Hello, everyone. It's time to talk Rangers. The club sits in first place in the AL West with everybody -- even players that no one thought would be in the lineup as often as they have been -- making contributions.
Rangers seem to be in pretty good shape with half their team on the DL. How much will the re-additions of Beltre and Harrison help?
They'll help tremendously. There's no question we've seen some of this Rangers character early in this season. But how long can guys like Josh Wilson, Donnie Murphy and Kevin Kouzmanoff keep this up? I don't know. But I do know that they've gotten a ton from those guys and will need more of that this season. That's still not the same as having Adrian Beltre in the lineup. Just like the pitching staff is better when Matt Harrison -- a healthy Matt Harrison -- is out there.
Is Prince struggle real or small sample?
Small sample. And if you dig a little into his at-bats the last 5 games or so, I think you'll see better contact and more confidence. He's going to have a week or two coming up that's red hot. I just don't see how he can't. Yes, I feel like I've said that for weeks, but he's got a track record. Trust that over a three weeks of struggles.
Hi Richard, do you see the Rangers skipping a start here and there for either Colby or Matt to keep them fresher down the stretch?
Either that or utilizing the days off to get them extra time. Or maybe both. They're going to be careful with both of them understanding that they're coming back from injury and surgery.
Hello Richard, how is Soria effective without throwing hard and can he keep this up for the rest of the year?
He's a veteran who understands where he has to locate the ball. He trusts his defense and he finds a way to make pitches at key moments. I do get concerned that when he needs a strikeout, he's not a strikeout guy. And that's odd in a closer. But he knows how to get the final three outs.
Richard, bringing my son to Globe Life for the first time and wanted to get him an autograph and was wondering if Autograph Wednesdays was his best chance?
It's a good chance. We don't know who is signing until next week, but the have tables set up in the concourse and you can get in line and get one. Also, get near the home dugout during BP. This group of Rangers are really good about signing autographs.
Hello Richard, how do you like the development of Choice and Martin so far this season?
It's been solid. Choice is still getting used to life in the big leagues and he's not playing every day, which is a challenge. But how about the job he did stepping in for Shin-Soo Choo in the leadoff spot for two games in Oakland? Martin has been up and down at the plate, but I think that will steady itself. He's become a much better bunter and a more versatile guy in the lineup. Those are two guys with bright futures in this Rangers OF.
Do you think Profar has a chance of coming back first week of June?
Too soon to tell. The timetable remains June, but they won't get any more specific than that yet.
Hi Richard, The Rangers find themselves with the best record in the A.L. and all this with injuries to their lineup and rotation. Who have been the most outstanding players so far this season ?
Could be a lengthy list. Martin Perez has been fantastic and with all the pitching injuries, to have a guy step up as a No. 2 to Darvish is big for this team. The super subs of Wilson, Murphy and Kouzmanoff are big. Don't forget Robinson Chirinos. The catchers haven't done much at the plate, but he's been great with this staff.
When does the Texas Rangers face the New York Mets & Where?
July 4-6 in New York.
Is there any chance any of the subs at the moment could "Wally pip" any of the starters?
No. Profar goes back in when he's ready. But it gives manager Ron Washington a good idea of what he has on that bench.
Durrett, why am I not hearing more praise of Wash given where the Rangers are nearing the end of April considering our off-season losses last year and the dismal injury situation. Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen much focus from the media about the job Wash is doing. I think he is under-appreciated as a manager.
He's got to be manager of the year so far in the AL, right? And this front office has been tremendous too in bringing these players in. But you're right: Washington has been terrific. He's made good strategy calls in games, he's put players in the right spots and his lineup calls have worked out well. He's doing a great job.
How do you envision the bullpen when all the regular starters come back from injury and hopefully after Neftali Feliz gets healthy?
I think when Scheppers returns from the DL, he goes to the bullpen. That's just me talking, but it makes the most sense. Feliz could be a late-inning piece, but only if he's healthy and his command and velocity are consistent. He's not there yet.
Assuming a healthy Darvish, a consistent Perez, a recovered Harrison, a more confident Lewis and a break-out season for Ross, Where would you rank the Rangers rotation in MLB?
