At the end of this week, we'll reach an important mile marker in the passage of winter: SoxFest. Even for an out-of-area fan like me, I love SoxFest for a number of reasons.
Most importantly, it usually forces the final contracts to get hammered out, since dried ink is required for players to attend. We should hopefully be able to discuss the new deals for John Danks, Carlos Quentin and Tony Pena, whatever they may be.
It's also the time that beat writers come out of hibernation and start getting ready for spring. And with all the attention, sometimes real news can come out of SoxFest, and not just before it. But that's dependent on the quality and depth of the questions from the public.
In great offseasons, the Q&A portion is a lovefest featuring lengthy, rambling thank-yous and questions those on the stage are too happy to answer. The more pessimistic winters usually create more interesting dialogue. For instance, last year's SoxFest took place after Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams declined to bring back Jim Thome, and Williams' deference to Guillen on the stage was referred to many a time in DH-related stories throughout the season.
Given Jerry Reinsdorf's open wallet, the forecast calls for feting. But hopefully those among attendance will be able to sprinkle in some more probing questions among the gratitude.
Here are five questions I would like to ask Guillen and Williams, and I'd like you to add your own. Maybe some attendee will Google "questions for soxfest" and we can get some real news out of the pageantry.
For Ozzie Guillen:
No. 1: You seemed to have a lot of success mixing and matching in the ninth inning when Bobby Jenks was hurt over the last few weeks of the season. Given how well that went, have you considered going without a genuine closer at the start of the season?
No. 2: If and when Jake Peavy is healthy and effective, would you go back to a six-man bullpen? Do you ever see yourself using only six relievers ever again?
No. 3: Why do you bunt Juan Pierre to second so often? His primary purpose is to steal bases.
No. 4: Would you rather see a guy drive in 100 runs and strike out 150 times, or drive in 75 runs and strike out 50 times?
No. 5: Are you aware that in most fields, employees are responsible for the actions of their relatives if they pose problems?
For Kenny Williams
No. 1: Did it surprise you how downright uncomfortable (note: this is diplomacy) Mark Teahen looked at third, and do you have any regrets about the extension?
No. 2: What is the state of the international scouting system? Has it recovered from the skimming scandal?
No. 3: The last few years, you have hinted at attendance limiting your budget, and yet somehow, this year's payroll has Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and Edwin Jackson on it. Are you crying wolf?
No. 4: When scouting potential trade/free agent targets, how much importance do you place on the perceived performance gap between the American and National leagues?
No. 5: John Danks and Gavin Floyd are the only young pitchers you have developed over the last seven years, but they were just as shaky as Daniel Hudson early on. If 2007 were a competitive season, would you have been able to live with their struggles?
Going to SoxFest? Check out South Side Expat's post on the right rail. He wants to know who's going and who's up for drinking.