Texas Rangers: Matt Garza

Time to keep prospects, check trade market

May, 23, 2014
May 23
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DETROIT -- If you're expecting general manager Jon Daniels to come out and signal that the 2014 season is over, you're going to be waiting awhile. He can't do that. It's not fair to the group of players in the clubhouse who, frankly, should be commended for even being one game under .500 after what's happened on the injury front this season.

[+] EnlargeMorales
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesKendrys Morales could be an affordable replacement for Prince Fielder in the Rangers lineup.
But Daniels and his staff have preached for years that they work under parallel plans: A one- or two-year plan and a five-year plan. The idea is to make deals that, as often as possible, satisfy both blueprints. That's what the offseason trade of Prince Fielder and the seven-year contract of Shin-Soo Choo were designed to do. Fielder gave them a power bat in the middle of the lineup and allowed them to insert Jurickson Profar at second base. Choo provided a leadoff hitter, who could sit there -- or at other spots in the order -- for years to come as an on-base machine. Those deals were supposed to help this team push for a World Series title in 2014 and beyond.

Now, it's that long-term plan that Daniels must focus on. That means resisting the temptation to do a whole lot in the wake of the Fielder news. The Rangers could certainly look at Kendrys Morales. And as Keith Law points out (Insider), they may have all the leverage for a player whom few teams need at this point. If they wait until after the draft, does it cost them $3 million? That's not a steep price to pay for a bat in the lineup for the rest of the season (and waiting until after the draft is a must so that it doesn't cost them any compensation).

But unless it's that sales-rack deal, I'm not sure the Rangers should do anything else to fill that spot. The club's best prospects are at the lower levels and are slowly, but confidently, making their way toward the big leagues. Joey Gallo's power has everyone's attention at Class A Myrtle Beach. Luke Jackson is continuing to progress at Double-A Frisco. Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor are getting some valuable time in the majors and could help this team down the road. So should Michael Choice and a host of others.

It gives the Rangers some options at the trade deadline to make the club better in the future. We know that Daniels and his staff hate closing doors. So if someone calls asking about Adrian Beltre or Elvis Andrus -- or nearly anyone not named Yu Darvish -- they're going to listen. They should listen. You never know what might come of it.

But don't expect them to start dealing prospects to try to add a piece here and there for just 2014 or even 2015. After the Matt Garza deal, something Daniels has referenced several times as a learning experience, they aren't going to part with a prospect package to get a semi-rental player. This team is more than one or two pieces away anyway. And the front office knows it.

It may not be time to fold 'em, but it's time to hold 'em. This team still has the ingredients to jump right back into contention next season should Fielder return 100 percent and Profar be fully ready to go, as well. They'll need to increase their pitching depth, but that's something Daniels & Co. can do either at trade deadline or in the offseason. Then that winning window has a chance to open again.

Jon Daniels: Garza trade could 'haunt me'

March, 24, 2014
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Like most general managers, Jon Daniels has made some deals he wishes he hadn't made. Sure, he completed his share of blockbusters that helped the Texas Rangers vault into contention a few years back (the Mark Teixeira and Cliff Lee deals lead the list). But he also had some swings and misses (Adrian Gonzalez might be the biggest).

In July 2013, Daniels knew the Rangers needed some pitching help to bolster the rotation down the stretch, and he acquired Matt Garza from the Cubs, trading away four prospects. So what does Daniels think of that deal now?

Matt Garza
AP Photo/Andrew A. NellesIn 13 starts for the Rangers, Matt Garza was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 84 1/3 innings.
"I thought way too short-term with the Garza deal last year," Daniels told Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. "That one's got a chance to haunt us and haunt me."

To land Garza, Daniels dealt third baseman Mike Olt, right-handed pitcher C.J. Edwards, right-handed starter Justin Grimm and right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez, who was the player to be named later.

As expected, Garza became a free agent after the season and signed with the Brewers.

