Mailbag: What will the future bring?

Mailbag: What will the future bring?

They could go to Disneyland, they could jump on a cable car or they could ride to the top of the Space Needle.

There's the Balboa Pier, Fisherman's Wharf or the Pike Place Market, the California Experience, the Golden Gate Bridge or Pioneer Square.

The Rangers will be on the road for nine games and 11 days on the West Coast, to Anaheim, Oakland (they actually stay in San Francisco) and Seattle.

Three great stops with plenty to do and plenty to eat, whether it's that avocado-laden California cuisine, pasta in North Beach or Copper River salmon.

They also need to mix in a few wins, especially after a rough start at home. The Rangers' first road trip of the season better be more than a nice West Coast vacation.

Instead they might want to take the same approach as the Pirates of the Caribbean and do a little plunder and pillaging. Otherwise they cound end up as bad off as some of those who had to time on Alcatraz.

As for the mail...

When does Michael Young become a free agent?
-- Chris S., Chicago

Young is signed through 2007 with an option for 2008. Assuming he hits all his incentives, Young could make $5 million in 2008 with a $500,000 buyout. You would expect the Rangers would pick up Young's option.

Young makes $3.5 million in 2007, which means he has a chance to make $8.5 million in 2007-08.

Young is one of 12 Major League shortstops who already have contracts for 2007-08. Only three of those 12 stand to make less than Young over those two years combined: Cristian Guzman ($8.4 million), Angel Berroa ($8 million) and Bobby Crosby ($6 million).

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will make $40 million over those two years, followed by Rafael Furcal ($26 million) and Miguel Tejeda ($25 million).

Also making more than Young will be Edgar Renteria ($18 million) Orlando Cabrera ($16.5 million), Jimmy Rollins ($14.5 million), Jack Wilson ($11.25 million), and Juan Uribe, who will make $9.15 million if the White Sox pick up his 2008 option.

Young moved to shortstop in Spring Training 2004. Since then he has the highest batting average (.321) of any shortstop with at least 800 plate appearances. He has an .864 OPS, third best behind Tejeda (.884) and Carlos Guillen (.877).

Defensively, out of 20 shortstops who started at least 200 games, Young is 17th with 4.43 total chances per nine innings, and 14th with a .973 fielding percentage.

One more thing about Young. Over the past two seasons combined, he is batting .354 with runners in scoring position. That's second highest in the Major Leagues, trailing only Barry Bonds.

What is the Rangers management's position on Jason Botts? He seems to have all the right tools to be an everyday Major Leaguer, but the Rangers have no room for him. Sounds awful familiar... a la Adrian Gonzalez.
-- Chris G., Saginaw, Mich.

Five Minor League position players (upper levels) to watch in 2006:

1. Botts -- He hit .286 with 25 home runs and 102 RBIs at Triple-A Oklahoma in 2005, but is back there again because Phil Nevin is signed for one more year at designated hitter.

Botts has offensive ability but is limited defensively, although the Rangers are giving him a chance to play the field at Oklahoma. He struck out 152 times in 510 at-bats in 2005, and the Rangers would like to see that cut down, but he has a chance to be their DH next season if not sooner.

2. SS Joaquin Arias -- A tremendous defensive shortstop stuck behind Young who has also shown he can be a positive offensive player. He'll play at Oklahoma, and then the Rangers will have to make a big decision on his future.

3. 3B Travis Metcalf -- He was the Rangers Minor League Player of the Year at Class A Bakersfield, but is making the difficult jump to Double-A Frisco. He is above average defensively, and the Rangers want to see him keep hitting.

4. 1B/OF Vince Sinisi -- The Rangers gave him $2 million as their second-round pick in 2003, but he was set back by a serious broken arm injury. He needs to hit at Frisco, this is a big year for him.

5. IF Drew Meyer -- The No. 1 draft pick from 2002, now playing at Oklahoma, has a potential future as a utility infielder. He could be in the Major Leagues soon if the Rangers need bench help.

