|Victor Rojas Q&A (Part 1)|
From his extensive career behind the baseball microphone to his time spent in the game as a general manager and pitching coach, Victor Rojas brings with him a wealth of baseball knowledge and an infectious love for the game. Rangers Insider was able to sit down with the son of former major leaguer Cookie Rojas for the first of a two part Q&A session.
Q: First off, tell me how much fun was it to broadcast the Caribbean Series with your Dad?
A lot of fun. It's something that presented itself last season during the Caribbean Series in Venezuela and it was interesting to watch him broadcast in English since Spanish obviously is his first language and sometimes he struggles trying to get his thoughts across. But it certainly was a lot easier because you know what the expectations are of your partner and vice versa.
Q: What's your take on the moves this team has made in the off-season and the direction Ron Washington hopes to point them in?
Everything I've seen so far has been very positive. I think that the bottom line was at the end of last year, it got to a point where Jon Daniels had to make a change and Ron Washington was brought in. Honestly, I thought that Don Wakamatsu was going to get the job but by hiring Ron it showed what kind of an impact he had in his interview with the Rangers.
As for the moves, there was so many of them you really just have to wait and see what happens. You know what Frank Catalanatto is capable of doing against right handed pitching, but you don't know if Brad Wilkerson is going to be 100% with his shoulder, and you don't know if Hank Blalock is going to be 100% with his, and so on. I think Kenny Lofton's track record speaks enough to where you know what to expect from him and he's going to be covering a big centerfield at Ameriquest.
From a Brandon McCarthy standpoint, if he puts up the numbers he did in the minor leagues and/or duplicates his performance out of the White Sox bullpen in their bandbox of a ballpark, it makes for a pretty formidable 1-2-3 in the rotation. Then it's just a matter of how much offense you're going to generate.
Q: Do you see Sammy Sosa batting 5th and making meaningful contributions for this ball club in 2007?
Well, I'm rooting for him both from the standpoint of a player trying to get his career back on track and for the Rangers because they need a guy to hit in the middle of the lineup. They don't think that they need a 35-40 homerun type of guy to protect Mark Teixeira. They need someone who's going to hit 15-20 and drive in 80 or 90 runs to help the team. You go back to two years ago when this team hit all those homeruns but didn't win a lot of games. Now, you've got Ian Kinsler who's capable of getting on base, Michael Young can do it, and Kenny Lofton to name a few. It's just a matter of how many runs the 4, 5, and 6 guys in the lineup can produce, especially with two outs in an inning. I'm not a big numbers guy but it's easy to look back and tell that two out hits just haven't been there for the Rangers and I hope that, if Sosa makes it, that changes starting this year.
Q: What do you see in the future for Jason Botts?
When he earned his first call-up early on in his career, his swing was very long and he got eaten up a lot by fastballs on the inside part of the plate. But I saw a different Jason Botts when he was up here last season. I think he's a guy who has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. But on a major league level Jon Daniels knows that he's limited. So I think that if he doesn't get a chance to play every day in the major leagues with the Texas Rangers it behooves not only the ball club but also Jason to let him go to another organization that gives him a chance at the major league level. The last thing you want is for him to become a 4A type of player where he produces and puts up lights out types of numbers in Triple-A but there's never a spot for him on the big league level. Doing that is not fair to him and it's not fair to the organization either. I'm sure Jason is willing to do whatever it takes, but deep down as a competitor and as a player I'm sure he's thinking "What else do you want me to do?"
I think everybody's rooting for Sammy. If he doesn't make it he'll retire, then wait five years or so to see if he gets in the hall of fame (which I think he does). But really, it's just a matter of where this plays out in spring training. If Botts hits lights out then JD is going to have a really, really tough decision on his hands.
Q: So is it out of any realm of possibility that we could see Botts land a job in right field for this team?
Personally I don't see him anywhere in the outfield. He's somewhat of a liability defensively and certainly in right field you need someone with a pretty good arm. Unless Nelson Cruz looks absolutely horrible, he's going to be your starting right fielder. I saw him during the Caribbean Series and he looks extremely strong, so with him it's just a matter of whether his offense translates to the big league level and you saw glimpses of that to where he's earned the right to come into spring training as the incumbent for that position.
Then of course you've got guys like Wilkerson and Catalanatto who are both proven left fielders. There may be an occasion where Lofton needs some help in centerfield so Wilkerson or Cruz slide over. So it's a tough spot because you've got so many outfielders with track records. If he's going to make the team, it's going to be as a DH who can play one day in the outfield or give Teixeira a break at first base.
Regardless, it's nice to look at this team and get excited at some of the talent that's available. The Rangers have got a tough task at hand if everyone plays like they're capable of in spring training. Come the end of March, trying to find a 25 man roster could be one difficult decision to make. It's not like you're trying to decide about taking Justin Morneau over Frank Thomas or Mike Piazza or anything. But it is nice to have some sort of depth to dig from and I think the biggest thing I've seen JD do in now his second spring is create competition for jobs.
Q: When you talk about everything they bring to the organization and the fan base of the Rangers, how serious should this ballclub be about resigning Mark Teixeira and Michael Young?
You're talking about two guys who are the cornerstones of the franchise right now. Although they haven't won Most Valuable Player awards, they're two guys who are synonymous with this team. I guess you could liken them to Juan Gonzalez and Pudge Rodriguez and maybe Rusty Greer to a certain extent. Is it imperative that we sign both guys? Yeah, to a certain extent, but I think it'll get to a point where the Rangers will have to sit down and figure how their numbers are going to play out and decide whether or not they want to break the bank for either one of them. Michael is a little older than Mark, Mark is a power guy, and you would think he would bring more in a trade than Michael Young would.
You've also got to be very careful before you start throwing a ton of cash around to lock guys up for a lot of years. Michael Young is 30 now and they'll need to figure out if it's the right move to make an investment on a shortstop for, say, seven years and 12 or 13 million dollars a year. That's pretty pricey, and if that's what Michael is getting then what's Tex getting? Carlos Beltran money? Soriano money? That's when you've got to shake your head and ask yourself if you're capable of replacing that in the marketplace going into this off-season or the following off-season and picking up two guys at that price who can produce his numbers.