Posted on: July 29, 2011 10:29 pm
By Scott Miller
The Padres have vowed they will not deal closer Heath Bell for anything less than a highly attractive return, and heading into the final hours toward the trade deadline, they're putting the Rangers to that test.
The Padres and Rangers continue to discuss Bell, sources with knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com, though those discussions did not advance much Friday from where they were a day earlier. The Padres' price has not come down, and Texas' offer has not increased.
Even at that, however, Bell still may be the Rangers' player to lose (if there is such a thing as "losing" a player you've never had): St. Louis continues to stay involved, according to sources, but only on the "fringe." And the Angels, who are said to be looking to boost their bullpen, currently are not involved.
That isn't to say the Angels or other clubs could not jump into the talks Saturday or sometime before Sunday's 4 p.m. EDT deadline. But as of now, the Rangers remain the biggest presence at the trade table, and they and the Padres continue to engage in a staredown.
According to CBSSports.com sources, the Padres are asking a three-player return for Bell, which surely could be adjusted down to two players if Texas produces the right two players. The Padres watched left-handed pitcher Robbie Erlin's last start for Double-A Frisco and are believed interested in him. A few other key names in the Texas system: Martin Perez, a left-hander pitching at Triple-A Round Rock, Frisco right-handers Tanner Scheppers and Joe Wieland, and shortstop Jurickson Profar, 18, currently playing at Class A Hickory.
Bell, who collected his 30th save on Thursday, owns a 2.34 ERA and said of a trade, "It's going to happen."
He predicted: "It probably will be down to the wire."
That's the way it looks now. Texas is intent on improving its bullpen: Its 4.46 ERA is fourth-highest in the AL and the Rangers' 15 blown saves were tied for the third-highest. And as highly regarded as closer Neftali Feliz is, Rangers manager Ron Washington said the other day that he would like to see "a little more fire" from the closer.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels traveled to Toronto for this weekend's series with the Blue Jays, and several of his key advisers are with him as they sort through final offers and final moves between now and Sunday's deadline.
If the Padres elect to hold on to Bell and he leaves as a free agent this winter, they would receive two compensatory draft picks for him, the first one likely 20-something picks into the draft and the other in the 40s.
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Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:45 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
"I have confidence in Jon Daniels and our scouts," manager Ron Washington told reporters, including ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon on Tuesday. "If that's the case, I'm 100 percent sure they'll go out there and find somebody to close ballgames down for us."
If that's the case, the Rangers will be looking for their seventh different closer in the last seven seasons (defining "closer" as "dude with the most saves."). The last Ranger to lead the team in saves in back-to-back years was Francisco Cordero in 2004-05. Cordero has since been an All-Star for two different teams.
The Rangers' internal candidates appear to be Mark Lowe and Alexi Ogando (right). Or the team could go with a closer-by-committee until the trade deadline, also using veteran lefties Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver along with Lowe and Ogando. Prospect Tanner Scheppers is another (remote) possibility. The Rangers traded Frank Francisco, their closer in 2009, to the Blue Jays in exchange for Mike Napoli in the offseason.
As for trade candidates, the team could go out now, or wait until the trade deadline when more candidates would be available.
Among those available could be the Padres Heath Bell, the Mets' Francisco Rodriguez and the Orioles' Michael Gonzalez. The Blue Jays have several experienced closers on their roster, including Francisco, Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch.
If the team waits until the trade deadline, if the Mariners David Aardsma could be available, as well as Cordero, who could be supplanted by Aroldis Chapman (or Nick Masset). Others that could be available include Kevin Gregg, J.J. Putz and Brandon Lyon.
However, Washington did tell reporters in the same sitting that he felt confident enough with the rotation as it is and Feliz in the bullpen. It also appears, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson writes, that Washington would prefer to keep Feliz in the bullpen unless Daniels can get another closer.