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What is the chance of the Rangers signing Mark Teixeira to a long-term, big-money deal?
-- Kevin S., Ardmore, Okla.

Teixeira can be a free agent after the 2008 season. There are multiple factors that will ultimately weigh in on whether Teixeira will be here beyond 2008:

1. Young and Hank Blalock will also be free agents after the 2008 season. The Rangers may not be able to sign all three to long-term contracts, not if they want to commit serious dollars to pitching as well.

2. What other free agent first basemen are there available? Remember the Will Clark-for-Rafael Palmeiro swap back in 1992-93.

3. The Players Association. Their primary goal is to maximize player salaries. It's likely they'll want to make sure a great young player like Teixeira is among those who are keeping player salaries as high as possible.

4. Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new labor contract is up after the 2006 season and a new agreement could impact the way clubs do business.

5. Scott Boras. Teixeira's agent is the undisputed master of maximizing value of his clients in free agency.

6. Tom Hicks. Ultimately it's his money, just as it was when he signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $252 million contract in 2001.

7. Does Teixeira really want to stay in Texas? Obviously, the chances of the Rangers winning circa 2009 will have a lot to do with it, but let's just say that Teixeira doesn't appear to be married to the idea of living in Texas all his life.

8. Do they trade him before then? That would have to be a knee-buckling trade that includes a big bat and at least one really good starting pitcher coming back in return. A trade is not out of the realm of possibility at some point in the future, but the Rangers would have to get it right. You can botch a trade when Mark Teixeira is involved.

OK, so what are the five worst trades in Rangers history?
-- Nick S., Claremore, Okla.

1. On April 1 (how appropriate), 1982, the Rangers traded Minor League pitchers Ron Darling and Walt Terrell to the Mets for outfielder Lee Mazzilli. Farm director Joe Klein was conducting a meeting with Minor League officials when he heard about the trade. His immortal reaction: "Gentlemen, this meeting is over, we're going to the bar."

2. On Nov. 10, 1978, the Rangers and the Yankees completed a 10-player deal. The Yankees sent pitchers Sparky Lyle, Larry McCall and Dave Rajsich, catcher Mike Heath and infielder Domingo Ramos for pitchers Dave Righetti, Mike Griffin and Paul Mirabelli and outfielders Juan Beniquez and Greg Jemison. The killer for the Rangers was losing Righetti, who was in Double-A at the time. The other bit of trivia is Rangers officials told owner Brad Corbett to ask for infielder Damaso Garcia, who later played for the Blue Jays. He asked for Ramos instead.

3. On July 29, 1989, the Rangers traded pitcher Wilson Alvarez, outfielder Sammy Sosa and infielder Scott Fletcher to the White Sox for outfielder Harold Baines and infielder Fred Manrique. The Rangers expected Sosa to be a player who hit .280 with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. They never expected him to be so big. Still, losing Alvarez may have ultimately cost them the 1993 division title.

4. On June 20, 1985, they traded pitcher Frank Tanana for Minor League pitcher Duane James. The Rangers were hopelessly bad at the time. What they didn't realize is they would win 87 games in 1986 under Bobby Valentine and be one veteran pitcher short of overtaking the Angels. James never pitched in the big leagues. Tanana had several good years left.

5. After the 1975 season, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins was traded to the Red Sox for pitchers Craig Skok and Steve Barr and outfielder Juan Beniquez. A terrible trade for a Hall of Famer.

What do you think about Fabio Castro? Personally, I think it would be plain stupid not to keep the kid on the 25-man roster. He's 20, he's left-handed, and he's throws 94-95 mph. I know he's young and inexperienced, but you can't risk letting him develop into a Major League pitcher on another team.
-- Brian R., Dallas

The Rangers are going to do everything they can to keep him. He has never pitched above Double-A, but his Minor League numbers for 3 1/2 years are 26-12 with a 2.28 ERA and 178 hits allowed in 260 1/3 innings. During that time, he's walked 109 and struck out 292.

He needs to stay around but he also must earn Buck Showalter's trust to be used in the right situations.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.