Inbox: Mulling issues at backstop
Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions
I guess I'm confused about the catching situation. I keep reading the Rangers need another catcher but they didn't keep Pudge Rodriguez and they're considering trading Max Ramirez. Is there something I'm missing because it doesn't seem to make any sense?
-- Susan H., Arlington, Texas
The Rangers were fine with their catching until Jarrod Saltalamacchia began experiencing more shoulder problems in winter ball. Ultimately, they believe he will be fine and ready for Spring Training, but they do want veteran insurance in case he has more problems. Rodriguez was looking for a two-year deal and Texas was reluctant to go there. The Rangers liked Ramirez's bat but obviously have doubts about his defense and his ability to be an everyday catcher at the Major League level.Do you think Nelson Cruz can become a top-level outfielder?
-- Paul L., Fall River, Mass.
Cruz had an .832 OPS (on-base plus slugging) this past season, 22nd highest among Major League outfielders. Those who have come up with complicated defensive measurements have him ranked quite high among outfielders in 2009. The Rangers still need more than 76 RBIs out of him.Here is something interesting though. There were 34 outfielders with an OPS of .800 or better in 2009, led by Manny Ramirez at .944. In 2004, there were 40 such outfielders, including eight who were higher than .944. In 1999, there were 51 outfielders over .800, including 17 who were better than .944. Obviously the culture has significantly changed since then. But the point is that an outfielder with Cruz's talent and production is becoming a premium around baseball and should not be taken lightly. It seems the Rangers are going to make a choice between Jermaine Dye and Vladimir Guerrero. Do you have a preference?
-- James S., Shreveport, La.
Guerrero. Dye may have more left in his body, he can still play the field and has an excellent reputation as far as makeup and character. But Guerrero could be a great intimidating presence in the middle of the lineup behind Josh Hamilton.As the Rangers continue to look for a viable designated hitter option on the free-agent market, does Xavier Nady make any sense? His power was on the rise in Pittsburgh and he was a pretty good defensive player.
-- Phillip S., Dallas
Nady, who missed almost all of last season because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, makes very good sense as a right-handed DH and fifth outfielder. He should be on the Rangers' list.Do you see the Rangers adding another starter to their young rotation, like a Jon Garland?
-- Sam B., Abilene, Texas
The Rangers have made it clear that they are looking for one more starting pitcher. Right now Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Brandon McCarthy are the four leading candidates for the final three spots in the rotation. Adding another starter like Garland would push two of those guys to the bullpen or the Minors.
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Do you think that the Rangers might re-think the Mike Lowell trade and take a chance that he can return to form after surgery and would he be the best fit for the Rangers' needs?
-- Derek L., Tulsa, Okla.
The Rangers feel they need another right-handed bat and aren't likely to sit around until Spring Training to see if Lowell is healthy. They are going to pursue offensive help before then.How does Nomar Garciaparra look for the Rangers as their right-handed DH? He could also fill their roll of playing third and first base.
-- Miguel S., El Paso, Texas
There was a time when Garciaparra would have been a perfect fit for what the Rangers are looking for this offseason. But time and injuries seem to have caught up with the player and his tremendous career.Is Joaquin Arias believed to be able to play shortstop or third base for weeks at a time if needed? If not, what is his role on the roster?
-- Bruce H., Fort Worth, Texas
The Rangers just don't seem enthusiastic about the possibility of Arias being their utility infielder and it may be time to give him a fresh start and new chance with another organization.Any chance the Rangers may go after Fernando Tatis?
-- Darrell S., Tyler, Texas
Tatis, who turned 35 on Friday, is a decent right-handed platoon bat (.777 OPS vs. left-handers in 2009) who can play multiple positions, but the Rangers have their sights set higher.What do you think of the Rangers offering Bartolo Colon a one-year "make good" contract like they did in the past with Kris Benson and other veteran pitchers that had injury issues?
-- Joe B., Dallas
The Rangers signing a pitcher like that is always a distinct possibility -- almost an inevitability -- but Colon hasn't thrown more than 100 innings in any of the past four seasons.Why does it always seem we are picking up players coming off injuries, especially pitching?
-- Kenneth B., Garland, Texas
When you are operating under strict financial parameters, you often have to take a chance on those players to get the most out of your resources.If Chuck Greenberg finalizes his deal to buy the club, what happens to his Myrtle Beach and State College teams? Do they have to drop their affiliations with the Braves and Cardinals and affiliate with the Rangers, or does Greenberg have to relinquish ownership in them due to conflicts of interest?
-- Tom L., Dallas
That shouldn't be a problem. Nolan Ryan is the Rangers president and he owns Astros affiliates in Corpus Christi and Round Rock. Myrtle Beach, which operates in the Class A Carolina League, might end up being a Rangers affiliate instead of Bakersfield, which has an antiquated stadium. There are also hints that Round Rock could replace Oklahoma City as the Rangers Triple-A affiliate. My vote would be to stay in Oklahoma City.Wouldn't free agent Miguel Tejada be a good fit for Texas? His big bat and multi-position infield skills could be useful.
-- Rand S., Denton, Texas
Tejada is likely to be a luxury the Rangers can't afford and he's probably not interested in being a full-time designated hitter. He's not going to play in the field ahead of Elvis Andrus or Michael Young.What are the chances that Neftali Feliz is used in a trade to acquire a veteran starter?
-- Edmond F., Corpus Christi, Texas
Zero.Why don't teams trade players that they are going to non-tender so they at least get something rather than nothing for the player?
-- Jack W., Mansfield, Texas
Clubs obviously make the attempt and some do get traded. But general managers have a pretty good idea which players are going to get non-tendered and aren't going to give up much for someone who will eventually be a free agent.Are the Rangers or any other MLB team ever going to get cheerleaders? If the Rangers got cheerleaders, I think that would definitely boost attendance. What's your thought on this?
-- Jared B., Addison, Texas
Might get ugly if a batter gets hit by a pitch and the cheerleaders start chanting: "Hit him again! Hit him again! Harder! Harder!"
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.