Garza had pitched well in Chicago, and the Rangers were desperate for pitching help to make a push. But the same Garza never showed up in Texas. In 13 starts in a Rangers uniform, Garza was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 84 1/3 innings, and Texas didn’t make the postseason, losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 163, the one-game playoff to determine a wild-card postseason spot.

Olt is competing for the starting third-base job with the Cubs this spring. Edwards had a terrific 2013, split between the Rangers and Cubs, and continues to progress toward the big leagues. Add in Grimm and Ramirez, and the Cubs got a nice foursome of prospects for Garza.

That's why Daniels says it could haunt him.

Spring training preview: No. 2 starter

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
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Note: Spring training will arrive before you know it. To get you ready, we'll take a look at every position between now and February, when pitchers and catchers report to Surprise, Ariz.

HollandTim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsWith Derek Holland injured, the competition for the No. 2 starter spot should be very interesting.

Today's position: No. 2 starter



It was a dog named Wrigley that altered the Rangers rotation five weeks before pitchers and catchers arrive in Arizona. Derek Holland, the club's No. 2 starter behind Yu Darvish, was "horsing around" with his boxer, Wrigley, when the dog charged up the staircase and tripped Holland. The pitcher slammed his knee into the stairs and said that had he not grabbed the railing just in time, he might have fallen down the stairs and cracked his head open.

But the damage to his cartilage was bad enough that it required surgery on his left knee. The club has given Holland a timetable of midseason to return, though he says he hopes he can get back sooner than that.

No matter when the actual date is, Holland won't be ready to start the season and won't be around for a few months once it does begin. That's a huge blow to the rotation. Holland had put together a 2013 worth building on. After struggles in 2012, Holland became a more consistent pitcher last season. He had a 3.42 ERA, a run and a half lower than the previous season. He never missed a turn in the rotation, the only Ranger pitcher to do so. It was the kind of season he vowed he'd have and the 27-year-old was looking forward to validating it with another one (just like Matt Harrison did in 2011 and 2012).

Now, Holland must wait until midseason to do that. And it means the Rangers must figure out what to do in his absence. The club is looking externally and internally to create rotation competition this spring. As it stands now, Darvish, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando are in. The group of internal candidates, so far, includes Nick Tepesch, Colby Lewis (if he can prove he's healthy), Michael Kirkman and Robbie Ross. Tanner Scheppers is also stretched out as a starter, but it seems likely he'd end up in the pen. Jose Contreras is also coming to spring training.

The club is also looking at the free-agent market. Assuming they don't surprise everyone and go big by signing Masahiro Tanaka, the Rangers could look at some pitchers on shorter-term deals. That makes Jerome Williams appealing. His numbers certainly don't jump off the page, but he could be a low-risk, high-reward option on a one-year deal who could come to spring training and fight for a spot. Ubaldo Jimenez, Bronson Arroyo and Ervin Santana are among the other options. Arroyo is intriguing because he has proven to be an innings-eater, but he might require a three-year deal.

OUTLOOK: Losing Holland hurts a rotation that has other questions, like whether Harrison can return to form and if Perez is ready to handle a full season as a starter.

Holland talked last week about the frustration of the injury and how much he was looking forward to proving himself again 2013. He'll have to do that by working hard in rehab and helping the club once he returns. Perhaps he can look at it as being the trade deadline piece that makes a difference.

But the competition to see who replaces him should be very interesting.

Hot Stove Talk: Matt Garza

January, 11, 2014
Jan 11
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Note: Over the next few days, we'll take a look at some external and internal possibilities for the starting pitching rotation to replace Derek Holland, as the lefty is expected to miss the first half of the season.

Today's pitcher: Matt Garza

[+] EnlargeMatt Garza
Layne Murdoch/Getty ImagesMight the Rangers look again at Matt Garza to help fill the hole left by Derek Holland?
We'll start with the arm out there that the Rangers know best. Garza, 30, was acquired by the Rangers at the trade deadline last year for pitchers C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez and third baseman Mike Olt.

