Seeing the realistic contention window and the perception of overachieving, would the Rangers be better off keeping Mike Minor and Lance Lynn and gradually building off them in the next couple of years or trading Minor for the long-term future?
-- Timothy S., Rowlett, Texas
Keep them both. This blather about trading Minor is ridiculous. OK, there might be some team out there so eager and desperate for starting pitching they would be willing to load two or three prime prospects in a deal so attractive, it’s irresistible. But the Rangers are moving into a new ballpark next season with a strong nucleus of offensive players begging to be surrounded by dependable starting pitching. A weary fan base wants to see the same thing.
Trade Minor and/or Lynn and the Rangers will be spending another winter trying to piece together a starting rotation. The smarter option is to keep them, see how Adrian Sampson, Ariel Jurado and Joe Palumbo develop, check out what is available this winter and, yes, build around Lynn and Minor.
When’s the earliest chance you think the Rangers could have a legitimate chance to make a deep playoff run? Would next season be too soon? 2021?
-- Janae E., Holliday, Texas
This year would have been a real possibility if the Rangers had picked up options on Cole Hamels and Martin Perez. That’s not a cheap second-guess. The simple fact is the Rangers have the offensive potential to be a strong postseason team, and they have shown the ability to put together a strong bullpen. It always comes down to assembling a strong rotation with four reliable starting pitchers. That’s the Rangers' challenge annually and still is despite all this rhetoric about building something sustainable for the long-term. There need not be a “target” year for that to happen. It could happen any year with the right moves. Minor and Lynn were great signings. Shelby Miller, Drew Smyly and Edinson Volquez were not.
Is acquiring Marcus Stroman a possibility before the July 31 Trade Deadline?
-- Justin G., Mansfield, Texas
That depends on how aggressive the Rangers want to be, and the gut feeling is they won’t be leading the charge on this one. As opposed to pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler, who would both be two-month rentals, Stroman can’t be a free agent until after next season. That might make him the most coveted starting pitcher at the July 31 Trade Deadline and beyond the Rangers' reach.
Do you expect the Rangers to be buyers at the Trade Deadline, and how deep into our farm system will we be willing to dig?
-- Doug I., Orange, Texas
The Rangers will be selective buyers and there are certainly some crown jewels of the farm system that will be close to untouchable. That list includes Palumbo and other pitchers like Jonathan Hernandez, Hans Crouse, Cole Winn and Brock Burke. The interesting scenario are the three highly regarded young outfielders: Bubba Thompson, Leody Taveras and Julio Pablo Martinez. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers try to move one of those three for a young pitcher of equal talent.
Do you see Sam Huff as the catcher of the future for the Rangers?
-- Colt Z., Peoria, Ariz.
Huff, with 24 home runs in 84 games, is having a magical season in Class A. But, no matter where a player stands on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Rangers Prospects list, it’s hard to project anybody into the Rangers' future until they show it at Double-A. That’s the biggest test for Minor League players. That said, if Huff continues to hit like this, his biggest asset will be his offense and the Rangers may look for another position other than catcher to maximize that potential.
Following the Wimbledon tennis final, what are the greatest pitching duels in Rangers history?
-- Mark E., Arlington
A few come to mind. Ferguson Jenkins beating Catfish Hunter, 3-1, on Sept. 13, 1974. Both Hall of Famers threw a complete game in the heat of the pennant race. Jon Matlack’s 2-1 complete game against the Yankees on Opening Day 1978, when Richie Zisk hit a walk-off home run off Rich Gossage in the ninth. Ron Guidry started the game for the Yankees. Then there was Nolan Ryan’s 2-1 victory over Roger Clemens on April 30, 1989. Rafael Palmeiro won that game with a two-run homer off Clemens in the eighth. Finally, there was Matt Harrison’s 2-0 victory over Roy Oswalt and the Phillies on May 22, 2011. The Rangers weren’t off to a great start that year but really began to roll after Harrison’s 8 1/3 scoreless innings against a team that won 102 games.