Tagging Along 3. 16 comments

Once again, T. R. Sullivan answers Rangers’ fans mail on mlb.com, and once again, without permission, I add my two-cents worth.

I can honestly see this team surprising a lot of people. The rotation, if they’re close to what they were before injuries, can be great. That being said, if the Rangers are in contention at the break, do you see Jon Daniels breaking from the “rebuild” to acquire quality players?
— Nick M., El Paso

TRS: Daniels said at FanFest last weekend that if the Rangers were in contention this summer, the club would consider just the trade that you suggest. Here is the problem: is the club competing for a postseason spot or a World Series title? If it is just a postseason spot, the Rangers may end up trading crucial prospects for a short-term fix. That’s what happened in 2016, when the club traded for Johnathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran. If they are in a true rebuild, as the Rangers seem to be, the best course may be to hold off until they are sure the World Series is a realistic goal.

KS: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times in the past five seasons… Sorry, I am not falling for that again. This team is worse heading into the season than last year’s team was. Could it surprise people? Of course. Anything is possible. But I am not buying it.We were told at the beginning of 2018 that this team was in it to win it, and they did: 65 67 whole times. The Rangers are not a lock for last-place only because Seattle threw in the towel.

If Willie Calhoun, a left-handed hitter, makes the 25-man, what role would he have on the team? It seems Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara (both left-handed hitters) have the outfield corners locked down and Shin-Soo Choo, another left-handed hitter, is locked in at DH. Will Calhoun remain in Triple-A working on his defense for the entire season?
— Alex W., Austin

TRS: Willie Calhoun, meet David Murphy. Rangers fans know Murphy because he was a left-handed-hitting outfielder who would show up every spring without a spot in the starting lineup and wonder how much playing time he would get. But Murphy learned quickly that what seems like will happen coming out of Spring Training is nowhere near what actually happens in the regular season. From 2008-13, Murphy, despite not having an obvious role, had between 404-457 at-bats every year and was an integral part of the best teams in Rangers history. The bottom line is if Calhoun is ready to be a productive player in the big leagues, the Rangers will have a spot for him.

KS: I miss David Murphy. All he seemed to do was come through. But I digress. This is Calhoun’s make or break year. If he’s back at Triple-A for another season, that will speak volumes for his major league talent. And if so, if he ever does break into the major leagues, chances are it won’t be with the Rangers. This offense is going to be bad. If he’s not good enough to break into it, yikes.

Which buy-low free agents from this offseason would you peg to turn things around and warrant a decent return at the Trade Deadline?
— Jonathan R., McKinney, Texas

TRS: Shelby Miller. He is a former All-Star pitcher with the Braves who can dominate if everything is flowing well. He is in the final process of recovering from Tommy John surgery, so there is still some uncertainty. You would also like to think the Rangers signed these guys to compete rather than to trade. But of all the pitchers the club has acquired this offseason, Miller would seem to have the highest resale value if it comes to that.

KS: It’s a crap shoot, really. Mike Minor was a nice surprise last year. The Rangers have three starters in the same boat, coming off injury and not sure which way they will go. I’ll go out on a limb and say newly acquired corner infielder/sometimes reliever Matt Davidson. Let’s not forget that Andrew Cashner was the Mike Minor of 2017. And his 2018 regressed, going 4-15 with a 5.29 ERA. That could also happen to Minor.

What are the chances we go after a Chris Sale or Justin Verlander type of pitcher in 2020?
— Brady S., Seminole, Texas

TRS: That would likely depend on how the Rangers do this year. If they have a strong season and show they are close to being in contention again, that would increase the chances of the Rangers getting involved in a top-of-the-market free-agent pitcher.

KS: I wasn’t aware that either pitcher has had Tommy John surgery.

Would the Rangers give Craig Gentry another try?
— Jennifer P., Des Moines, Iowa

TRS: Gentry is a nice weapon to have off the bench because of his terrific speed and defense. With Scott Heineman down for the first month of the season, Gentry might be somebody the Rangers would consider on a Minor League contract. The obstacle is they already have a similar player in Carlos Tocci. But the Rangers are in the market for outfield depth.

KS: Ol’ Kitten Face. At least he would give the female fans something to look at during this long, grueling season. I was at a Spring Training game where Gentry hit two home runs. That tells you all you need to know about the worth of Spring Training stats. And why did Sullivan have to remind us about Carlos Tocci?