What about playing Craig Gentry in center field? Why would the Rangers go out and get a new player when you have one already in the lineup?
-- Sabrina D., Dallas
Many people have asked about Gentry this week. It comes down to Gentry vs. Leonys Martin, as far as internal candidates, to play center. Gentry had an excellent year against left-handed pitching, hitting .343 with a .425 on-base percentage against them. Against right-handers he hit .277 with a .325 on-base percentage. His power against both is limited at this point.
Gentry is more polished defensively and in his baserunning than Martin. The Rangers feel Martin has more offensive potential, especially as far as power, than Gentry. The big question is if the Rangers are willing to take a chance full time with either one or would rather spend the resources to get a proven player for the position in their "win-now" mode.
Gentry's numbers seem comparable to the guys playing center in the National League Championship Series: Jon Jay with the Cardinals and Angel Pagan with the Giants.
Jon Daniels says no preemptive deal to Josh Hamilton. Is that the same as no qualifying offer? I can't believe Daniels would forgo the draft pick, unless he fears Josh would actually accept our lowball offer.
-- Bryan T., Dallas
Preemptive means a multiyear contract offer before Hamilton files for free agency. A qualifying offer is a one-year deal worth approximately $13.5 million. The Rangers will make the qualifying offer. They would also be thrilled in the unlikely event Hamilton accepts the offer despite all the hollow rhetoric being thrown around lately.
If Mike Adams does not re-sign, do you think Tanner Scheppers would be a good candidate for the eighth-inning role?
-- Jared S., Fort Worth, Texas
Probably not yet. If Adams doesn't come back, the Rangers will either use Alexi Ogando in that role or go get a proven veteran reliever. Scheppers probably fits more in the sixth- or seventh-inning slot at this point, but he should get more responsibility as his career progresses and is potentially a future impact closer.
It seems to me that many of the Rangers hitters were swinging for the fence during almost every at-bat. How much of their offensive woes were due to the hitting coach?
-- Ray T. Brady, Texas
The Rangers played in five ballparks on the West Coast against the Angels, Mariners, Athletics, Padres and Giants. They hit .239 with a .378 slugging percentage in those parks, as opposed to .286 with a .463 slugging percentage everywhere else. They were 15-18 on the West Coast, where the ballparks and weather favor the pitchers over the hitters. The Rangers just can't outslug people out there like they do at other places.
What the Rangers really need to do -- and I think they are -- is take a long, hard look at how they teach hitting coming up through the Minor Leagues. They have a tremendous collection of young hitters at the lower levels of the system, so now is the time to teach them the proper approach to hitting, as far as the situational-hitting fundamentals demanded at the Major League level. A new organizational-wide approach to hitting needs to be considered from the bottom up.
I'm curious. If including Derek Holland in any trade would be considered ludicrous, what is it exactly that you see in this young man's future that the rest of us are oblivious to?
-- Bruce F., Merrillville, Ind.
I wasn't referring to any trade in the previous Rangers Inbox, just one for Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Look, service time and length of contract are huge. Ellsbury can be a free agent after the 2013 season. Holland is signed for four more years. Holland just turned 26 and won 12 games this season despite missing a month because of the stomach virus. I'm not willing to give that up for a one-year outfielder with a history of physical issues.
What's the chance Atlanta will decline Brian McCann's option? And if they do, would the Rangers be interested?
-- Danny R., Gilmer, Texas
McCann, one of the best catchers in baseball, just underwent shoulder surgery and will need 4-6 months of recovery. The option is for $12 million. If the Braves decline it, the Rangers absolutely have to at least be interested and look at the medical reports, especially if McCann is willing to do a one-year deal and then re-enter the market while coming off a better season.
Jurickson Profar could have been such a spark for this team down the stretch. Why did Ron Washington not play the guy?
-- Kreg A., Bella Vista, Ark.
Washington is taking a beating on this one, so let me get this straight.
The Rangers entered September with the best record in the league, and all of a sudden Washington was supposed to insert a 19-year-old into the lineup every day at the expense of either Ian Kinsler or Elvis Andrus, two players who helped the Rangers get to consecutive World Series? Does that really seem right? Did people really see it that way, and did they really foresee that nine-game collapse at the very end?
By the way, Profar ended up 3-for-17 in September. Maybe playing him a few more games might have helped, but in hindsight, maybe the Rangers should have emptied the bank for Prince Fielder when they had a chance.
Given that the Rangers can expect Yu Darvish to build on this year and develop into a true No. 1 starter, can finally count on Holland to take the next step, and can expect Matt Harrison to repeat his success again, why don't the Rangers move Ogando back to the rotation and let Martin Perez develop as a starter as well? That seems like a more than formidable rotation to me.
-- Faaiz A., Plano, Texas
Me, too. But the Rangers want to add one more veteran starter, and they are definitely sizing up Zack Greinke. Ogando should be in the rotation, but the Rangers may see him as the eighth-inning guy.
Assuming that Hamilton is leaving, we will probably need an impact left handed bat. We also need a new catcher. Joe Mauer could do both, potentially, but is there any way the Twins would trade him without Profar or Mike Olt included in the package?
-- Spencer S., Salt Lake City, Utah
Mauer, who turns 30 in April, is due $23 million annually for the next six seasons and has a full no-trade clause. He would probably flourish at the Ballpark in Arlington but would likely end up moving to first base and DH in a few years. The Twins might be willing to explore a trade but wouldn't give him away. It would be worth the Rangers' time to look into it.
If the Rangers do not bring back Hamilton for next season, what do you think of the Rangers going to get B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn to play center?
-- Todd R. Paris, Texas
The Rangers definitely have interest in Upton's bat, although they may feel he is better at a corner spot than center. Upton hit 28 home runs this year with 31 stolen bases, but his .454 slugging percentage was his highest since 2007, and he struck out 169 times. With Upton you're going to get more of the same from the Rangers: big swing and big strikeouts. Bourn struck out 155 times and his .346 on-base percentage ranked 19th among players with at least 100 at-bats from the leadoff spot.
With all the talk of moving Kinsler to the outfield to accommodate Profar, is there another option? While not prototypical considering the current production, could Kinsler not move to first base?
-- Greg H., Amarillo, Texas
That idea definitely has merit, if you're willing to push aside Mitch Moreland. Kinsler might be able to transition to first base easier than he could the outfield.
If the Rangers do not sign Hamilton, there would seem to be a need for a power-hitting lefty in their lineup. Taking all options into account, wouldn't a package built around Holland for Mets first baseman Ike Davis be a good swap for the Rangers?
-- Joel S., Murphy, Texas
It's debatable whether Davis would be an upgrade over Moreland. Even if he is, there is no way he would be enough of an upgrade for the Rangers to give up Holland.
Everybody keeps praising this organization and crying about losing Hamilton's production. St. Louis lost Albert Pujols to free agency, Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter went down for most of the season with injuries, and their legendary manager retired. They are still playing for the NL title.
-- Dennis G., Sherman, Texas
To me, the most impressive thing about the Cardinals is much of their team is made up of homegrown players who were never "big-time" prospects. Their farm system had never been considered that great until just recently. But the Cardinals believed in their players, gave them the opportunity with a leap of faith and are reaping the benefits. There is a lesson in there somewhere.