As the Texas Rangers head into July and the All-Star break, they stand in second place in the American League West.
Only a game and a half separates them and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. As the Rangers and Angels get set to take part in a crucial three game set at Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington, Texas GM Jon Daniels is looking at his options internally and externally.
He is looking to improve the bullpen as well as the starting rotation. In the bullpen, he has signed Orlando Hernandez to a minor league contract and put him in the bullpen at AAA Oklahoma City. He has also moved phenomenon Nefatli Feliz in the Redhawk bullpen to groom him for a playoff push. That should secure the bullpen for the most part.
If they look for a left handed reliever, they have the choice of AJ Murray, currently in the Oklahoma City rotation, or they can go on the trade market and look to Rafael Perez of Cleveland or John Grabow of Pittsburgh.
As for the rotation, AJ Murray could make sense here as well. However, The most probable case is they go out and acquire a starter through the trade market. Pittsburgh's Ian Snell and Zach Duke should both be available.
Snell, a righty, would be reasonably cheap with him not succeeding there. He has asked and been granted a move to AAA Indianapolis. He has made one minor league start. Going seven innings striking out 17, including 13 in a row at one point.
Duke, a left hander, has pitched a decent season in Pittsburgh and would cost a couple of prospects. Duke was born in Clifton, Texas and wouldn't mind pitching in his home state. He is 8-5 with a 3.09 ERA on the season. He has struggled a little bit in June, but had a fabulous first two months of the season.
Another candidate to acquire is Cleveland Indian ace Cliff Lee. He is another left handed starter and could help Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla vastly. Lee makes $6 million this season and has an option for next season of just $9 million.
He, however, would probably take three or four prospects to acquire. Feliz, Derek Holland, or Martin Perez have to be the starting point then you get into the Blake Beaven, Kasey Kiker, Michael Main range.
A fourth starter to keep an eye on is Houston Astros' ace Roy Oswalt. He is a right handed innings eater. He has a full no trade clause and would waive it to stay in the state of Texas. The Astros have the worst farm system as written by Baseball America. Two or three prospects would get this deal done.
If the free agent wire is what Daniels decides to go on then you began with two names. Ben Sheets and Pedro Martinez.
Sheets, a native of Dallas, had surgery to repair his elbow once again and is very injury prone. It is very questionable that he would pitch in 2009. The Rangers are interested in Sheets and came to an agreement with Sheets in February. Sheets had a physical and it revealed he needed surgery so the Rangers backed out.
Martinez pitched very well in the World Baseball Classic (WBC). He has pitched on the side in recent months and in front of Ranger scouts. The Rangers are hoping he lowers his asking price of five million dollars for this year. Martinez is a fly ball pitcher and that could spell trouble pitching in a hitters ballpark.
What will Jon Daniels do with 32 days until the non waiver trade deadline has come and gone? Will he do anything or will he just sit and wait it out?