What has stood out to you about Chris Woodward’s management style?
-- Bobby W.
He is not shy about communicating with his players and using analytics to challenge conventional thinking. The Rangers have a multi-purpose room at their complex and it is getting heavy usage with all of the team meetings. The hitters alone have at least three one-hour group meetings a week. Woodward also said the hitters and pitchers will meet as a group before every game this season rather than before every series. He is a strong believer in messages being reinforced daily and mistakes being corrected immediately. Overall this has been a positive camp for the Rangers, but they are still undefeated. A real reading of any new manager’s style will evolve once the regular season begins.
Why haven’t we heard anything about the possibility of signing Dallas Keuchel?
-- Eran S., Arlington, Texas
Clearly his asking price is far beyond what the Rangers are willing to pay, and they appear satisfied with a rotation of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Edinson Volquez, Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller. There certainly should be a greater demand for Keuchel as he would be an upgrade for any rotation.
How do the Rangers plan to tackle the shift? With the left-handed heavy lineup and extreme pull hitters in Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara, and Joey Gallo, how are we going to change our hitting approach to get teams to move fielders back to the left side of the infield?
-- John R., Surprise, Ariz.
Not by having Gallo attempting to drop more bunts, that’s for sure. Look, the Rangers have spent much time talking to their hitters about using “the big part of the field” this spring, and the fact that Odor has a couple of opposite-field home runs indicates that somebody is paying attention, at least in Spring Training. But clearly they have heard much of this before – previous hitting coaches were not naive to the situation -- and it comes down to following through with it during the regular season.
What are the upsides and downsides if Hunter Pence makes the team?
-- Joe Don S., Itasca, Texas
The upside is having a veteran right-handed hitter giving your lineup some balance. The downside is it likely means Willie Calhoun and Carlos Tocci will have to wait their turn at Triple-A Nashville. That won’t be the worst thing for Tocci, but guys like Calhoun and third baseman Patrick Wisdom have little left to prove at Triple-A.
With all of the relief signings this offseason to remake the bullpen, is there any of those in danger of not making Opening Day roster? With Connor Sadzeck and Jordan Romano needing to be on the roster, could an offseason signing be traded to keep room for one or both of them?
-- Robert L., Fort Worth
The Rangers should have room for at least one of either Sadzeck or Romano to make the team, and they could keep both in an eight-man bullpen. Both will have to pitch their way on to the team as so far they have had mixed results in camp and Cactus League games.
Needing to find out about a few young guys in a rebuilding season, why would the Rangers not at least have one of either Ariel Jurado or Yohander Mendez start the year in the rotation instead of say Smyly or Volquez?
-- James E., Burleson, Texas
The Rangers found out last year that Mendez and Jurado just aren’t ready for the big leagues. If the club doesn’t contend this year, the best thing this veteran rotation can do is stay healthy and eat up innings, so the organization can stop rushing its young pitchers into the big leagues. That unproductive cycle needs to desist.
What’s the likelihood the Rangers add a catcher, through waiver claim or via trade, by the time they break camp? And if it is likely, would they add to the Major League roster or add Triple-A depth?
-- Mike W., St. Louis
Yeah, that will be an interesting call at the end of Spring Training as the Rangers debate whether Isiah Kiner-Falefa is ready to take on a bigger role as a backup catcher. If they decide that Kiner-Falefa needs more time in the Minor Leagues, then the focus switches to Jett Bandy or Tony Sanchez as potential backups to Jeff Mathis. If that is the case, the Rangers will weigh all their options including a possible upgrade from outside the organization.