Tag:ALexi Ogando
Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Wanted: Experienced closer, likes Texas heat

Neftali Feliz

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If Neftali Feliz is starting for the Rangers, it doesn't appear the close is in camp with the defending American League champions.

"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.

Alexi OgondoThe 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.

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Posted on: March 8, 2011 5:50 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 8:40 pm
 

Feliz to close; rotation fallout in Texas

By Evan Brunell

FelizOn 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.

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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.

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Posted on: January 23, 2011 12:39 pm
 

Feliz to work as a starter in spring

Neftali Feliz The Rangers lost out on Cliff Lee, but could be looking to add to their rotation from within -- looking at American League Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz to fill a spot in the rotation.

Or, at least they'll give him a look as a starter during spring training, Rangers manager Ron Washington tells the Boston Globe 's Nick Cafardo .

"As of right now, we're going to bring [Feliz] into camp and give him the opportunity to stretch himself out," Washington said. "And if he shows us he's better fitted with our ball club to start, then we'll go in that direction.

"If not, we know he can close ballgames and we're very happy with that."

If Feliz joins the rotation, the team would move Derek Holland back to the bullpen and either Frank Francisco or Alexi Ogando would close.

Team president Nolan Ryan said he doesn't know what will happen with Feliz.

"See how he handles it and see how his breaking ball and his changeup are, and then we'll make a decision" Ryan said at the team's Fan Fest on Saturday (via the Dallas Morning News ). "We're looking at that. Do I think it will happen this year? I don't know if it will or it won't. But it's something that we're going to look at. We think with his body type and the way he throws, as free and easy as he does, that he has the potential to be a very good major league starter. I can't tell you if it's going to happen this year."

Feliz, for his part, said he's open to whatever the team wants.

"If they ask me to be a starter, I'll be a starter," he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram . "If they want me to stay a closer, I'll stay a closer. I really had fun [last] year as a closer."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: December 14, 2010 10:17 pm
 

Could Feliz, Ogando be moved to rotation?

Feliz In the wake of the loss of Cliff Lee, the Rangers have their hands full trying to augment a team that lost the World Series.

Ah, but a free-agent starting pitcher may not be imported to fix the situation.

The Rangers will stretch out Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando in the hopes of one of them being placed in the rotation, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram details.

Feliz, of course, was a starter in the minors before debuting with the Rangers last season and then slamming the door 40 times on opponents in 2010. He has the potential to become an ace, although there are questions about his durability.

Ogando, on the other hand, has missed a ton of time thanks to being involved in a human trafficking ring that denied him access to the States for five years. He finally returned for 2010 and breezed through the minors before finishing in the bigs with a 1.30 ERA over 41 2/3 innings.

Ogando did start the year as a starter for Double-A, but given how much time he missed, it's tough to see him with the durability to start. Yes, while he was able to pitch in the DSL and international tournaments, he is also 27 years old.

Then again, the Rangers successfully converted C.J. Wilson into a starter, so you can't count the Rangers out.

Manager Ron Washington, however, would prefer that Ogando and Feliz stay in the bullpen.

"That will be the last resort," Washington said. "I trust that Jon Daniels will find something to help us out. If that becomes a necessity, we're fortunate we have that depth. If that does not become a necessity, we'll keep those guys where they are."
If the team feels that Feliz and Ogando would be no better than No. 4 starters (doubtful), then sure, it's a last resort. But Feliz can be an ace, and it would be silly to try to keep him in the bullpen.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: December 7, 2010 5:22 pm
 

Brewers, Rangers targeting Matt Garza

Garza Matt Garza is a man in demand.

The Brewers are working on a deal to get Garza, as the Chicago Tribune 's Phil Rogers reports. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 's Tom Haudricourt agrees, so there's something to these talks. Rogers says that a deal could possibly include Lorenzo Cain (he types Matt, but he means Lorenzo) who was thought to be untouchable as was clarified yesterday when the Braves called on Cain.

If the Brew Crew could net Cain, it would give the Brewers a solid rotation and put their pitching woes solidly in the past. Milwaukee acquired Shaun Marcum from the Jays in a trade consummated Monday. Garza would pair with Marcum along with Randy Wolf and Yovani Gallardo in what would suddenly become one of the better rotations in the NL.

However, Milwaukee may not be alone in its pursuit of Garza. AOL Fanhouse 's Ed Price notes that if the Rangers can't get Cliff Lee or Zack Greinke, Garza would be Plan B. It would certainly behoove Tampa to wait to see if Texas gets interested, which would open up the pool of candidates in a deal and perhaps spark a bidding war. In addition, Texas has plenty of intriguing young arms Tampa would probably covet and one would think the Rangers wouldn't object to coughing up Alexi Ogando for the Rays to rebuild their bullpen with.

