Texas Rangers Post-Trade Deadline Outlook: A Run at October
It's over, another hectic week of the trade deadline. Some teams made major moves, some minors, and yet many made noise but in the end have the same time they had a week ago.
The Rangers made some noise that they wanted to add starting pitching and a right-handed bat.
First the right-handed bat. The best target we had in our sites was Cleveland Indians first baseman Ryan Garko, but before serious trade talks to get rolling with the Indians the Giants swooped in and grabbed him.
After that Texas talked about adding players like Josh Willingham or Nick Johnson, both of the Washington Nationals. The price for Willingham was too high and talks for Johnson never really got rolling. Johnson eventually went to the Florida Marlins.
The majority of the conversations were around trying to add another starting pitcher. The names that came up during the final week were: Cliff Lee (CLE traded to PHI), Doug Davis (ARZ), Jon Garland (ARZ), Ian Snell (PIT traded to SEA), Zack Duke (PIT), Aaron Harang (CIN), and Jarrod Washburn (SEA traded to DET).
None of these players in deals ever got serious talks throughout the final week of the trade deadline. Instead the Rangers focused their time and energy on Toronto Blue Jay ace Roy Halladay.
Without going into too much detail, not only did the deal never happened but it seems as though it never was really going to happen.
Roy Halladay holds a no-trade clause in his current contract and when trade talks with the Rangers became serious he told the Blue Jay organization that he would not waiver his no-trade clause. Killing the talks with the Rangers right then and there.
Now I know he is arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball today. I also know that the Rangers would be a better team today with him in the rotation. But the price tag to acquire him was just way too high.
For the longest time the Blue Jays have said that a trade for Halladay would have to center around the Rangers top pitching prospects, our top offensive prospects, and a Major League ready pitcher.
At first the Rangers were told that we would have to part ways with either Derek Holland or Neftali Feliz, then Justin Smoak and/or Julio Borbon would need to be added. Finally one or two pitchers from these pitching prospects: Martin Perez, Michael Main, Kasey Kiker, Omar Poveda, and Blake Beavon.
As the trade deadline got closer, the number of teams via for Halladay decreased yet the price tag increased.
On the night of July 30, when Holland pitched his masterpiece against the Mariners, the Blue Jays told the Rangers that a deal would now need to include Holland, Smoak, and either Elvis Andrus or Tommy Hunter.
Before I had made peace with losing Holland, hoping that they would take Feliz instead. I did not like losing Smoak one bit, but was starting to accept it as long as Borbon was not included. But when the Blue Jays started mention names like Andrus and Hunter, I was done and completely against this trade.
Now I can speculate longer about "what might have been," but the fact of the matter is that Halladay was not going to accept a trade to the Texas Rangers.
Personally that pisses me off a little bit, but whatever Halladay. You said that you want to be part of a contender, well enjoy the rest of the season with your fourth place, 13 games out of first place, Blue Jays, while we enjoy the fourth best record in the AL and make a run at the postseason.
So now that the trade deadline has gone and past, who will the Rangers be sending out the rest of the season. I'm not going to talk at all about external options that the team could add from players passing through waivers, this is simply the players in the organization that will lead the Rangers to the postseason.
Currently the Rangers starting rotation is Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Scott Feldman, Hunter, and Holland. Assuming that the extra rest will help Millwood get past with "tightness in his buttocks" and Padilla doesn't get the "swine flu" again, the top three in the rotation are set for the rest of the season.
Matt Harrison has been lost for the season due to surgery to fix his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome on his left side. Brandon McCarthy, who has not pitched since June 4 because of a right shoulder stress fracture, has begun a pitching program and is expected to be available next month.
The other options Texas has to make spot starts are Dustin Nippert and Doug Mathis. Nippert made a start of July 22 against Boston he went 5.2 innings, allowed one run, and got the win.
Four days later we entered the game in the third inning for an injured Millwood, he pitched 4.2 innings, allowing one run on one hit, and again got the win. Mathis made a spot start on July 28 against the Tigers, going four innings and allowing three runs.
A healthy Millwood will continue to throw as he ahs all season, Padilla has been on-and-off all season but lately seems to be figuring it out, and if Feldman can shake his last start and return to the way he has been pitching all season then the top end of the rotation will be solid.
As for the bottom spots, if Hunter can continue to work quickly and efficiently through his outings and Holland proves that his last start was not just "lighting in a bottle" then the Rangers pitching is set for a run at the postseason.
There will not be any major changes in the bullpen the rest of the season, aside from the imminent return of Frank Francisco.
The only problem, a good problem, is who do the Rangers have close games if Frankie returns 100 percent healthy. Before his injuries he was incredibly dominate, but lately C.J. Wilson has been just as dominate stepping into the roll of closer.
The next time the Rangers bullpen has an injury or need to drop a pitcher due to fatigue or lack of success, look for the organization to promote Neftali Feliz for his Major League debut.
The Rangers defense continues to be a strength of this team and I see no changes in that throughout the rest of the season.
The final piece that needs to come together for a playoff run is the offense. This has definitely not been the Rangers offense of the past few years. Texas has continued to be very aggressive on the base paths, the power comes and goes in waves, but hitting consistently has escaped the team most of the year.
The only injury issue right now has been Ian Kinsler, who should return to the lineup today or tomorrow, however having Omar Vizquel as the backup option is never a bad thing. Once he returns the Rangers starting lineup and rotation of starters will stay almost the same throughout the season.
The outfield will continue to rotate between Nelson Cruz, Marlon Byrd, David Murphy, and Andruw Jones depending on hot bats. Josh Hamilton will continue to see everyday time with some rest in the attempts he can break out of his season long slump.
The one change we will likely see in the near future before the rosters expand in September could be the call-up of Chris Davis. I know he has struggled as year in the Majors hitting .202 for the season with 15 HRs and 33 RBI but striking out 114 times with only 17 walks.
However, he might be showing that he is out of that slump by what he is producing in Triple-A Oklahoma City. Davis through 22 games is batting .322 with 4 HRs, 20 RBI, and has struck out only 19 times and walked eight times.
If the Rangers believe he has worked out his hitting kinks we could see a Davis promotion in the near future, The only reason it has not happened sooner is because of the recent success of Hank Blalock both at bat and in the field.
This is your 2009 Texas Rangers, these are the guys that are going to take to the field and make a run at the postseason and get this organization back there for the first time since 1999.
If you don't like what the team did or did not do at the trade deadline and only want to talk about the potential of them falling apart again. Well the Dallas Cowboys just started training camp, why don't you go watch that.
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