Tagging along. 20 comments

It’s the off-season and I am always willing to let someone else do the heaving lifting. So, with that in mind, and totally without permission, here is yesterday’s Inbox Q&A from T. R. Sullivan on mlb.com, followed by my responses.

Have we gotten a feel about how manager Chris Woodward feels about the concept of “openers”?  
— Joe S., Garland, Texas

TRS: Woodward was asked about this at the Winter Meetings. The Rangers would obviously love to have a rotation like the Astros and Indians had last season, but not many Major League teams are that fortunate. The Rangers are less fortunate than most, so Woodward understands the need to be open-minded and creative when it comes to his pitching staff. He also knows there is data that supports the idea that many pitchers are effective for no more than two times through the lineup. But this whole idea of “openers” is still in the experimental stage, so there is no telling yet if it will become standard operating procedure or a passing fad.

KS: This is another example of how math is ruining baseball, how the baseball nerds are slave to the numbers to the detriment of the game. To think a pitcher cannot go through the lineup more than two times is absurd. History has proven what math is trying to erase. To pull out a dominating starter because the numbers tell you to even when the eyes say differently is foolish. I would rather have a starter on the mound who has been through the lineup twice or, heaven forbid, three times (gasp!) than most fresh relievers. They are relievers for a reason. You never pull out a dominating starter. Ever. Jeff Banister was totally baffled by the opener. It was apparent he was being told to use it and never seemed to quite get it. To me, the way to do it would be, if it’s already pre-determined that a starter can pitch only 100 pitches or six innings, and let’s face it that’s the way baseball is these days, then why not just flip the order of the pitchers? Let the relievers pitch the first three, then bring in the starter to finish it out?

Is there any possibility the Rangers would jump into the Manny Machado sweepstakes? If the price really is falling to the $175 million range, it feels like a major bargain, and he’d be an ideal fit in this lineup. 
— Mark M., Little Rock, Ark.

TRS: Machado would be a great fit in any lineup, but right now, the inside word from the Rangers is they are not in the Machado sweepstakes and have no plans of entering into it. That’s where it stands right now for Texas.

KS: I don’t expect them to but this is exactly the sort of thing I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened. Daniels would say, “We never intended to sign Machado but the market came back to us and we couldn’t pass it up.” My feelings on him are mixed. There is nobody better on this roster, and I doubt anyone better in the farm system. He would easily be the best Ranger for the duration of most of his contract, just like Adrian Beltre was throughout his contract. And all they have to give up for him is money, which they have tons of. But he is a punk. Yet, so is Odor. And Rangers fans seem to embrace Rougned. They would embrace Machado too. Because he’d be our punk. But he is apparently a clubhouse cancer. Oh, this is a tough one.

When do you see the Rangers adding a third baseman, or even a right-handed-hitting outfielder?
— Tony N., Waskom, Texas

TRS: The Rangers are determined to sign a veteran third baseman before their offseason work is over. Club sources have made that clear. Obviously, Mike Moustakas is the best third baseman on the free-agent market, but it seems like he will attract plenty of attention from serious contenders once Machado has made a decision. Once you get past Moustakas, the candidates are more utility-type players. Josh Harrison, Yangervis Solarte, and Marwin Gonzales are among the best of the bunch. Certainly, the Rangers are determined to add someone to go with rookie Patrick Wisdom.

KS: Moustakas makes the team better. If only that were what the front office was trying to do. Marwin Gonzalez is a super utility player who is a big improvement over Profar. Harrison and Solarte are interchangeable drill bits that add zero excitement but are going to be cheap. Which means one is going to be a Ranger.

When will Jose Trevino get his shot? I know he’s coming off an injury but there’s not a better defensive catcher in the system and he has definitely proved he’s a winner. 
— Jon B., Amarillo, Texas

TRS: Trevino has been getting after it this offseason and has been a regular member of the daily workouts at the Youth Academy in West Dallas. He is a talented defensive catcher but still could use more development offensively. Trevino has played in 151 games at Double-A Frisco over the past two years, hitting .239 with a .278 on-base percentage and a .326 slugging percentage. There is room for improvement.

KS: I am willing to bet he is part of a three-man catching corps the Rangers break camp with. Mathis simply cannot hit. Kiner-Falefa needs more seasoning.

I realize we are in a rebuilding time, but I would like to see the Rangers bring in a veteran right-handed bat on a two-year deal to bridge the gap for the up-and-coming outfielders.
— Greg K., Sunnyvale, Texas

TRS: The guy that seems to make a lot of sense would be Adam Jones, a right-handed-hitting, free-agent outfielder who can play all three positions and can be used at designated hitter. He could also provide some experience and leadership on a young, rebuilding team.

KS: Jones makes the Rangers better. He is a vast improvement offensively and defensively over Delino DeShields. If only the Rangers intention was improving.

What is general manager Jon Daniels’s thought process about signing pitchers that have had Tommy John surgery?
— Michael G., Dallas

TRS: It’s a signing that is often misleadingly labeled as a “low-risk, high-reward” proposition. Certainly, the financial outlay is not as significant as it would be for a healthy pitcher, and the hope is the pitcher will eventually be as good or better than he was before the surgery. The reality is, clubs and pitchers have had mixed results in coming back from the procedure.

KS: It took T. R. Sullivan 70 words to answer that. I can answer this question in ten words: Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap.

Any news on Josh Hamilton? Have the Rangers remained in contact with him? Any plans to put him in the Rangers Hall of Fame or maybe add to the staff as a special assistant to the general manager?
— Jimmie B., Sweetwater, Texas

TRS: At some point, Hamilton would be a strong candidate to be in the Rangers Hall of Fame. Right now, there is no indication of Hamilton looking into a front-office role in baseball.

KS: Even with one leg, Hamilton could be a strong candidate to be in the Rangers starting lineup.