The Texas Rangers are struggling, and it’s not just with the rotation — the bullpen has had its problems, as well, and not just since outfielder Josh Hamilton went down with an injury.
You will hear a lot of the sports talk radio shows talking about how to fix this team and how to “right the ship.” We can talk about trades, and we can talk about the return of Tommy Hunter and Neftali Feliz. While those two players are great to have back, the Rangers are still waiting for some sort of good news from Brandon Webb who does not look any closer to joining the team.
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So how does this team patch up the holes in what seems like a sinking ship? There are a few names we can talk about and some may be a little more far fetched than others.
Let’s start with Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. It’s not the first time the young reliever’s name has come up in trade rumors, and it wouldn’t be the first time the Red Sox would explore trading him. They aren’t off to the start they were hoping for, and, if their struggles continue, maybe they might actually look more seriously at dealing Papelbon for the right return of young minor leaguers.
Another name that could be explored is Kansas City Royals reliever Joakim Soria. The 27-year old was the only bright spot for the Royals last year, closing out 43 of his 46 save chances and finishing with a 1.78 ERA. He was a big name on the rumor sheets, not only at the deadline last year, but also during this past off season. The Royals weren’t able to get a deal done, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be approached again in July.
But if you want a name who can come in and bring the confidence this bullpen needs, look no further than San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell.
For those of you who love the game of baseball, you know all about this guy. The guy that sprints in from the bullpen, and the guy who gets fired up every time he closes out a game. His fiery attitude and closer’s mentality is exactly what the Texas Rangers need, and they need it sooner rather than later.
I talked to two different sources about the possibility of the Rangers going after Bell and what the Padres might ask for in return.
My first assumption was that the Rangers would need to include Michael Young, Chris Davis and/or star minor league pitcher Tanner Scheppers. But when I talked to these two sources, neither of them brought up any of the aforementioned names.
So, what would the Rangers need to give up to land the Padres’ closer? How about outfielder Engle Beltre, left hander Michael Kirkman, shortstop Jurickson Profar, and as one source told me “a David Murphy-type player.” A four-for-one deal to bring in a guy the Rangers desperately need.
Here is the problem as it stands in early May. Another source close to the Padres told me San Diego would not trade Bell this early in the season no matter how badly the team is struggling right now.
While they might be right because we do not see a lot of trades this early in the season, the Padres aren’t going anywhere fast, and they know they have little to no chance of retaining Bell for the long term. If general manager Jed Hoyer knows he can get three young minor leaguers and one other player who could possibly have some big league experience already, do you think he pulls the trigger on that deal?
Bringing in another closer to the team does bring up one problem. Does Feliz remain the team’s closer or does that allow the Rangers to transition him to the starting rotation? Something which was talked about during spring training. I wasn’t a fan of that move when it was being discussed, and there is a part of me that still isn’t in favor of it.
However, with the rotation struggling like it is, the Rangers may need to bring this idea back to the forefront once more. It’s not going to be a popular decision and, as of right now, it’s not a decision that is going to be given any thought at all. Just don’t count out the fact it might be brought into the conversation prior to the trade deadline in July.
The American League West is not the strongest division in baseball, and there isn’t one team among it who can run away with it this early in the season. It is what has allowed this team to struggle and not already be more than 10 games back of the Los Angeles Angels.
But if they do not do something soon, to put the pieces back together and bring back the swagger this team had after winning the American League Championship over the New York Yankees, it could spell disaster for a team that is expected to have the same kind of success as they did in 2010.
Manager Ron Washington, general manager Jon Daniels and owner Nolan Ryan have to be looking at their options. When they do, the name Heath Bell will come up more times than once. There’s no panic in Arlington just yet, but they can’t wait too long to decide the best course of action.