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Neftali Feliz Rumors
Here's the latest from the reigning American League champions and their divisional rivals…
- After the news broke earlier today that Neftali Feliz would remain the Rangers' closer this season, Nolan Ryan said the team is aiming to have Feliz join the rotation for the 2012 season. "I think if we weren't in such a need for him as a closer, he would be starting for us this year," Ryan said in a radio interview on ESPN 103.3 FM's Galloway and Company (and reported on by Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com). "I think what it means is that we have a year to find somebody within our system or through trade or a free agent acquisition to come in and take that role [as closer]."
- Jon Daniels and Michael Young have met twice this spring to "clear the air," tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Daniels expressed regret over not communicating better with Young, and also regretted that the veteran infielder received "undeserved criticism" for his trade request, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Daniels doesn't think Young will be dealt before Opening Day but "he hasn't ruled out anything."
- The Angels fired scouting director Eddie Bane last fall, a decision that ESPN's Keith Law criticized in an e-mail to Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Law thought Bane's firing "smacked of internal politics, and furthered Tony Reagins' reputation in the game as a difficult person to work for and someone who only values opinions that match his own."
- The Mariners have been adamant that they have no intention of trading Felix Hernandez, and Scott Miller of CBSSports.com commends the M's for their stance.
The Rangers will open the season with a rotation of C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz will return to the bullpen after an extended spring stint as a starter, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan (on Twitter). The decision provides manager Ron Washington with the proven closer he sought and lessens the chances that the Rangers have to look outside of the organization for relief help.
The Rangers considered moving Feliz to the rotation because of his potential to be a shutdown starter. He won last year's AL Rookie of the Year as the Rangers' closer, saving 40 games and posting a 2.73 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 69 1/3 innings. Last week, 55% of 6,681 MLBTR readers said they would return the 22-year-old to the bullpen.
As Spring Training winds down and teams make their final roster cuts, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has the latest from around the majors…
- Aaron Harang signed with the Padres because he has family ties to San Diego, but there’s another reason the right-hander’s a good fit for his new club. Olney and Scott Regan estimate that 13 of the 43 home runs Harang gave up in Cincinnati from 2008-10 would not have been home runs in San Diego. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes identified the Padres as a good match for Harang last October.
- The Cardinals like what they’ve seen from Kyle McClellan in the rotation. "It's what we would've expected," GM John Mozeliak said. "He has a strong repertoire of pitches. The big challenge for him is going to be going through a lineup multiple times." For more on McClellan's new role, click here.
- Olney reports that the Rangers will probably decide whether to use Neftali Feliz as a starter or as a closer by the weekend. A week ago, 55% of 6,670 MLBTR readers said Feliz belongs in the ‘pen for 2011.
The 22-year-old was last year's AL Rookie of the Year as the Rangers closer, when he saved 40 games and posted a 2.73 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 69 1/3 innings. Given those results, the Rangers' lack of shutdown relievers besides Feliz and their manager's desire for a proven closer, it's easy to see why the Rangers would return Feliz to the 'pen for at least one more year.
On the other hand, elite starters are harder to come by than elite relievers and they're on the mound for three times as many innings as most closers. Feliz's secondary offerings may not be finely tuned, but it stands to reason that they won't get any sharper if he's only pitching one inning at a time. You can make the argument that the Rangers should use Feliz as a starter and make do with their current bullpen or trade for an extra reliever.
What role would you assign Feliz for 2011 if you were in GM Jon Daniels' position?
It would be a "huge" upset if the Rangers put Neftali Feliz into their rotation, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter links). However, the Rangers are aware that next year's free agent class is loaded with top relievers, so they'll likely move Feliz to the rotation for the 2012 season. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that trading for a closer at this point in the spring is difficult and argues that Feliz belongs in the bullpen.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said earlier in the week that he wants an experienced closer. Feliz, though still 22, closed for Texas last year when the Rangers made it to the World Series, so he qualifies. Other established closers like Heath Bell and Joakim Soria don't appear to be available.
Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, Jose Valverde and other top relievers could hit free agency after the 2011 season, at which point the Rangers would have many more options than they do now.
If you're a fan of top prospects and rookies, then this Quick Hits post is for you. Here are today's links…
- Oakland's 2010 first rounder, Michael Choice, is wowing scouts in Arizona, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Peter Gammons of MLB Network hears from a trusted scout that Choice has the bat speed, strength and athleticism to become a "monster" (Twitter link). Baseball America ranked the 21-year-old third among Oakland's prospects heading into the season.
- One GM says the Royals are so deep in talent that they can still be in it in 2013 if a couple of their top prospects miss, according to Gammons (on Twitter).
