Even before the 2012 season began, I had made up my mind that former Houston Astros star right-hander Roy Oswalt would sign with the Texas Rangers. It just made too much sense to me.
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When he decided he wasn’t going to sign before the regular season got underway, I was still convinced this is where he wanted to be. The only reason he hadn’t signed with Texas to this point was due to the lack of available space for him in the rotation. Not to mention all five starters got off to hot starts and it looked even more unlikely that Oswalt would ever don a Texas Ranger uniform.
Almost two months later, and after several struggles from a few of their starters, not to mention Neftali Feliz going on the disabled list, it looked almost automatic that the Rangers would have to bring in Oswalt if only to stop the bleeding and give them another veteran in the rotation. Even last week, I was pretty much certain that this would be the right move for this team going forward.
Fast forward a week and my mind couldn’t be more jumbled on this idea.
It all started last night as I started weighing the options for the Rangers and what would be best for them if they wanted a legit shot at finally winning the World Series after two straight trips, and two straight losses, in back-to-back years.
Signing Oswalt would bring in a native Texan and a guy who loves Nolan Ryan; for obvious reasons. But you have to remember, if the Rangers do end up signing him, he won’t be ready to make his first regular season start until mid to late June if not later than that.
So, for the next month, the Rangers still have to rely on Scott Feldman as their fifth starter. Something I’m not convinced they really want to do.
With that being said, what are the other options if Oswalt isn’t the guy they decide on signing? I’m glad you asked.
I started kicking a few ideas around last night, talked to a few people around baseball about their thoughts and came to the conclusion that either of the following pitchers might be better options than spending $5 million to $6 million on Oswalt for only three-quarters to half of a season.
The first name on the list is a right-hander currently pitching for the Cleveland Indians.
Derek Lowe (6-2, 2.15 ERA).
He is having one heck of a season for the Indians and has given up two runs or less in each of his last six starts. But does that mean they won’t make him available in the right deal? I talked to Matt Loede who covers the Indians for CBS Radio in Cleveland and he told me the Indians could be looking for a right-handed bat in the outfield at the trade deadline.
With that information, my brain went to one name: Nelson Cruz.
Before you start lighting your torches and picking up your pitchforks, hear me out for a minute. Sure, Cruz has been a fan favorite for the last few seasons especially with his heroics in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. But, if the Rangers don’t fix their rotation, especially if Feliz is going to miss a significant amount of time, heroics or not Texas isn’t getting back to the World Series let alone have a chance of winning it.
He’s a guy who would perk up a lot of ears in a Major League Baseball front office if the Rangers made him available. While I’m not saying the team is ready to trade Cruz, if you could get a guy like Lowe for the remainder of the season to either anchor the rotation or slot him behind Colby Lewis and in front of Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, automatically your rotation gets stronger.
The other question, assuming Cruz is traded, is who replaces him in the outfield?
An outfielder in the minor leagues who has been waiting for his opportunity to come up to the big leagues and prove himself. A young man the Rangers have not wanted to use in a trade because of his potential. Of course, I speak of Leonys Martin. While he’s currently on the disabled list with an injured thumb, the 24-year-old outfielder is hitting .347 through 23 games with triple-A Round Rock.
The other name on my short list of options is a pitcher I’ve watched since his days with the San Diego Padres. He’s arguably one of the most firey pitchers I’ve ever seen. A guy who pumps his fist, yells at himself and, at times, has some of the best stuff of any young pitcher in the game.
But he also comes at a heavy price, not only in what the White Sox may ask for in return, but also because of his injury history. Something the White Sox are all too familiar with since they acquired him from the Padres almost three years ago.
After struggling over his last two seasons in Chicago, the 2012 season has been his best since his days in San Diego. Peavy currently sports a 5-1 record and a 2.39 earned run average, not to mention hitters are hitting just .204 against him this season.
What makes Peavy a trade candidate? How about a $22 million club option for the 2013 season. That’s a lot of money to invest in a guy who hasn’t shown he can stay healthy for a full season. On the flip side, teams are not going to hand over a few of their best prospects for a guy who will possibly hit free agency at the end of the season.
Even Peavy himself realizes that he may very well be traded by Chicago this summer, and he told Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi that he would welcome it and do what he’s told to do.
Both Lowe and Peavy are not on the trade blocks at this moment. At least not yet.
We’re not even into the month of June yet, so trades won’t start taking place until the end of June or middle part of July. Teams are still trying to figure out what they need to do to be able to make a run at the playoffs and the World Series.
For the Texas Rangers, Oswalt may make sense because they don’t have to give up any young players to bring him on board. However, they might find two better pitchers in Lowe and Peavy and, quite possibly, be able to have them for longer than just half of the season.
It’s a hard decision that will have to be made by general manager Jon Daniels and the rest of the Rangers’ front office. But, as any other Ranger fan will tell you: “Trust Jon Daniels.”