In your opinion, what happens at catcher? Do the Rangers try to keep both or do they trade Yorvit Torrealba now that Mike Napoli has taken over?
-- Marla H., Arlington
The Rangers will likely at least see what kind of interest there is in Torrealba. Napoli has passed him as the Rangers' No. 1 catcher and Torrealba certainly isn't going to be happy sitting as much as he did in the playoffs. There still should be enough interest in Torrealba that the Rangers could get bullpen help in return. They are going to need left-handed relief. The question that nags the Rangers is if Napoli's great offensive season was the result of spreading out his playing time between catcher, first base and designated hitter. They may not feel that he is able to remain so productive offensively while being a full-time catcher, and they may try to retain the current situation at catcher with Napoli and Torrealba splitting time.
What is your prediction on where C.J. Wilson will end up? Do you think he'll end up with the Yankees?
-- Sandy M., Oklahoma City, Okla.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman did a curious thing last week when he twice made public statements about his interest in Wilson. What's strange about that is most general managers -- particularly Jon Daniels -- are quite secretive about their offseason targets, preferring not to tip their hand. It was almost like Cashman was trying to bait other teams -- including the Red Sox -- into overpaying on Wilson. Right now clubs are still looking to see if Japanese superstar Yu Darvish is going to try to come to the United States. Until Darvish makes a decision, the market for starting pitchers is probably going to be slow to develop.
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So who is this year's under-the-radar free-agent signing, a guy who could have a big impact on the Rangers on one of their famous "low-risk, high-reward" type deals that pan out only occasionally?
-- Paul F., Fort Worth, Texas
Joe Nathan. In a winter loaded with excellent free-agent closers -- Heath Bell, Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero -- Nathan is intriguing even if he is two weeks away from turning 37. He missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery, and had a 4.84 ERA in 48 appearances for the Twins last season. But he allowed 38 hits in 44 2/3 innings, while striking out 43 and walking 14. Wouldn't mind seeing the Rangers doing a one-year deal with Nathan if they plan on moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation.
Since you have access to databases that we don't, could you find out how many times in baseball history a team has been within one strike of winning the World Series, only to eventually lose the whole thing?
-- Paul H., Arlington
The 1986 Red Sox had a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the World Series against the Mets. The Red Sox needed three outs to win the World Series. Reliever Calvin Schiraldi retired the first two hitters, then gave up a pair of singles to Gary Carter and Kevin Mitchell. He then got ahead 0-2 on Ray Knight before giving up a run-scoring single. Bob Stanley had two strikes on Mookie Wilson before throwing a game-tying wild pitch. Then came the ground ball through Bill Buckner's legs. The Mets won the game and Game 7 to win the World Series.
The 1912 Giants led 2-1 going into the bottom of the 10th in Game 8 (there had been one tie) of the World Series against the Red Sox. Then they dropped a fly ball and a foul ball that led to two unearned runs off Christy Mathewson and gave the Red Sox a 3-2 victory. By the way, the 1912 World Series was one of the best ever.
Do you see any psychological fallout from the Rangers' collapse in Game 6, and do you think they will be able to overcome such a devastating loss?
-- Patricia K., Fort Worth
The New York Yankees lost the 1960 World Series to the Pirates when Bill Mazeroski hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. They led 7-4 with six outs to go and lost the game. Instead of being devastated by the loss, the Yankees used it for motivation the next year when they won 109 games and then took down the Reds in five games during the World Series. Not saying the 2012 Rangers will be as good as the 1961 Yankees, but there's reason to believe this is not going to be as devastating as people think.
I know the Rangers want to use Josh Hamilton in left. I don't understand the names being talked about for center field -- B.J. Upton, Nate McLouth, Coco Crisp? Another shot for Julio Borbon? Unproven Leonys Martin? Is Endy Chavez too old? Is Craig Gentry too young and inconsistent? What do you think?
-- Bret B., Oklahoma City
Gentry hit .271 this year, including .265 against left-handers and .277 against right-handers. He was 18-for-18 in stolen bases. He is a superior defensive player. Maybe it's time to give him a chance to play every day. The Rangers still have the ever-reliable David Murphy as their fourth outfielder, and they still have Borbon coming back from ankle surgery. Martin probably needs another year of development in the Minor Leagues. Gentry turns 28 at the end of this month -- the former Arkansas Razorback is not as young as you think -- and it may be time to give him a real chance.
What are the Rangers' plans with Brandon Webb? Will they keep him around with a shot at making the rotation?
-- Shawn H. Lubbock, Texas
He is a free agent after missing his third straight season because of shoulder problems. He is still hoping to pitch in the Major Leagues, but it is not likely to be with the Rangers.
How does a child get picked to run from left field to third base, steal it and run back during games?
-- Linda B., Jacksonville, Texas
I am told they pick children at random out of the crowd that day.
Even with Mitch Moreland at first, will the Rangers consider going after Prince Fielder, who is younger and should be somewhat cheaper than Albert Pujols?
-- Pablo G. Irving, Texas
He is definitely younger but not sure he is cheaper than Pujols. Both are definitely great hitters, who would be a huge boost to the Rangers offense at about $20-25 million per year. That is money the Rangers would prefer to use on pitching and on some of their own players. Remember eight of the nine players who started Game 7 -- the exception being Adrian Beltre -- will be eligible for free agency in the next three years. That includes Michael Young and Ian Kinsler, who are up after 2013.
Since Napoli is most likely our No. 1 catcher next year, I have a trade proposal. How about trading Torrealba and Borbon to the Pirates (since they are in need of a catcher and outfielder) in exchange for closer Joel Hanrahan?
-- Mitchell C. Manteca, Calif.
If you want to talk to the Pirates about Hanrahan, you better be prepared to bring Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando or Derek Holland to the table.
Most of the time when someone asks you about a trade, it's very unrealistic. Do you think the hitting-starved Giants would entertain Nelson Cruz and Borbon for Matt Cain? The Rangers could give Michael another glove and add him to the outfield mix.
-- John E. Lewisville, Texas
That has to be a tempting trade on both sides. The Giants are definitely loaded with pitching and need offense badly. Cain makes $15 million in 2012 and can be a free agent. Cruz can be a free agent after 2013. Can't say who would turn that one down, although the Giants might have concerns about Cruz's tendency toward strained muscles. If the Rangers can't re-sign Wilson, that would be one worth considering.
Will there be any changes in the broadcasters and is there any chance to bring back Josh Lewin?
-- Donna P., Fort Worth
The separation between the Rangers and Lewin appears permanent, and it appears that the club is staying with the same broadcast arrangement next year after all the convulsive events that transpired last season.
I love watching manager Ron Washington when the Rangers get a big hit. Do you think the Rangers could create WashCam where we could see him all the time?
-- Bruce D. Keller, Texas
There are times when the Rangers would not want a camera directed at the manager, especially if the viewers include those who can read lips.