Inbox: Scheppers better utilized in rotation?
Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions
How serious are the Rangers about putting Tanner Scheppers in the rotation, considering how much he would be missed in the bullpen?
-- Taylor W., Oklahoma City
The Rangers are seriously considering putting Scheppers in the rotation because they view him as a potential "difference-maker" because of his superb talent. It is similar to how they viewed Neftali Feliz as a starter two years ago, although Scheppers is approaching it with more conviction. The biggest concern is how many innings he will be able to throw. Scheppers has never thrown more than 80 innings in four professional seasons.
The Rangers would miss Scheppers in the bullpen, but Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor have had excellent camps, and Shawn Tolleson is starting to pitch well. There is still a question of how good Feliz will be and if he can handle the closer's role again. But Soria has done it before, and if the Rangers find they miss Scheppers too much in the bullpen, they can always switch him back when Matt Harrison is ready.
Can Tommy Hanson and Joe Saunders be like Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch were last season and hold down the rotation until Derek Holland and Harrison are back?
-- William W., Corsicana, Texas
Hanson has pitched well in Arizona, but he does not have the same overwhelming stuff that he once had with the Braves. The Rangers are weighing the results with what their eyes are telling them. The Rangers know exactly what Saunders brings. He is a safe choice because he pitches innings and gives his team a chance to win without overwhelming anybody. Hanson could end up as the long reliever.
What are the chances of Robinson Chirinos making the team as a backup catcher over J.P. Arencibia? He has had the better spring.
-- Juan S., Fort Worth
The Tampa Bay Rays spend all winter putting together their team and then stick with the plan in Spring Training. They don't let themselves get sidetracked by somebody getting hot for a week or two or somebody going into a spring slump. The Rangers signed Arencibia to be their No. 2 catcher for a reason. It may or may not turn out to be the right decision, but that shouldn't be determined by what has happened in Spring Training.
What will be Engel Beltre's fate with the Rangers in 2014? He is out of options and you know he would not clear waivers. I realize we will know more this spring about him and Michael Choice, but I think he will become a very good player and hate to lose him because of a raw Choice.
-- Bill H., Garland, Texas
Choice is not raw. In fact, he appears more polished than Beltre and has clearly won a spot on the team. Beltre has been outplayed not only by Choice but by Jim Adduci. So even if Mitch Moreland ends up on the disabled list because of his rib-cage injury, Adduci would likely be the one that fills that spot. The Rangers aren't rebuilding -- they are trying to win and need to take their best 25 players right from the beginning. They can't afford to carry somebody who is out of options based on "potential." At some point, whether it's Beltre or pitcher Michael Kirkman, Texas will have to make a decision and move on.
Joey Gallo seems to be the power prospect in the Rangers system as a hitter. Would they keep him at third or move him to left field or first base?
-- Drew C., Fort Worth, Texas
The Rangers are loaded with power prospects at the same level as Gallo, including outfielders Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams and Nomar Mazara and first baseman Ronald Guzman. The Rangers would be insane to move Gallo off third base. A left-handed power-hitting third baseman would be a tremendous asset for Texas about the time Adrian Beltre hits the end of his contract in 2016. Gallo also wants to be a third baseman.
Didn't the Rangers sign Armando Galarraga this offseason? He was the guy who almost threw the perfect game a few years ago. How come we haven't heard of Galarraga this spring? Could he pitch for the Rangers this year?
-- Ralph M., Tulsa, Okla.
Galarraga in is Minor League camp and is a candidate to be in the Triple-A rotation. He is one of several veterans signed to pitch at Round Rock so the Rangers can keep their best young pitching prospects at Double-A Frisco without rushing them. Galarraga will get a chance at Round Rock. From there, it will depend on how well he pitches.
Why did Luke Jackson not get invited to Major League camp? It would have been nice to see last year's Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year and No. 1 pitching prospect pitch.
-- John S., Dallas
Jackson has pitched in just six games at Double-A Frisco. The last thing the Rangers needed was for him to come to big league camp, pitch well early and start creating some kind of media frenzy about him needing to be in the rotation. The reverse is also true. The Rangers didn't need Jackson coming to camp, not pitch well and potentially lose some confidence. Jackson is good right where he is, preparing to pitch at Frisco.
Years ago, I thought Chris Davis was far better defensively than Moreland and had more offensive upswing. I still think that's one of the biggest mistakes made in recent years. Do you believe Moreland can really be a difference-making DH for this team?
-- Brandon K., Amarillo, Texas
A difference-maker would be Vladimir Guerrero coming in and hitting 35 home runs with 110 RBIs. If Moreland is healthy, he is capable of 20-25 home runs and 80 RBIs. The problem is keeping him healthy, an unexpected issue considering Moreland works as hard anybody on the team.
Not only are the Orioles building Rangers 2.0, they are cheating them out of a quality Draft pick now. Since the O's already had to give up their first-round pick because they signed Ubaldo Jimenez to a deal, the Rangers received their second-round pick for Nelson Cruz. How is that OK with MLB?
-- Shawn B., El Reno, Okla.
That's the rule according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The rules are the rules. The Rangers obviously valued the potential Draft pick, and perhaps that is why they didn't pursue Cruz more aggressively, budget considerations aside. But they also knew the Draft pick would have been lower had Cruz signed with the wrong team. Whether it's a team, a player or his agent, it's crucial to understand the operating rules and make them work for you.
Rangers fans and management are talking quite a bit this Spring Training about the decrease in runs from 2012 to 2013 and needing to score more runs this year. My take is that a lot of the dropoff in runs from 2012 to 2013 is because of the disappearance of the jet stream out toward right-center. Do you or Rangers management have any theories on why the jet stream disappeared? And are there any plans to try and bring the jet stream back this year?
-- Tim K., Minneapolis
The Rangers want the jet stream back. Negotiations with Mother Nature are ongoing.