Garza was supposed to give the rotation a boost and help the club down the stretch. But in 13 starts, he sported a 4-5 record and a 4.38 ERA. He had a 1.316 WHIP, much higher than it was the first half of the season in Chicago. Garza wasn't the same pitcher that was 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts (he missed the first part of the season with a muscle strain in his left side) with the Cubs.

Garza missed the second half of the 2012 season with a stress reaction in his elbow. But the fact that he made his starts and stayed healthy from May on last season likely means club's won't allow health issues to keep them from signing him.

Despite the rough starts in Texas last year, Garza has averaged a 3.76 ERA in his past six seasons. And in five playoff starts, Garza has a 3.48 ERA and a 2-0 mark, though his last win came in 2008.

The biggest hurdle is that Garza wants a long-term deal, and based on his performance last year and the fact that, at this point, the Rangers are planning on Holland coming back at midseason, Texas will likely want a one-year deal with incentives if they consider Garza.

But he's one of the arms still on the market that projects as a mid-rotation guy and would allow the Rangers to utilize internal candidates like Robbie Ross, Michael Kirkman, Nick Tepesch and Colby Lewis as more depth options. We'll take a look at those guys in this series soon as well.

What do you think about Garza? Any interest?

Free-agent shopping list

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
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Here's the MLBPA-compiled list of the 147 players who are now free agents, which for the Rangers includes outfielder Nelson Cruz, pitcher Matt Garza and catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto:

Atlanta Braves
Luis Ayala
Scott Downs
Freddy Garcia
Tim Hudson
Kameron Loe
Paul Maholm
Brian McCann
Eric O'Flaherty

Arizona Diamondbacks
Willie Bloomquist
Eric Chavez
Wil Nieves

Baltimore Orioles
Scott Feldman
Jason Hammel
Nate McLouth
Michael Morse
Brian Roberts
Francisco Rodriguez
Chris Snyder

Boston Red Sox
Stephen Drew
Jacoby Ellsbury
Joel Hanrahan
John McDonald
Mike Napoli
Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Chicago Cubs
Scott Baker
Kevin Gregg
Matt Guerrier
Dioner Navarro

Chicago White Sox
Gavin Floyd
Paul Konerko

Cincinnati Reds
Bronson Arroyo
Shin-Soo Choo
Zach Duke
Cesar Izturis
Nick Masset
Manny Parra

Cleveland Indians
Matt Albers
Jason Giambi
Rich Hill
Scott Kazmir
Joe Smith
Kelly Shoppach

Colorado Rockies
Rafael Betancourt
Jeff Francis
Todd Helton
Roy Oswalt
Yorvit Torrealba

Detroit Tigers
Joaquin Benoit
Jeremy Bonderman
Octavio Dotel
Omar Infante
Brayan Pena
Jhonny Peralta
Ramon Santiago

Houston Astros
Erik Bedard

Kansas City Royals
Bruce Chen
Carlos Pena
Ervin Santana
Miguel Tejada

Los Angeles Angels
Jason Vargas

Los Angeles Dodgers
Jerry Hairston Jr.
J.P. Howell
Carlos Marmol
Ricky Nolasco
Nick Punto
Skip Schumaker
Juan Uribe
Edinson Volquez
Brian Wilson
Michael Young

Miami Marlins
Matt Diaz
Austin Kearns
Juan Pierre
Placido Polanco
Chad Qualls

Milwaukee Brewers
Yuniesky Betancourt
Mike Gonzalez
Corey Hart

Minnesota Twins
Mike Pelfrey

New York Mets
David Aardsma
Tim Byrdak
Pedro Feliciano
Frank Francisco
Aaron Harang
LaTroy Hawkins
Daisuke Matsuzaka

New York Yankees
Robinson Cano
Joba Chamberlain
Curtis Granderson
Travis Hafner
Phil Hughes
Hiroki Kuroda
Boone Logan
Lyle Overbay
Andy Pettitte
Mark Reynolds
Mariano Rivera
Brendan Ryan
Kevin Youkilis

