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Rangers Mailbag: All Eyes On Next Season

It's our final Q&A with Texas Rangers fans during the 2021 season.

The end of the 2021 season is upon us!

It's been a trying year for the Texas Rangers and also you, the fans. Thank you so much for your support by reading even a single word here at InsideTheRangers.com on Sports Illustrated. We couldn't do what we do unless you come here and read our work. You are the real MVP.

As the season winds down, we're taking all of your questions for one final mailbag of the 2021 season.

What are the odds we win out just to avoid the long avoided 100-loss season?
-@thelastfaulkner

Not high. The Rangers would have to go 6-0 against two clubs that are tough to beat, and the Rangers are coming off a split with the really bad Baltimore Orioles. But with the Rangers guaranteed to pick either no better than third overall and no worse than fourth, they will be doing everything they can to avoid the century mark. 

Honestly, I think going 3-3 this week is pretty realistic, which would put the Rangers at 60-102. It's an ugly result for an ugly season, but it should — *SHOULD* be better next year.

Do you really think Carlos Correa is the better sign over Trevor Story with injury history and defense?
-Multiple credits

Short answer: Yes. Absolutely.

Long answer: Correa is a better defender at this stage in their careers and he is two years younger than Story. Correa might not be quite as impactful as Story can be offensively, but he hits plenty to be a catalyst in this offense. In addition, he has the alpha dog mentality the Rangers need in the clubhouse and on the field. Fans may hate him now. Put him in Rangers red, white and blue, most of them will change their mind.

The injury history is a legitimate concern. However, the Rangers have other options for shortstop in case they wanted to have Correa DH more often to help preserve his health. He'd still be the guy at shortstop. He's also young enough to handle the workload. But they have options coming up through the minor leagues to help with depth in the middle infield.

Does Josh Jung make the Opening Day roster as our starting third baseman? And do we see Jack Leiter MLB debut next year?
-@JR_Gaut

Yes, I believe Josh Jung will be the Opening Day third baseman. He's hit along the line in his first full season in the minor leagues and the Rangers believe he has the necessary traits to bridge the very wide gap between Triple A and the big leagues. He has to earn the job next spring, but he will be given the opportunity to compete for it.

As for Jack Leiter, I still stand by my initial feeling that he won't make his big league debut until June 2023. The Rangers don't need to rush any prospect. Unless he's blowing the doors off hitters in Double A or Triple A next season, I think a full season down there would be beneficial. Much like what Cole Winn did this season: most of the year at Double-A Frisco, then go to Triple-A Round Rock in September. 

Given we're ending up with third or fourth pick in next year's draft, there any names that seem like a likely pick? This year everyone seemed to think we'd take Jack Leiter, and we did. There any kind of similar deal in next draft?
-@JoeSiegler

It is still so early. At this time last year, Leiter's teammate Kumar Rocker was the consensus No. 1 pick. He ended up being the 10th overall pick and didn't sign. So much can happen between now and next summer.

That being said, Jace Jung is very interesting to me. Not only is he the highest-rated college player in Baseball America, he's the younger brother of Rangers 2019 first-rounder Josh Jung. The Rangers love Josh's make up and might want to get more of that DNA in the organization. Jace would add more depth to the infield and provide some power from the left side of the plate as well.

If Ruben Mateo hadn't broke his leg running out a grounder would he have been the mega star we had all hoped and dreamed for?
-@Texrangernation

It's so hard to answer that. It sure looked like it. And as an eternal optimist, I'd like to think he would have. But it's so hard to put your finger on a what-if scenario.

I would wonder the same thing about Josh Hamilton if it weren't for all the off-the-field issues...

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What do you see in the future for my favorite, Nick Solak?
-@OverstreetMolly

2022 might be his last chance to really get a chance to prove he's an everyday Major Leaguer. If the Rangers are successful in adding one of the big free agent shortstops, it's very plausible that Isiah Kiner-Falefa could be moved over to second base, meaning Solak would have to find regular at-bats elsewhere.

The Rangers love his bat and believe in his offensive potential. Hopefully the majority of his growing pains will remain in 2021 as he takes a step forward in 2022.

Do you worry prospects could be rushed through the system because of the pandemic & lost time? Who will make the cut out of this year's team?
-@bzincked

Actually, no. That is not something that concerns me whatsoever. If the Rangers would have called up Josh Jung, Sam Huff, or maybe even Cole Winn, I would say it's a major concern. Both Chris Young and Jon Daniels have repeatedly said they don't want to rush prospects, and their actions this season have proved that to be true.

It's one of the reasons why I also don't believe Sam Huff or Winn will start next season in the big leagues.

I feel we need a new manager and a few coaches. I do not buy into the message. Our team doesn't know how to win. If I was a player. This wouldn't help my confidence.
-@cindyj1123

The main reason the 2021 team doesn't know how to win is because they haven't learned how yet. This team is very young. Here's a quick breakdown of the current active roster (28 players), in terms of service time:

  • 4+ years: Four players
  • 3-4 years: One
  • 2-3 years: Two
  • 1-2 years: Seven
  • <1 year: Fourteen

That's 21 of 28 players that have less than two years of service. Half the roster are qualified rookies. This year is proof more than anything that the vast majority of players — pretty much all of them — require multiple years of learning at the big league level. The Mike Trouts of the world are rare.

Rangers management believe in Chris Woodward's message. And I can tell you right now, this man wants to win. Badly. Not a day has gone by in the last couple weeks of the season where Woodward hasn't mentioned being more competitive and adding more pieces for next season. He's ready to move past this season of growing pains.

Do we know if anyone on the team is planning on playing winter ball this off season?

And just for grins… If you (Chris) had walk-up music, what would it be?
-@sweetauntfanny

I don't have a full list just yet, but I know Ronald Guzmán and Willie Calhoun have expressed the desire to play, which makes sense given the amount of time missed this season. It wouldn't surprise me to see a guy like Kyle Cody play winter ball either.

I would probably have to go with "Africa" by Toto. That song brings out every good emotion in me. Plus, the crowd would immediately want to join in and sing. Everybody's happy.

What's your favorite walk-up song of the year?
-@deafgaynerd

He hasn't used it in a while, but Brock Holt used "Testify" by NEEDTOBREATHE earlier this season. That's one of my favorite bands and has been for quite some time. When I heard it for the first time, my ears quickly perked up.

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