Texas Rangers Ready for Winter Meetings

by Todd K | Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2011

By Todd Kaufmann

This year, general manager Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan won’t have to travel far to meet with agents, front office personell, and members of the media during the 2011 Winter Meetings. In fact, they will get to sleep in their own beds at the end of the night.

It’s because everyone who is anyone in Major League Baseball will converge on Dallas, Texas and the Hilton Anatole Hotel for the winter meetings. This is usually a time when the biggest movement during the off season takes place. For the Texas Rangers themselves, it could be their best chance to make a few more big splashes after the signing of former Minnesota Twins’ closer, Joe Nathan a few days prior to Thanksgiving.

There are plenty of names on the radar including their own free agent, C.J. Wilson, relievers Chad Cordero and Jonathan Broxton, and a few other starters like Mark Buehrle who have also made their way through the Texas Rangers rumor sheets.

The Joe Nathan signing wasn’t enough for fans, though no signing really ever is. Especially with it’s guy who just turned 37 and went through Tommy John surgery just a year and a half ago. They want to see Daniels and Ryan do more and, with the meetings in their own backyard, it might be a comfortable enough environment to look at it like home field advantage.

While most look at the Nathan signing with more questions than answers, it gave the Rangers the opportunity to move Neftali Feliz from the back of the bullpen to possibly the front of the rotation. It also gave this front office the ability to show Wilson and his agent, Bob Garber, they aren’t desperate to re-sign the left hander to the kind of money he’s looking for.

But while the Rangers will try to play this off as they are more than willing to ride the rotation the way it is, in no way is Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan “okay” with what they have. They know full well the rotation, as well as the bullpen, is not better than last year. In fact, it may be worse than what they had going into the playoffs.

While Joe Nathan seems like a nice piece to have in the back end of the bullpen, especially with the amount of experience he has as a closer, next to Mike Adams who will undoubtedly have the eighth inning role, the Rangers don’t have the kind of solid relief corps that would make a manager smile. In fact, it might be quite the opposite.

Do the Rangers really have faith in the likes of Yonishori Tateyama, Koji Uehara, Mark Lowe, and Scott Feldman controlling the pivotal sixth and seventh innings? The answer to that, though quietly, is probably a resounding, “no.”

But the bullpen isn’t the only thing that is cause for concern. Neftali Feliz has never pitched more than 70 innings since being called up to the big leagues back in 2009. Yet, somehow, the Rangers now expect him to pitch close to 200 innings or possibly more? They expected the same out of Alexi Ogando last season and while he started out one of the hottest pitchers in the big leagues, his late season flame out was the direct result of having never pitched that many innings in his entire career.

That being said, it would make sense that the Texas Rangers may in fact look to bring in another starter. They need another arm that can spell Feliz and his lack of experience and even Ogando’s second year of experience. Without that, this team may not only not return to the World Series for the third straight year, but they may not even return to the playoffs.

The winter meetings are only a week away. Hang on to your baseball bats, this could be the most off season movement we’ve seen in a very long time.

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