Hello, everyone. I'm here in Surprise, Ariz., where the weather is great and everyone is excited. Many players are already here and more will arrive tomorrow.
Hi Richard, do you think that Tommy Hunter was a fluke last year? It seemed like he came out of no where.
No, I don't think it was a fluke. He took his lumps in 2008, learned from them, and applied that to 2009. He admitted that he got a little tired late in the season and has altered his offseason workouts a bit to compensate. But he has good stuff and a solid mental makeup. I look for a good year out of him in 2010.
Hello, which Ranger do you think is most likely to disappoint fans this year: Vlad, Feldman, Rich Harden, or Neftali Feliz?
That's a positive question to start the spring, but I understand fans want to be prepared for disappointment.I'll go with Feldman. And that's not to say he's going to have a bad year. But I think 2009 was a career year for him. He'll be solid this year, in my opinion, but don't expect 17 wins.
Hey Rich, do you think that Josh Hamilton will bounce back this year or is he just always going to be hurt?
I think he'll bounce back. I believe that last year is behind him. I don't think we'll see the 2008 Hamilton again. That was just a special year. But I do think it was not a fluke. He's better than he showed last season. I think we'll see a guy in between those two years.
Ian Kinsler: Better year or worse year?
Better. My bet is he actually hits for less power, but has a better average and more RBIs.
Where do you expect to see Feliz to begin the year - starter? middle relief? closer? or minors?
I still say he'll be in the bullpen. He can be used in a variety of spots there as a multi-inning guy. That's not to say he won't get a chance to start at some point in 2010. But if I had to decide now, I'll say he starts the season in the pen.
Is it too simplistic to say that part of Ian Kinsler's troubles in popping up so often last year was just a matter of dropping his back shoulder? If that was indeed the problem, isn't it easily fixed?
I think it was more than that. But I do think he's working hard to get everything corrected. He'll be ready.
Have you had a chance to see Martin Perez yet? A lot of Santana comparisons I'm hearing and he's only 18!
I haven't. I can't wait to see him.
Hi there, what can we expect from Elvis Andrus in his sophmore year? More power? Higher batting average?
I don't think more power. To be honest, I think the Rangers would love it if he does what he did last year. He hit for solid average -- .269 -- at the bottom of the order and had plenty of speed. He should only improve in his overall game, but don't expect a whole lot more at the plate. That's just my opinion.
C.J. Wilson: Starter or reliever?
I still say reliever. But he will certainly get his chance. He was given Vicente Padilla's locker today, so maybe he's getting true starter consideration. I know he wants to start. And the club would like a lefty in the rotation. I still think Derek Holland enters camp as the leader in the clubhouse for that spot, but we'll have to see. I can't wait to see how Wilson looks.
You ever been in a Turkish prison?
Richard, Say that the Rangers are in considerate spot for a good playoff push, they are 5 games up in the AL West and look to be a player away from a championship run. Whichi all the loaded talent and in all honesty it will be hard for the Rangers to sign them all and get them to the big league level. A trade would be great. Where do you see the Rangers looking, who would they be interested in at this time?
That's very difficult to say months ahead of time. But I can tell you that if new ownership is in place, as expected, the money will be there to make a deal if necessary. We'll just have to wait and see what that deal might be. But the Rangers have plenty of assets and could make a move.
Richard, will you please come on the Ben and Skin Show today at 1:25 to discussing baseballing in America?
I will. I'll talk to you then.
Do you expect Chris Davis to limit the strikeouts this season or is it going to be same ol' story?
I think he'll limit them. And, to be honest, if he doesn't, Justin Smoak is waiting in the wings. Remember, Davis was much better about that late last season. There's no reason why that won't carry over to 2010.
Do you think Derek Holland is the most important player to his team's success in the AL West?
I don't know if I'd go that far. But I think he's important. I think this is a big spring for him. He's got major competition for a starting job and wants it badly. I think he's got the makeup to seize it, but he has to do it now. That will be fun to watch.
Do you believe the Rangers win the division with 87 wins?
Wow. That's tough. I'm going to say it will take 89 wins. But it's tough to say. 87 sure wasn't enough last year.
What can we expect from Josh Hamilton this year - have you heard much about his off-season?
I talked to him last month and he sounded very positive and ready to get going. He said he's gone back to his old swing and is now comfortable with it. Going from the revamped swing to his old one in 2009 wasn't easy for him. He's in a good frame of mind as spring starts. Let me put it to you this way: I'll be looking to draft him in my fantasy league and I know others won't.
