3/13/2013 6:02 P.M. ET
Inbox: Who is winning the center-field competition?
Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Of the center-field candidates, who seems to be pulling away defensively and offensively? Is there a leading candidate yet?
-- Pablo G., Irving, Texas
It seems pretty clear that Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry are both going to make the team, barring something unexpected happening before the end of Spring Training. Right now, a platoon situation appears likely. The Rangers believe Martin can be a full-time player, but Gentry has had a terrific spring so far and deserves playing time.
Julio Borbon is out of options, so even though he is having an excellent camp, hopefully the Rangers can trade him to the right team and get something of value in return.
Why is there such a push to make Robbie Ross a starter? The Rangers should know better than anybody else the importance of a specialty lefty for the late innings.
-- Jacob P., Fort Worth, Texas
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Ross is not being pushed into the rotation, he is simply being given a chance to win the job. There are still some questions about his ability to handle the increased workload. Remember, he wore down at the end of the last season. The Rangers are still going to look at rookie Nick Tepesch, who has been the biggest revelation of the spring, and veteran Randy Wells is still in the mix. The Rangers are also intrigued by the possibility of Kyle McClellan being in their rotation.
With the look of the bullpen having outstanding competition, how will Joe Ortiz's outstanding spring play into a roster spot?
-- JoJo D., Aubrey, Texas
Ortiz has been impressive and the Rangers would like two left-handers in the bullpen. Michael Kirkman will be one of them. The club has several others to choose from even if Ross makes the rotation. Manager Ron Washington has been effusive in his praise for veteran Nate Robertson, but Ortiz is very much in the running.
Did the Rangers put any offer on the table for Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke or C.J. Wilson?
-- Tim K., Minneapolis
What actually constitutes an offer can be quite nebulous. In Greinke's case, the Rangers did give him something to say yes or no to, but the organization always knew in the end the Dodgers were not going to be outbid for Greinke. They had that feeling all along. With Hamilton, the Rangers talked more about what they felt would be an appropriate contract. At some point, they would have made a concrete offer, but Hamilton pre-empted that by signing with the Angels. As far as Wilson, the Rangers really didn't make a serious run once he became a free agent. At that point, their attention had shifted to landing Yu Darvish.
Who looks like they are ready for a breakout season judging from Spring Training?
-- Don R., Oklahoma City
Mitch Moreland. He is healthy, focused and relaxed. Moreland is having a good camp, is handling left-handed pitching and is using the entire field the way Washington wants him to do. Moreland has a chance to have that kind of a season.
Why not use Jurickson Profar, who is the club's No. 1 prospect, as the utility man? He can give the regulars rest and still be used enough to stay sharp and gain experience.
-- Nick V. Santa Clara, Calif.
The Rangers are saying it would not do Profar any good to be on the Major League roster unless Washington can find him 300-350 plate appearances. So let's do the math. Last year, the club's shortstops and second basemen combined for 1,488 plate appearances. So if Profar got 350 plate appearances, that would leave 1,138 for Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler. Divide that in two and you get 569 plate appearances each.
That's still a substantial amount for both if Washington is willing to commit to a three-way arrangement in the middle. To get the 350 plate appearances, Profar would have to start three times per week over the course of a 26-week season. So the question is if Washington is willing to sit Andrus and Kinsler one to two times per week, or use them on occasion at designated hitter instead of Lance Berkman.
It looks like Jeff Baker and Profar staying in the infield, and Mike Olt, who is ranked the organization's No. 2 prospect, is headed to Triple-A. Can Baker play the outfield?
-- Jim S., Arlington
Baker has played 79 games in the outfield in his career, so he can at least hold down the position for a game or two if needed. Baker looks like an excellent candidate for one of the spots on the bench.
If the Rangers truly intended to sign Kyle Lohse, do you think they'd show their hand?
-- Bruce F., Merrillville, Ind.
If the Rangers truly intended to sign Lohse, he would be in Surprise by now.
Have you heard the full story on the Barret Loux and Jacob Brigham swap? Brigham just got reassigned and has an opt-out date, so it's likely he never throws a meaningful pitch for the Rangers. It seems like we let the Cubs take advantage of this deal.
-- Jeff S., Fort Worth, Texas
The Rangers made the deal with the Cubs for catcher Geovany Soto on the night of July 30. The two teams had talked about both Loux and Brigham. The Cubs agreed to the deal for Brigham but still wanted to review his medical records. While they were doing so, news of the trade leaked out from Chicago. At the same time, the Cubs started expressing reluctance to acquire Brigham because they had concerns about his physical conditioning. By then, Yorvit Torrealba had been told what the situation was and Soto was coming to Texas to replace him.
The Rangers, backed into a bad spot, convinced the Cubs to do the deal with the provision that if Brigham wasn't healthy, the Cubs could take Loux instead after the season, plus a player to be named later. That proved to be the case. Brigham came down with an elbow problem, the Cubs asked to redo the deal and the Rangers still owe them one more player.
This offseason has seen the departures of Michael Young and Hamilton. Nolan Ryan's future in the Rangers' system is now uncertain. That's three of my four favorite Rangers. Can you get the ball rolling on a lifetime contract for Tom Greive so I don't lose the last of my remaining favorites?
-- Grant G., Iowa Park, Texas
One would assume that both Grieve and Eric Nadel have their jobs for as long as they want. Right?