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Hoge’s White Sox Mailbag: Attendance Issues, Draft Strategy, Morel Conundrum

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Fans at U.S. Cellular Field (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Jonathan Daniel)

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By Adam Hoge-

(CBS) Don’t look now, but the White Sox are suddenly just a game behind the Texas Rangers for the best record in the American League. That sure happened quickly.

There’s also good news ahead. It’s called the National League. Other than a three-game sweep over the Cubs, the White Sox haven’t even gone through their annual beat down of National League teams. That’s one of the many topics addressed in this week’s mailbag.

Of course, we’ll start with the most popular question on the minds of White Sox fans (all questions are left unedited):

What happens when Morel comes back, what’s the roster move? – @MichaelOddo

I see four options: 1) Send Eduardo Escobar down, 2) Release Kosuke Fukudome, 3) Release Orlando Hudson, 4) Leave Morel in Triple-A.

The most likely of those moves is No. 1, but technically we’re already seeing No. 4 happening. Morel has been eligible to come off the disabled list since Saturday, but the White Sox have maintained that they want to make sure his back is 100 percent before they bring him back up. The thing is, Morel has already claimed he is 100 percent, so is this about more than just the third baseman’s back?

It could be, and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with using the rehab stint as an opportunity for Morel to get his swing/confidence back in Charlotte. Rehab assignments can last for a maximum of 20 days, meaning he can stay down there until June 18 before the White Sox have to use an option. Then again, Morel could be back Tuesday too. So far he’s 7-for-17 (.412) in five Triple-A games, although six of those hits were singles and he has yet to drive in a run. He only has two strike outs, which is a good sign, but the White Sox would love to see some power too.

Fukudome appears useless on this team, but it doesn’t hurt to have outfield depth. Unless Hudson tanks completely, I can’t see the White Sox getting rid of him. Ultimately, it will probably be Escobar that goes back down when Morel comes back.

Do you think Morel will replace Hudson right away once he comes back? He seems to be hitting well in AAA right now. Thanks!! :) Stacy

I asked Ventura about this on Friday. Previously, he had maintained that players don’t lose their job to injury. He mentioned that once again Friday, but he also left the door open by merely saying Morel “could” be the starting third baseman when he comes back.

To me, it’s a tricky situation. For one, you don’t know if Morel’s back will hold up. That’s why you want to keep Hudson around. The problem is, Hudson hasn’t been that much better than Morel with the bat and he’s starting to show defensive deficiencies at third base. A healthy, confident Morel might be better than Hudson, believe it or not. I think the White Sox are waiting for Morel to show he’s healthy and then I expect them to give him one more crack at the starting third base job.

When Hudson got here, he said other teams offered him more playing time. That tells me the White Sox still expect Morel to start. So far, Hudson hasn’t done enough to change that.

When will Sox realize dynamic pricing is hurting them? Box office asks more than face on game day, even though 18k tix unsold – @BradT313

I do find it odd that the White Sox are often asking more than face value when half the ballpark is empty. A glance at the last nine home games shows the dynamic pricing above face value for most seats at all nine games.

For instance, the May 23 game against the Twins featured premium lower box tickets for $65, $7 more than face value. Regular lower box tickets were $3 above face value depending on what section you were in, while lower reserved tickets were $1 more than face value. All upper deck seats were $2 above face value.

Of course, the attendance was only 20,064.

I reached out to the White Sox about this, but haven’t received a response yet. The point of dynamic pricing is to adjust prices based on the market. If demand is low, prices should be lower. Thus, fans benefit and the team benefits because they are at least getting something for seats that would otherwise be empty. If demand is high, the team benefits because they are making more money. I have no problem with that.

Obviously you aren’t the first to raise this issue, because the White Sox are bringing down prices for this week’s series against the Blue Jays. You can get lower reserved tickets and bleacher seats for $10 below face value and certain upper reserved tickets are only $5, $11 below face value.

how do the new rules affect KW’s draft strategy, and who do you see them targeting? – @QuickJones81

The new rules refer to the draft spending limits that are in place this year, but they won’t really change Kenny Williams’ draft strategy all that much. Teams are now given a certain spending limit based on how many picks they have in the first 10 rounds and where those picks fall. The White Sox have $5.9 million to work with, but they only spent $2.8 million last year so it’s probably not even an issue.

