Mailbag: Free agent comings and goings

Mailbag: A smorgasboard for Thanksgiving?

We answer as many questions as we can in the Rangers mailbag. There are others who just like to voice their opinion. We love to hear those too and a number of them have been published at the Monday Morning Manager on our Postcards from Elysian Fields blog.

Check it out at and add your opinion to those already posted.

We could have re-signed Mark DeRosa for similar money that we are paying Frank Catalanotto. Why? What is the logic here and does it signal the end of Gary Matthews Jr.'s stay with Texas?
-- Mark P., Clinton, Iowa

The Rangers still need a center fielder, whether it's Matthews, Juan Pierre, Dave Roberts, Freddy Guzman or somebody. Without a center fielder, you have a lot of triples and inside-the-park home runs.

All right ... Frank Catalanotto vs. Mark DeRosa. Ready?

DeRosa is a right-handed hitter who will be 32 on Opening Day. He is coming off a career year in 2006, batting .296 with 78 runs, 40 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs and 74 RBIs. He had an .813 OPS.

Catalanotto is a left-handed hitter who is about 10 months older than DeRosa. He is coming off a generally typical season for him in which he batted .300 with 56 runs scored, 36 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 56 RBIs. His OPS was .815.

He hit .306 against right-handers and .237 (in just 38 at-bats) against left-handers. DeRosa hit .342 vs. left-handers and .278 against right-handers. In other words, Catalanotto is more of a platoon player than DeRosa.

DeRosa has a career .735 OPS, which means 2006 was a break from his norm and he credits hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo for that. Catalanotto's career OPS is .816, so he was right at his normal level in 2006.

Catalanotto struck out 37 times and walked 52 in 437 at-bats last season. DeRosa struck out 102 times and walked 44 in 520 at-bats.

DeRosa can start at second base, third base, left field and right field. Catalanotto was once an infielder but hasn't played a base since 2003. He has spent the last three years strictly as an outfielder, mostly in left field.

STATS INC. gave DeRosa a somewhat subjective .884 zone rating as an outfielder last year. Catalanotto had an .831 rating.

Catalanotto, who will likely be used as the designated hitter, has a career .376 on-base percentage as a leadoff hitter and .364 in the No. 2 spot. DeRosa has a .308 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot and .320 in the No. 2 spot. In other words, Catalanotto is better suited to lead off and DeRosa is better down in the order.

The Rangers' problem was they could not commit to an infield position for DeRosa. That appeared to be something he really wanted after a year as a super utility player. In that regard, Catalanotto fits better as a leadoff hitter/outfielder.

I was just wondering, is there any chance of trading Hank Blalock this year? I've just heard talk the last couple years about it and with him not playing as much last year as he usually does.
-- James M., Dallas

The Rangers seem committed to Blalock. General manager Jon Daniels said that's the one spot where the Rangers could see significant internal improvement offensively. New manager Ron Washington has also promised to make Blalock better defensively.

Why do the Rangers have the 21st highest payroll when they have a market that ranks in the top 10 in the league?
-- Jordan Z. Southlake, Texas

Have a question about the Rangers?
T.R. SullivanE-mail your query to Rangers beat reporter T.R. Sullivan for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
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According to the United States Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2005, the Dallas-Fort Worth area is the fifth-largest market in the country with 5.8 million people. This includes the big cities and all the surrounding suburbs. Think it's called Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

We trailed New York (18.7 million), Los Angeles (12.9 million), Chicago (9.4 million) and Philadelphia (5.8 million). Interestingly, No. 6 with 5.4 million is Miami and South Florida, where the Marlins are considered one of the ultimate small-market teams. Boston, by the way, is 11th with 4.4 million.

But the Rangers were still 16th in the Major Leagues in attendance last year. Theoretically, they should have been sixth based on size, trailing the two New York teams, the two Los Angeles teams and Philadelphia. Remember Chicago has two teams and that metropolitan area is not quite twice as big as Dallas-Fort Worth.

Rangers owner Tom Hicks has said this repeatedly in the past few years. The Rangers have a lucrative television contract and they do well in selling corporate sponsorships. But Hicks said the Rangers are not selling enough tickets in proportion to the size of their market.

St. Louis, with a population of 2.7 million, drew 42,588 per game to a new ballpark, the fourth highest in Major League Baseball.

What do the Rangers think about signing Jeff Bagwell for a DH spot for a 1-year contract? Being he has been injured for a while, seems like the Rangers could sign him cheap. Also what about Trot Nixon for an outfield spot? I think he would be a nice fit for the outfield.
-- Brandon L., Quitman, La.

