Chat with Richard Durrett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPNDallas.com Texas Rangers reporter Richard Durrett stops by to chat about the MLB season.
Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009 and writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. He spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.
Send your questions now and join Durrett Friday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Richard Durrett (1:01 PM)
Hello, everyone. We're getting closer to Opening Day. Let's plan on chatting every Friday at noon about the Rangers this season. Hope you enjoy.
Markus Bright (Cedar Hill, TX)
Choice is off to a solid start this spring.. Do you think he will be with the rangers on opening day?
Richard Durrett (1:04 PM)
Good question. He is off to a solid start and clearly wants the job. Part of the issue is Engel Beltre. He's out of options and that has to factor in the OF depth situation. But he's also dealing with some minor injuries issues. Choice is tempting. He's a right-handed hitter that could give manager Ron Washington some options off the bench. The other question is whether the club feels he's better off getting everyday at-bats in the minors. But as of today, you can't ignore what Choice has done this spring. I'm tempted to put him on the roster. Let's see how it plays out.
Markus Bright (Cedar Hill, TX)
What do you expect from Jurickson Profar this season?
Richard Durrett (1:05 PM)
It's time for Profar to show why he was the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball. He has a steady position now and a spot in the everyday lineup. He seems calm and confident this spring, which is a good sign. I expect him to be much improved over last season. He needs to be to help the bottom of this lineup.
Markus Bright (Cedar Hill, TX)
If the rangers do not make the playoffs, will Ron Washington be back next season?
Richard Durrett (1:08 PM)
It depends on how they miss the playoffs. If the rotation is banged up all year, they fight to the finish, but just can't make it, how is that the manager's fault? But if they're healthy and underachieve, I wouldn't be surprised to see a change made. The extension to Washington's contract will keep the questions about his job security to a minimum if this club has a 6-game losing streak. But the reality is that if Texas wants to make a change after this season, they're only buying out one year. So it's not as if the extension means there won't necessarily be a change after this season. Again, if they don't make the playoffs it's how they didn't make it. (It wasn't Washington's fault that Nelson Cruz was suspended for the final 50 games of last year, for example).
Jon J (Montreal, Canada)
I want to know your opinion on JP Arencibia. I thought he played very well with the Blue Jays (even though he strikes out a lot), and now I think he fits in right with new additions Fielder and Choo + he catches Darvish, an amazing pitcher. Also I want to know if you think the Rangers have enough caliber to win the AL and possibly the World Series. Thanks.
Richard Durrett (1:10 PM)
Honestly, I think it's what Arencibia does for the clubhouse that might be just as important. Look, his average was poor and he struggled at times. He does have pop. But I've seen a guy that lights up the clubhouse this spring. He keeps everybody loose and he doesn't look like someone who's just arriving for the first time with a new team. That's important. The pitchers seem to like him and that's critical as well. (I'll be writing more about him on the blog next week). How are things in Montreal? I finished high school at Lower Canada College for two years before returning to the states. Loved it up there. Wish the Expos were still around.
Hey Richard, what is your take on Feliz's performance so far? Will he be the closer on opening day?
Richard Durrett (1:14 PM)
Honestly, I'm surprised he hasn't been better. The reports were so good from winter ball and that Feliz hasn't shown up yet at spring training. He says the velocity will get there and that he's working on secondary pitches, but the command hasn't been solid either. It's early, but I'm not ready to say he's the closer. He came in as the favorite, but he still has to earn the job.
Hi Richard, how concerned are the Rangers about their pitching depth? Joe Saunders seems like a bad fit for them.
Richard Durrett (1:15 PM)
I'm concerned. How can you not be? Derek Holland is out until midseason. Matt Harrison is behind after a tight back earlier in spring training. What if another injury pops up? But I'm not sure I agree with you on Saunders. He eats innings and his career numbers in Arlington are a bit misleading because he's been much better there the past four seasons. He wasn't good last year, but he's worth a look to see if he can pitch more like he did a few years ago.
Candy (Slippery Rock)
Who do you think will wind up in the 4th and 5th slots in the pitching rotation when the season starts?
Richard Durrett (1:17 PM)
It's too early. Let's see how Saunders does and how Colby Lewis progresses. I've been impressed with Nick Tepesch this spring. He's been willing to throw that changeup and it's a pitch that's getting better. Lewis is an amazing story and if he can get his mechanics worked out, he could surprise some folks. But give it a few weeks.
Jason (flower mound tx)
Do you believe that the catcher situation is questionable because management is waiting on Jorge Alfaro to break out of the minors? Is that a safe way of running the team?
Richard Durrett (1:18 PM)
I think you pick and choose certain spots to spend money and resources on and certain spots to let your young players grow. The club needed to bolster the lineup and did it with Fielder and Choo. No, they aren't expecting to get huge bats from Soto and Arencibia, but they should score enough runs without that. They need those guys to run the staff and I think they can. And as high as everyone is on Alfaro, he's worth looking at when he gets to the big leagues.
Landon (fort worth)
do you think Alex Rios will have a good year for the rangers ?
