Over the last week, the Texas Rangers and general manager Jon Daniels worked the phones to try and get the pieces they needed to make what they already had that much better.
When the final weekend before the deadline rolled around, the rumors and news picked up steam. Teams started to make moves but the Rangers remained quiet. A little too quiet for some.
The tweets from fans wondering what was going on came fast and furious. They wanted to know when Daniels was going to make a move and why things were taking so long. Why was the deal between Texas and San Diego being held up? Where were the two sides in talks?
The questions came, the answers did not.
Saturday morning turns to afternoon and the questions continue. Just when we started to think the Rangers weren’t going to make an agreement on anyone, Daniels pulled the first rabbit out of his hat.
In 43 relief appearances (47 IP), Uehara had put an impressive 1.69 ERA and brought experience of pitching in the tough AL East division to the Rangers bullpen. It was the first domino to fall and it didn’t take long for the former Oriole to make his presence felt.
He made his Rangers’ debut on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, striking out two in his one inning of work. He was off to a good start.
While fans are usually tweeting about the game, the plays being made or the home runs sailing over the fence, everyone’s attention was still on the trade deadline. They wanted to know about the talks with the Padres about Heath Bell. Were they going to get the guy who had been talked about for the better part of the last few weeks?
As the deadline neared and the hours ticked away, there were some who thought the deal had died. Maybe it just wasn’t to be.
But just when that thought entered their mind, Daniels pulled off the biggest deal of the entire trade deadline. Say what you want about the trades made by the Cleveland Indians, this was a move that surprised everyone.
Bell, a guy who everyone thought was going to be a Texas Ranger by 3 p.m. central daylight time, wasn’t the guy the Rangers got. Bell remained in a San Diego Padres uniform and was informed by Padres general manager Jed Hoyer. Though he was relieved, that relief turned to disappointment.
Texas had landed his bullpen battery mate. The Rangers swept in like a thief in the night and grabbed up Bell’s set up man, Mike Adams, for minor league pitchers Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin.
Though Adams was always on the radar screen, the Padres seemed to have made it clear they weren’t going to trade the future closer. Apparently, when the right deal comes around, you just have to make the move.
Having these two relievers in the bullpen makes it a six inning game. You’re telling your starters, “we need six strong innings from you at the most,” at which point you can hand the ball to Uehara, Adams and Feliz to close out the game.
The Rangers now have arguably the best bullpen in not only the American League but in baseball.
Manager Ron Washington has to feel better about his situation at this moment more so than he did this time last week. He can have the confidence to pull his starter knowing the bullpen will keep the lead and put more games in the win column.
Applaud Daniels for the moves he made over the weekend, because they turned this team from a possible contender to possibly a team headed back towards the top of the baseball.