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Will Pudge remain a Ranger?
MAILBAG: March 27
Q: Even if the Texas Rangers are in contention by the trade deadline, do you
think they will trade Ivan Rodriguez to try to bolster their rotation? Or will Tom Hicks shell out the required dinero to keep Pudge a Ranger? -- Jared Bondesson, Augusta, Ga.
One scenario would be Pudge and Kevin Mench to the Baltimore Orioles for Scott Erickson and Sidney Ponson, for instance. Now, Pudge wants to stay in Texas and I think will take less than what would appear to be his market value, but Jeff Moorad is going to drive a hard bargain. Hicks is one of the reigning hard-liners in the NHL, so he may change in baseball, too.
Q: Who is the front-runner for the NL Cy Young? Does Kevin Brown have a chance after his injury from last season? -- Frank Thorold, Ontario, Canada
Q: The Florida Marlins have a good core of young pitchers.
What do you think of Josh Beckett? Will he have a good rookie year
like Kerry Wood did for the Cubs? -- Fran,
Q: What does a mid-market team like the Houston Astros have to do to "get over the
hump" and seriously contend for the World Series? Cash cows like the New York Yankees
and Atlanta Braves have money injected into their teams by wealthy owners -- something
the Astros can't do. Is the first round of the playoffs the limit again this
year? -- Aakash Parekh, Austin, Texas
Q: Are the Chicago White Sox pitchers really this awful or does the Arizona
air affect pitching that much? The sad state of affairs with the pitching
staff seems to be all that's keeping the White Sox from winning the AL Central. Do you see them making any moves to improve? -- Mike, Chicago
Q: Has Jeff Shaw really retired? What team would not want all those saves?
I've heard he wants to go to a contender. Can any afford him or will he
take less to go to the Cincinnati Reds? -- Joe Genung, Reno, Nev.
Q: I see in ESPN The Magazine you picked the New York Mets to win the NL
East, yet on ESPN Insider you picked the Atlanta Braves and didn't even pick
the Mets for the wild card. Why the sudden change of heart? As a Mets fan I
demand a recount. -- Richard Lutz, Livingston, N.J.
Q: Has there ever been a rookie class with four third basemen as highly
regarded as Hank Blalock, Morgan Ensberg, Sean Burroughs and Eric Hinske? And what do you expect statistically from them in 2002? -- Mike Anderson, New York
Q: Who will win this year's Gold Glove in the American League at second base
since Roberto Alomar is in the National League? I see a couple of
possibilities in Luis Rivas and Jerry Hairston. -- Chris Kowalczyk,
Q: I'm a die-hard Orioles fan and have suffered over the years.
I'm not so foolish to think the Orioles can contend this year, but the
pitching has been fantastic and they have the best record in the AL this
spring. Is there reason to be optimistic? -- Bill Muhlenfeld, Bel Air, Md.
Q: Ozzie Smith was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. When it comes to fielding,
Omar Vizquel is probably the same caliber as the Wizard of Oz. Their batting
statistics are also similar; in fact, Vizquel is better in quite a few
categories. Why does no one consider Vizquel a future Hall of Famer? He is
arguably the best defensive shortstop ever. -- Tim Rychel, Ohio
Q: What are the Detroit Tigers' chances of being a serious factor
in the AL Central? -- Brad Lape, State College, Pa.
Q: I know that players in the lineup can change defensive positions during
the game. How about the DH spot? Specifically, could Jason Giambi at first
base switch with Nick Johnson at DH late in a game for defense? -- Ernie
Arvan, Port Chester, N.Y
Q: There has been lots of talk about the Kansas City Royals trading Mike
Sweeney. If they do, where do you see him going? Could the Braves or
Dodgers get into the mix? -- Tyler Smith, Fitzgerald, Ga.
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