Richard Durrett (1:20 PM)
I think Alex Rios is the most underrated player in the Rangers' lineup. All we hear about is Choo, Andrus, Fielder and Beltre and for good reason. But Rios is a key in the 5-hole. He is a good baserunner and has better speed than you think. He's a solid defender. I think he's going to have a very good year.
Hey Richard, with Tommy Hanson seeminly unable to get his fastball velocity consistently in the low 90's like he used to in Atlanta do you see Joe Saunders being the guy to fill out the back of the rotation?
Richard Durrett (1:22 PM)
Right now, I think Saunders has a better chance than Hanson to get that spot. Again, too early to make that statement definitively. But Hanson hasn't "wowed" this spring. Let's see what Saunders can do.
Forrest (Mansfield) [via mobile]
Why don't the Rangers sign a proven pitcher like Ervin Santana instead of these minor league deals?
Richard Durrett (1:23 PM)
Money. Santana isn't a guy that's ready to take a one-year deal. Or he would have been signed by someone by now. He's content to wait things out. But while the Rangers have spent a bunch of money, they still have a budget. And Santana doesn't fit into it. Nevermind the draft-pick compensation issue.
Carey (Pendleton, KY)
Mitch Morland is not hitting well through the first 6 spring training games. Is it time to sign Kendry Morales and trade Morland for a player equal to or better than the draft pick the rangers would lose?
Richard Durrett (1:24 PM)
I think it's too soon to say that. I'm surprised Morales has taken this long, but teams don't want to give up draft picks. Honestly, I'd rather see the Rangers save whatever money they might have to keep looking at pitching depth.
RD, with how well Michael Choice has been doing in spring training what do you think his chances are of making the Opening Day team? Looks like he is the clear favorite for the #4 outfielder right now.
Richard Durrett (1:25 PM)
As I said earlier, his chances for that have greatly improved. He's been really solid this spring. And having that right-handed bat on the bench would be tempting.
What do you think of the Callahan trade? What? Oh sorry, thought this was NY Rangers chat.
Richard Durrett (1:26 PM)
Cute. I'd like it for the Rangers if I thought it made them Cup contenders. But I don't. We'll see if Martin St. Louis keeps this up at his age. That seems iffy, but he's done it so far.
Chuck (Camp Lejeune, NC)
Should we be alarmed at the sloppy play/losing streak this spring?
Richard Durrett (1:27 PM)
Don't ever get alarmed by losing streaks in spring. Sloppy play is another story. Now, I'll tell you that most of the errors and mistakes we've seen are not from regulars. So you have to look beyond the stats a bit. Plus, it's difficult to worry about anything in spring until the final 7 or 10 games when the regulars actually play 7 or more innings.
Web (Fort Worth )
I am expecting good things from Ogando this season, but I know I am in the minority. If Ogando makes 28-30 starts and puts up his career numbers as a starter for ERA and WHIP meaning 3.40 ERA and 1.16 WHIP will he be the biggest pleasant surprise of the season for most folks? Myself, I wouldn't be that surprised.
Richard Durrett (1:28 PM)
Yes. I could see him putting up good numbers. My question, like everyone else, is whether he'll be durable enough to make the 28 to 30 starts you mentioned. If he does, that's a huge boost to this rotation. He's got the stuff to do it. He just has to stay healthy. And that's a big if.
I understand the needs of power and OBP were adressed, but the way I see it is that last year we had the guys on base we just couldnt drive them in. So, what I'm asking is, do you think the Rangers will struggle getting on base and driving in runs after the 5 hole(assuming Rios is there)? Moreland has power, not much contact. Soto has the occasional big hit, Profar is questionable, but Martin should be better.
Richard Durrett (1:30 PM)
The bottom of the order certainly isn't as strong as the top. Leonys Martin could hold a key as will Profar. I think Moreland will give them some power, but I don't know how consistent he'll be. And I agree with you: they had chances, but didn't cash them in. Having Fielder will help.
Richard, I have been crushed by even suggesting the Saunders signing is a nice move by the Rangers. He saves the pen, and just one year ago in the AL East posted an ERA+ of 117. In fact 6 of his 9 years have ERA of 100 or better. Are people focusing on the Seattle disaster to much?
Richard Durrett (1:31 PM)
Yes, they are. I really don't mind this move. Look, it's not like anyone available now is contending for Cy Youngs. There's a reason Saunders was looking for a job in early March. But he'll eat innings and if he shows more than he had last year -- and the Rangers liked what they saw in his workout last week -- that's a good option at No. 5.
Benjamin (Arlington TX BABY!)
Rangers have always been impressed with James Shields. How plausible would it be for the Rangers pursue him for a mid-season sign and trade if the rotation proves to be plagued with injuries again?
Richard Durrett (1:33 PM)
Anything is possible. And as we've seen from this front office, they'll exhaust all means to improve. That's the other thing to remember about the rotation: If can change at the deadline. That also includes the return of Holland. A lot of this is getting a group that can help them survive the first few months and then see what the landscape looks like.