- Neftali Feliz has said he's most comfortable closing games, but Rangers GM Jon Daniels says he'll continue stretching the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year out to see if he can make it as a starter, according to Anthony Andro of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram (on Twitter).
- The Giants and last year's NL Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey, agreed to a one-year deal, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He tweets that the deal is worth $575K. That's about $150K more than the Giants had to give him.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi that Brett Lawrie has looked “very good.” The Blue Jays, who acquired Lawrie for Shaun Marcum over the winter, like the infielder’s work ethic, tools and drive.
Links for Friday as Jake Peavy prepares for his first game action since last July. Peavy faces the Angels in Arizona this afternoon…
- Chris Richard, an outfielder/first baseman who spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Orioles, Rays, Rockies and Cardinals, has announced his retirement, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter).
- The Angels offered Carl Crawford $108MM with an $18MM option, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). No wonder the outfielder accepted Boston's $142MM offer.
- Vernon Wells would have accepted a trade to the Yankees, not just to the Rangers or Angels, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- Rangers higher-ups want Neftali Feliz to make the team's rotation, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- Astros catcher Jason Castro could miss the entire season, after tearing his right ACL, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
Links for Wednesday night..
- Longtime major leaguer Juan Castro told MLB.com's Ken Gurnick that he never considered retirement at any point this winter. The 38-year-old is trying to hook on with the Dodgers in 2011 for what would be his fourth stint with the club.
- Earlier today, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told versatile Astros veteran Bill Hall that the club was "this close" to signing him, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network.
- A source close to the Rockies told Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated that the Rangers sought a "very good player" for Michael Young, but didn't elaborate on who that player might be.
- Some in the Rangers front office feel that Neftali Feliz could develop into the type of starter that would otherwise cost a bundle in a trade, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
- Yankees fans have been hard on A.J. Burnett, who is set to earn $16.5MM annually through 2013. However, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that Burnett's career numbers are not all that different from Boston's Josh Beckett.
- Outfielder Travis Buck views his arrival in the Indians locker room as a fresh start, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
The Rangers are looking to discuss a contract extension with left-hander C.J. Wilson in the coming weeks, reports FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi. Wilson, 30, avoided arbitration with Texas by agreeing to a one-year, $7MM pact last month and will be a free agent after the 2011 season.
Wilson was drafted as a starting pitcher in 2001, but made just six Major League starts in his 2005 rookie season before being converted to a reliever. He pitched well enough out of the bullpen that the Rangers stretched him out and gave him a rotation spot last spring, and Wilson delivered in spades. Wilson posted a 3.35 ERA and a 1.83 K/BB ratio, though he also allowed a league-leading 93 walks. With Cliff Lee once again a Phillie, Wilson is ostensibly the ace of the Texas staff.
In addition to Wilson, Rangers GM Jon Daniels says the team is also looking at signing other "core players" to multiyear deals. Daniels didn't name names, but Morosi cites Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz as extension candidates. Andrus will be arbitration-eligible for the first time next winter, while Feliz is just finishing his first full season in the majors.
Feliz, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, could have more in common with Wilson than just a contract extension. The Rangers plan to try Feliz out as a starter this spring, so if the transition goes smoothly, Texas could save itself a lot of future arbitration dollars on a future ace by locking Feliz up right now.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tackles the subject of arbitration hearings in his latest column, pointing out that teams are far more willing to settle on salaries with their players than they used to be. After speaking to Astros president Tal Smith, who says hearings don't involve as much "mud-slinging" as you'd think, Cafardo wonders why more clubs aren't inclined to fight to keep their payroll down. Here are the rest of his notes:
- James Loney won't be traded for now, but the Nationals made a "good push" for him earlier this winter, before they signed Adam LaRoche.
- According to one of Cafardo's Red Sox sources, Jonathan Papelbon will be available throughout the season, regardless of where the Sox are in the standings.
- Cafardo indicates that before Carl Pavano agreed to a two-year deal with the Twins, the Yankees offered the right-hander a one-year pact worth $7MM.
- Ron Washington offers the latest on the Rangers' plan for Neftali Feliz, who could get a chance to start this year after winning Rookie of the Year honors as a closer: "We’re going to bring [Feliz] into camp and give him an opportunity to stretch himself out. 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."
- Joaquin Benoit discussed former teammates Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano with Cafardo, opining that Red Sox pitchers will love having Crawford behind them, and expressing some surprise that Soriano won't be closing in 2011. He also told Cafardo that he was "getting a lot of phone calls" this winter from fellow relievers who felt Benoit helped them by signing early to his three-year deal.