The Texas Rangers should have known better.
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I remember when I first heard the organization was planning to move young right-hander Neftali Feliz from the closer role to the starting rotation. They were going to have him go from pitching 70 to 80 innings in a full season to possibly 150 innings or more if he was able to stay healthy.
It wasn’t long before we all realized, right along with the Texas Rangers, that this decision was a costly one as Feliz was shut down early during the 2012 season and had to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Fast forward almost a year later and Feliz is still not throwing off the mound, making most wonder if he’ll be back in 2013, if at all.
Then there’s the case of another right-hander, Alexi Ogando. After dominating out of the bullpen as the seventh- or eighth-inning reliever, the Rangers decided it was time for Ogando to make the same move Feliz had made from the bullpen to the starting rotation.
For half of the 2011 season, the Texas Rangers almost looked like geniuses. Ogando was selected to the All-Star game, holding a 9-3 record and a 2.92 ERA at the break.
The second half of the season, however, didn’t quite go the way the first had gone for Ogando. By the time October rolled around, he had been pulled out of the rotation and relegated to the bullpen role he had gotten familiar to before the season had begun.
But there were times he looked shaky in his old role. He tried blowing a mid-90s fastball by big-league hitters, a pitch they were jumping all over every chance they got.
The season that followed, Ogando was back in the bullpen where most, myself included, believed he belonged. He was never built to be a starter no matter how much the Texas Rangers hoped and prayed for it. But, apparently they didn’t learn their lesson from two years earlier.
Prior to the end of spring training, the Texas Rangers announced Ogando was, once again, going to be part of the rotation for the 2013 season. They were about to make the same mistake they made in 2011, but they were hoping they weren’t just going to get a half season of brilliance from him. This time, they were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle and get a dominant pitcher for the entire season.
That lasted three months.
Ogando has now been put on the disabled list for the second time in six weeks, and being a starter may not be in the cards for him any longer.
He was never built to be a starter, and he never should have been one for the same reasons Neftali Feliz never should have been a starter.
The question now becomes just how much have they ruined what could have been the two most dominant bullpen pieces this organization has ever seen? Would Feliz still be the closer for this team instead of Joe Nathan? Will he ever be the same again?
Will Ogando be lost for the entire season if his shoulder inflammation never dies down? Have they made the two biggest mistakes they’ve ever made on what was no more than wishful thinking?
The decision was made, and they are now paying the price for those decisions.
When Ogando comes off the disabled list for the second time, if he ever does, the Texas Rangers need to put him where he was always meant to be. If they put him back in the rotation, it will do nothing but further the damage that’s already done.