1/5/2014 4:02 P.M. ET
Inbox: Should the Rangers have Prince DH?
Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
If Mitch Moreland is better on defense than Prince Fielder then why is no one discussing having Moreland play first base and Fielder being the designated hitter? Is there a worry about hurt feelings? Or is there proof that guys can't hit as well if they stand in the dugout rather than on the field?
-- Gary H., Arlington
Fielder has put up tremendous offensive numbers as a first baseman. The Rangers aren't likely to experiment and see if he can do the same thing as a designated hitter. He means too much to their offense. Moreland at first base would seem to be the Strat-O-Matic way to go but the Rangers will likely decline to roll the dice. Moreland is better defensively but not so overwhelming that it demands the Rangers consider that option.
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Do you see the Rangers pursuing Masahiro Tanaka? They have a big television contract and they aren't even close to the luxury tax threshold like the Angels.
-- Paul F., Fort Worth
The Rangers insist they have pushed their payroll to the viable limit but budgets have shown to be flexible. They have certainly shown they are willing to play at the top of the free-agent market and you can count on them to at least have a conversation with Tanaka's agent, Casey Close. But even with the Rangers' financial resources -- both for now and the future -- they may be hard-pressed to beat the Yankees or Dodgers on this one.
Forget that Shin-Soo Choo strikes out a lot, does not play good defense and can't hit left-handers. To me, the biggest risk is he is 31 years old, gets hurt a lot and is an outfielder. Now he has a seven-year contract and will be 39 at the end. Isn't that a big risk considering outfielders like Carl Crawford don't hold up physically after they turn 30?
-- James A., Oklahoma City
All players come with physical risks and certainly outfielders seem higher than some other positions. But if a team worries excessively about injuries, it might end up not signing anybody. There are outfielders who held up well -- Torii Hunter, Ichiro Suzuki and Bernie Williams come immediately to mind -- and young players get hurt as well. If 2011 first-round pick Zach Cone, also an outfielder, had stayed healthy, the Rangers might not have had to sign Choo.
You made a big deal about the Rangers acquiring outfielder Michael Choice from the A's, now he gets pushed aside because of Choo. Why did the Rangers make this deal with no intention of playing Choice? And is it possible that the Athletics never really thought that highly of him?
-- Thomas M., Tulsa, Okla.
To me, getting Choice was the best move made by the Rangers this winter. Remember, the Athletics -- never timid about making bold moves -- also traded away Carlos Gonzalez. Choice could make the team as a fourth outfielder and platoon at DH with Moreland, then take over in right field in 2015 after Alex Rios becomes a free agent.
When is top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro projected to be MLB ready?
-- Bob H., Trophy Club, Texas
He will most likely be at Double-A Frisco this season, which will be a big step for him. Spending 2015 at Triple-A would seem prudent considering Alfaro is only 20 years old, but the Rangers have never been averse to pushing their top young prospects and bringing them to the big leagues quickly.
With Rios only having one year left on his current contract and Moreland not producing well offensively, why not keep Choice in the Minors for one more year and give Kensuke Tanaka a chance at DH? He doesn't have the power that Moreland does, but I think he can be a .350-.370 OBP player. Personally, I would take that over a 20-25 home run player any day of the week.
-- Juan V., Arlington
Tanaka had a .356 on-base percentage in Japan with a .384 slugging percentage. Moreland has a career .318 on-base percentage and a .440 slugging percentage. Neither is particularly appealing for a DH, so it comes down to whether Tanaka can be better than he was in Japan or Moreland can take the next step as an offensive player. The intriguing thing about Moreland is he has hit well the past two years only to have his numbers fall off dramatically after a midseason trip to the disabled list. To me, that's why Moreland is worth another look even if the Rangers add a right-handed bat to go with him.
The Rangers have been linked to Tanaka. With the new rules, how is posting someone like him appealing to a Japanese team? After what Boston and Texas paid for posting fees for Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish, $20 million does not seem like a lot.
-- Sean L., Amarillo, Texas
No it is not. Japanese teams seem to be the big losers in the new posting system, at least when it comes to their big stars jumping to the United States. But very few players will likely command a $20 million posting fee.
How will the Rangers resolve Fielder's day-in-day-out approach with manager Ron Washington's desire to give his players occasional days off, especially given the demands of a Texas summer?
-- Daniel T., San Francisco
Among the many redoubtable qualities that Washington has as a manager are his honesty and the respect that he commands with his players. Washington and Fielder will likely have little trouble resolving that issue.
Why aren't the Rangers showing much interest in Ubaldo Jimenez? He has always been a solid pitcher and would fit nicely at the back end of the rotation.
-- John K., Kilgore, Texas
If the Rangers sign Jimenez, it would likely mean Alexi Ogando comes out of the rotation. Ogando has a 3.40 ERA, a 1.166 WHIP and a 2.38 strikeouts-per-walk ratio as a starter. Jimenez, who spent most of his career in Colorado, has a 3.93 ERA, a 1.345 WHIP and a 2.05 strikeouts-per-walk ratio as a starter. Even when you adjust their numbers to ballpark effects, Ogando still grades out better. His career adjusted ERA is 139, while Jimenez is 112. League average is 100. The only benefit would be moving Ogando to the bullpen, but the Rangers have enough relievers.
Could the Rangers possibly trade Moreland, Ogando, and Luis Sardinas to Tampa Bay for David Price?
-- Randy R., Abilene, Texas
The Rays would want more than that for Price.
Now that Ivan Rodriguez is retired and No. 7 is no longer in use due to David Murphy having signed with the Indians, do the Rangers plan to retire Pudge's number?
-- Brendon N., Arlington
That would seem to be the logical thing to do, especially since he is eventually headed to Cooperstown and will almost certainly be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a Ranger.
Just going back as far as the Cliff Lee trade, the Rangers have traded a lot of young arms. Which of all of those would you like to have back?
-- John S., Commerce, Texas
Kyle Hendricks would be at the top of my list. He was an eighth-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Dartmouth and not considered a serious prospect when the Rangers traded him to the Cubs in 2012 for Ryan Dempster. But he was a combined 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA and a 1.058 WHIP at Double-A and Triple-A for the Cubs last season and has a tremendously advanced feel for pitching.
Is there a favorite or odd pre or postgame snack/ beverage the Rangers seem to crave?
-- Steve C., Lewisville, Texas
My favorite memory of Lance Berkman will be of him walking out of the clubhouse after a game with a chocolate ice cream cone in hand.