Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Does trade mean Neftali Feliz won't start?
By Richard Durrett
One ripple effect of the Mike Napoli trade could be in the back end of the bullpen.
By trading Frank Francisco, the Rangers lose the guy that was a solid setup man before he was injured late last year (strained lat muscle). General manager Jon Daniels said the club was willing to do that because of the relief depth, including power right-handers Mark Lowe and Alexi Ogando.
But Francisco was also one of the guys that had closing experience and certainly a candidate to get the closer's job back -- he had it to start 2010 before Feliz took over that role after the first week of the season and never relinquished it -- if Feliz became a starter. Losing Francisco makes the decision to move Feliz to the rotation a little tougher.
"The decision on Neftali is going to come down to what's best long-term for him and the club," Daniels said. "There's a short-term component as well and trading Frankie has to impact our thinking a little bit. If we were convinced in a period of time that he could become an upper rotation starter, then I think we'll put him in the rotation. We thought about the impact of this trade on that, but we were comfortable because of what Mike brings."
The plan remains for Feliz to come to spring training stretched out. But the club has to be completely comfortable with their bullpen options at the end of spring and Feliz must show he has the repertoire to start before a move is made. Tuesday's trade has to make the odds of Feliz moving into the rotation a little longer. Keep an eye on Ogando and Lowe this spring. How well they perform will also impact what happens to Feliz.
Feliz has always been penciled in as the closer. I wouldn't put it in ink yet, but the eraser isn't in sight at this point.