Oakland Athletics
Grant Balfour
Bartolo Colon

Philadelphia Phillies
Roy Halladay
Carlos Ruiz

Pittsburgh Pirates
Clint Barmes
John Buck
A.J. Burnett
Marlon Byrd
Kyle Farnsworth
Jeff Karstens
Justin Morneau

San Diego Padres
Ronny Cedeno
Mark Kotsay
Jason Marquis

San Francisco Giants
Chad Gaudin
Javier Lopez

Seattle Mariners
Endy Chavez
Raul Ibanez
Kendrys Morales
Oliver Perez
Humberto Quintero

St. Louis Cardinals
Carlos Beltran
Chris Carpenter
Rafael Furcal
Edward Mujica

Tampa Bay Rays
Jesse Crain
Roberto Hernandez
Kelly Johnson
James Loney
Jose Molina
Fernando Rodney
Luke Scott
Jamey Wright
Delmon Young

Texas Rangers
Lance Berkman
Nelson Cruz
Jason Frasor
Matt Garza
Colby Lewis
David Murphy
A.J. Pierzynski
Geovany Soto

Toronto Blue Jays
Rajai Davis
Josh Johnson
Darren Oliver
Ramon Ortiz

Washington Nationals
Dan Haren
Chad Tracy

With World Series over, Rangers get busy

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
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Now that the World Series is over and October baseball gives way to November Hot Stove, the Texas Rangers will immediately get busy. Among the decisions that need to be made soon (before the Winter Meetings begin at Disney World in early December):

* Nelson Cruz. It should come as no surprise that the Rangers will make a qualifying offer to the outfielder. That offer of $14.1 million makes sense because if Cruz takes it, the club has its top power hitter back in 2014. If not and he signs somewhere else, the club would get draft pick compensation. It's an easy call, frankly. Cruz, 33, is expected to decline the offer and try to get a multi-year deal.

That's the second part of the equation. Do the Rangers offer Cruz a two- or three-year deal that could eat a decent chunk of their available money within a budget that Daniels has said won't change much from last year? He's not exactly a young player anymore, so it's a difficult choice.

* Joe Nathan. The club has three days to decide whether to offer Nathan a chance to accept the option on his contract. Nathan's deal includes a $9 million club option, but because the nearly 39-year-old (his birthday is Nov. 22) finished 55 games in 2013, he has the right to void that option. The Rangers must choose if they want to bring him back at that number based on their budget and the fact that they have some options at closer (like Joakim Soria or Tanner Scheppers). They could also just buy Nathan out for $750,000. If the Rangers do offer the option and Nathan refuses it, they don't have to pay the buyout.

Nathan, by the way, has talked about wanting a two-year deal. But if the Rangers choose to exercise the option, Nathan would have 48 hours to decide. (My bet is they won't exercise the option at that price. But we'll see.)

* Other teams can not negotiate with the Rangers' free agents until the sixth day after the World Series. So Texas has a brief exclusive window to talk to guys who could seek deals elsewhere. Cruz is the biggest name, but Matt Garza, David Murphy and catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto join Nathan on that list as well.

* Early shopping. The Rangers waited a while last year before signing Pierzynski and Lance Berkman late in the offseason, because they had to wait and see what Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke would do. But they've shown a willingness to jump in early if it makes sense. That's how they got Nathan two years ago, and that signing has certainly worked out. We'll see if they decide to shop and buy a little earlier this offseason as opposed to the last one based on their needs and budget.

* Arbitration. Some of these don't look too difficult. Neal Cotts proved he was a valuable member of the bullpen and could be a guy the Rangers look at signing for more than one year (getting through his final year of arbitration and one of his free agent years). Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando and Craig Gentry should be back. The toughest call might be Mitch Moreland. MLB Trade Rumors, which does a good job of forecasting arbitration numbers, has Moreland coming in around $2.7 million. The club must decide if they want to retain him at that number or use that money elsewhere.

