Mailbag: Rangers need starting pitching

Mailbag: Rangers need starting pitching

There were many letters this week with the manager's situation being the No. 1 topic on people's minds. Actually there were very few questions about the manager search other than a couple dozen people wondering if the Rangers were going to pursue Joe Torre if the Yankees had fired him.

Most people who wrote in about the manager's search were just giving their opinion. So we divided up the mail. The usual questions were answered here in the mailbag.

If you want to see what people are thinking about the manager search, check out Monday Morning Manager, now playing at the Postcards from Elysian Fields. Just click on my blog and you'll see that we've published as many opinions as possible on who the Rangers should hire as manager.

Why are the Detroit Tigers better than the Rangers? This is frustrating. The Tigers lost 119 games or something like that a few years ago. Now they are in the playoffs. Why them and not us?
-- Katy W., Fort Worth, Texas

There are several reasons why the Tigers are in the World Series. Let's look at a few:

• Free agents -- The Tigers took a chance on three free agents: Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and Kenny Rogers. All are Scott Boras clients, by the way. The Tigers signed all three when everybody else was steering clear, especially Rodriguez and Ordonez.

Rodriguez was a free agent in the winter of 2003-04 and didn't sign until Feb. 6. Ordonez was a free agent the following winter and didn't sign until Feb. 7. When they ended up in Detroit, everybody laughed at the Tigers and said Boras had found another patsy for his overrated clients. The Rangers, after pursing Carlos Delgado hard, were among those who declined to go after Ordonez.

• Young pitching -- The Tigers traded for Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson, then stuck with them through rough times. Bonderman once lost 19 games in a season. Robertson lost 16. Think Rangers fans would put up with that from Edinson Volquez and Robinson Tejeda? Think the media would? Absolutely not. Instead, everybody would be screaming for the owner to spend money. Few people in Texas have the stomach for the kind of extended rebuilding program that the Tigers went through.

• Bullpen -- The Tigers have a lights-out bullpen. This is the one area in which the Rangers could duplicate next year with Akinori Otsuka, Nick Masset, Josh Rupe, Frank Francisco, Scott Feldman, Kameron Loe and C.J. Wilson. No, they can't throw 100 mph like Joel Zumaya. But the Rangers ought to be able to put a good bullpen together next year from what they have to work with.

Any chance Victor Diaz will get a starting job in right field?
-- Mark B., Cicero, Ill.

He should be the Rangers' right fielder. If you're not willing to be patient while Nelson Cruz develops into a right fielder, then don't complain about the Tigers winning with Craig Monroe and Marcus Thames -- two former Rangers -- in their lineup.

It looks to me as though the Rangers are completely bypassing Jason Botts in favor of others. I would think that if he were to be given as many consecutive starts as Nelson Cruz got at the end of the year, he'd put up similar numbers. Have they given up on him?
-- Don L., Huntsville, Ala.

Again, if you look at the Detroit Tigers and the guys they are winning with in their lineup, then the Rangers could win with a guy like Botts as their designated hitter. When you have great pitching, you can put together a winning lineup around offensive players like Botts, Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Gerald Laird and even Freddy Guzman. But you need the great pitching first.

I loved Frank Catalanotto when he was a Ranger. If the Rangers cannot re-sign Matthews, would they consider trading a young pitcher (Volquez?) to get "The Cat" back?
-- Mark E., Longview, Texas

Frank Catalanotto is a free agent and would be an attractive alternative for Matthews in the leadoff spot. But he is not the defensive player that Matthews is.

If the Yankees do not pick up the option on Mike Mussina, what is the possibility of the Rangers going after him?
-- Justin L., Palestine, Texas

I would suspect that the Yankees will pick up the option on Mussina since they don't really have to worry about money and he was their second-best pitcher. In the event they don't, the Rangers would be interested, but I would think that Mussina would want to stay on the East Coast. He is from and still lives in Pennsylvania.

Any chance we get Alex Rodriguez back? I mean, he is probably leaving the Yanks and could excel in this environment. We're paying a lot of his contract anyway right? Any chance the clubhouse would accept him back? I'd love to use Blalock as trade bait for a pitcher and put A-Rod at third.
-- Chase M., Fort Worth, Texas

I never really thought that paying Alex Rodriguez $252 million was as much of a problem as the rash decisions that were made in an attempt to provide him with the supporting cast needed to win right away. I'm talking about signing Chan Ho Park, bringing back Juan Gonzalez and numerous other short-sighted moves that were made at the expense of patient, prudent long-term building. That's why you see so many ex-Rangers out there who are doing well after they left Arlington. Rodriguez in Texas just didn't work, and it wasn't his fault. It was the decisions that were made around him to justify the $252 million. Don't go there again.

