Do you see young left-handers Joe Palumbo and Brock Burke in Arlington sooner than later this year, and do you see Hans Crouse ready in 2020?
-- Walter N., Oklahoma City
Burke has made nine starts at Double-A in his young career and Palumbo has made just two. The idea that they will be big league ready this season seems to be begging for more issues when young pitchers are being rushed to the Majors. Crouse -- the Rangers' No. 1 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline; Palumbo is No. 7 and Burke is No. 9 -- has made just five starts at a full season Class A team, so the idea of him being ready for the big leagues next year is a much bigger stretch. Good starting pitching prospects need time to develop not one but three quality pitches. They need time to learn their craft, gain experience and build up arm strength and durability. It takes years, not months. The Rangers seem determined to change their philosophy and slow down the rush of young pitching through the system. They need to follow through on that.
How long until Shin-Soo Choo is traded to make room for Willie Calhoun to be the everyday DH?
-- Cory H., Dallas
Choo needs to be an everyday player on the Rangers. He is a strong leader in the clubhouse and a professional hitter in the lineup. Young players like Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor have learned from him in the past few years. Choo was huge in helping the Rangers get through a difficult 2018 season without the clubhouse falling apart. The idea of simply trading Choo never made much sense, and it is even more ludicrous now. He is an integral part of the Rangers, not a spare part.
Has Odor matured to the point where he can take on a stronger leadership position? It’s a catch-22 because he needs his play on the field to be better and consistent for vocal leadership to be taken seriously.
-- Stephen H., Bastrop, Texas
Odor plays the game hard, as much as any player on the team. If he plays the game smart -- which comes from experience -- then he could become one of the best second basemen in the game. The Rangers as currently constructed don’t need leadership from Odor. They need smart at-bats, consistent defense and the spark he can provide simply with his hard-nosed play.
The Rangers started last year with Delino DeShields leading off and Joey Gallo in the two-hole, with the idea of a steal threat mitigating shifting against Gallo. Think that's likely to happen again this season?
-- Matt D., Wellington, New Zealand
Here is a promise: the Rangers are going to try multiple lineups this season for multiple reasons, and the most compelling reason will be the health of their players. That dictates lineups on a daily basis more than anything. The best-laid lineup plans for the Rangers last season went into the recycle bin in less than a week when DeShields and Elvis Andrus went down with injuries. Right now, the Rangers want Odor in the No. 2 spot and Gallo in the middle of the order. That’s the philosophy today. Be ready for a new one tomorrow.
Why give up on Connor Sadzeck if he clears waivers?
-- Chris H., Arlington
The Rangers, by designating him for assignment, have 10 days to trade Sadzeck or get him through outright waivers so they can send him to Triple-A. If he clears waivers, they are not going to “give up” on him. But from what scouts said in Spring Training, Sadzeck will likely be claimed on waivers by a rebuilding team that can be patient with him. Remember Pedro Strop had his struggles with the Rangers, but flourished after being traded to the Orioles and then the Cubs.
What happened to the three players the Rangers acquired in the Cole Hamels trade with the Cubs?
-- Louis B., Fort Worth
Eddie Butler, who pitched in 22 games for the Rangers last year, is now in South Korea and pitcher Rollie Lacy went to the Rays in the multiteam Jurickson Profar trade this winter. Outfielder Alexander Ovalles, 18, is a good hitting prospect who spent last season in the Dominican Summer League.