Some teams spend more on draft picks — the Cubs being one of those teams — but the White Sox typically do not.

As for who they go after, it seems like they might go after another college pitcher, possibly Texas A&M right-hander Michael Wacha or Mississippi State right-hander Chris Stratton. The White Sox have the 14th overall pick.

I’m confused about Chris Sale. The White Sox say they are worried about him, but then they let him go nine innings. What’s the real story? – Matt P.

The White Sox are being cautious with him, but as long as he is feeling well, they are going to let him do his thing. At least that’s what the month of May showed us. Sale expressed concern with some abnormal soreness and the team completely overreacted by taking him out of the rotation for the rest of the year. It was one of the weirdest baseball decisions I have ever encountered. Of course, a week later, after the White Sox realized it was a false alarm, they put him back in the rotation and Sale went on to be named the American League Pitcher of the Month.

In his last five starts, Sale has thrown at least 103 pitches four times and thrown at least seven innings three times. He threw 115 pitches against the Rays last week and 119 in a complete game Sunday against the Seamen (thanks, Hawk).

I’m not so concerned about Sale’s funky delivery or even the pitch counts as I am the White Sox’s premature reaction earlier this month. The left-hander now has reason not to be completely honest about his arm in fear that he’ll be removed from the rotation again. The White Sox can’t afford to lose the guy who appears to be the future ace (if he isn’t already).

with how good #Quintana has been, is there any way he stays in the rotation when Danks comes back? – @JRu131

I don’t think Quintana will get a permanent spot in the rotation unless a starter is lost for the year. That said, it’s always a good idea to have a sixth starter ready. Quintana at least gives the White Sox depth, especially because their options are limited when it comes to going out and trading for an extra starter. Basically, you worry about Peavy, Sale and now Danks going down at any time and Floyd and Humber have been inconsistent. Quintana won’t stay in the rotation right now, but it sure seems like he’ll get at least a few more spot starts this season.

Do you think this recent hot streak holds up? – Sarah J.

White Sox fans are used to late spring/early summer hot streaks with this team. They are also used to the August swoons that were common in the Ozzie Guillen Era.

Other than the fact that Ozzie is gone, here’s another big difference: The White Sox are beating up on the American League, not the National League. In the past, the White Sox would go on a hot streak when interleague play came around, but as soon as they had to go back to playing the American League — and specifically their own division — they would start losing again. So far this year, they have only played three games against the National League (winning all three, of course) and they continue to beat the American League, and more importantly, the A.L. Central.

The White Sox are 15-11 against the Central so far this season. That’s not fantastic, but it’s an improvement. They went 5-1 against the Indians and Twins in a six-game homestand in May, part of their recent 14-2 stretch.

Here’s another good sign: After three games against the Blue Jays this week, the White Sox will play 15 straight games against the National League. That’s a pretty good indication that the White Sox won’t slow down in June.

Any chance Red Sox trade Youkillis for Thornton and Morel? Thornton and ? – @ChiSoxFanDan

Well, first off, Jon Heyman told Mully and Hanley Monday morning that the Red Sox are only looking for a lower level prospect in return for Youkilis and that’s all they should get for the declining first/third baseman. Giving up Thornton only makes sense if the White Sox fall out of the race. He’s declining, but still has value for a team in contention. Otherwise, it would make sense to unload his contract. Speaking of money, Youkilis is still owed about $8 million this season, plus a $1 million buyout for next year. The White Sox are winning without a reliable third baseman right now and reaching for a guy who is constantly hurt would be a gamble. I don’t see this deal happening unless Morel fails again and Hudson proves to be useless.

adam hoge 2012 small1 Hoges White Sox Mailbag: Attendance Issues, Draft Strategy, Morel Conundrum

Adam Hoge

Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.