs to continue working on correcting some hand-placement flaws that have made his swing longer. Flowers is a talented player and a good fit in the clubhouse, but in my mind, he doesn't even factor into the Pierzynski decision.

I know this comment sounds strange, considering Flowers is pegged as the organization's catcher of the future. But in my humble estimation, you have to keep Pierzynski for another couple of years. I really think he's as valuable as any player on the team, in terms of all the intangibles he brings to the equation. He calls a good game, is one of the game's better catchers on offense and possesses the sort of strident leadership you need in a winning clubhouse.

With that said, I'm not sure about the amount of years or salary Pierzynski will ask for if these negotiations take place after the 2010 season and he simply might want to test the free-agent market. Pierzynski might get booed by fans around baseball, sort of like a Pavlov's-dogs reaction when his name is announced, but he is appreciated as a player.

If I had to guess, I would say he stays with the White Sox. But it's only a guess.

Are you surprised Jermaine Dye has not caught on a team, with Spring Training almost finished?
-- Jenny, Calumet City, Ill.

Stunned is a better description, or whatever the next word is above stunned. Since this question came up, I wanted to argue one point I've read in a number of places about Dye's defense.

Using the eye test, which you hear so much about when picking bubble teams for the NCAA Tournament, I did not see this disaster in right field for the White Sox last year as Dye has basically been described. Was he Ichiro Suzuki or Andruw Jones in their primes? No, but there weren't really any games I can remember where Dye cost the White Sox with his glove. So, I think he's getting a bad rap.

Dye eventually will sign on somewhere and be a significant contributor. I just can't see him sitting out this season.

How important is it that the White Sox start the season in spectacular fashion?
-- Carl, Duluth, Minn.

Spectacular isn't necessary, although certainly desired. This is a veteran team, for the most part, so if they falter early, it's not like they are done. But much like 2005, setting the tone right from the start can go a long way in pushing this team forward.

If the White Sox were to do a mid-season trade, who would be a better fit out of Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder or Carl Crawford, and which player do you think would be more available at mid-season?
-- Tony, Chicago

You would think Gonzalez would be the most available, solely based on the Padres apparently having the least chance to contend. It's impossible at this point to make a guess.

If they all were available, though, Crawford is the best fit from a pure talent perspective. I actually had a discussion with a Chicago sports columnist on a Chicago-based television show about four years ago as to how Crawford would be a better fit on the White Sox than Alex Rodriguez. To me, Crawford is the prototypical Guillen player and certainly would greatly help any contending team. Any one of these three would be a certain and immediate boost.

The White Sox could have easily gone with Flowers over Ramon Castro, Dayan Viciedo over Mark Kotsay, Jordan Danks over Jones, and C.J. Retherford over Omar Vizquel. Is Guillen just looking for wisdom and experience and more playing time for the Minor Leaguers?
-- Mike, Rockford, Ill.

Guillen and Williams are looking to win, plain and simple. Those young players mentioned are all talented, but they're not ready for the Majors. Yes, they could have gone with them. And the White Sox could have finished third or fourth in the American League Central.

Here's a question: The White Sox win the AL Central if ...
-- Sarah, Schaumburg, Ill.

They stay healthy.

Their pitching is as good as advertised.

Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin return to a moderately high level of productivity. And Gonzalez takes advantage of the offensive-friendly environs of U.S. Cellular.

Of course, I'm kidding about the last factor.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.