With all of the discussion about the great pace the fans have set for record attendance, what does that likely translate into in terms of revenue stream? So, is a jump from $2.9 million to $3.5 million significant enough to add financial flexibility to lock up some key players? I would imagine this would need to be a trend over five-plus years to make a dent.
-- Lem T., Fort Worth, Texas
An increase of 600,000 in attendance could mean an extra $10 million to $15 million in revenue for the Rangers, although almost all of these additional tickets will be on the cheaper end of the spectrum in the outfield and upper deck. Most of the best seats in the lower deck get sold year after year. The Rangers, with media money pouring in, should have the financial clout to sign key players and they have already started doing that. The biggest test will be to maintain financial flexibility and not burden themselves with too many lucrative long-term contracts that will weigh them down in the future.
I'd like to see the Rangers pursue Ryan Dempster of the Cubs to bolster our pitching rotation. I've always liked him and he's having a great year so far. Could you see Dempster as a potential trade target for the Rangers?
-- Wes W., Waxahachie, Texas
Dempster will be available, but one of the reasons the Rangers moved hard on Roy Oswalt is that they know the Trade Deadline deals are going to be tough this year. The extra Wild Card means more teams in contention and looking for help as July 31 approaches. It will likely be a seller's market. The most interesting pitcher who might become available is Kevin Millwood, who helped the Mariners pitch a no-hitter the other night.
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In looking at the Draft, why do kids enter the Draft if they've committed to play college ball? It would seem to cost the clubs money and time to look at kids that aren't going to sign even if they are drafted.
-- Keith G., Hamilton, Texas
This is not the NFL or NBA. Players do not "enter the Draft." They become eligible for the Draft if their name is turned in by at least one team or the Major League Scouting Bureau. Once they are registered, they remain that way in future Drafts. Therefore a team can go ahead and draft them regardless of what their plans are for the future. Then it's up to the team to make them an offer they can't refuse under the new complicated slotting system. That's why Rangers scouts do extensive homework with potential Draft picks and their families to get a better idea if they are truly committed to staying in school or are ready to turn professional.
Keeping up with the team on its trip to Oakland and San Francisco, I heard David Murphy comment on how they were in the same hotel for seven days in a row. Do their families often join them on road trips like this? And what's a typical daily schedule for the guys?
-- Brian O., McKinney, Texas
Family members are not allowed on the team charter, but most wives do join their husbands on certain road trips, some more than others, depending on their schedules. Sometimes players are given permission to travel with their families on commercial flights, especially if it's an off-day. Colby Lewis and Michael Young both did that before the last road trip while traveling to Anaheim. Young and his wife flew commercial on a flight that had a five-hour delay and three gate changes. They sat quite unobtrusively in the terminal for the whole time, nobody seemingly noticing or bothering them.
Do you know why Ron Washington has changed his view on position players pitching? When they played the Blue Jays last month, he said that he would never do it. Now Craig Gentry did. Did he mean backup position players, not starters?
-- Darrin K., Red Oak, Texas
Josh Hamilton pitched growing up in North Carolina and can probably throw 95 mph. If he pitched and blew out his elbow like Jose Canseco did, Washington would be history. But Washington is smarter than that. He does hate the idea of position players pitching, but he needed to save his bullpen last week in Oakland. So Gentry was asked to pitch with strict orders to throw nothing but get-over fastballs and get the inning over with as quickly as possible.
With the season one-third of the way over, who is looking the best to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award? Is Yu Darvish leading the pack?
-- Mark E., Mansfield, Texas
Right now, it's a big pack that includes Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, Seattle catcher Jesus Montero and Boston infielder Will Middlebrooks. The pitching side includes Tommy Milone, Wei-Yin Chen, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore and Jarrod Parker. One guy who gets little notice is Minnesota starter Scott Diamond, who is 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA in six starts.
I was watching Interleague Play and wondering why the visiting team, when playing NL-style games, lists the starting pitcher in the No. 9 spot. Why not list a pitcher who is obviously unavailable and then on the rare occasions when in the first inning you get to the nine spot, you can pinch-hit without losing the starting pitcher? Funny thing is, I thought about this on the Friday Astos-Rangers game, and sure enough, in Saturday's game, that very situation came up. Ironically, the pitcher got a big two-run hit, but the odds would have been to use a pinch-hitter.
-- Keith B., Irving, Texas
The starting pitcher has to face at least one batter, so you would not be able to pinch-hit for him in the top of the first. When Nolan Ryan was with the Angels in 1976, manager Dick Williams inadvertently wrote his name into the lineup even though it wasn't his day to pitch. Ryan was forced to pitch, and he retired one batter on a ground ball before the regularly-scheduled starter took over.