Thursday, June 23, 2011

Texas Rangers Notes: Bullpen Trade Options

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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.

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

San Diego Padres' closer Heath Bell is a name that came up immediately after Feliz blew the save for the Rangers on Wednesday night. But his name has come up long before that.
Heath Bell Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres celebrates with Nick Hundley #4 of the San Diego Padres after recording the save at Coors Field on June 13, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Padres defeated the Rockies 3-1.
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

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

Mike Adams Mike Adams #37 of the San Diego Padres delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the seventh inning on June 19, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Padres 5-4.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
While Heath Bell would be a great addition to the Rangers, San Diego Padres' set up man Mike Adams might be an even better option.

The soon to be 33-year told right hander has allowed just five earned runs 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 Bell would.

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 holding opposing hitters to a .138 batting average, Adams has a 1.65 ERA away from Petco and is holding 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, Joel Hanrahan.
Joel Hanrahan Joel Hanrahan #52 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the game on June 22, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

At the time, the conversation did not go anywhere as the Pirates were not willing to talk about any deals regarding Hanrahan.

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 pitched. Pittsburgh isn't exactly a pitcher's park so give the soon to be 30-year 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 29-year old Francisco 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.
Francisco Rodriguez Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on June 7, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Mets defeated the Brewers 2-1.
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

His fastball was in the upper 90's with a 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
Kerry Wood Kerry Wood #34 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on May 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Giants 11-4.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Kerry 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
Grant Balfour Grant Balfour #50 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Minnesota Twins at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 18, 2011 in Oakland, California. Balfour is from Sydney, Australia.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Oakland A's flamethrower, Grant 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-runner 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) he had a 2.28 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .216 batting average. He was signed by the Oakland A's during the off season and has been just as dominant in 2011 as he was last season.

This season, in 33 relief appearances (32.2 IP), Balfour has a 2.48 ERA and 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)

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