I've been hearing rumors that Mike Minor is being shopped around. Please explain why the Rangers would do this when the rotation is as thin as it's ever been in recent years.
-- Wade W., Montgomery, Ala.
It would seem folly to entertain the idea of trading Minor, given all the work the Rangers did restoring him into an effective starting pitcher again last season. He also has two years left on his contract. But the simple fact is the Rangers lost 95 games, and all things must be considered.
The Mariners picked up three good young players in exchange for James Paxton, so a similar deal by the Rangers would be a substantial boost to their rebuilding efforts.
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When are the Rangers going to figure out that the problem is not the manager?
-- Larry C., Summerfield, La.
The Rangers have gone through some serious soul-searching this winter, evidence they recognize there is much that could be improved within the organization. That said, the Rangers are still an organization that tends to make changes in the field staff far more quickly than they do the front office. That not only includes the manager, but the coaching staff.
There seemed to be a certain amount of rejoicing on the internet when pitching coach Doug Brocail was replaced earlier this month. But the idea that Brocail bears primary responsibility for the Rangers' pitching problems is absolutely absurd. The Rangers' pitching issues run much deeper than that.
I'm very intrigued by the hiring of pitching coach Julio Rangel. What made him stand out as the right fit above everyone else?
-- Andrew A., Fort Worth
Rangel has never worked at the Major League level, but has a strong background in player development within the pitching-rich Indians organization. He also impressed during the interview process.
Look, there aren't that many secrets in this industry, and a lot of it comes down to how well a coach can connect personally with his players. Rangel appears to have a strong track record of working with young pitchers, which must appeal to the Rangers.
• Rangers name Rangel new pitching coach
With this new ballpark coming in 2020, should Rangers fans expect to see more pitching free agents having interest coming here with no more heat and a possible pitching advantage?
-- Brady W., Waxahachie, Texas
Yes. One prominent agent told me that the Rangers are going to be a destination franchise when Globe Life Field opens in 2020. There is much discussion about whether it will have natural grass or some kind of artificial surface. The bigger question, though, would seem to be whether the new park will favor pitchers or hitters, a factor that likely won't be determinable until games are played there. But the new facility will certainly be more attractive to free-agent pitchers because of the retractable roof and climate control.
Doesn't it seem like the Rangers could build a great army of starting pitchers with smaller low-risk, high-reward types, like Edwin Jackson and Clay Buchholz, and then maybe sign someone bigger?
-- Tate S., Kansas City, Mo.
The A's won 97 games this past season while doing a phenomenal job of piecing together their starting rotation. They used 15 different starters and only one made more than 20 starts. Jackson was one of those guys, along with Brett Anderson, Mike Fiers, Trevor Cahill and others. It is not an ideal way to win -- having a rotation like the Astros and Indians is strongly preferable. However, more often than not, the big-ticket free-agent pitchers don't work out the way teams hope.
Given how thin the rotation is at the moment, is the plan just to fill in with free agents that eat innings or are rentals that could be flipped at the deadline (like Sonny Gray) being considered?
-- Alex W., Austin
If the guy has "pitcher" stamped on the front of his bubble gum card, the Rangers must consider him. The "innings eaters" have appeal because they could buy time while the Rangers' pitching prospects continue their Minor League development. But what the Rangers really need is to find some "sleeper" bargains. MLB.com reporter Andrew Simon had an interesting list of candidates in this story.
Does the Jeff Mathis signing mean we will see Jose Trevino in the big leagues all year learning from a solid veteran?
-- Tyler T., Norman, Okla.
Both Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa could benefit greatly from being around Mathis this year. But Mathis hasn't been viewed as an everyday catcher in a long time. A 14-year veteran, he hasn't started more than 81 games in a season since 2008. The Rangers are likely going to need at least one more veteran catcher to share the load.