* Lance Berkman. This is another decision that really isn't a decision. Berkman couldn't stay healthy after the team signed him to an $10 million contract in the offseason. The club won't be exercising the option on Berkman, but it's still on the "to do" list. The buyout will cost them $1 million.

Defining Dozen: Trading for Matt Garza

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
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Editor's Note: This is the third of a 12-part series titled "Defining Dozen," which looks at the 12 moments that impacted the 2013 season the most. We will count down from 12 to 1. The moments will include highs and lows for the Texas Rangers from a season that lasted until Game 163.

Matt GarzaRick Yeatts/Getty ImagesMatt Garza was a disappointing 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts for the Rangers.
Moment No. 10: Trading for Matt Garza

With the Rangers' starting pitching depth getting severely tested and the team needing another top-flight arm for the stretch run, general manager Jon Daniels and his staff agreed to send four prospects to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza a little more than a week before the trade deadline.

The Rangers shipped pitchers C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez (who was the player to be named later) and third base prospect Mike Olt to the Cubs for Garza, who is a free agent this offseason. At the time, Garza was the best pitcher available on the market and was pitching in July like one of the top hurlers in the league.

The price in prospects was high, but the trade made sense. Garza, after all, had pitched in the American League for the first five years of his career, including three successful seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays before he was sent to the Cubs. So the thinking was that making the transition from the National League to the AL shouldn't be a big issue for Garza (unlike Ryan Dempster, the Rangers' trade-deadline pickup in 2012 who struggled as soon as he arrived in Texas from Chicago).

But Garza never really materialized as that big arm down the stretch. Heck, I thought he'd slide in at the No. 2 spot in the rotation, ahead of Derek Holland and behind Yu Darvish. And I was wrong. Holland pitched better. So did rookie Martin Perez. Garza was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts for the Rangers. In his final 11 starts with the Rangers, Garza managed just two quality starts. He had a great outing against the Kansas City Royals as the Rangers tried to grab that final wild-card spot. But he couldn't sustain that momentum, giving up five runs (though just one earned) on 11 hits against the Angels in what ended up as a win for the Rangers.

It's easy to look back and say the trade was a failure. And it was. But at the time, the Rangers' front office stepped up and made a move to attempt to strengthen the rotation. It was designed to have an impact. It did, just not in the way Texas hoped or expected.

Offseason question: Rotation Depth

October, 18, 2013
10/18/13
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Editor's Note: This is the last in a 10-part series that focused on questions the Texas Rangers must answer this offseason. These questions are in no particular order.

Today’s question: Do the Texas Rangers have enough rotation depth?

[+] EnlargeDavid Price
Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsMight the Rangers be able to pull off an offseason trade for David Price?
Here's what we know about the Rangers' 2014 rotation -- Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Matt Harrison will be in it.

That's provided general manager Jon Daniels doesn't pull a stunner and trade either Holland and Perez -- that seems highly unlikely -- and that Harrison is 100 percent recovered from two back surgeries that limited him to only only two starts in 2013.

That leaves the Rangers needing a fifth starter. Is that guy Alexi Ogando? We've already discussed Ogando's situation in this series. The mere fact that Ogando was on the disabled list three times last season should make the Rangers pause and put the lanky right-hander back in the bullpen where he belongs.

Which means the Rangers are back to needing a fifth starter. Does that pitcher come from within the system, via trade or in free agency?

Let's start with the system. The Rangers are likely to bring back their own free agent, Colby Lewis, who spent all of last season trying to recover from elbow surgery and other ailments. Lewis is 34, the Rangers' best postseason pitcher of all time and deserves another chance with the team. But he can't be counted on in any way. If he makes it, that's a bonus.

(Read full post)

Offseason question: Bring back Matt Garza?

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
8:00
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Editor's note: This is the second in a 10-part series over the next two weeks that will focus on questions the Texas Rangers must answer this offseason. These questions are in no particular order.