Tags: AL West, Alexi Ogando, Arhtur Rhodes, Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Lyon, Darren Oliver, David Aardsma, Francisco Rodriguez, Frank Francisco, J.J. Putz, Jason Frasor, Jon Daniels, Jon Rauch, Kevin Gregg, Mark Lowe, Michael Gonzalez, Mike Napoli, Neftali Feliz, Nick Masset, Octavio Dotel, Rangers, Ron Washington, Tanner Scheppers
Posted on: March 8, 2011 5:50 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 8:40 pm
By Evan Brunell
On Wednesday, the Rangers will throw Neftali Feliz into a spring training game expecting three innings out of the hurler. However, Feliz won't be putting in his work at the start of the game as is common for those who aspire to make the starting rotation. Instead, Feliz will be covering the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Why is that?
"I don't think I have to tell you why we're doing that," manager Ron Washington told MLB.com.
And so comes to a close -- well, almost -- on the experiment to make Feliz (pictured) a starter. While nothing is official, all signs are pointing to the AL Rookie of the Year continuing in the role that saw him nail down 40 saves in Texas' run to the AL pennant last season. While Feliz was open to returning to the rotation, he made clear to team president Nolan Ryan and the media that he was simply more comfortable remaining as closer simply due to his familiarity with the role. While Feliz came up through the minors as a starter, his success at the major league level has been out of the bullpen and he has certainly delivered. But Feliz will continue to pitch multiple innings in spring training to work on his slider and changeup in an attempt to diversify beyond simply a wicked fastball.
"We're going to keep him stretched out so he can use all his pitches," Washington said.
Meanwhile, the absence of Feliz means there are now seven candidates for three spots in the rotation, and that's not even counting the injured Scott Feldman and Brandon Webb. Feldman had surgery in the offseason to repair a microfracture in his right knee but is not expected to be ready to pitch at the major league level until well into May, if not longer. Webb, meanwhile, has a rotation spot waiting for him but the Rangers feel the former Cy Young Award winner won't be ready for Opening Day.
"He's progressing," Washington said. "That's a good step forward. We went from long toss to bullpen to throwing live BP. Depending on how that goes, we'll set a plan from there."
Even if Webb isn't ready when time to line up along the foul lines and be introduced to the crowds, he shouldn't be that far behind, which only puts added pressure on the other candidates to step up their game.
Of the remaining candidates, top prospect Tanner Scheppers (ranked No 77. on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects) profiles as a reliever long-term and is currently battling back stiffness, while Feliz's compatriot in the bullpen, Alexi Ogando, is gamely trying to win a rotation spot but is likely to return to his setup role. Dave Bush, the former Brewer, is in camp hoping for a rotation spot along with prospect Michael Kirkman, a lefty who had 14 relief appearances for Texas last season and could reprise that role in 2011.
Tommy Hunter appears to be the one candidate with the best shot at a gig as he posted a 3.73 ERA (4.70 xFIP) in 128 innings over 22 starts and one appearance out of the bullpen. Hunter also posted similar statistics in his 19-start stint with the Rangers in 2009.
The other favorites are Matt Harrison and Derek Holland. Holland is a former top prospect who has not yet locked down a permanent spot in the rotation but could be the club's best pitcher by year's end. The 24-year-old had a 4.08 ERA (4.40 xFIP) in 10 starts and four relief appearances for the Rangers and also appeared on the postseason roster along with Hunter. The lefty will start Wednesday in Feliz's place.
Harrison, meanwhile, has impressed early in camp. However, his peripherals don't come close to what Holland can put up and the club used him almost exclusively in relief last season with six starts and 31 bullpen appearances.
One has to imagine that Hunter and Holland will occupy the Nos. 3 and 4 spots in the rotation, respectively, with Bush and Harrison battling for the final spot that will eventually be turned over to Webb. There is also thought to be a long-relief spot available which could go to the loser of the rotation sweepstakes.
Posted on: March 4, 2011 7:21 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 9:00 pm
By Evan Brunell
The Rangers have handed GM Jon Daniels a four-year extension, rewarding the 33-year-old for steering the club to its first-ever AL pennant in 2010. For all of Daniels' talents, however, he's made quite a few missteps along the way. Here's a look back at Daniels' three best and worst moves as Rangers GM...
