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Mailbag: Wood as a Rangers closer?

Mailbag: Wood as a Rangers closer?

I think it would be a great idea to sign Kerry Wood and make him closer. What do you think?
-- Cory F., Longview, Texas

The Rangers have expressed interest in Wood and have him on their list. General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers want to add a veteran reliever to the bullpen and Wood could be the perfect guy, either as a closer or a setup reliever with the eventual possibility of going back into the rotation. He is also from Irving/Grand Prairie, Texas, so it would seem likely that owner Tom Hicks would be extra aggressive. The downside is a history of injuries.

Do the Rangers intend to seriously pursue Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome?
-- Adam M., Houston

Club officials said they have some interest in Fukudome, but don't see him as a center fielder, which is their No. 1 priority. Fukudome had a great season in 2006 but missed half of this season with a fractured right elbow. He has a career .397 on-base percentage, but probably would not supply big-time power.

If the Rangers offer Matthew Harrison, Eric Hurley, Hank Blalock and Jason Botts, will that be enough to get Johan Santana from the Twins? If not, what else would they have to add?
-- Bennie B., Burleson, Texas

I would say that you take out Harrison and Botts and put in Edinson Volquez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. How about that? Are Hurley, Blalock, Volquez and Saltalamacchia worth a pitcher who could walk after one year here?

What will Tom Hicks do with the money he saves by not having to pay New York $21.3 million on Alex Rodriguez's salary?
-- Roger B., Garland, Texas

It doesn't change their plans for the free-agent market, but it may make a difference when the Rangers talk trades with other teams. They might be able to listen more closely on some players whose contracts they might not otherwise consider acquiring.

Now that A-Rod has opted out, do you think the Rangers could afford to get Brian Giles from the Padres?
-- Hayden C., Meadville, Pa.

That's exactly what I'm talking about. The Rangers, with the Rodriguez contract off the books, can at least talk about that kind of player. Giles makes $9 million next season with a $9 million option for 2009. But he is 37 and his numbers have been down the past three years, whether that's because of age, the move to pitcher-friendly PETCO Park or other factors is hard to determine.

For a time C.J. Wilson was believed to be a starter in this league. He throws multiple pitches and has a solid frame and size -- typical starter assets. Have the Rangers abandoned the idea of using him in this role?
-- Reagan B., Dallas

The Rangers haven't abandoned it, but right now they need Wilson in the bullpen more than they do the rotation.

Is there any talk about center fielder Laynce Nix? What happened to him?
-- Keith S., Austin

He is still with the Brewers and had a solid season at Triple-A. Milwaukee still likes him, and he could be a candidate to take Geoff Jenkins' spot in the outfield.

Would the Rangers have any interest in signing Jenkins? He had decent numbers, 21 home runs and 64 RBIs, though his average (.255) wasn't amazing. Texas' ballpark could be a launching pad for this guy.
-- Brad B., Wharton, Texas

Sorry, I don't see a whole lot of difference between Jenkins and Brad Wilkerson. Their numbers were pretty similar last year. Jenkins had more at-bats, while Wilkerson played in the American League.

What is the status of Brandon McCarthy's shoulder? Is he expected to be ready for spring Training?
-- Matt H., Ada, Okla.

He is on a rigorous offseason conditioning program and is expected to be back in 2007.

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What about acquiring Nick Johnson for first base? He's got decent power and a great on-base percentage. Plus, the Nationals still have Dmitri Young.
-- James T., Fresno, Texas

It's definitely an interesting name. He was having his best season ever in 2006 before suffering a fractured leg at the end of the season. He did not play at all this year. He also has a history of injuries. There's just way too much risk there, so he's probably worth more to Washington than other teams.

What do you think the future holds for outfield prospect Steven Murphy, who has had three decent years in the Rangers organization?
-- Keith P., Kansas City

He needs to take his offense to another level. In 130 games and 488 at-bats at Double-A this season, Murphy hit .277 with a .319 on-base percentage and a .426 slugging percentage. He had 28 walks and 103 strikeouts.

What's your opinion of trading Vicente Padilla, Botts and Wes Littleton to Pittsburgh for Freddy Sanchez?
-- Bill H., Des Moines, Iowa

That's a tough trade for Pittsburgh after taking on a big contract in Matt Morris last summer. The Pirates also have a big left field in PNC Park, and that would be tough on Botts.

How about trading Gerald Laird to the Brewers for Derek Miller, a young lefty in Double-A?
-- Zach P., Belton, Texas

You're doing some serious homework. Right now, if the Rangers trade Laird, it would be for immediate help at the Major League level. Miller has good Minor League numbers but has made just 11 starts (6-2, 3.08, 1.09 WHIP) at the Double-A level.

Should the Rangers trade Laird, and maybe a prospect or two for Aubrey Huff to fulfill their needs at first base?
-- Daniel B., Fort Worth

You're talking to a big Huff fan, since he is from the Fort Worth area. But his hitting has slipped. His best years were 2003-04 when he had a combined .888 OPS with 63 home runs and 211 RBIs. Over the past two years, his OPS is .794 with 36 home runs and 138 RBIs. Should the Rangers talk to the Orioles? Yes. Should they offer significant prospects? No.

I think the Rangers should pursue Mike Lowell. He can play as the everyday third baseman and allow Blalock to concentrate on being that big bat that we need in the middle of the order as the designated hitter. How feasible is this option?
-- Sean B., Geelong, Australia

Lowell in 2008 could make sense. The question is if you want to commit to him for 3-4 more years. That's a tougher decision. The Rangers will probably pass.

Ian Kinsler spent a lot of time in the top of the lineup last season, but I perceive him as better suited for the 6th, 7th, or 8th spot in the lineup rather than a leadoff hitter. What are the Rangers' future plans for Kinsler?
-- Kody B., Plainview, Texas

Kinsler had a .390 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot last year and a .389 percentage in the No. 2 spot. His evolution into front-line leadoff hitter is a huge key to the Rangers.

I saw that Francisco Cordero filed for free agency. Is there any chance of the Rangers bringing him back?
-- Ryan C., Gardner, Kan.

Probably not. He just does not appear comfortable pitching in Arlington and no doubt remembers the wrath directed at him from the stands. It's unlikely that Cordero wants to come back.

How do the players or the club decide where to play on the offseason: Arizona Fall League or the winter leagues and which is the better?
-- Ernesto S., McAllen Texas

The Arizona Fall League is limited to seven players from each franchise: three position players and four pitchers. They are usually top prospects with a limited prescribed amount of service time. Arizona slipped in past years, but is starting to regain stature as a top offseason league.

Those who do not fit those criteria go play in the winter leagues. Younger prospects can play in Hawaii. Latin American players usually play in their native country. One difference between the Dominican Republic and the Mexican League is that the Dominican has more power pitchers while the Mexican League has craftier pitchers.

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

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