Saturday, July 30, 2011
Jon Daniels talks Koji Uehara, deadline
By Richard Durrett
The Rangers had a need and they felt that Koji Uehara filled it. So when that meant dealing Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter, GM Jon Daniels and his staff pulled the trigger.
"Koji is one of the most effective relievers in the game, this year and last year," Daniels said. "He’s battle-tested. He's done it in the AL East. He's a strike-thrower and has the ability to make guys swing and miss. We're excited to have him."
Daniels said the trade doesn't have to proclude them from adding another bullpen piece, but that it "takes the edge off." The club doesn't have anything imminent and Daniels said he doesn't expect to do anything else, though he added "certainly not tonight, but who knows about tomorrow?" The trade deadline is at 3 p.m. Dallas time.
To get Uehara, who is expected to join the club in Toronto on Sunday, the Rangers had to give up two players on their major league roster. But Daniels said the club's depth and the fact that Davis and Hunter weren't necessarily in the club's future plans made the deal one the Rangers were willing to make.
"We didn’t necessarily move any pieces we felt were going to be long-term fits," Daniels said. "We like Tommy and Chris, but in some ways they were both blocked and this provides them with a good opportunity."
Daniels said his scouts have seen Uehara show consistent command, pound the strike zone (a phrase manager Ron Washington preaches) and throw a good split-finger fastball. The 62 strikeouts with only eight walks are proof of the good command and the ability to miss bats.
The fact that Uehara's contract includes a vesting option for $4 million in 2012 made him more valuable. The 36-year-old needs just 12 appearances to vest that option.
"It was an added bonus for us," Daniels said about the contract. "I think he'll be a fit beyond 2011."
Daniels said he and Washington had a long talk with Davis on Saturday afternoon.
"Chris is in a good spot," Daniels said. "He understands where we are as a club and the competitive level and winning cycle we're in. He understands he's had an opportunity and appreciates that. Other guys have laid claim to other jobs. We asked him to play the outfield, in part because we thought there may be some additional opportunity for him to play, but ultimately it was unlikely he was going to get a regular job here, barring injuries. Chris may be a late bloomer and we'll have to live with that. I hope he does it."
When asked about right-handed bats, Daniels said two are on his radar screen: Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. Daniels said Cruz should return "in a day or two" and that obtaining a right-handed bat was not a priority before Sunday afternoon.
Daniels is always looking to improve his team, but is happy with what he's got right now.
"We liked our club going into spring training. We liked our club the first half of the year and we liked our club this morning, and I think we're better today," Daniels said. "If there's another opportunity to get better, we're interested. If nothing presents itself tonight or tomorrow, we'll feel good about our club either way."