Kauf Drops: To Roy or Not to Roy

by Todd K | Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Wandy Rodriguez - New York Mets v Houston Astros

Image: Bob Levey/Getty Images

By Todd Kaufmann

Sr. Columnist

toddmkaufmann@att.net

 

We know the Texas Rangers are interested in free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt and we know they stepped up their interest after Neftali Feliz headed to the disabled list with discomfort in his pitching elbow.

The only problem is, the Rangers have balked at his asking price which is said to be around the pro-rated $7.5 million area. That wouldn’t seem like a lot for a guy who’s a proven winner. However, it is a lot for a guy who’s only going to pitching for half of a season. The Rangers would rather look elsewhere to find a guy they can possibly acquire who’s younger and who might be able to give them more not only through this season but beyond.

I don’t believe general manager Jon Daniels for a second when he says they have “internal options.” Alexi Ogando hasn’t exactly been unhittable out of the bullpen and I don’t believe he has what it takes to go from the bullpen back to the starting rotation where he spent more than half of last season. They also don’t want to take him out of the bullpen because he compliments Mike Adams and Joe Nathan so well at the back end.

Scott Feldman has been the guy who has taken the fifth spot in the rotation for the time being and there’s no one who will be able to convince me that they are willing to stay with him. He’s not going to all of the sudden find the 2009 Scott Feldman in a drawer somewhere. There’s nothing that Feldman will read and a light bulb goes off in the pitching side of his brain.

It’s for those reasons that, if Roy Oswalt no longer is an option for this team, they’ll look outside their own organization to find a guy who can be a solid addition to the rotation. A guy who can come in and be a good compliment behind guys like Colby Lewis and Yu Darvish and in front of guys like Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.

I don’t think the Rangers are looking for that number one starter or the proverbial “ace,” because they still believe in what Lewis is doing for this ballclub.

They will, however, look for a number three guy who can take pressure off both Lewis and Darvish as their top two pitchers and be able to strike fear into opposing hitters.

The Chicago White Sox are not out of the American League Central race by any stretch of the imagination but with right-hander Jake Peavy in his final year before he hits free agency, not to mention the injuries he’s dealt with since being acquired from the San Diego Padres, he very well could be made available at the trade deadline.

He’s got that swagger and confidence back that hasn’t been seen since his days with the Padres. Though 10 starts on the season, Peavy is 6-1 with a 3.07 earned run average and hitters are only hitting .208 against the right-hander.

Another name that’s been mentioned before in connection with the Rangers is Zack Greinke. He won 16 games last season for the Milwaukee Brewers (16-6, 3.83 ERA) and is currently 5-2 with a 3.66 ERA through 10 starts this season. Greinke is in his final year of a four-year $36 million extension he signed with the Brewers back in 2009 and, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, has limited no-trade protection.

Another pitcher I talked about at length at last year’s trade deadline will probably be talked about again before this trade deadline comes around. I’m referring to Houston Astros’ right-hander, Wandy Rodriguez (4-4, 2.49 ERA).

Rodriguez signed a three-year extension with the Astros at the beginning of last season and is scheduled to make $13 million in 2013 and has a $13 million club option for the 2014 season. However, if he’s traded, that 2014 club option becomes a player option.

He’s won double-digit games in each of his last three seasons and has had a sub 4.00 earned run average in each of his last four seasons with the team.

Rodriguez is a solid pitcher and a guy who would go from the top of the rotation to possibly the number two or three spot, not to mention giving him an offense that puts up enough runs to win more games than at any point with the Astros.

The three starters I’ve mentioned aren’t sure fire trade candidates, except for maybe Rodriguez as well as another starter on the Astros’ pitching staff, Brett Myers.

They are just a few options the Rangers can look to if they want to bulk up their rotation. In fact, I don’t know that it is a suggestion at this point, it’s something Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan know they have to do if they want to finally hoist the World Series trophy in front of their fans for the first time in franchise history.

They’ve gotten a taste of it in each of the last two seasons but it’s left a very bitter taste in their mouths, especially being that close this past season.

Oswalt was someone a lot of Ranger fans wanted, myself included. But for a guy who won’t be ready to make his first start for anyone until possibly late June or ever after the All Star break, maybe he’s not worth the kind of money he’s wanting. Not to mention the risk of not being sharp at all.

One has to wonder if the Rangers are willing to make a risk by signing him or if they are going to play it smart and look at other options who could be available at the deadline.

What the Uehara?

Do you remember when the Rangers were trying to find anyone anywhere who would take right-handed reliever, Koji Uehara, off their hands? The saying, “things happen (or don’t) for a reason,” is coming back as a great thing for this team.

Uehara has turned things around and has been the Rangers’ best reliever in the last few weeks. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since April 21st in Detroit against the Tigers. Since then, Uehara has gone 13,1 innings without allowing a single earned run, not to mention giving up just three hits over that same amount of time.

Maybe he’ll be sticking around a little bit longer.

Joe Nathan Finding His Groove

Rangers’ closer Joe Nathan was a guy a lot of fans, and media alike, were concerned about because they didn’t know exactly what Joe Nathan this team was going to get.

After a rough start to the 2012 season, Nathan has showed the Rangers and their fans just what kind of closer he was set on being. In fact, the Joe Nathan of old has shown up and has done exactly what the front office believed he could do.

He’s converted each of his last nine saves and has given up just one earned run in his last 16.2 innings pitched. Nathan currently has 11 saves on the year with a 2.18 earned run average along with olding opposing hitters to a .216 average.

While you don’t want to jinx anything, I’d say Nathan is putting together a nice season so far for the Rangers. Even if we aren’t quite to the half way point yet.

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