Mailbag: Blalock's status for 2009?
Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions
Will the Rangers pick up Hank Blalock's option?
-- Patrick G., Grand Prairie, Texas
Yes. This is from Baseball Economics 101: If you can get a productive player on a one-year contract at a reasonable price, then you do the deal. In baseball, the age of a player is less of a concern than his service time and length of contract. Blalock, at $6.2 million, would be a reasonable deal for the Rangers and might be attractive to other teams in a trade.With the way Blalock ended the season (.337 batting average with 8 homers in September), do you think he can bring that kind of performance next season if he remains in Texas? If he does, how might that impact the lineup?
-- Senna N., Allen, Texas
Blalock just needs to stay healthy, which is why he may be better off at first base or designated hitter. Over his past 162 games, he's hitting .268 with 82 runs scored, 42 doubles, five triples, 25 home runs and 87 RBIs. He has a .327 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage. That will work in the No. 6 spot in a productive lineup, and he could probably do better if he stays healthy. But it's the health issues that have held him back.Doesn't the smart money say the Rangers should leave Chris Davis at third? If first-round pick Justin Smoak makes it to the Majors as quickly as hoped/projected, having Davis at first impedes your ability to have two key anchors to your infield for the next eight to 10 years.
-- John W., Colleyville, Texas
You have two options. One, re-sign Milton Bradley as a DH, leave Blalock at first for one more year and use Davis at third. After that, you see where Smoak is in his development. The other is to let Bradley or Blalock go, use the other at DH, move Davis back to first and sign a good defensive third baseman. My feeling is you do what's best for 2009 and worry about Smoak when the time comes. Smoak has played in just 14 professional games.How is Rusty Greer doing in his role with the organization? I haven't heard anything since they gave him a nondescript position earlier this year.
-- Judson B., Dallas
General manager Jon Daniels has tried to get some ex-Rangers more involved in the organization, and club president Nolan Ryan likes that idea. Look for Greer, Mark McLemore, Steve Buechele and others take a more active role next year.Are the Rangers expecting Joaquin Arias to regain his arm strength this winter?
-- Cameron P., Wylie, Texas
He is scheduled to play winter ball and he says he is going to play shortstop. Frankly, it was stunning to see how weak his shoulder was at the end of the year because his other skills are still quite promising.
Where does Marlon Byrd fit in the outfield? Does he lose playing time to a healthy David Murphy and Nelson Cruz?
-- Doug M., Fountain Valley, Calif.
Possibly, but let's make this clear: You need four good outfielders. Look at the Red Sox, who looked like they had a spare outfielder in Coco Crisp. Remember last winter, when it seemed inevitable they would trade him and the Rangers were one of the teams in line? He has been big for them this year. Outfield is a physically demanding position and depth is crucial.
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Are there any plans for some upgrades at Rangers Ballpark? An HD video board? An additional board in left field? Replacing the left-field scoreboard with an electronic one? The video boards around the entire park between levels?
-- Travis A., Arlington, Texas
There has been some discussion. People are aware that the ballpark could use some high-tech improvements in sound and sight, but nothing definitive has been decided.What are the odds of the Rangers taking a flyer on Mark Prior, who is coming off of another shoulder surgery, and signing him to a Minor League deal?
-- Greg M., Dallas, Texas
The Rangers had interest in Prior last year, but he blew them off to sign with the Padres. I doubt they would go back down that road again this winter.Any interest in getting Manny Ramirez? I know how much he would be, but I think his energy (on a good day) would give the Rangers and their fans something to talk about.
-- Bo. S., Abilene, Texas
On a good day? What does that mean? The Rangers led the world in runs scored this year. Why spend another $20 million on an offensive player when the issue is starting pitching.What is the status of Kason Gabbard? I had high hopes for him.
-- Jerry S., Carlsbad, N.M.
So did the Rangers. He should be healthy in Spring Training, but he may be better suited for the bullpen than the rotation.Would Gerald Laird, Elvus Andrus and Michael Main be enough for (the Royals') Zack Greinke?
-- Joseph W., Trophy Club, Texas
Sure, as long as they don't forget to swing by and pick up Derek Holland on their way up I-35.I understand that Major League players have contracts, but how do they get paid? Monthly, at the end of the season or at the end of each game?
-- Neta A., Longview, Texas
Most players get paid twice a month during the regular season only, although you can negotiate other forms of payment in your contract. One former player took it all in one lump sum. Another insisted on be paying paid just twice a year.The Rangers need pitching. They have enough hitting, so how about this trade? Send Michael Young to Yankees for Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner and Edwar Ramirez.
-- Dave M., Benton, Pa.
Something happen to Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez or Robinson Cano that hasn't made the news yet?What are the chances that the Rangers make a huge effort in signing CC Sabathia? Would this not give us the 1-2-3 punch we need? And is he not worth even more money than we spent on Chan Ho Park?
-- Eric S., Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Every week there are still a half-dozen questions about Sabathia, but it is interesting that people no longer ask about Ben Sheets. Guess because of his arm problems he is no longer considered a far better investment than Kevin Millwood or Vicente Padilla. The Rangers have made it clear they are not going to be in the running for Sabathia, who could easily be the first $20-million-per-year-pitcher.What do you think of this proposal: Neftali Feliz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Clay Buchholz from Boston. Is that too much?
-- Norberto P., Texarkana, Texas
Sounds like the John Danks deal all over again. I would discuss Buchholz if the Red Sox need a catcher, but they're not getting Feliz unless they want to talk about Jon Lester.What do you think of Laird and Byrd to the Reds for Homer Bailey and Jeff Keppinger? Bailey would be an excellent No. 4-5, and Keppinger could have a shot at playing third.
-- John P., Dallas
This deal has some merit. If the Reds are interested in trading Bailey, the Rangers should be interested in talking to them.Is there a centralized location where we can find out which Rangers' youngsters are assigned to which Winter League and how they are doing?
-- Edward L., Denton, Texas
Try this link: Winter LeaguesThis might sound dumb, but I always have wondered if a pitcher has ever been a [manager].
-- Kyle S., Dallas
Not many, but Tommy Lasorda was a pitcher. Bob Lemon, Dallas Green, Roger Craig and Fred Hutchinson are former pitchers who have taken a team to the World Series. The only current manager who was a pitcher is Bud Black of the Padres.I just read on SI.com that Bobby Valentine is interested in coming back to the U.S. to manage. Is there any chance he would come back to Texas?
-- Donna T., Tyler, Texas
Valentine and Ryan are close friends. Valentine would definitely be interested in coming back to Texas.I am wondering if the Rangers have even considered Cal Ripken Jr. as a coach. I think he would be a good coach and someone that could get the infield woes put in check.
-- Jimmy K., Houston
Ripken's wide-ranging business interests probably preclude him from wanting to coach. No doubt the Orioles would already have him in uniform if he was interested. He's far more likely to follow Ryan and become a team president or even an owner.I'd vote on telling Detroit we'll give them Brandon McCarthy for Armando Galarraga because we really didn't mean to let him go, that it was all just a horrible misunderstanding.
-- Mike E., Austin, Texas
No doubt Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski would be very understanding in that regard.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.