Texas Rangers: How to Fix the Bullpen Without Trades
It's that time of year again. With the draft firmly in the rear view mirror, the Texas Rangers now turn their attention to players that can help them win now via trades. Last year it was Cliff Lee and Bengie Molina who were acquired before the deadline and helped the Rangers reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Who will it be this year?
The general consensus is that they will look to acquire some bullpen help and have been linked to names like Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Joakim Soria. If they could acquire one of these three there is no doubt that it would greatly improve the pen—but what if they can't?
Do they acquire another old, journeyman reliever to add to their growing stable of old, journeyman relievers?
Or what about a reliever with a good history who is just having an off year?
Or what about staying put?
Not the most popular choice, but staying put could be the best alternative to not landing the big names. Look at these credentials of players currently in the minor league system:
- Cy Young winner
- Former 17-game winner and opening day starter
- .647 winning percentage
- No. 2 prospect in Rangers system with 97 mph fastball
The Cy Young winner of course is Brandon Webb who signed with the Rangers in the offseason to help make up for the loss of Cliff Lee. He has not pitched since 2009 because of injuries and is more suited for the bullpen to help relieve stress on his arm. His velocity is down but Yoshinori Tateyama has proved you don't need to hit 95 on the radar gun to be effective.
The 17-game winner is Scott Feldman who had microfracture surgery on his right knee after the end of the last season. He has the stuff to be a reliable bullpen guy and actually has the experience of being a closer early in his career. He is fresh off of a 5-inning, no-hit game at Triple-A Round Rock.
The .647 winning percentage is property of Tommy Hunter. The team's No. 4 starter in the playoffs last year has been recovering from a groin strain that propelled Alexi Ogando in the starting rotation. Hunter has probably lost his starting job and is a proven arm that could be a long reliever for the stretch run.
The prospect is Tanner Scheppers. The oft-injured Scheppers has just been activated off of the DL and has the power arm that you want shutting down batters in the eighth inning. The Rangers' organization can't make up its mind if Scheppers will start or pitch in relief in the future, but he could be this year's Alexi Ogando in the pen.
There's also Darren O'Day who has been injured the majority of the season and Neil Ramirez who is pitching well at Triple-A.
If the Rangers have an opportunity to land a Bell, Soria or Adams they should jump on it. But if not, they have proven arms in their systems that can help them regain their playoff form once they become healthy.
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