11/22/11 11:43 AM EST
Inbox: Will A.J., Flowers split time behind plate?
Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers fans' questions
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Now, let's move on to this week's White Sox questions.
How will the White Sox divide time at the catcher spot with A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers?
-- Tony, Chicago
It's a decision that new manager Robin Ventura and his staff will have to make. I spoke recently with Ventura, and at this point, he really is just getting Spring Training lined up the way he wants. Talking about players with general manager Ken Williams will have to wait until the Winter Meetings in Dallas, when the White Sox have a little better idea of the direction they are going.
I wrote this offseason about Pierzynski's daily dedication to physical conditioning. It's safe to say he doesn't put in that kind of extra work in order to play part-time and it's hard to blame a career everyday player, and a productive one at that, for wanting to stay in that role.
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Pierzynski still has great value to any contending team, but Flowers also impressed White Sox pitchers with the way he called games last year. If the White Sox decided to rebuild, Pierzynski could become a moveable trade piece. But remember, he has full no-trade veto power, so it would have to be the right fit.
Is Williams hoping for the next Kirk Gibson -- National League Manager of the Year -- with the hiring of Robin Ventura?
-- Gary, Des Plaines, Ill.
Williams just wants Ventura to be Ventura. He understands there will be some growing pains as Ventura develops his managerial style, but all that can be asked of Ventura is to be the same knowledgeable baseball man he always has been. Yes, Ozzie Guillen had big league coaching experience when he was brought in prior to the 2004 season, but he had never managed. That moved worked out to the tune of a World Series championship and two division titles.
Do you see the White Sox going after any big name players, especially if John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin are on the trade block?
-- Steve, Plainfield, Ill.
The White Sox consider every player they add big in regard to the particular goal they are going after, which is almost always winning the American League Central and beyond. That line sounds like a cop out, but fans didn't exactly consider Tadahito Iguchi a huge pick up going into 2005 and the White Sox don't win the World Series title without him.
If Danks, Floyd and Quentin all are moved, and I don't believe all three will go, then a little bit of money certainly would be freed up to spend in other areas -- even if the payroll is dropped slightly. I've mentioned before that there really isn't a great deal of open spots for the White Sox to fill, due to established players or immovable contracts. So, don't look for this team to get in on the players considered high-end free agents, aside from Mark Buehrle.
Please, someone explain to me why the White Sox chose not to keep Terry Doyle safe on the 40-man roster and possibly lose Doyle to another team. Doyle has been very solid at each stop.
-- Greg, Rochester, N.Y.
Doyle deserves credit for getting his name into consideration for the 40-man following a tremendous showing in the Arizona Fall League. He was a solid pitcher, not known as a pure stuff guy, but opened eyes during the past six weeks. Ultimately, a guy like Charlie Leesman, who was added to the 40-man roster, might have more upside in regard to raw talent, especially since this career Minor League starter could figure into the White Sox relief plans in the very near future.
Then again, Doyle's success won't be measured on the speed gun. It's hard to argue with a guy who seems to have an understanding on how to pitch and operates with a great deal of heart.
Who are the likely candidates to land Danks, Floyd, or both? Also, if both are traded, who will round out the White Sox rotation as all that will be left will be Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, and Philip Humber (Hopefully Buehrle, but not likely).
-- Karl, Sheldon, Iowa
The Yankees seem to be looking for starting pitching, and the Rangers also appeared to have some interest, although the addition of Joe Nathan and the move of Neftali Feliz to the rotation might change that plan. Pitching is the way to win in this game, and not overpaying for pitching is another bonus.
Danks and Floyd stand as huge values for any team, including the White Sox, although it's uncertain what sort of Major League-ready prospects a team would give up for basically one year of Danks' service. If both of these pitchers are moved, the White Sox probably would try to get someone back to replace them, although they have Zach Stewart and Dylan Axelrod. Again, I don't see both pitchers getting moved.
Adam Dunn needs to choke up like Rusty Staub, and then he will bring up his average. Please tell him if you could that he may need to get his eyes checked out. When you get old, eyes are not the same.
-- Dave, Chicago
Trust me when I tell you that Dunn heard every possible suggestion last year to correct his dismal 2011 season, and he probably heard a few that weren't even possible. I'm sure Dunn's eyes will be checked before the start of the season, and others have mentioned to me or written to me that it looks as if he had trouble seeing the baseball last year. But Dunn said on a few occasions that his eyes were not a problem. It just was a really bad year, which the accomplished veteran has now put behind him.
Do you think Kenny wants Buehrle back? After we acquired those two left-handers, it sure seems to me like Kenny's trying to replace Mark.
-- Josh, Homer Glen, Ill.
Nothing against Donald Veal or Jose Quintana, but neither of those pitchers was signed to replace Buehrle. They are projected as relief options in the immediate future. But to be honest, Buehrle is not someone a team replaces -- not on the field or in the clubhouse. He's just that valuable.