Bagwell is done playing. Nixon, who will be 33 next season, is interesting.

From 2001-2003, he batted .279 while averaging approximately 26 home runs and 90 RBIs a season, although as a left-handed hitter, he sat a lot -- but not all the time -- against lefty pitchers. He averaged 503 at-bats a year with an .883 OPS.

Since then, injuries have been a problem. He has been on the disabled list four times in three years for different injuries and averaged just 313 at-bats per season. His OPS is .802. He could still be a platoon right fielder or protection for the Rangers for Nelson Cruz. His defensive zone rating is the fifth highest for a right fielder since 1999.

For some reason, a local TV station was airing a game of the Hawaiian winter league. I saw Eric Young playing second base and the announcer said that he had made four errors in the last two games. Will the Rangers re-sign Young, and will he play outfield or swap time with Ian Kinsler at second?
-- Jeff H., Lafayette, La.

That was Eric Young Jr., son of the Rangers utility man who is a free agent and is still hoping to hang around long enough to play in the Major Leagues with his son.

How is the Rangers coaching staff shaping up for 2007?
-- Craig. R., Long Island, N.Y.

Like this: Mark Connor (pitching coach), Rudy Jaramillo (hitting), Don Wakamatsu (third base), Art Howe (dugout), Gary Pettis (first base) and Dom Chiti (bullpen).

So what is the possibility of getting Albert Pujols for Mark Teixeira and Michael Young? I saw an article on it on the Cards' Web site? What do you think?
-- Hayden G., Midway, Texas

Pujols is signed with the Cardinals through 2011 at less money per year than the Cubs are going to pay Alfonso Soriano. Teixeira can be a free agent after the 2008 season. The Cardinals also have a shortstop in David Eckstein who was the Most Valuable Player in the World Series. Don't see them doing that; don't see the Rangers doing it either.

Do the Rangers have any interest in trading for Jason Jennings, who is from Mesquite?
-- Scott D., Evanston, Wy.

The Rangers have to be interested but have to be careful. Jennings can be a free agent after the 2007 season. The Rangers don't want to get burned again after trading for Adam Eaton last year.

Michael Young's range seems pretty limited. Is there a chance he and Ian Kinsler will swap positions next year?
-- Darrell B., Rockford, Ill.

None. Washington says Young plays "outstanding" defense. Washington also does not worry about range. He said good positioning by the coaching staff eliminates most of that.

What do you think about Daniel Haigwood? What do you think the upcoming year holds?
-- Jeff H., Pleasant Plains, Ark.

He'll likely be in the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma.

In your latest mailbag, you indicated that Eric Hurley had the best chance of being a Cy Young Award winner. However, there is a Latin pitcher in the lower rungs of the system that intrigues me. Omar Poveda put up decent numbers in Clinton and was excellent in his one start at Frisco. What is the evaluation of this prospect? I assume he is probably still two-three years out from a possible Major League appearance, or could he come faster?
-- David. M., Dallas

Poveda was 4-13 with a 4.88 ERA in 26 starts at Class A Clinton last year. But he also didn't turn 19 until September. He is one of the young players that the Rangers pushed a little bit by starting him in Clinton. My personal belief is nobody becomes a serious prospect until they start showing it in Double-A. The jump from Class A to Double-A is a big step.

Who do you have in your baseball card collection that would make me want to buy it? Rookie card of Nolan Ryan? Harmon Killebrew? It would take at least you having a Bob Gibson card for me to part with the money I will be wagering in Vegas that the Rangers will be World Series champions. Now, if I could only parlay the bet and predict who the opponent will be, I could become quite wealthy.
-- Joe B., Denton, Texas

Right now, on my desk, I'm looking at baseball cards of John D'Acquisto, Pete Falcone, John Montefusco and Ed Halicki. One day, when I'm quite wealthy and have written a complete and comprehensive history of the World Series, I might one day write an article about the Lost Generation of baseball pitchers who came up in the 1970s and all fell short of great expectations. Jon Matlack and Frank Tanana were a part of that.

What's all this hubbub about the Rangers MUST resign Mark DeRosa? Don't get me wrong, he played very well last year, but isn't it safe to say that last year was a fluke at best? I just would hate to see the Rangers give up big dollars for a utility man who decided to have a breakout year during his 10th MLB season, and then see him go back to his old ways (a career .270 hitter since 2001).
-- Chris G., Saginaw, Texas

I'm sorry, what was the question? Remember all rants are welcome on Monday Morning Manager at Postcards from Elysian Fields.

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