Manuel (Austin tx)
Do you think Odor is an competition for a spot in the opening day roster?
Richard Durrett (1:35 PM)
No. I think he probably starts the year at Double-A Frisco at 2B with Luis Sardinas at SS. He's got a bright future and you can bet teams will be throwing his name out in talking to the Rangers at the deadline. That, of course, doesn't mean the Rangers will part with him.
Yu Darvish [via mobile]
Will I win the Cy Young this year?
Richard Durrett (1:37 PM)
Yu, if you will throw more first-pitch strikes I think you will. I know there's not much to improve on from a runner-up performance, but you've steadily improved since you got here. I've got to think this offense will score more runs for you. So I say yes. How about that?
Andy Brown (Dallas, Texas)
Seems to me that our bullpen could be an issue all season long. How do you see that playing out especially with the injuries to our starters?
Richard Durrett (1:38 PM)
I'm actually not as concerned about the pen as I am the rotation. I feel like there are enough pieces to be solid down there. Jason Frasor is a veteran that can help bridge the gap to the back end of the pen. Tanner Scheppers did a nice job in setup last year. Joakim Soria has looked good this spring and has closing experience and Neftali Feliz is a force if he can return to his 2010 and 2011 form.
Scheppers was red hot the first half of last season and then sizzled off at the end, how has he looked so far and could he or possibly Ross fight for a starter spot at some point with the state the rotation is in?
Richard Durrett (1:42 PM)
Scheppers' back bothered him a bit early in spring, but he appears fine now. Ross has pitched well and continues to fight for a spot. And he wants that spot. So he certainly has a chance.
143 PA against LH SP Choo slash line 2013(AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS).217/.306/.258/.56478 PA against LH RP.344/.430/.410.840Why all the worry about Choo against LH pitchers, seems he does great damage when the game matters. That slash line suggest you aren't winning by bringing in a LF RP.
Richard Durrett (1:43 PM)
Interesting. The bottom line is that he got on base against lefties, even though he didn't hit LH starters well. Choo has started slowly this spring, but he hasn't necessarily been a great spring player anyway. I don't think it's a big worry.
Javier(Camp Hansen,Okinawa Japan) [via mobile]
I was wondering the Rangers have started the Cactus League with a less than great record my question is should there be any concern of the lack of wins the rangers have came away with so far? Or is it just spring training?
Richard Durrett (1:46 PM)
It's spring training. Wins and losses mean next to nothing. Just watch the competition and watch how the regulars are doing. But take even that with a grain of salt. Everybody is working on certain things. Don't pay much attention to stats until near the end.
Do you think that Adam Rosales still holds the edge over Brent Lillibridge for backup SS/utilityman?
Richard Durrett (1:47 PM)
I think that's an interesting competition. I think it might be an even race right now thanks to Lillibridge stepping up this spring. The good news is that both look good there and are working hard. Whichever gets it, I like what the Rangers will be getting from that spot.
Richard, Are you concerned with what you have seen out of Neal Cotts so far in spring training. He was one of the more consistent peices last year, and seems to be a little shaky so far?
Richard Durrett (1:48 PM)
I'm not sure what to make of Cotts so far this spring. Probably because of that, I"m going to wait and see how things look in a few weeks. Again, it goes back to trying not to make too much -- good or bad -- of spring training games.
Benjamin (Arlington TX BABY!)
Who has the potential to be our best clubhouse leader?
Richard Durrett (1:51 PM)
I think this team has plenty of leaders. Adrian Beltre is one. Shin-Soo Choo is another. He may not be a rah-rah guy, but when he speaks, guys are listening. J.P. Arencibia and Elvis Andrus keep things fun, but work hard. I think it's a good mix.
Josh (Big Spring TX) [via mobile]
I know you said earlier that it's too soon to make a decision on Mitch, but hasn't he had a few years now to prove he can be the player we thought he would be? With Fielder now on board shouldn't this be the best time to trade him before any more value diminishes?
Richard Durrett (1:52 PM)
I think it depends on what that value is. Remember he started 2013 strong before the hamstring issue and never really found it again. What if he does that to start 2014? Then his value may increase.
Web (Fort Worth)
Can the Rangers afford to give up much in mid season trades this year? It seems our upper levels are very thin as it is in OF, corner IF, and starting pitching prospects.
Richard Durrett (1:53 PM)
The lower levels are certainly more stocked. But more and more teams are willing to be patient with prospects, so there's enough there to entice some teams. The bigger question may be how many of those prospects the Rangers are willing to part with.
Fielder seems to be having a great spring, so far as springs can go. Do you see any reason for us not to get excited about him and his impact on the batting order?
Richard Durrett (1:55 PM)
I think there's every reason to be excited and it has nothing to do with his spring. Look, Fielder has been a consistent hitter. Sure, his numbers slipped a bit. But he's getting a fresh start with a lineup he likes, a manager he's already bonded with and a ballpark that seems suited for him. I think he'll have a big year.
Richard Durrett (1:55 PM)
Thanks for all of the questions, folks. I'll see you here next week.