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Inbox: Years key to Hamilton deal

Inbox: Years key to Hamilton deal

Roughly what would you say the Rangers are offering Josh Hamilton and what would he be looking for in return?
-- Darrin K., Red Oak, Texas

First of all, the sides are still talking, although they are trying to do so quietly. The Rangers could be offering anywhere from $30 million to $60 million depending on the length of the contract. The Marlins gave Hanley Ramirez six years and $70 million after three years' service time. That might be a clue to the Hamilton side.

Length is the key to this deal. It could be between four and six years in length, and much depends on how many years the Rangers are willing to guarantee. They likely prefer four years with club options for the final two, while the other side prefers as much as six years guaranteed. That's at the heart of the negotiations more than money.

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Who would you say is further along at this point, Neftali Feliz or Derek Holland?
-- Rick M., Gallatin, Tenn.

Holland is considered more polished. Feliz needs to improve his breaking ball. I think both need another full year in the Minors, but at this point, Holland is the best bet to arrive first.

Ben Sheets has been working out in Arlington to get better. What are the chances of the Rangers signing him once he gets better?
-- Chris W., Royse City, Texas

There are some in baseball who believe it's 100 percent. There are some who believe a deal might be officially announced, say, after the first week in June. Conspiracy theories aside, the chances would seem to rest on the state of the Rangers rotation when Sheets is ready to pitch. But there was high mutual interest on both sides in January, and the bet here is the next pitch Sheets throws will be for the Rangers.

Why is Ron Washington still the manager?
-- Johnny L., Dallas

That's an easy one. Washington is still the Rangers manager simply because the general manager believes in Washington's passion, enthusiasm, energy, knowledge of the game and ability to teach young players. The general manager also believes that Washington was put in a tough situation in having to manage a young rebuilding team in transition and has handled it well. Agree or disagree, it's still not any more complicated than that.

Have a question about the Rangers?
T.R. SullivanE-mail your query to MLB.com 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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Do you think Washington is on the hot seat if the Rangers start off slow again?
-- Robert I., Jacksonville, Texas

There is no doubt about it, and nobody understands that better than Washington. The Rangers invite such speculation by not yet picking up Washington's option for 2010.

I know it's early, but are you hearing anything about the Rangers drafting right-hander Shelby Miller from Brownwood High School?
-- Zack W., Fort Worth, Texas

He is definitely somebody the Rangers will scout heavily and consider with their first-round pick.

After seeing Yu Darvish pitch in the World Baseball Classic, what do you think the likelihood of the Rangers, or anyone for that matter, trying to sign him?
-- Ty C., Lubbock, Texas

He has not yet been posted to the United States yet. If so, he will be as highly coveted as Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Rangers were extremely interested in Matsuzaka.

Whatever happened to relief pitcher Kazuo Fukumori? I know he was on the Opening Day roster last year and was sent down, but I haven't heard much about him lately.
-- Josh B., Bynum, Texas

He had offseason back surgery and is still in the Rangers' Minor League system.

I'm concerned about how the Rangers will handle at-bats with Andruw Jones staying with the team. How much do you think it will cut into Nelson Cruz's at-bats?
-- Sean H., Pampa, Texas

If Jones makes the team -- a dubious proposition -- it will be as a right-handed DH. He should not take at-bats away from Cruz.

Despite his meltdown at the end of the season due to being overworked, Jamey Wright gave the Rangers many quality innings last season and was one of their most dependable relievers. Considering the Rangers' current lack of bullpen depth, why do you think they did not make more of an effort to re-sign Jamey?
-- Matt S., Austin, Texas

Because the Rangers saw first-hand how much he was overworked.

Why do I keep hearing Blake Beaven will be our closer in the future when he is tearing it up as a starter? Going deep into games with low strikeout totals doesn't seem like closer numbers.
-- Jacob L., Allen, Texas

Such pointless speculation is based on the belief that the Rangers will be overflowing with young talented pitching in the next few years and some will have to end up in the bullpen. That is the extreme best-case scenario. Reality and history painfully suggest that some of these young pitchers will end up disappointing people.

Please explain how in the world the Rangers are going to fit John Lackey and Ben Sheets into their newly proclaimed $50 million payroll limit.
-- Matt M., Abilene, Texas

Nobody knows what the Rangers' payroll will be next year. Tom Hicks has made it clear that the Rangers have no need to pursue free-agent position players and will put all their resources into pitching. He is opposed to five- to eight-year contracts for pitchers but has always been willing to make exceptions for certain players. He is clearly smitten with Sheets.

My hobby is baseball stadiums and this year I will be going to my 22nd, 23rd and 24th stadiums. What is your favorite stadium?
-- Justin W., Dallas

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Camden Yards, Fenway Park and whatever they are calling the ballpark in San Francisco. Kauffman Stadium is very underrated, too.

Why don't y'all move Chris Davis to third, Hank Blalock at first and move Michael Young back to shortstop and put Marlon Byrd at DH?
-- Charles P., Lawton, Okla.

Yep, that's what the last week of Spring Training is for: completely redoing the infield.

It does not matter what the Rangers do with the club until they roof that stadium. Do you think that will ever be done before I die? I am 55!
-- Mike A., Fort Worth

My advice is diet, exercise and no smoking.

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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