1. The Teix Heist
The reason the Rangers made the World Series is thanks to the trade that sent Mark Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves. Consummated at the trade deadline of 2007, this deal represented the first time Daniels was trading away a major piece of a team and he needed to hit a home run.
He did. By dealing Teix and left-handed reliever Ron Mahay, Daniels hauled in catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus, pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones. The fact Salty stalled in Texas is concerning, but many viewed the backstop at the time as one of the elite young catchers in the game. Andrus would go on to blossom as Texas' starting shortstop while Feliz won the AL Rookie of the Year Award with 40 saves last season and is currently shifting to the rotation. Harrison is a young lefty who is battling for a rotation spot himself, while Jones is the one non-entity.
This deal will continue to pay dividends over time, as Andrus and Feliz will be in town for years to come while Harrison is valuable depth. Saltalamacchia's career is not yet over as he is slated to start in Boston, and the jury is out on Daniels' return for Salty in three minor leaguers.
2. Game Over
Gagne was impressive in his first season as an ex-Dodger and after missing the bulk of the 2006 season. He wasn't the lockdown closer of old, but looked as if he could be a quality part of the bullpen. Except as Red Sox fans know, he completely imploded and while he walked away with a World Series trade, he will forever be known as Gag-me in Boston. (For some reason, there are over 11,000 views of a video I took recording Gagne's Red Sox debut.) His saving grace in Boston was as a Type-B free agent, and the Red Sox would later trade the player they drafted with the compensatory pick to Cleveland as part of the Victor Martinez deal.
Meanwhile, David Murphy is one of the more valuable fourth outfielders in the game and would be a starter for many other teams. Beltre has his makeup questions but is developing nicely as Texas' center fielder of the future. Gabbard flamed out, but at the time was a possible back-of-the-rotation starter.
3. Draft Bonanza
A major reason why Daniels has stayed viable as GM of the Rangers is his drafting history. Of course, major credit goes to the people working under him that are in charge of the draft, but Daniels deserves credit for putting these people in those roles as well as having a hand in the drafting and development of these players.
His first draft pick, Kasey Kiker, has yet to develop significantly but is just 22 and does hold some promise. However, his following two have had major league time already: power-hitting Chris Davis who has unfortunately failed time and time again to lock down a starting spot in Texas and Danny Herrera, who is a member of the Reds bullpen currently and was used to get Josh Hamilton. Michael Main was used to get Bengie Molina, while Blake Beavan and Justin Smoak were packaged for Cliff Lee.
Tommy Hunter was a viable member of the rotation last season and could have a nice career as a back-of-the-rotation pitcher, while Julio Borbon is prepared to start in center field. Tanner Scheppers ranked No. 77 on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects and may have ranked higher if he was clearly going to be a starter. The club also came away with an impressive haul in the 2010 draft.
Honorable Mention: One would expect the deal bringing in Josh Hamilton to be one of Daniels' better deals, but it's hard to justify that as one of his best deals simply by virtue of giving up Edinson Volquez. There's no denying Hamilton's talent -- after all, he won the AL MVP award -- but Volquez has turned out pretty well for himself. There's a similar case to be made for the trade that imported Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz from Milwaukee in exchange for Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and Juan Cordero, so the honorable mention goes to signing Colby Lewis to a two-year deal prior to the 2010 season. Lewis was an utter failure stateside before heading to Japan and discovering his talent. Daniels didn't hesitate to bring in Lewis, and all he did was become the Rangers' best right-handed starter in the team's run to the AL pennant.
1. The Young and Heartless
In March of 2007, Daniels signed shortstop Michael Young to a five-year, $80 million extension, a contract that was strange at the time and now has snowballed. Two seasons later, Daniels bumped Young to third base in a contentious move to free up short for Elvis Andrus. Young's bat has continued to be solid, but he remained a defensive liability at third and in a much-publicized spat, is now headed to DH and first base after demanding a trade. However, thanks to Young's contract, it will be difficult to move him.
