Inbox: Is Lee's age a long-term risk?

Inbox: Is Lee's age a long-term risk?

If you remove the emotion and knee-jerk reaction out of it, should the Rangers really re-sign Cliff Lee for $20-25 million per season? Is he really going to be worth it over the life of the contract or is he going to be just another 30-something free agent who ends up being classified as a bad contract?
-- Paul F., Fort Worth, Texas

Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton combined to pitch 26 seasons after their 32nd birthday passed. Between the two of them, they won 365 games and seven Cy Young Awards after turning 32. Tom Glavine turned 32 on March 25, 1998. Over the next five seasons, he was 89-44 with a 3.31 ERA, two 20-win seasons and one Cy Young Award.

On the flip side, there are plenty of pitchers who faded in the second half of their careers after getting big contracts. Among left-handers, Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle come immediately to mind. Barry Zito isn't exactly distinguishing himself in San Francisco.

But here is the lesson learned from the Giants this season: They won a World Series without Zito being on the playoff roster. If you're going to splurge on somebody like Lee, you have to understand it is a high-risk move and you better have a productive farm system to back it up. Only the Yankees have the ability to make up for one mistake by spending a ton of money on another big-time free agent.

Even though Vladimir Guerrero had a great year last year, I would rather see the Rangers go after a guy like Lance Berkman to fill that role this year. He has been a solid RBI guy during his career and I think his patience at the plate is a better fit in the Rangers' lineup. He is also a switch-hitter.
-- Joel S., Murphy, Texas

Berkman is almost in the exact same position that Guerrero was a year ago at this time. He turns 35 in February and he hit .248 this past season with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs in 122 games and 404 at-bats for the Astros and Yankees. He does have better walks and on-base-percentage statistics than Guerrero, but he is really not a switch-hitter anymore. The Yankees used him almost exclusively from the left side, and only occasionally at first base. He hasn't played the outfield in three years. He could be a good fallback position, but right now the Rangers are focused on Guerrero.

What do you think of moving Neftali Feliz into the rotation and moving Alexi Ogando into the closer's role -- or possibly bringing in a guy like Rafael Soriano?
-- Garrett N., Carlisle, Pa.

I like the idea very much if Lee doesn't return to the Rangers. Sign Soriano to a three-year deal and move Feliz to the rotation. Feliz was terrific as a closer, but I still think he has No. 1 potential as a starter and needs to be given a chance to start.

What's the deal with Mark Prior? Do we have him under contract in the Minors and does he have anything left?
-- Nathan S., Glen Rose, Texas

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Prior, 30, will be in Rangers camp next spring on a Minor League contract after signing with them late last season. He is just in the embryonic stages of a comeback after not having pitched in the Majors since 2006 because of a devastating shoulder injury. He had two scoreless appearances for Triple-A Oklahoma City and may resurrect his career as a reliever, but it's unlikely he'll start again.

Would the Rangers consider signing a third baseman like Adrian Beltre and letting Michael Young be the infield swingman and DH?
-- Ray G., Sayre, Okla.

Young is going to be the Rangers' third baseman and Beltre is going to sign a monster multiyear deal somewhere else. Beltre is a two-time Gold Glove winner and a good offensive player who has had just two seasons in the past 10 years with a batting average of over .276 plus more than 26 home runs and 100 RBIs. He hit .334 with 48 home runs and 121 RBIs in 2004 with the Dodgers and .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBIs for the Red Sox last year. Both seasons came when he was about to become a free agent.

If the Rangers don't get Lee, will they possibly consider signing Carl Pavano? He had a great season, and his numbers are similar to Colby Lewis', besides the won-loss record. He seems like a good clubhouse guy, and he's a horse. Perhaps he could lighten the load on the bullpen.
-- Pablo G., Irving, Texas

Pavano was 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA for the Twins last year and pitched 221 innings. But not sure a guy who has pitched 200 innings just three times in 13 seasons could be called "a horse." He is pretty representative of the next-best-available group of pitchers that fall pretty far behind Lee.

What are your thoughts about getting Chris Young to come back to pitch for us for a few years?
-- Darrin K., Red Oak, Texas

The Rangers traded Young to the Padres in 2006 and it turned out to be a bad deal for Texas, mainly because Adrian Gonzalez developed into an All-Star first baseman in San Diego. Young was included in the trade and is an excellent pitcher when he is healthy. The problem is he has been on the disabled list five times in the past four years because of injuries. Of course getting hit in the face with a line drive and suffering a fractured nose is simply bad luck. Young is a guy that a team with limited financial resources should take a chance on. They could hit it big with him.

I saw that Jeff Francoeur opted to become a free agent. Why wouldn't he want to stay with the Rangers?
-- Jimmy S., Aledo, Texas

Because there is a good chance he'd only be a platoon player against left-handed pitchers with the Rangers. He doesn't even turn 27 until January. Even though his numbers have slipped in the past few years, he still wants to play every day and isn't ready to concede he is a platoon player just yet.

We seem to hear about all the catching possibilities. Why is it that we do not hear about Matt Treanor?
-- Michael G., Dallas, Texas

Treanor wants to come back and the Rangers may bring him back. But it will be only as a backup catcher. Their goal right now is to work out a deal with free-agent catcher Victor Martinez. He is high on their priority list.

Do the Rangers have any interest in Jayson Werth? Should they? I know outfield is a position of strength for Texas, and Werth will be expensive, but he is a player on the rise and would more than make up for Guerrero's bat in the lineup.
-- John N., Canton, Texas

Werth, 31, hired Scott Boras to represent him this offseason, so he is looking for something close to $100 million. After his career failed to take off with the Blue Jays and Dodgers, it did just that in Philadelphia, and he is coming off his only three seasons in the Majors in which he had more than 480 at-bats. During those three seasons, he hit .279 with a .376 on-base percentage and a .513 slugging percentage while averaging 92 runs, 29 doubles, 29 home runs and 84 RBIs per season. Playing in a hitter's park, he had .543 slugging percentage at home and a .484 mark on the road. Pass.

What was the longest consecutive streak in days the Rangers were in first place in their division?
-- Walter E., Innsbruck, Austria

They were in first place from June 8 to the end of the season, a total of 117 days.

What is the possibility of keeping Lee and adding Zack Greinke?
-- Tim P., Idabel, Okla.

Let's see ... hand over $125 million for Lee and then trade Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Engel Beltre to the Royals for Greinke. Then you begin the season with a rotation of Lee, Greinke, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter. Sign Martinez to be the catcher and you have a team that should win the World Series in 2011. No excuses either.

What does the future hold for Eric Hurley? Should he be impressive in spring?
-- Bob H., Grapevine, Texas

He will begin the season at Triple-A Round Rock and be part of the Rangers' depth in case there is an injury at the big league level. He is currently pitching well in the Arizona Fall League.

The backstop is in question for 2011 and beyond. Do you think Miguel Olivo could be a good fit? He had good numbers in Colorado and should come pretty cheap.
-- Bobby K., Georgetown, Texas

Since the Rangers don't have to worry about "cheap" anymore, they'd much rather have Martinez. But Olivo could be an uninspiring fallback option.

Explain to me how Derek Jeter wins a Gold Glove over Elvis Andrus.
-- Turner T., Arlington

Age before beauty.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.