Is Salty fully recovered from his injury that ended his season?
Check out the ESPNDallas.com Rangers blog, but Salty is progressing fine. He's supposed to throw to bases today for the first time.
Do you think Bourbon can steal 40 bases this season? And do they track a player's speed from 1st to 2nd when stealing a base? If so, what's his time?
It is tracked, but I don't know the time. I'll see if I can find out. Sure, Borbon is capable. But to do that, he has to get on base. He'll be the leadoff hitter, so that will be his job. He's got the speed to do it. It's what makes him so dangerous.
I'm pretty familiar with the opinions of local Rangers fans' on their expectations for this upcoming season, a Wild Card contender and hopefully in the hunt for a division title as well. But from what you've seen and heard, what's the collective expectations around the league on the expectations for the Rangers this season?
I think the collective expectations are for a good season. But the AL West will be tough. It seems that everyone around baseball understands that. The MLB folks I've talked to were impressed with what the Rangers did this offseason.
Hi,What are the chances of us bargain hunting the remaining free agents. Have there been any talks with the remaining Starters?
Daniels will always look at those options. But nothing appears imminent.
Taylor Teagarden says he is in the best shape of his life coming into spring training. How much do you think he will push Salty for the starting catcher job?
I think he'll push him. Taylor is focused and wants that job too. That's going to be a lot of fun to watch.
What do you think the odds are that Rich Harden can pitch over 200 innings this season?
If you go by his history, the odds aren't great. But I do think he comes in healthy now and wants to show he can be durable. That helps the Rangers. So I think he's got a good chance.
I named my english bulldog Kinsler after ian kinsler of course (pure awesomness i know). i would be devestated if he got traded. tell me he's a ranger for life.
Wow. I'll let Ian know. I think he'll be here for a long time. But this is a business. You just never know.
Who do you think will produce better numbers this year: Tommy Hunter or Derek Holland?
I'll say Hunter. But I bet both do well.
Also, when do you expect to see the shining star of Tanner Scheppers on the hill in Arlington?
Good question. I don't know. I hear he's got great stuff and is pushing his way. But the club won't rush him, either. He's another one to watch this spring.
with the addidtions of vladi a more experienced chris davis, nelson cruz, and possibly smoak coming up if he stays hot, i see the rangers offense doing better than they did in 2008. do you see the same potential?
They have the potential. They should certainly be better than 2009. But that was a good offense in 2008. We'll just have to see.
So much optimism, but a lot of questions as well!!! Does Matt Harrison have a strong shot at being the fifth starter? We need a lefty in the rotation and reports were out earlier in the offseason that Harrison had gained more speed on his fastball... 96-97... Is that true?
I'm not sure on the speed. He hasn't thrown out here yet. But they do want a lefty, giving him a good chance.
How many wins will we get this season Richard and how scared should I be of the Mariners this year?
I'm not going to predict wins yet. I always like to see spring training first. You should be scared of the Mariners. They had a great offseason and are primed to do well.
If Holland does not make the rotation, is he headed to AAA or the bullpen?
Good question. I think I'd send him to Triple-A to stay as a starter and get some experience if that happens. But he could certainly do either.
Not really a question, just a comment. I cant remember the last time I was this excited about the Rangers future!!
I hear you, Mark. It should be a good season.
Do you think the Rangers outfield defense of Cruz in right, Borbon in center, and Hamilton in left is better or worse than Cruz in right, Byrd/Hamilton in center, and Murphy in left?
I don't know. Borbon is the unknown. It's one reason they signed Chavez. But we don't know how good Borbon will be on defense in 2010. Some of those answers should come this spring.
Will I have an impact in Tampa??
I'm pulling for you. But I don't know. I know you needed to get some rehab done. I hope you're healthy.
Let's say Smoak tears it up in AAA, and forces the Rangers' hand to call him up. What's the plan then? Davis to DH? Or Davis to 3B and Young to DH?
What do you do with Vlad Guerrero at that point? If you mean the future, maybe. The other possibility is that one of them gets traded. It's all about acquiring assets and then doing what you need to with them. We'll see.
Do you think Vlad will be a one and done deal? I see Smoak taking over first base and Davis DHing next year...or vice versa (although I don't like having a young hitter DH).
That's possible and I would think it likely. But that depends on Vlad and how this team does in 2010.
Thanks for all of the questions. There were some I didn't get to. So, let's plan on doing this again early next week. I'll get with the ESPN Dallas staff and set something up for Monday or Tuesday. Thanks.