Today's question: Should the Rangers bring back Matt Garza?

The automatic assumption is that Garza, a free agent, won't be re-signed by the Rangers. In a 45-minute news conference with general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington on Thursday, not one question came up about the right-hander.

[+] EnlargeMatt Garza
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezBased on the high price Jon Daniels paid for Matt Garza, will the Rangers GM feel obligated to re-sign Garza this winter?
In fact, the only mention of Garza came from Daniels himself, who coupled the acquisition of the pitcher in July for four players with the free-agent signing bust that was designated hitter Lance Berkman, who gave the Rangers one good month. That's about all Garza, who was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA for 13 starts, gave the Rangers, too.

Hey, almost all of us who cover the Rangers praised the trade at the time. The Rangers needed a starting pitcher to contend, and Garza was the best available on the market. He just didn't live up to expectations, and given the way that the top prospect in the deal, C.J. Edwards, pitched for the Chicago Cubs in the minor leagues, this one could go down as a heartbreaker.

"The Garza deal, we believed in the team and wanted to take it a step forward," Daniels said. "You look up in two years and three guys are in the big leagues for the Cubs. That's what I expect to happen, honestly. There were some good ones; C.J. Edwards is good. Those are the risks we take."

The Rangers could overreact and, to protect themselves from the possibility of Edwards plus one of Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez becoming a star in the major leagues, compensate by keeping Garza around. Who knows, Garza might just produce in a three- or four-year deal to make it worth it.

The Rangers say Garza was a good fit in the clubhouse. That was hard to tell. He embarrassed the organization with his reaction to Oakland's Eric Sogard bunting on him by taking to Twitter and tweeting to Sogard and his wife. His reputation as a competitor didn't show up for the Rangers as much as the team would have liked, though he did come up big in a late-season start at Kansas City.

Matt Harrison will be back. Colby Lewis could be back. The Rangers have some starting pitching options and are better off appreciating the two-plus months they had for Garza instead of lamenting how it didn't turn out exactly how they hoped it would.

Wash would welcome Cruz, Nathan back

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Decisions, decisions, decisions.

The Rangers have quite a few to make as they enter their first offseason in four years without a postseason game.

Will Nelson Cruz be back? How about Joe Nathan? Others, such as catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto, outfielder David Murphy and pitcher Matt Garza will be discussed ad nauseam before the winter meetings in December in Orlando.

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Manager Ron Washington touched on the big ones -- Cruz and Nathan -- during his postmortem press conference Tuesday morning, 12 hours after the Rangers lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 in the American League tiebreaker game. He and general manager Jon Daniels and the rest of the brain trust will sit down at some point and go over all the options.

The big one is Cruz. He was suspended for the final 50 games of the regular season for violation of Major League Baseball's Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Cruz has to shoulder a portion of the blame for the Rangers' not making a stronger push for the AL West title, as they gave it up to Oakland in the final month.

The Rangers were disappointed by Cruz's decision-making and suspension, but they also know there's a lack of right-handed power hitters in the major leagues, and the minors too. The Rangers are likely to make Cruz a qualifying offer of about $13.5 million.

Washington, for one, would welcome Cruz back.

“When you think about a Nelson Cruz, who wouldn’t want a Nelson Cruz?" Washington said. "Big heart, great teammate, but there’s a lot of decisions to be made on our part and Nelson’s part. I do believe Jon Daniels will go down that road and see where it works or doesn’t work."

Then there's Nathan. The Rangers have a $9.5 million option on him for 2014, with a $750,000 buyout, a contract that Nathan can void and become a free agent. Nathan, 38, made it clear all season that he expects to pitch for several more years and will seek a multiyear deal.

Nathan blew three saves this season and finished with 43 saves. He may walk the tightrope sometimes, which drives the fan base crazy, but he's reliable and gets the job done.

“I thought Joe Nathan had a tremendous year,” Washington said. “I think at the end of the year, Joe Nathan proved to everyone that doubted him what he was made of, and I certainly would love to continue giving him the ball because he gets outs.”

