Please explain to me why Leonys Martin gets most of the talk about the center-field position. Craig Gentry, in my opinion, has done nothing but prove himself over and over again. Yet he seems to be second fiddle to Martin. Why is that?
-- Randy M., Dallas
Over the past two seasons, there have been 130 Major League outfielders who have had at least 400 plate appearances. Of those 130 players, Gentry ranks 15th with a .292 batting average and 16th with a .360 on-base percentage. Combine that with his terrific speed and defensive ability and it's obvious that Gentry could be playing regularly for somebody.
Martin hasn't been given anything yet. But one thing he may have over Gentry is an explosive bat. In 55 games at Triple-A Round Rock last season, Martin had a .359 batting average, .422 on-base percentage and .610 slugging percentage. Those are pretty good numbers despite the small sample size. The Rangers want to see how that plays out in Spring Training.
Martin is still raw in other areas, and the Rangers still hold Gentry in high regard. The Rangers like both, otherwise center field would have been a higher priority this offseason.
Are the Rangers really ready to go to Spring Training with what they have now in the bullpen? They can't wait half a season on Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria. And who knows what they will really get then anyway?
-- Kreg A., Fayetteville, Ark.
The Orioles went to the playoffs last year with Darren O'Day and Pedro Strop filling big roles in their bullpen. Both were cast aside by the Rangers. The Twins signed Jared Burton to a Minor League contract last winter after being let go by the Reds, and he had a 2.18 ERA in 64 games.
Judging relievers can be a tough business. A reliever can have a couple great seasons and then fall apart simply because he was overused. Major League managers, in general, are notorious for staying with a "hot hand" out of the bullpen and running him into the ground.
The Rangers added two veteran relievers in Josh Lindblom and Jason Fraser to a group of candidates that includes some impressive young arms. A big key for the bullpen will be how far Tanner Scheppers comes because he has a tremendous arm and could be a future closer.
While I would hope otherwise, if the Rangers do end up trying to trade Elvis Andrus, what type of prospect package do you think they could get? Would it be wiser to just try trading for an established Major League player at a position of need?
-- Nathan S., Dallas
The Rangers have a position of need. It's called shortstop. That's why the Rangers have shown no interest in trading Andrus. He's an All-Star shortstop who plays outstanding defensive and is developing into an offensive asset at the top of the order. Jurickson Profar may end up being the same thing or better, but right now Andrus is exactly that.
Yes, he is a free agent in two years. That has been pointed out a thousand times. But the Rangers are trying to win now and having one of the best shortstops in the American League certainly is conducive to helping a team win. It's not any more complicated than that.
If the Rangers are going to be without Nelson Cruz for two months, wouldn't it make sense to go get Michael Bourn right now or are there other alternatives out there?
-- James A., Fort Worth, Texas
One would certainly hate to get in the way of the stampede to justice, and the assumption Cruz will be suspended for 50 games because he has been "linked" to a south Florida clinic suspected of selling performance-enhancing drugs. One might surmise it'd be better to wait for the completion of any on-going investigation before coming to conclusions. But why wait until the last minute to pass judgment? Better to beat the rush…
All right, Bourn is the best free-agent outfielder available, but a five-year contract to cover a two-month need seems a bit extreme. But there are few other alternatives on the market, a list that right now includes Bobby Abreu, Carlos Lee, Aubrey Huff and Matt Diaz.
At this point, the Rangers will likely wait until the Commissioner's Office makes any decisions before choosing a course of action.
Can you explain Mike Napoli's contract situation? It seems strange for Boston to outbid Texas by giving him a three-year contract then turn around and make it a one-year deal. Shouldn't that have opened up negotiations with other clubs again?
-- Bill E., Cookeville, Texas
All free-agent signings are subject to the player passing a physical. The deals get reported prematurely because the player's agent is over-eager to spill the beans and let the world know the deal is done. But no deal is done until the physical is complete, which is why clubs hold off making an official announcement.
The Red Sox did not like what they saw from Napoli's contract so they declined to finalize the three-year deal. They did not renege. They had a right to turn it down once they examined the results of the physical. At that point, Napoli certainly had the right to negotiate with any other team, including the Rangers. He was not bound to the Red Sox, even though that's where he ended up anyway.
How does the supplemental draft pick affect the available money for draft picks, with or without a potential Kyle Lohse signing?
-- David B., Brownwood, Texas
If the Rangers sign Lohse, they would lose their first-round pick, which is the 24th overall. The Cardinals would get a supplemental draft pick because they made a "qualifying offer" to Lohse. That's what determines compensation.
In the past, losing a first-round pick wasn't crippling because a team could make up for it by over-paying for players taken in later rounds or by being extra-aggressive in the international amateur free-agent market. But, because of the spending caps now in place in the Draft and in international scouting, clubs are less willing to give up those picks.
I keep reading that the Rangers intend to have Alexi Ogando as a starting pitcher this year. I was wondering why they had him as a reliever last season. Wouldn't it have made sense to have tried to build up his innings?
-- Aaron R., Dallas
The Rangers moved Ogando to the bullpen last season because they wanted to put Neftali Feliz in the rotation to join Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Yu Darvish. The Rangers tried to put Ogando back into the rotation after all the injuries, but he ended up on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring.
Why are general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington so highly regarded? In my opinion, Daniels always overpays and Wash always panics in crucial in-game situations. Daniels' best decision is always to stand pat, which I continue to hope he will do this offseason.
-- Dennis G., Sherman, Texas
Daniels and Washington are highly regarded because they helped the Rangers get to two straight World Series. It's never happened in Texas before, and it didn't happen by accident.