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05/21/07 2:30 PM ET

Mailbag: What will happen with Teixeira?

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions

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What is it with everybody wanting to get rid of Mark Teixeira? Yes, he has had a slow start to the season, but then again, who hasn't? Last year, we watched him have a slow start in the first half, but then he picked it up in the second.
-- Allen W., Waxahachie, Texas

Nobody wants to trade Teixeira. He is an excellent hitter who is getting hot and a terrific first baseman. If the Rangers get back in the division race in the next six weeks, all this talk of trading people and firing people will die down.

Otherwise, it's going to be a story, because the Rangers know they have to start listening to see what they can get in return.

The simple fact is Teixeira will be a free agent after the 2008 season. The Rangers know that he is ultimately going to file for free agency and he's going to be expensive to re-sign. They have to come to grips with that and everybody knows that Jason Giambi's contract with the Yankees expires after the 2008 season.

Obviously, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Yankees make a run at Teixeira this summer. He'll probably ultimately be wearing pinstripes anyway in the next few years.

You trade Teixeira, you better get it right. You need at least three Major League-ready players in return, if not more. But you have to consider it, rather than him leave and just get draft picks in return.

All right, something -- actually many things -- are not going right this season. Injuries and bad luck aside, what changes do you think the Rangers need to make to be competitive? Would they be better off pursuing pitching, trying to stabilize the outfield, or tightening up defense in the infield?
-- John C., Raleigh, N.C.

Even with the huge loss of Hank Blalock, the Rangers need three things to happen to get back in the race:

First of all, they need Brandon McCarthy, Robinson Tejeda and Kameron Loe to come quickly. They are the future, but the future is now.

Secondly, they desperately need offensive help in the outfield. If they were an actual contender, there's no doubt that's where they would look first to upgrade. They need Frank Catalanotto back and they need their young guys, Nelson Cruz, Kevin Mahar, Victor Diaz, whoever, to really show something. Otherwise, by next season, they have to do something drastic out there.

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Third, they need Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla. What has happened to those two is way overlooked when figuring out what's wrong with the Rangers. In fact, that may be No. 1 in what has gone wrong.

So at this point in the season, looking ahead to the July 31 trade deadline, who do you think is the leading candidate to get traded to a contender?
-- John B., Arlington, Texas

Beyond Teixeira, the obvious answer is Eric Gagne, who is here on a one-year contract, and there is always a need for a proven closer. Obviously if the Rangers continue to struggle, Gagne will be their most desired commodity. But talk of July 31 trades seems premature right now. At least give it six weeks.

Why is it that a team like Tampa Bay has three outfielders, Delmon Young, Elijah Dukes, and Carl Crawford, with more promise than any one of the Rangers outfielders? And I am not even mentioning Rocco Baldelli.
-- Jason M., Dallas

Because the Rays have been emphasizing pitching in the draft lately, they missed on guys like Drew Meyer, Scott Heard and Vince Sinisi, who cost them a lot of money for nothing and they have lost key draft picks because of free agents signed. The Rangers are hoping guys like John Whittleman and John Mayberry will lead a re-stocking of position players in the farm system.

With Eric Hurley pitching so well in Double-A, is there any chance of him being in the rotation next year?
-- Rick M., Arlington, Texas

Funny, the Rangers rushed Edinson Volquez and he struggled in the Major Leagues. They took their time with John Danks and he proved to be more ready than anticipated. The Rangers say they'll let Hurley come at his own pace. But he'll be at Triple-A Oklahoma at some point this summer. A September callup would be a real possibility and he'll definitely be a big story next year in Spring Training.

I know it has come up before, but please refresh my memory. Is or was Ian Kinsler considered a better shortstop than Michael Young, who seems to be regarded as an average at best defensive shortstop? And if so, why not switch their positions?
-- Jim S., Arlington, Texas

If Young ever moves off shortstop, it would have to be for an outstanding defensive player, someone who can be a real difference-maker. Kinsler was not considered that. Doubt there's much difference between the two, other than Young has a well above-average arm and three-plus years of Major League experience at the position.

Where is Jason Botts? With all of these injuries, is there a reason he was not called up instead of Mahar? Doesn't Botts deserve a chance?
-- Chase M., Fort Worth

Botts definitely deserves a shot at some point. He was strongly considered last week, but with Jerry Hairston sidelined, the Rangers needed a right-handed-hitting center fielder. So they brought up Mahar.

In response to Ron Washington's management style, I don't think it is a good fit right now. If I was the Rangers skipper, I would try a different approach, like smashing a few water coolers and move a few of the starters to the bullpen. Loe was getting shelled the other night against the Yankees and every time they showed Washington he was just eating sunflower seeds.
-- Dan K., New York

Yeah, sunflower seeds are pretty bad. Where's a nice juicy wad of cancer-causing chewing tobacco when you need it?

How did the Rangers not end up on Roger Clemens' short list this year?
-- LeRoy K., Arlington, Texas

There is only so many times the prom queen is going to slap you in the face before you stop asking her out.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.