Derek Holland is this year's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, production wise.
24-year-old left-hander, Derek Holland, is the Texas Rangers' no. 5 starter, without question—as of right now.
Tommy Hunter is back in the bigs and healthy, so the confidence in Holland's abilities seem to be sitting high.
To many Rangers' fans, Derek Holland is a paradox. In terms of raw-ability, and "stuff" Holland continually displays the makeup that has kept his name off of the table in most trade talks—both this year and in years past.
However, ability aside, Holland has been up-and-down all year long. For an example of this "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" streak of Holland's, you need look no further than his last two starts.
Two starts ago, Holland didn't make it out of the first inning. Against Florida, he allowed 4 hits and 5 earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning. Tommy Hunter made his 2011 debut in relief of Holland that day and many though he'd slide into his rotation slot as well.
But in the "Dutch Oven's" most recent start, (he starts tonight's game in Seattle at 9:05 PM CST) he was absolutely lights-out as he struck out 7 and allowed 4 hits—this time over 9 innings—in the complete game victory.
His last start was against AL West Division rival, Oakland—so here's hoping he can rekindle the same magic he did last week.
In the meantime, it's time to explore some possibilities for the Texas Rangers in terms of trades. What type of packages and for whom, might the Rangers throw around in the upcoming weeks prior to the MLB Trade Deadline?
After all, if Holland is the weak leak in the Rangers' rotation, he could be a strength in the bullpen...
Might Chris Davis be casting his gaze towards Minnesota?
One of the best things about a talent like Derek Holland, is that he can be just as valuable in the bullpen as in the rotation—more so, perhaps. Adding a quality left hander that can give you multiple innings out of the pen is something the Rangers have needed all year long.
Chris Davis is a slugger without a spot on the Rangers roster. He can play first base or third—well above average. He's even been playing some in the outfield for Triple-A Round Rock. He's versatile, and he needs to be playing in the Major Leagues everyday.
There is no place for him on the 2011 Texas Rangers roster. Since he's absolutely annihilating Triple-A pitching—.368 BA, 20 homers in just 38 games—and still only 24-years-old, now might be the perfect time to ship him off for some starting pitching help.
Why not make Davis the centerpiece of a trade to the Minnesota Twins for their right hander, Scott Baker? Baker is a Rangers killer—complete game shutout against the Rangers last month—he's in a free agent year, and he's still not yet 30-years-old.
Scott Baker would most likely be a number two or three in Texas. Regardless, it would strengthen the Rangers' bullpen by putting Holland in it, and it would put Davis in an organization that has many more options for playing time for him than Texas.
The Twins have an aging outfield and a first baseman, in Mourneau, that has had problems staying on the field.
In my mind, this move is a no-brainer. David Murphy—currently on a one-year deal—could be sent to the Twins with a prospect or two (possibly a Neil Ramirez-type).
Blanton has been banged-up this season.
Yes, it's always dangerous to deal for a pitcher—much less one that is currently on the DL. However, Blanton is due to come off of the disabled list in the next 15 days, and if healthy would easily be a no. 3 starter on the Texas Rangers.
The nature of Blanton's injury—right elbow soreness—is pretty scary. Speculation of the pessimistic sort is no fun, so we'll be optimistic and assume that the elbow soreness is just that, no big deal.
Joe Blanton is a free agent after next season, and wouldn't cost the Rangers too much in a trade. Based on spring training rumors, and the Phillies' acute interest in Michael Young, we know that they want a second baseman.
Chase Utley's body has been breaking down for the last several seasons so now might be the time to make a move for someone who can supplant Utley in a year or two.
Perhaps Double A's Davis Stoneburner and Renny Osuna—both young second baseman—and Julio Borbon packaged together would be enough to sway the Phillies to ship Blanton to Texas.
Heath Bell throws a pitch during the 2011 MLB All-Star Game.
Heath Bell trade talk has been uttered ad nauseam. It's been talked about so much that it is almost certainly going to happen.
Heath Bell is an excellent closer—one of the best in the bigs—and an extremely gregarious clubhouse presence. He's filled big shoes before (replacing San Diego legend Trevor Hoffman) and would immediately improve any team's bullpen.
Heath Bell in the Rangers bullpen would create several wonderful possibilities—all of which would make the team much stronger down the stretch.
Maybe Derek Holland turns the corner, becomes consistent, and puts together a string of strong starts a la Matt Harrison. If that is the case, then leave him in the fifth spot. With Bell in the bullpen, you wouldn't need him there anyways.
Bell could slide into the closer's spot—supplanting the occasionally ineffective Neftali Feliz. Feliz then could become the 8th inning man the Rangers have needed all year long. Or, Bell could be a lights-out set-up man and Feliz could stay pat as the closer.
Most assuredly, they'd ask the questions that make Rangers Nation queasy with anxiety—questions about the "Killer P's". Of course, that means Jurickson Profar and Martin Perez. Those two should be left out for certain. Chris Davis with David Murphy or Julio Borbon most likely wouldn't be enough to get Bell to Arlington.
However, stranger things have happened...
Tyler Clippard throws a pitch—in an unusual way—during the 2011 MLB All-Star game.
Tyler Clippard's nickname is enough to make him a perfect fit in the Rangers' bullpen. He's known as: "The Yankee Clippard".
Another power-arm for the Rangers' bullpen. Obviously, Texas would prefer to add a lefty, but there just aren't too many being shopped as of now.
The addition of Clippard would be extremely similar to Heath Bell, save one factor—Clippard doesn't have the same resume as a closer.
Clippard is in the last year of his contract and is currently making a paltry $443K. With the type of year he's having in Washington, however, he's bound to see a significant spike in cash flow. This is what happens when you average 11 strikeouts per 9 IP and have a smaller-than-a-speck-of-dust WHIP of 0.857.
Still, Clippard would be a relatively cheap addition for the Rangers and would have an immediate positive impact.
The Nationals would want some prospects but nothing that would defile the deep Rangers farm system too terribly bad.
Martin Perez has been making the Rangers drool for several years now. Perhaps the time to bring him up is now.
Like a lost pair of glasses that are found moments later on your face—sometimes the answers to your problems are right smack-dab in front of you.
There was a time when starting pitchers were first called up to the big leagues and placed in the bullpen for seasoning.
Nolan Ryan is an old-school type for sure. Why not bring up Martin Perez? If Holland becomes consistently excellent as he's well capable of, Perez becomes that key left handed arm out of the bullpen.
And he gets a taste of the big league life while the Rangers sell a few more tickets—and more importantly—keep their farm system in tact.
How about bringing Tanner Scheppers up as well? He was all the talk last year, and some are still surprised that he didn't get a shot then. He most assuredly would have had Alexi Ogando not dominated from day one in 2010.
Scheppers has been off the DL for about around a month now and has pitched as he does when healthy, overpoweringly.
The Texas Rangers need to make a trade if the right one is there. There's no need in them rushing to pick up a piece they don't absolutely have to have.
The answers to the Rangers' question might be down on the farm—ripe and ready for the picking—eagerly awaiting a chance to help the team down the stretch and on their quest to defend the AL Championship.