Neftali Feliz Rumors
The Rangers' search for pitching help has led them to make "low-level inquiries" on Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. According to Rosenthal, if the Pirates decided to part with the right-hander, it would be for "a significant price."
While Neftali Feliz is one of the game's top closers, Texas doesn't have a clear ninth inning alternative should the 23-year-old miss any more time. The Rangers also may be more inclined to eventually move Feliz into the rotation if they have another viable closing option. As Rosenthal notes, Hanrahan, who is under team control through 2013, would be a perfect fit as a pitcher who could set up for Feliz this season and take over as the closer in 2012.
In recent years, the Pirates have frequently played the role of sellers as the trade deadline approaches. However, they currently sit only one game below .500 and four games out of first place, so it's likely too early to tell whether Hanrahan or other players will be available this summer. Last week, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined what we can expect if the Pirates become sellers.
SI's Jon Heyman leads his latest column with a discussion of Albert Pujols' impending free agency. Three GMs Heyman spoke to speculate that Pujols will re-sign with the Cardinals after the season. One significant factor could be the lack of involvement from the Yankees and Red Sox, big spenders who already have long-term solutions at first base. A Yankees person told Heyman there was "no chance" of a pursuit, while a Red Sox person agreed that his club is unlikely to get involved. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak didn't have much to say on the topic, other than, "Nothing's changed." On to Heyman's other notes...
- Mozeliak told Heyman the Cardinals "have a pretty good idea" of what they'll do when Adam Wainwright's two-year, $21MM club option comes up after the season. Heyman takes that to mean that the Cardinals will pick up the option, the expected course of action.
- Heyman feels that the Cubs and Orioles could be possibilities for free agent Kevin Millwood, though I heard yesterday that it's doubtful the Cubs get involved.
- One Giants person said, "There's nothing to it," regarding the recent Jose Reyes speculation. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News explained today that "If any conversations have happened at all, it’s nothing more than tire kicking." That makes sense, since trading season begins about two months from now. For a look at who the Giants might have to give up to get Reyes at that point, click here.
- Heyman finds the Rangers likely to move Neftali Feliz into the rotation next year, despite the righty's recent comments. Heyman feels that a strong free agent closer market is a factor.
- The Tigers have decided this will be Joel Zumaya's last year in Detroit, according to Heyman. That was written prior to today's report that Zumaya will have exploratory elbow surgery.
A few items to close out this weekend..
- Given his recent mind-changing history, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter) suggests not reading too much into Neftali Feliz's thoughts on starting next season. Earlier today, Feliz said that he wants to continue finishing games for the rest of his career, before backtracking later on.
- Buster Olney of ESPN tweets that of all the players he has ever written about, he would say that Roy Oswalt is among those most likely to leave baseball whenever he felt it necessary.
- Tom Schieffer is a good pick to oversee the Dodgers, writes Olney. Olney writes that Schieffer is, by all accounts, a tough negotiator and someone who will make budgetary decisions and stick to them.
Earlier today, Rangers closer Neftali Feliz said that he wants to continue finishing games for the rest of his career in an interview with USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz. After Texas faced the Athletics today, Feliz backtracked from that statement, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
"Right now, I'm focused on being healthy and getting back to being the closer," said Feliz, who will turn 23 years old tomorrow.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told USA Today that the team intends to keep Feliz as its closer for the rest of the season, then consider his role for 2012 in the offseason. If Feliz does stick to his guns and decide that he wants to continue to close, Daniels says that they'll weigh that in their decision.
"We'll take his feelings, as well as team need and other factors, into consideration over the winter,'' Daniels wrote via e-mail. "He actually makes a pretty good case for starting by suggesting relieving is more physically demanding. We'll look at that in the offseason.''
Before the start of the season, the Rangers considered moving Feliz into the 2011 rotation. Recently, Daniels said that the organization definitely believes that the youngster has the stuff to start. A March MLBTR poll showed that readers were pretty evenly split on whether or not Feliz should start.
Reds slugger Joey Votto could be on his way to a second-straight MVP award, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney. Pitchers now work around Votto with extreme wariness and the 27-year-old can no longer predict what's coming. Because of that, the first baseman has adapted and learned to work with what he's given. Here's more from Olney..
- The Rangers bullpen has taken a major blow after losing closer Neftali Feliz to the disabled list. This is a difficult time to land a reliever, especially a closer, because other teams will have a skyhigh asking price. For example, Olney writes that if Texas were to call the Padres about Heath Bell, the Padres would ask for a great deal in return, even though Bell is likely to be dealt this season.
- In the highest offices of a handful of other teams, there is heavy speculation that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio would be the most likely candidate to move from one team to the Dodgers. This can only happen, of course, if Major League Baseball maintains their hold on the club and if they decides to have an established owner take over the Dodgers. Such a scenario, Olney writes, would take months to play out.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern that he expects the development of the Rangers’ young starters to have a major say in the organization’s 2011 success. Here are the other highlights from Daniels’ conversation on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM:
- The Rangers definitely believe Neftali Feliz, the team’s current closer, has the stuff to start in the Major Leagues. Daniels points out that the industry values starters more than relievers, since starters log more innings and can shut down the opposition for an entire game. The Rangers remain open to inserting Feliz into the rotation in 2012.
- Alexi Ogando “really wanted” to start and the Rangers are happy to have a free look at him in the rotation while other, more experienced starters like Tommy Hunter, Scott Feldman and Brandon Webb recover from injuries.
- The Rangers aren't discussing Michael Young trades and don't have any plans to reignite talks. “It’s really not even a topic of conversation as far as we’re concerned right now,” Daniels said. “We have no conversations going about trading any of our players right now, Michael included, and I don't see any coming up.”
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?