It goes into the top-3 or so in the AL, which would be huge for this team combined with the lineup.
When the rotation gets healthy, do you see wash going with four lefties? (Ross, Harrison, Holland, and Perez)
They'll go with the best five. Period. I don't think they worry about the four lefty thing and they shouldn't. As we've seen, health is an issue so I don't even try to predict exactly what that rotation will be since it's likely to change a bit all year.
Do you have an update on Holland and Profar?
No, other than both are progressing as planned. Holland is throwing bullpens and a week ago the Rangers noted he was a bit ahead of schedule. He hopes a June return. Profar continues to do what he can, but it likely June as well.
How do you think the Rangers respond as they start getting back some of their injured players? Will it mess up the "flow" they have going right now when the guys who are playing?
I don't think so. These are your regular guys. I think you'll see a boost. And the bench players now have even more confidence when they're called upon. It's a positive, not a negative, in my mind.
You gonna revise your April prediction? ;)
You think I should? This team has clearly exceeded my expectations. A .500 April would have been great. Kudos to the Rangers. I thought with the injuries that they'd be lucky to go even this month.
Hey there Rich, I am about to retire from the Air Foce and move back to CO/Springs but what do you say the Rangers percentages are for returning back to the World Series? I say 65% yes 35% no...
Nice, Joel. Certainly the percentage is higher now than it was 3 weeks ago. We'll talk more about that as the season progresses. But the Rangers have to be one of 5 or 6 AL teams with the best chance.
Take a quick glance into your crystal ball and tell me which impact player(s) the rangers will acquire via trade mid-season?
My crystal ball had this team 2 games under .500 for April (or something like that). Not sure that's the crystal ball to trust. I still think they'll look at starting pitching (because they always do). But we'll have a better idea of what's needed in a month or so.
Hello RD and thanks again for your great coverage of the Rangers and Stars! With Kouz just killing it in Beltre's absence, assuming his back trouble is minor, there's no way they can send him back down, right?
No way. If he doesn't go on the DL today -- and there has to be more than just a little concern because he flew back to see Dr. Dossett -- he's not going anywhere. I would think if healthy, he's got to get some DH at-bats. How do you not ride that hot bat right now?
Once the rotation is fully healthy with Yu, Perez, Harrison, and Holland...who do you see as the fifth starter? Ross or Lewis?
I think the Rangers will let that play itself out and see how they do. But I would think Lewis, if all things are equal, with Ross helping in pen. His left arm down there might be even more important with Figueroa out.
Is it me or is it time for MLB to change the silly pine tar rule for pitchers? I don't know about you but I'm for any rule that helps the guys throwing 98 mph better locate their pitches..
Yes, but Pineda was crazy to make a show of it. It's one of those unwritten things. Pitchers use it and I don't think hitters care. But don't flaunt it.
What are the chances of prince moving back to 3rd in the lineup? He is swinging awesome in the 4th hole.
I would imagine he'll go back to third tonight when Beltre returns to the lineup. That's where Washington likes him. I don't think switching to cleanup is the reason he's hitting the ball a bit better lately.
why are guys like prince and mitch adamantly opposed to laying down a bunt to beat the shift? I get so tired of hearing the "they aren't getting paid to bunt" argument which I find ridiculous. They are getting paid to help the offense score runs and last time I checked grounding into the shift 3 at bats out of 5 doesn't do much to help in that regard. Obviously they are incapable of changing their approach and using the entire field so the only option is to drop a bunt every now and then, particularly in situations where the rangers need baserunners, not homers. I promise you if they start dropping bunts and getting on base the defenses will adjust and play them more straight up which would likely result in 20 more hits per year. As it is, their inability to lay down a bunt is costing their team runs..I wasn?t a big fan of Berkman during his short time here but I will give him credit for grasping this (not so complex) concept. Is it that they are just not able to get a bunt down?? On a less negative note, love the moxxy this team is displaying right now. Go Rangers!
