The Texas Rangers are in desperate need of fixing their bullpen. If Wednesday night’s debacle wasn’t enough for Ranger fans to begin scouring the internet for rumors of possible trades, I don’t know what kind of meltdown it would actually take for panic to finally set in.
We know all the talk surrounding Neftali Feliz making the move from the team’s closer to the starting rotation. The Rangers did not see enough of him during spring training to believe he could successfully make the transition.
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Now, after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros on Wednesday, general manager Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan may need to kick start conversations with teams around Major League Baseball to see who is available.
With that in mind, here is a look at some of the bullpen names who could be mentioned in connection with Texas from now until the trade deadline at the end of July.
Heath Bell (Padres) – 2-3, 19 Saves, 2.70 ERA. The San Diego Padres closer’s name popped up immediately with some Ranger fans after Feliz blew the save for the Rangers on Wednesday night. But it’s not the first time Bell has been mentioned as a trade possibility for Texas.
It’s common knowledge that the Padres are going to make him available at the deadline as the team will not be able to afford what Bell will ask for in free agency.
I talked to a source last week who told me the Rangers had met with Padres’ brass at Petco Park about a month ago. Though they couldn’t say if names were exchanged, one has to believe the likes of Bell as well as Adams were probably brought up in conversation.
As for what Bell might cost the Rangers? A few names I’ve been told are minor league shortstop Jurickson Profar and possibly reserve outfielder David Murphy. With rumors the Padres could trade outfielder Ryan Ludwick at the deadline, bringing in another veteran outfielder makes little sense in this scenario.
Mike Adams (Padres) – 2-1, 1.35 ERA. While Bell would be a great addition to the Rangers, San Diego Padres set-up man Adams might be an even better option. The soon to be 33-year-old right-hander has allowed just five earned runs in 33.1 innings pitched and has given up just one run in his last nine innings.
Though he’s only a year younger than Bell, Adams is the one who has ties to Texas. He was born in Corpus Christi and attended Texas A&M-Kingsville. A trade back to Texas would bring the native son home to an area he grew up in and close to family he still has in the state.
The Padres are less likely to give up Adams especially since he’s under team control through the 2012 season. He would also cost the Rangers more in return than would Heath Bell.
All that being said, he’s shown just how dominant of a reliever he can be. Say what you want about pitching at PETCO Park, where he sports a 1.06 ERA and holds opposing hitters to a .138 batting average, Adams has a 1.65 ERA away from PETCO and holds opposing hitters to a .155 batting average.
Joel Hanrahan (Pirates) – 0-1, 20 Saves, 1.31 ERA. According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune, the Texas Rangers had apparently contacted the Pittsburgh Pirates in late May about their closer, Hanrahan. At the time, the conversation did not go anywhere as the Pirates were not willing to talk trade at that point.
He’s been solid all season long and has yet to blow a save. He’s only given up two earned runs over his last 20.1 innings. Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a pitcher’s park, so give the soon to be 30-yea- old right-hander credit. He’s arguably one of the biggest reasons the Pirates are only three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
Hanrahan sports a 1.42 ERA at home and has held opposing hitters to a .194 batting average. On the road he’s even better. He holds a 1.17 road ERA with a .218 batting average against.
Francisco Rodriguez (Mets) – 1-2, 19 Saves, 3.34 ERA. There was a time where I would almost beg for a guy like the 29-year-old Rodriguez. This is a young reliever who burst onto the Major League Baseball scene with the then Anaheim Angels during their World Series run. He was the young kid who made Derek Jeter and other New York Yankee hitters look like Little Leaguers at the plate. His fastball was in the upper 90s and his breaking ball that was absolutely unhittable.
After his trade to the New York Mets, and drama involving his arrest for assaulting his father-in-law last year, he just hasn’t been the same dominant closer that he had been in the past. Rodriguez has blown each of his last two saves and has given up eight earned runs in his last 10 innings pitched. If he’s struggling in the NL East, how are things going to go for him in the American League especially in a hitter’s park?
Kerry Wood (Cubs) – 1-3, 2.25 ERA. Wood is one of those relievers the Rangers would love to bring in. He’s currently on the 15-day disabled list with a blister on his right index finger but that shouldn’t keep teams from inquiring about his availability.
Wood’s career took a big turn for the better in 2010 as a member of the New York Yankees. The right-hander was 2-0 with an astounding 0.69 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in 24 appearances with the Bronx Bombers.
His experience in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, the AL East, will make him a very sought after commodity at the trade deadline. With things not going so well for the Chicago Cubs, Wood could definitely be just one of several players on the trade block.
Grant Balfour (A’s) – 4-1, 2 Saves, 2.48 ERA. Oakland A’s flamethrower Balfour could be one of the more interesting names as the trade deadline approaches. While the A’s aren’t waving the white flag of surrender on a very weak AL West division, they could very well do just that if they continue to slip further and further behind the Seattle Mariners and front-running Texas Rangers.
In 2010, Balfour showed the kind of dominance he could bring with the Tampa Bay Rays. He had 57 relief appearances (55.1 IP) a 2.28 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .216 batting average. He was signed by the Oakland A’s during the offseason and has been just as dominant in 2011 as he was last year.
This season, in 33 relief appearances (32.2 IP), Balfour has a 2.48 ERA and is holding hitters to a .198 batting average.
Best of the rest:
Sean Marshall (Cubs)
Todd Coffey (Nationals)
Joakim Soria (Royals)
Tyler Clippard (Nationals)
Kevin Gregg (Orioles)