There will be other decisions. Both Pierzynski and Soto would like to return, but the Rangers may set their sights on free-agent-to-be Brian McCann.

They gave up a lot for Garza, including pitcher C.J. Edwards -- who pitched tremendously for the Cubs in the minors after the trade. Is that reason enough to bring Garza back? Did he show enough despite going through a maddening stretch in August and September?

Whatever happens, this will be a fascinating offseason, one in which Daniels and his staff will have to make their mark.

Buzz: All pitchers ready to go, minus Yu

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers manager Ron Washington isn't planning on having a quick hook for 22-year-old starter Martin Perez in Monday's American League wild-card tiebreaker game.

But he has plenty of arms to turn to if needed.

Washington said all of his pitchers, including starters Alexi Ogando, Matt Garza and Derek Holland, are available to come out of the bullpen in Game 163, an elimination game, against the Tampa Bay Rays. Yu Darvish is the only pitcher who won't be used.

PODCAST
Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.

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Ogando is the most likely to be the first starter used because of his experience pitching out of the bullpen. Washington said he'll just flow with the game and base his decision on how far to go with Perez on how his innings are going.

"It just depends on what is happening," Washington said. "If he has issues in the first inning, it could be the first inning. If he has issues in the fifth inning, it could be the fifth. It could be the second, the third. We just have to see what scenario is being played out there."

Washington said he'll work with his complete bullpen Monday night. The Rangers' pen has dominated during their seven-game winning streak, allowing one run in 20 1/3 innings. They have 27 strikeouts.

Setup man Tanner Scheppers has thrown 36 pitches while throwing four straight days, so his low count helps. Closer Joe Nathan also has pitched four straight days and he's available for the elimination game.

Keeping his pitch count down has been huge for Scheppers.

"It helps him to allow us to use him," Washington said. "He comes in and pounding the strike zone. What Joe's been doing after Scheppers has been outstanding."

Scheppers said there's no stopping now and that he'll be ready.

"It doesn't matter anymore," Scheppers said. "You can't be down for (Game) 163."

Put Gentry in ink: Nelson Cruz's return to the Rangers' lineup as the designated hitter means that Washington was able to keep Craig Gentry in at left field, which is good because Gentry is the Rangers' hottest hitter with 17 hits in his last 36 at-bats. He wasn't coming out for anyone.

"I never thought about taking Gentry out of there," Washington said.

Wash on Price: Rays starter David Price, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, has not pitched well against the Rangers. He has a 10.26 ERA in Arlington and has lost all three postseason starts against Texas.

If the Rangers have a secret, they're not revealing it. "I can't give you that," Washington said. "It's something that happened."

Washington said the Rangers have the utmost respect for Price, who is 9-8 with a 3.39 ERA this season.

"We're certainly not that confident that we're going to go out there and destroy Price because of what we've done in the past," Washington said. "It's Sept. 30, 2013 and this is a different time and a different day. We just have to go out there and continue to play our game and see what happens.

"Believe me, there's no one in this clubhouse taking Price lightly."

Short hops: Injured pitcher Colby Lewis, the Rangers' best all-time postseason pitcher, will throw out the first pitch before Monday's game. He'll also be in uniform for the game. Washington said that Lewis and Matt Harrison will accompany the Rangers on the road if they make the postseason. ... The Rangers and Rays are the only teams in the major leagues with four straight seasons with 90-plus wins.

Buzz: Rangers mum on anything past Sunday

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
1:02
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers aren't revealing anything about what could happen after Sunday in a wild-card play-in game or wild-card game.

Nothing about Nelson Cruz, who wasn't in the Rangers' clubhouse Sunday morning. Nothing about Monday's potential starting pitcher, which on rotation would be Martin Perez.

Not a thing.

"We don't know about anything past today," Washington said.

The Rangers probably have a good idea, they're just not going to say it until after they beat the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. That would mean the season would go on, either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday depending on how Tampa Bay and Cleveland do.

