Don't get me wrong, Elvis Andrus is great and I look forward to him being a Ranger for years to come. But it seems like everyone expects him to opt out of this contract at the four-year mark. The only reason for him not to would be if he had some kind of serious injury, in which case the Rangers would be stuck for four additional years at $15 million per year. How is the contract good for the Rangers?
-- Dan B., Redmond, Wash.
The benefit for the Rangers is obvious. Andrus was going to be a free agent after 2014. Now, Texas has him under contract through 2018, or an extra four years. But you are right. There is some risk for the Rangers if something significant were to happen Andrus or he did not develop into the player everybody expects him to be ... or goes into decline. The Rangers are making a significant bet that doesn't happen.
The Rangers and agent Scott Boras came up with a creative way to keep Andrus in Texas an extra four years through what should be prime seasons for him. But in doing so, Boras is astutely giving the Rangers much of the risk in this deal.
With the Rangers anxious to lock Elvis Andrus up to a longer-term deal, do you think the Rangers are waiting on the Rays or Marlins to put up David Price or Giancarlo Stanton on the trade block, so they can send a package of players led by Jurickson Profar?
-- Joel S., Murphy, Texas
If the Rangers can get either one of those two players for a package led by Profar, they will do it in the blink of an eye. Price can't be a free agent until after the 2015 season and Stanton until after '16, so neither player will be a rental. The Rays are trying to make the playoffs, though, so it's unlikely Price will be available until next offseason at the earliest.
Stanton? Well, the Marlins aren't off to a great start, so the Rangers will likely monitor their situation even though there is no room right now in the outfield. If a premier young power hitter like Stanton becomes available, there will be a long line of suitors waiting with prospects in hand.
So Nolan Ryan is staying with the Rangers. Is this thing really resolved or has the decision been delayed?
-- Louis B., Fort Worth, Texas
It's obvious that a lot of people want Ryan to stay with the Rangers, not only in the clubhouse, front office and ownership group, but perhaps other significant voices like Commissioner Selig and former President Bush. So all of this is going to come down what kind of role Ryan plays within the Rangers' hierarchy. Ryan simply wants to maintain an active role and not be reduced to a ceremonial feathered-nest position. The decision is all his, and at this point in his life, he can walk away comfortably from anything if he so desires.
Why was Derek Holland moved down to the fourth spot in the starting rotation? It doesn't make sense to me. Is Ron Washington sending a not so subtle message to Holland that he better be focused on pitching in 2013?
-- Tim K., Minneapolis
It's probably the reverse. The Rangers gave Holland the No. 4 spot, which means he was accorded the privilege of pitching the home opener. Texas had the flexibility of having Matt Harrison pitch both the season opener and the home opener on normal rest, but instead gave the second assignment to Holland. That suggests Washington is sending the message that the Rangers expect a big season out of Holland.
Look, the guy won 16 games in 2011. He won 12 last year, but probably would have at least reached the 16-win mark again if he hadn't missed five weeks because of the nasty stomach virus in June.
For all the hubris about Holland's many media appearances, some occasional zany antics and questionable hairstyle choices, the guy can pitch, and he is dedicated to being the best pitcher he possibly can be. He is like Harrison in that he wants it bad, and the Rangers know that. There are no subtle messages needed to be delivered.
With both David Murphy and Nelson Cruz both free agents after this year, Do you see the Rangers trying to sign both of them or just one?
-- Jim C., Arlington
There is no doubt that outfield will be a priority for the Rangers in the offseason, whether it means trading for someone like Stanton, convincing Ian Kinsler to move to left field or re-signing either Murphy or Cruz. Obviously, much will depend on what kind of year they have and what the market will bear. The Rangers should have interest in at least one of them, but if either one has another good season, they could be looking for a four-year deal from somebody.
Where have all the Rangers' top Draft picks gone? It seems like they've disappeared. There was not one first-round pick in training camp this year. Are they not drafting well at all?
-- Kim B., Tulsa, Okla.
The Rangers have nine players on their roster, including six pitchers, who were drafted by the club. Five of them were taken in later rounds: Craig Gentry (10th), Nick Tepesch (14th), Kinsler (17th), Mitch Moreland (17th) and Holland (25th). Justin Grimm and Michael Kirkman were fifth-round picks, while Tanner Scheppers was a supplemental first-round pick and Robbie Ross was a second-rounder.
So the Rangers are having some reasonably productive Drafts, and Tepesch could end up compensating for the club not being able to sign Matt Purke, its No. 1 pick from 2009. As far far as first-round picks, it's probably fair to say outfielders Jake Skole (2010) and Zach Cone ('11), catcher Kelly Deglan ('10) and pitcher Kevin Matthews ('11) have yet to take off. Skole, Cone and Deglan are at Class A Myrtle Beach, trying to prove they are ready to make the big jump to Double-A. Matthews is still in extended spring camp trying to recover from a shoulder setback. Their top two picks from 2012 -- outfielder Lewis Brinson and infielder Joey Gallo -- are off to good starts in their pro careers and could be poised to start moving quickly.
The Rangers didn't waste any time giving Hamilton's No. 32 to someone else (Nate Robertson), but Young's No. 10 hasn't been assigned to anyone. Does this "say anything" about the regard in which these two players are held by management? More specifically, could Young come back at some point and retire as a Ranger, wearing No. 10?
-- Sandy M., Dallas
The Rangers have had many great players throughout the years, but so many of them stayed a relatively short time and then left under clouded circumstances, it's hard to remember which uniform numbers were really that iconic. David Murphy is wearing Ivan Rodriguez's jersey number, so at this point among players, only Ryan's No. 34 has become untouchable.
No. 10 has been worn by both Young and Jim Sundberg. Not sure how to handle that one, but it seems that No. 10 has given more than sufficient service to the Rangers' cause and need not to be worn again by anybody.
Why has Julio Borbon received so little respect the last couple of years from the Rangers?
-- Will S., Plano, Texas
The big setback for Borbon was in 2011. He was playing semi-regularly when he went on the disabled list on May 13 with inflammation in his left hamstring. Borbon was actually playing well at the time. The Rangers called up veteran Endy Chavez from the Minors to replace him. Chavez ended up playing well enough for the Rangers to keep him. Borbon was left in the Minors and ended up sustaining a more serious ankle injury that ended his season.
Last year, it was a matter of the Rangers deciding to keep Gentry as their fourth outfielder and sending Borbon to Triple-A. Before the season was over, Leonys Martin had passed Borbon in the pecking order. Really, everything changed for Borbon in the Rangers' organization when they decided to stay with Chavez back in June 2011.
When a player signs a contract and has to take a physical, what does that involve? Is there something special the player has to do, or is it like you and me where the doctor asks you to read a chart, walk in a straight line, and turn your head and cough?
-- Steve C., Lewisville, Texas
There is much that is different beyond having to wait three months for an appointment, another 45 minutes once you get there just to see a physician's assistant and then being put on the fast track to get you out of there as quickly as possible.
Ever had an MRI in a routine physical? Me neither. That is the main thing, especially for pitchers. A physical involves hundreds of pictures being taken of every part of the body, especially the shoulder and the elbow, to make sure that everything works and the multimillion-dollar investment will pay off.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.