Inbox: Will Andrus move to third base in 2020?

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers questions from Rangers fans

October 21st, 2019

ARLINGTON -- We’ll be back again next Monday. I apologize for not getting to every question, but you can submit them via email at [email protected].

Over the past 5-10 years, the Rangers' system has not seemed to produce high-quality pitchers at the big league level. Is this an issue with scouting, drafting or developing these pitchers? It seems though we are greatly lagging behind the majority of other organizations.
-- Clayton A., Henderson, Texas

Lagging behind who? The two teams going to the World Series? The Astros' top three starters -- Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke -- were acquired by trade. Wade Miley, a 14-game winner and free-agent acquisition, had a combined 5.48 ERA in 2016-17. The Nationals signed Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin and Aníbal Sánchez as free agents. Stephen Strasburg is their own, the No. 1 overall pick in the '09 Draft. Sánchez’s ERA in '16-17 was 6.09, even worse than Miley.

Who does a good job developing pitching? Guess you would have say the Mets and Indians. It’s hard. The Rangers have made their mistakes -- like selecting Dillon Tate with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 Draft. Rushing some pitchers before they were ready -- Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez among others -- didn’t help. Injuries and trades certainly took their toll.

Look at the best rotation in Rangers history, the one from 2011. C.J. Wilson was a converted reliever who many doubted could make the switch to a starter. Colby Lewis was a Major League washout who signed as an unheralded free agent after two good years in Japan. Alexi Ogando was successful after being acquired due to brilliant scouting through the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, but only after missing four years because of suspension. Derek Holland and Matt Harrison combined for 30 wins in '11. They had 15 wins total between them over '10-11. Harrison wasn’t even on the postseason roster in '10.

In 2011, there were 42 American League pitchers who threw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. This year, there were 22, including Lance Lynn and Mike Minor. The point in all of this is that it is getting tougher for almost every club to develop its own pitching. Sometimes you have to get lucky or overpay either through trade or the free-agent market. Not sure the Rangers are lagging as much as having the same issues as other clubs including the Mariners, Angels and A's.

Elvis Andrus will be 31 next year. Is there any thought of moving him to third base? Could they find a shortstop if they don't get Anthony Rendon or Josh Donaldson? Is there a thought that the new surface will be harder on the player's legs that might encourage the Rangers to move him to third?
-- Andrew J., Arlington

The Rangers have several shortcomings to address, but the idea that Andrus is one of them seems off-base. He did not have his best season in 2019, but Texas doesn't have a shortstop ready in the system, and the best available free agents seem to be Didi Gregorius and José Iglesias. If the Rangers can solve first and third base, and Rougned Odor has a good season in '20, they’ll be fine at shortstop. They have been for 11 years.

Would Hunter Pence consider a Minor League (or Major League) coaching position with the Rangers, and would Texas consider him for a position?
-- Jimmy D., Johnston City, Ill.

Pence is not ready to hang it up. He has every intention of playing next season, either with Texas or somewhere else.

Is Jeff Mathis that good in handling the pitchers? When he was batting ninth, that was an automatic out. We might have been better off letting the pitchers hit and using a designated hitter for Mathis. I know he is signed for next season. Is there any chance they pick up another catcher to go with Jose Trevino next season?
-- Ray C., Dallas

Yes, Mathis is excellent at working with pitchers. Yes, his offense was pretty bad this season. He is the first to admit it. After watching the postseason, it’s easy to wonder if the Yankees would have been better off behind the plate with Mathis instead of Gary Sánchez, who can hit, but is challenged defensively. The Rangers will sign one or two veteran free-agent catchers this offseason to provide competition, but personally, I say let it ride with Trevino and Mathis as his mentor.

Right-hander Demarcus Evans is not on the Rangers' Top 30 [Prospects] list. What is his potential?
-- Larry P., Sherman, Texas

Evans and Joe Barlow are two outstanding Minor League relievers who were right behind Emmanuel Clase. They should be added to the 40-man roster this offseason and compete for a spot in Spring Training.

I keep hearing about the roof [at Globe Life Field] being closed because of the heat and a threshold of around 85 degrees. Is there a threshold for how cold it has to be for the roof to be closed?
-- Christopher G., Flower Mound, Texas

The Brewers close the roof at Miller Park when it gets below 65 degrees. There will be some trial-and-error with Globe Life Field as the Rangers get more familiar with the actual playing conditions, but I doubt low temperatures will be a factor before October.