It's not quite that simple, Charlie. I get your frustration. But, honestly, the opposing team would love it if Fielder bunted. If he did, they'd never get out of the shift. What they don't want is Fielder driving in runs with a hard-hit ball. If he started bunting, I think you'd see teams jump up and down for joy. Many hitters don't change their approach because they believe that changing it will only hurt them in the long run. Fielder, for instance, might try to go the other way and end up rolling over balls. He feels he's got a better chance of driving the ball through or over the shift, than going the other way to beat it.
I have heard that Holland is ahead of schedule in his rehab. Is he ready to throw in an extended spring game yet? Once he does is it reasonable to think he will be about a month away from returning to the Rangers?
I don't think he's ready for extended spring games yet, but he's throwing and hasn't had any issues to my knowledge. We should get an update on him next week.
When MY decides it is time to work for the Rangers what role do you see him in? Good to see all of these alumni in positions that matter and helping these young guys.
He could do a lot of things. He's a bright guy with a good understanding of all facets of the game. He'd be great as an assistant hitting coach and a guy that could help mentor the young crew. But he could also help in player evaluation and other things.
If you had to choose one guy to be the regular DH would it be Moreland, Kouzmanoff, or Choice?
I'll play politician and say I'm glad I don't have to choose. You want those guys in different matchups and situations.
Do you think the Rangers will be active leading up to the trade deadline after all they've given up the past years? Or will all of the guys coming back from injuries be their adds this year?
I think they'll be active. Now that doesn't mean they'll pull the trigger on a bunch of things. The Garza deal last year was a reminder that if you go short-term, it has to be the right deal. But the Rangers are always active about checking into everything. I just think you'll see them be very picky this year.
How might the Rangers deal with the lack of quality lefties in the bullpen & does Scheppers go back to being the 8th inning guy upon his return? Should we be concerned about Feliz having a tired arm?
I do think Scheppers goes back to the pen. Or at least I think he should. He was good in that role last year and can be again. There's no structural damage with Feliz, so I'm not concerned yet. But he needs to pitch better.
Is bench coach Tim Bogar's role more expansive than his predecessor Jackie Moore? Does he have input on when to put on shifts, etc?
That's probably fair. Bogar handled spring training workouts, which was something Dave Anderson did, not Jackie Moore. And Bogar has a different approach to defense and the Rangers are employing it. That's why you see more shifting.
Hi Richard, what's the plan w/ so many young middle infielders(Andrus, Profar, Odor, Sardinas...)? Trade bait or wait and see on Profar's development first? Seems they could have cashed in on Profar's inflated value last year w/ quality depth behind him in the minors.
At this point, you see how Profar does and let things play out. Never a bad thing to have assets. They'll use them at some point.
Martin Perez: Real or mirage?
Real. Very real. No, he won't throw complete game shutouts the rest of the year. But he was solid for 20 starts last year and has built on that this year. He's going to be an important member of this rotation for years to come.
Joey Gallo really seems to have turned a corner this year when it comes to his strikeout and walk ratios. If he keeps this up when do you think he makes it up here? This time next year, later in 2015 or 2016?
Maybe late 2015. This club doesn't want to rush anybody. No reason to do that. Gallo has been impressive so far, but it's early. Let him develop and keep improving.
Let's talk hockey for awhile. Go STARS!!!!!!!
Tonight should be fun with Stars and Rangers on at same time. I'll have the remote ready.
Why hasn't an outfielder taken advantage of the transfer rule to get an easy double or even triple play with runners at first and second? All they have to do is run in after they catch the ball until the batter and runners abandon the idea of advancing and then pretend to drop the ball upon transfer and start a triple play.
I wondered that too. But today, MLB announced that umpires will go back to calling it the way they have in the past.
Big fan of yours Rich. On the list of "Dumb decisions in the MLB", where do you put tagging up on Leonys Martin?
When a ball is in shallow CF, I put it high on the list. He's got an arm. He's proved that for a while. You want to force the issue sometimes as an offense, but I was surprised to see Oakland try it with Martin in shallow CF the other day.
Should we worry at all about Darvish's uneven start so far this season?
No. The A's have always hit well against him, but Darvish has been solid. Please. There are plenty of other things in this world to worry about. Darvish is not one of them.
Thanks for all the great questions, everyone. We'll do it again next week.