Since Cody Ross recently signed with the Diamondbacks, which gives them a lot of outfield depth, does this give the Rangers another shot at trading for Justin Upton?
-- Patrick S. Kilgore, Texas
A trade with the D-backs does seem possible after their curious signing of Ross, a corner outfielder who does not appear to be an upgrade over any of their three outfielders: Upton, Gerardo Parra or Jason Kubel. The D-backs also have Adam Eaton, an excellent leadoff prospect. The D-backs were willing to trade Upton but wanted a front-line shortstop in return and the Rangers weren't willing to comply with Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar.
The D-backs may prefer to deal Kubel, a left-handed hitter who is signed for two more years after hitting .253 with 30 home runs and 90 RBIs. They could use help at third base if the Rangers are willing to part with Mike Olt. Arizona also might be willing to look at the Rangers' other middle-infield prospects, a highly desirable list that includes Leury Garcia, Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor. The D-backs, like any other team, could use more pitching, and Kubel would be a good addition for the Rangers.
What is the possibility of getting Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins? He seems like he could possibly be a young Josh Hamilton without all the baggage?
-- Aaron N. Abernathy, Texas
The Marlins have said they would "listen" on Stanton. If so, the Rangers should be calling and asking about him. The Rangers also should not be afraid to talk about Profar, Olt or any other player in their system. Stanton is an impact offensive bat, he is 23 years old and he won't be a free agent until after the 2016 season.
The Marlins are going to demand a substantial return and the Rangers need to be as aggressive as possible. Stanton, if the Marlins are really willing to trade him, is the one player who could make a serious difference for the Rangers both now and in the future.
Do the Rangers not think Kyle Lohse would be a great fit for the rotation?
-- Ben F. Georgetown, Texas
Lohse was 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA for the Cardinals last season, so he would be perceived as a great fit in anybody's rotation. He also is 34 and has just five seasons of at least 10 wins. He has also had a winning record in five of 12 seasons in the Majors. In only three of 12 seasons has he had a WHIP of under 1.3. So the issue is if a club is willing to pay him like a No. 1 starter over 4-5 years as his agent Scott Boras expects.
The kind of contract that pitchers like Lohse command on the free-agent market is why the Rangers need to develop their own pitching. They keep saying that's their intent, so this is a situation that really tests their commitment.
Why isn't Lance Berkman on top of the list of free agents to pursue?
-- Chuck B. Richardson, Texas
Because he is 36, played in just 32 games for the Cardinals this past season due to injuries and is coming off knee surgery. Otherwise he would be great for what the Rangers need, a switch-hitter with power who can play first base and one of the corner-outfield spots. He is considered a much better left-handed hitter, which would still work for the Rangers if he is physically able to play the field. The guy has always been a winning player as the Rangers know firsthand.
The last few years we have heard how great the Rangers clubhouse is and how much fun it has been to play with this team. My question is, why does it seem like every player then is signing with other teams?
-- Dean R. McKinney, Texas
The Rangers really wanted pitcher Zack Greinke. He was No. 1 on their list and they did everything they could to sign him. That was the biggest setback of the offseason. Next was Hamilton and the Rangers thought they were willing to make the biggest commitment to him until the Angels blindsided them at the end.
As far as some of these other free agents, the Rangers' interest may not have been as high as portrayed in the media. Pitcher Edwin Jackson seems to be a good example of a free agent who -- for good reason -- was not as coveted by the Rangers as others perceived. If the Rangers really want a free agent, they still stand a very good chance of getting one as long as the money is right. They just happened to have back-to-back setbacks with Greinke and Hamilton.
Might the Rangers be interested in Rick Porcello? He's still quite young and his extreme ground-ball tendencies might play better with the Rangers' infield behind him rather than the more range-challenged crew they have assembled in Detroit.
-- Matt E. Union Valley, Okla.
Something is challenging Porcello because he allowed 226 hits in 176 1/3 innings last year, the most hits allowed in the American League. He also had just 107 strikeouts. Porcello, 24, had a nice rookie season in 2009 after being rushed to the big leagues but has been a below-average starter for the past three years.
Word is the Yankees are possibly considering trading Robinson Cano for a front-end starting pitcher, a second baseman, and maybe a prospect or two. Would the Rangers be interesting in trading Ian Kinsler or Andrus and Derek Holland or Matt Harrison along with some prospects for a proven left-handed batting star? Not to mention he would be a great fit in this clubhouse.
-- Jacob P. Austin, Texas
Cano is the best second baseman in the American League but can be a free agent after this season. Kinsler is one of the top three second basemen in the league -- along with Boston's Dustin Pedroia -- and is signed for five years. Cano may be an upgrade over Kinsler but under no circumstances is that upgrade worth a front-line starting pitcher plus "some prospects." The Rangers had their chance at Cano nine years ago and missed.
Why did the Rangers not try to keep Ryan Dempster or Koji Uehara?
-- Claudene C. Big Spring, Texas
The Rangers wanted Uehara back but were waiting to see what would happen with Greinke and Hamilton. While they were waiting, the Red Sox signed Uehara. The Rangers liked Dempster but a 5.09 ERA in 12 starts after being acquired from the Cubs kept Texas from considering a multi-year contract. Dempster also appeared ready to move on.
I for the life of me can't figure out why the Rangers wouldn't try to sign Raul Ibanez. He seems to be a low-risk, high-reward type of free agent. He would be a good left-handed bat off the bench and also an extra outfielder.
-- Sean L. Amarillo, Texas
Ibanez, 40, is a high-character player who has had a terrific career, but at this point he is most likely a platoon DH and a below-average outfielder. It's hard to fit a guy onto a roster that calls for a 12-man pitching staff and a four-man bench. If the Rangers are going to have a DH-only player, like Vladimir Guerrero in 2010, he needs to be able to hit both lefties and righties.
Can this club really afford to lean on its starting rotation, especially in our ballpark? Clubs are supposed to build to their strengths at home, and at this point, it'd seem to me we need more firepower in our lineup.
-- Pablo G. Irving, Texas
The Rangers need starting pitching that is better than the opponents' starting pitching. It doesn't matter what the venue or the final statistics, the Rangers need the edge in the single most important factor in deciding who wins a baseball game. The Rangers believe their rotation of Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Holland and Harrison is going to be one of the best in the American League. The Rangers need it that way but they certainly could use more firepower.
If the Astros sign Roger Clemens to a one-year contract for 2013, what about bringing back Nolan Ryan for an exhibition matchup? I heard that Nolan can still bring some heat if he wanted to and that he still has a pretty decent breaking pitch after all these years. Any truth to that?
-- Ralph H. Beeville, Texas
No. But Ryan did see the success that R.A. Dickey had with the knuckleball and is considering the possibility of Charlie Hough mentoring him as well. Ryan, 65, could make a comeback as a knuckleball pitcher, racking up another 1,000 strikeouts and a couple more no-hitters. Much will depend on what Congress does with Medicare and if Jim Sundberg is willing to come out of retirement to catch him. Ryan will insist on Sundberg as his personal catcher.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.