What are the odds of getting David Dellucci back? Not as an everyday guy but someone off the bench and to have in the clubhouse. I think the Rangers sorely missed his leadership presence this year.
-- Chris S., Hurst, Texas

I think he would be somebody the Rangers would have interest in if they don't sign their own players and are looking for a designated hitter. But it's either Dellucci or Botts. The Rangers can't have a roster where both are on the team. It's one or the other.

Having watched the Rangers for their entire history, maybe it's not starting pitching after all. Maybe it's just the plain old heat -- heat that can wear down a team in the second half of the season. I think a retractable-dome stadium like in Houston could be our answer to fielding a winner. What do you think?
-- Paul H., Arlington, Texas

It was hot in 1996 and in 1998-99. Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla did not melt in the heat. Neither did Otsuka. I don't think they need a roof. They need better pitchers.

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I take it you don't think the Rangers want to retain Vicente Padilla and Adam Eaton? Why not, especially Padilla? Fifteen-game winners don't crop up daily.
-- Bob H., Grapevine, Texas

The Rangers would like Padilla back at the right price. Padilla would love to come back at the right price. The question is agreeing on the right price. Same with Eaton. General manager Jon Daniels made it clear he would take both back.

It seems to be a consensus of opinion that the Rangers are in desperate need of reliable starters. They seem to have a lot of talent at other positions. If the Rangers were able to obtain a couple of quality starters, how would they decide who could be traded and who could not be traded? If Mark Teixeira and Michael Young were traded (God forbid that that would happen!) who would the Rangers choose to replace them?
-- Ken B., Paris, Texas

That's the part that people don't get. If the Rangers are going to trade for front-line starting pitching, then they are going to have to trade somebody's favorite player, whether it's Blalock for Josh Beckett or Mark Teixeira for Dontrelle Willis. You can't count on a Ricardo Rodriguez for Vicente Padilla every year.

Just read your latest mailbag, always a good read. I agree with you (almost) that anyone is tradable on a team that hasn't won in years. But, honestly, this team cannot trade Michael Young. C'mon, seriously, the guy is a rock, he isn't streaky, he is clutch and he doesn't have baggage. Michael Young is a guy to build a franchise around. Teixeira? See you later if the deal is right. Blalock? Laird? Kinsler? Bye-bye for a No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher. Mike Young can not be traded. Don't expect this to make the column, just wanted you to know what I think. Lifelong Rangers fan from Arlington.
-- Cory W., Arlington, Texas

You're right; I would never post a letter like this one.

Um, excuse me, but since when have we "considered" trading Michael Young? We are talking about the All-Star game MVP. He is Mr. Clutch. I'm pretty young, only 14, but I am crazy about baseball. I could pretty much reel off the record of any team in the Major Leagues. I think it was a smart move getting rid of Showalter, but getting rid of Hank Blalock or Young or Teixeira would not be good. I think that all we are lacking is starting pitching, and if we get that taken care of, we won't be sitting around in third place next season. I am really tired of being in third place. I am going to move to New York and cheer for the Mets if you trade any of the players I mentioned!
-- Kathy L., Carroll, Texas

Kathy, how do your parents feel about moving to New York?

I don't really have a particular question for you. I'm not looking to have something posted in the "mailbag." I just wanted to share my thoughts.

I've been a Rangers fan my entire life. I subscribe to MLB.TV so I can watch games and I follow all the news on I enjoy reading the "mailbag" but am a little disappointed in some of the "fans" that write in. I want the Rangers to win as much as the next guy, but I will never base how good they are just on playoff appearances. The team this year may have not made the postseason, but I still enjoyed watching the games and thought they were very competitive.

Some of the people that write you seem to complain about every decision the Rangers organization makes. I remember a few months ago someone wrote that they would never go to another Rangers game if Kevin Mench was traded. That's just ridiculous! Players come and go. If you're a true fan, then you will support the Rangers no matter what players are in the lineup or on the roster. I'm a huge fan of some of the current players, but I understand they could all be traded at almost any time. I'm still going to be a Rangers fan no matter what deals they make (or don't make).

A true fan will not base their decision to go to a game on the current standings. Unlike James W. from Nome, Alaska, who wrote, "I'm not spending a dime to fly down there and watch a third-place team." I would, because I'm a fan. Unfortunately, I do not get much of an opportunity to go to games (I haven't been to one since the 2000 season). If I lived in Texas I would go to as many games as I could. Even if the team is in third or fourth place.

Please tell the Rangers organization "thanks for another great season" for me. I'm already looking forward to next year! Thanks!
-- Christopher U., Anchorage, Alaska

Didn't realize how big the Rangers were up there in the Last Frontier.

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