Inbox: How does club stack up in AL West?
Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions
How do you think the Rangers have fared compared to the rest of the American League West? Do you think that the Rangers have made up any ground, or even possibly lost ground to the Angels, Mariners and Athletics?
-- Angel V., Midland, Texas
Right now the Angels are still the team to beat in the AL West. The Mariners have Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee, but the Angels have the deeper rotation, a solid lineup and some good arms in their bullpen. They will miss Chone Figgins -- a huge loss -- but I also think they have one more big move left this winter. The Mariners offense may be a little light. Same with the Athletics, although their young but talented rotation may be underrated and overlooked.The Rangers are loaded with young talent, but so much of it -- Chris Davis, Derek Holland, Julio Borbon, Neftali Feliz and others -- remains unfulfilled potential. Plus, they need a lot of guys to stay healthy who haven't been at times in the past. I just read that Jarrod Washburn turned down a one-year, $5 million contract from the Twins. Why don't the Rangers swoop in and offer him a two-year contract with incentives for a third year and offer $20 million over the total contract?
-- Cody B., Arlington
Washburn, after winning 18 games in 2002, has an annual average record of 9-12 with a 4.24 ERA in 29 starts and 177 innings pitched over the past seven seasons. Explain why that is worth $20 million? Wouldn't it make sense to give those 29 starts to Holland and see if he can do better than that?The Rangers are looking for another starter. Do you think that they would get involved with Erik Bedard? He and Rich Harden are oft-injured, but they could be as talented a 1-2 punch in the AL if healthy. Plus, Bedard is a lefty, which is always good at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. What do you think are the odds?
-- Reid H., Mansfield, Texas
At this point, the Rangers have pretty much exhausted most -- if not all -- the money available this winter.Now that it seems the Rangers' roster is set heading into Spring Training with the Vladimir Guerrero signing, can you give a prediction on the Opening Day starting lineup?
-- Chris B., Anson, Texas
Best guess on an Opening Day lineup: CF Julio Borbon, 3B Michael Young, LF Josh Hamilton, DH Vladimir Guerrero, 2B Ian Kinsler, RF Nelson Cruz, 1B Chris Davis, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SS Elvis Andrus, RHP Scott Feldman.
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When is Justin Smoak going to play first base? Shouldn't the Rangers trade Davis while he still has decent value?
-- Paul R., Keller, Texas
Smoak hit .244 with four home runs, 23 RBIs and a .360 slugging percentage at Triple-A Oklahoma City last year. Not sure that creates a dire impetus for him to be in Arlington right now. Also not sure that trading Davis right now after he hit .228 with a .442 slugging percentage and 150 strikeouts in 391 at-bats would be conducive to getting "decent" value for him.Any news on Hank Blalock? I would love to have him back but have not heard anything about him getting on with another club.
-- David N., Mesquite, Texas
Right now, the Orioles and the Pirates would make the most sense. There were some discussions with the Braves, but that was before they signed Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske. But it's getting late for Blalock and others.With the popularity and thought of them being lucky, are the Rangers going to be wearing the red uniforms more this year? Many Rangers fans, including myself, would enjoy seeing them worn more often.
-- Senna N., Allen, Texas
Vice president Jim Sundberg said at a caravan stop in Plano, Texas, last week that the Rangers would be wearing the red uniforms more often this season.Now that the Rangers have Guerrero as their full-time DH, it looks like David Murphy will be the fourth outfielder. Since Murphy bats left-handed and two of the Rangers' presumed starting outfielders (Borbon and Hamilton) do as well, will the Rangers field offers for Murphy?
-- Aaron R., Dallas
Hamilton and Guerrero had injury issues in 2009. Borbon is in his first full season. Marlon Byrd is gone. The Rangers might be wise to hold on to their "fourth" outfielder because he could play far more than it may seem right now.So on the pressing question: Now that Guerrero is the Rangers' cleanup hitter, is his mom going to cook for the team like she did for the Angels?
-- Lynn F., West Hollywood, Calif.
Darren Oliver certainly hopes so. He and Guerrero played together in Anaheim, and here is his scouting report: "The food was good. She cooks. Just about everybody ate it before the game, including me."Do the Rangers think Darren O'Day is capable of repeating his 2009 performance and what plans do they have with him?
-- Walter E., Innsbruck, Austria
Anybody who has a 1.94 ERA ought to have a spot in the bullpen even if he doesn't throw the prerequisite 95 mph.What do you think will happen with Chad Tracy at Double-A Frisco, especially when the Rangers have Davis and Smoak waiting in the wings?
-- Young C., Plano, Texas
Tracy most likely will be at Triple-A Oklahoma this season. Another big year there could get him consideration later this season or in 2011.How many picks do the Rangers now have in the first and supplemental round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft? With new management, should signing all of their picks be easier than 2009?
-- Wally C., San Salvador, Bahamas
Right now, the Rangers have two first-round picks and two supplemental picks in the Draft. At the moment, they have the 15th, 22nd, 44th and 48th overall picks. The last two could change if other Type B free agents sign contracts. The new ownership group will likely be willing to be aggressive in its first year, especially when it comes to the Draft.We are huge fans from the East Coast of Canada. What is the health status of Hamilton? Is he on pace to be full steam ahead going into Spring Training?
-- Todd K., Saint John, Canada
Bet it's beautiful on the East Coast of Canada. Hamilton is at full strength, working out regularly and will be ready to go in Spring Training. I saw him hit the other day at the Ballpark in Arlington and everything was fine.Can anybody explain the deal by letting Ivan Rodriguez get away? I mean, he is better than all three of the Rangers' catchers. I just want to say that letting Pudge go is going to be a big factor. I say this over and over. The Rangers never learn. I could coach one season for free and my team would win.
-- Roy R., Grapevine, Texas
Yes, but what kind of contract are you going to want after you win.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.