Daniels certainly shouldn't have signed Young to this deal, but that's not why this ranks as one of his three worst moves as GM. While there's a lot of "he-said, he-said" going on by both sides, the fact remains that Young is not very keen on speaking to Daniels and feels "misled." Whether or not you believe Daniels or Young (or think the true answer is somewhere in-between), Daniels should have done a far better job managing the crisis as this has become a nightmare, both in terms of Young's trade value and in public relations. Heck, it even made a three-year-old kid very upset.
It's hard to fault Jon Daniels for trading away Adrian Gonzalez as he needed pitching and had Mark Teixeira at first. But goodness, couldn't he have done better? In his second significant trade of his GM career -- the first was also pretty bad -- Daniels shipped away someone who would become one of the best first-basemen in the game in short order in Gonzalez to the Padres along with Chris Young, who fashioned a nice run for himself in the rotation for San Diego. Terrmel Sledge was a throw-in to get Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and Billy Killian in return.
Eaton was a disaster, making just 13 starts and moving onto the Phillies where he was even worse, while Otsuka became the Rangers' closer but fell to injury in 2007 at age 35 and has not returned to the majors since. Killian is now in independent baseball.
Hey, every GM has trades they regret. It's part of life. But this is one regrettable trade that makes one really cringe looking back on it.
3. A-Rod to Soriano to Nothing
OK, so Daniels wasn't responsible for the initial trade of Alex Rodriguez, but he certainly was responsible for turning Rodriguez's return in Alfonso Soriano into something. Unfortunately, his first major trade was a flop when he shipped Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Armando Galarraga and Terrmel Sledge. Sledge would be shipped in another terrible deal a month later in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, while Wilkerson couldn't arrest the decline he began in his final season for the Nats in '06. He did not top 350 at-bats in the two seasons he was a Ranger.
While Galarraga was and still is nothing to write home about, he chewed up almost 500 innings for the Tigers after the Rangers essentially gave him away, predominantly as a starter the last three seasons -- and of course, as the architect of the 28-out perfect game. He is now a Diamondback and expected to serve in the back of the rotation. These types of pitchers are far from sexy and you can't blame Daniels for tossing Galarraga in the deal, but it only serves to make this deal look even worse given he got absolutely nothing of value for Soriano, which in turn meant the team got nothing for A-Rod.
In Daniels' defense, he was handicapped by Soriano entering the final year of his deal, but Daniels should have looked for prospects in any deal, not an outfielder on the decline, a pitcher he would give away a couple years later and a bit piece that would go on to become part of Daniels' worst trade to date.
Dishonorable Mention: Not to pile on Daniels, who has turned into a very fine GM, but just like he has plenty of candidates for honorable mention, he has candidates for this category as well. Signing Kevin Millwood to a five-year, $60 million deal was head-scratching at the time and he stumbled badly on December 23, 2006 when he dealt away John Danks, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy and David Paisano. Danks and McCarthy were two highly-regarded prospects at the time, but Danks is the one that blossomed, while Masset would go on to bust out himself as an important part of the Reds bullpen.
Tags: Adam Eaton, Adrian Gonzalez, Akinori Otsuka, AL West, Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, Armando Galarraga, Bengie Molina, Blake Beavan, Brad Wilkerson, Brandon McCarthy, Braves, Brewers, Carlos Lee, Chris Davis, Chris Young, Colby Lewis, Danny Herrera, David Murphy, Edinson Volquez, Elvis Andrus, Engel Beltre, Eric Gagne, Francisco Cordero, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, John Danks, Jon Daniels, Josh Hamilton, Justin Smoak, Kasey Kiker, Kason Gabbard, Kevin Mench, Kevin Millwood, Laynce Nix, Mark Teixeira, Matt Harrison, Michael Main, Michael Young, Nationals, Neftali Feliz, Nelson Cruz, Nick Masset, Padres, Rangers, Red Sox, Reds, Tanner Scheppers, Tommy Hunter, White Sox