Garza, who tossed a no-hitter in 2010, finished at 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 204 2/3 innings. With four arbitration years, that gives Tampa three more years of arbitration control which would be attractive to any team.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: October 16, 2010 12:55 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2010 1:02 pm
 

Where was Feliz? Bullpen mismanagement costs game

Ron Washington During the Rangers' collapse Friday night that could haunt the franchise for years to come, manager Ron Washington burned through five pitchers in the eighth inning.

Not a one was Neftali Feliz, the 22-year-old closer that could have stemmed the tide. And yet, it's hard to argue against Washington's thought process in terms of bullpen machinations until tabbing Derek Holland, the fifth pitcher of the inning.

The skipper replaced starter C.J. Wilson with a runner on second and a man already across the plate. (One could argue replacing Wilson was the first screw-up.) He chose lefty Darren Oliver to face Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira in order to get them to hit from the right side of the plate. Good idea. Bad execution, as Oliver walked both batters. That meant Darren O'Day, a groundball specialist, was headed into the game to face Alex Rodriguez in the hopes of inducing a double play.

Good idea. Bad execution.

O'Day's first pitch was a groundball, technically -- a missile that skipped off the ground and ate Michael Young up for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There may have been a midnight snack.

Then, Clay Rapada, who had all of nine innings of experience with the Rangers this season, came on to try to nullify Robinson Cano who had bashed a home run the inning prior. Yet again a good idea, yet again bad execution. Another hit, and New York was still on the merry-go-round and a 5-1 Rangers lead had evaporated into a tie.

At that point, Washington was faced with three choices. One, he could bring in closer Neftali Feliz, who could at least keep the game tied. Two, Alexi Ogando, a right-hander who has been excellent in relief, could come on to face what would have been pinch-hitter Lance Berkman. Three, Washington could keep Rapada in the game or bring in Derek Holland to face Marcus Thames.

This is where Washington's choices fell apart.

Marcus Thames is a lefty killer and has been so his entire career. He has a career .264/.333/.505 line against lefties in 750 career at-bats. He was specifically brought to New York to act as a platoon player and face lefties.

Meanwhile, Berkman has struggled through a poor season and only snapped out of a funk. However, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out, Berkman is hitting .356 against right-handed pitching since Sept. 1, and that was the statistic Washington keyed in on and made him choose the Holland/Thames matchup.

"We really had to pick who we wanted to face," Washington said. "We got the matchup we wanted. They just beat us."

There is some doubt as to whether the matchup they got was what they wanted, as there's certainly plenty of reasons that Ogando or Feliz would have been able to neutralize Berkman. Simply looking at the ERAs and xFIPs of each pitcher shows that Holland was the worse of the three pitchers to head to the mound, and Holland did so against someone whose job is to hit left-handed pitching.

Feliz ended up never entering the game, and Washington says it's because the rookie has "never" been asked to get six outs in a game.

"He's never done anything like that," Washington told the Morning News . "I wouldn't do that. I had the people I wanted in the game. They didn't get it done. It happens."

"Never" is a strong word. It means Feliz has never gotten six outs in a game before.

So what happened April 21 and August 10 against the Red Sox and August 13 against these very Yankees? How about 2009, when Feliz joined the team in mid-August as a reliever? He got eight outs once, seven once, six outs six times (of course), five outs twice and four outs four times.

Yes, that was 2009. But he's done it in 2010 as well, against two of the more potent hitting teams, one of which was the opponent Friday night.

Feliz should have entered the game to face Lance Berkman at the latest, holding back Ogando and Holland for extra innings if needed. Given Holland was a starter, he would have been able to go multiple innings if needed. One could argue Feliz should have entered to face Alex Rodriguez.

Instead, he never did. And now Texas is down one game in the ALCS.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: June 12, 2010 1:22 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2010 5:21 pm
 

Ogando on way for Rangers?


Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the Rangers will neither confirm nor deny reports that right-hander Alexi Ogando has been sent to join the team in Milwaukee.

Ogando, a 26-year-old Dominican, was one of 30 players banned from the U.S. for five years due to involvement in a visa scam. He and fellow Rangers prospect Omar Beltre are the only ones who have been allowed back into the country.

Reliever Ogando is a major talent, with a 2.05 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 30 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. It's not clear whose spot he would take on the roster, but Grant speculates that the Rangers might put struggling starter Rich Harden on the disabled list. Dustin Nippert or Matt Harrison could spot start with Harden gone.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: Move now official, Ogando up and Harden to DL.

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