Washington said that everyone is available for Sunday's game, including Perez and potential Wednesday wild-card game starter Matt Garza.

Pierzynski is DH: Washington wanted A.J. Pierzynski in the lineup Sunday against a left-handed starter, so he's the designated hitter with Geovany Soto catching Yu Darvish for the fifth straight game.

"I want A.J.'s bat in there. Period," Washington said. "He's a threat."

Pierzynski is 6-for-24 with four RBIs during the Rangers' six-game winning streak. Soto has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, batting .393 with two home runs and five RBIs.

Darvish forecast: If Washington could have one wish for Darvish's start, he was asked by a reporter if he would want it to be fastball command. He offered another answer.

"I wish that the headlines be, 'Darvish dominates,' in big letters written by you," Washington said.

Washington on Game 162: For the third straight season, the major league season comes down to Game 162 with three teams -- the Rangers, Rays and Indians -- battling for two playoff spots.

It's amazing when you considered the regular season lasts six months and comes down to one day on the schedule.

"When you have the balance that the league has, it happens," Washington said. "This new format makes it exciting. If we had four division winners, it probably wouldn't be. But this gets other teams involved and sometimes you don't have to have that super year to have a chance. That's what I think the commissioner has done with this game and the format we're in. You never know what's going to happen in a one-game playoff. We proved that last year. I'd rather be in that one game than not be in it at all."

Short hops: Craig Gentry's right ankle is doing OK after it was stepped on by Angels' first baseman Mark Trumbo in Saturday's game. Gentry said he will have the ankle taped as usual as he starts for the ninth straight game in left field. ... Rangers TV broadcaster Steve Busby turns 64 today.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Angels 5

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
10:49
PM CT


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jurickson Profar saved the Texas Rangers on Thursday night.

Profar, pinch hitting in the bottom of the ninth, delivered a thunderbolt for the Rangers with a no-doubt-about-it home run to right field for a 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers have won four straight games at home against the Angels on walk-off homers.

Texas kept pace in the American League wild-card race, remaining two games behind Tampa Bay and one game behind Cleveland.

Escape artist: The Rangers dodged a major bullet in the top of the ninth. Neal Cotts got ahead of Josh Hamilton 0-2 to start the inning but walked him. It was Hamilton's fifth walk in 134 at-bats. Howie Kendrick then failed on two attempts to get down a bunt, but Hamilton still went to second base on Joe Nathan's wild pitch. Kendrick moved Hamilton to third on a ground ball to second. Nathan somehow escaped. He struck out Kole Calhoun and Mark Trumbo to get out of the inning and keep the game tied at 5.

Martin is clutch again: Leonys Martin is saving the Rangers in his first full season in the big leagues. He had a go-ahead bases-clearing double in Wednesday's 7-3 victory. With the Rangers trailing 4-3 on Thursday night and having hit into two double plays to kill rallies in the fourth and fifth innings, Martin came up with a clutch two-out double with two runners on base to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth.

Scheppers gives up lead: The Rangers had a chance at two shutdown innings, keeping their opponent off the board in the half-inning after they had scored, and failed both times. It was more surprising when Tanner Scheppers couldn't get it done in the top of the seventh. After the Rangers took the lead on Martin's hit, Scheppers allowed a leadoff triple to Calhoun and an RBI single to Trumbo, who broke out of an 0-for-25 slump by getting three hits on Thursday night.

Defensive futility: The Rangers had the worst defensive inning in franchise history in the biggest game of the 2013 season. Enough said. Leading 3-1 in the top of the second, Matt Garza got the first two outs, and then his infield completely let him down. First baseman Mitch Moreland booted a routine ground ball to extend the inning. After J.B. Shuck singled, the Rangers appeared to be out of the inning when Erick Aybar hit a grounder right at Ian Kinsler at second base. Kinsler let the ground ball roll through his legs, then he made another error trying to get an out at third base as the Angels cut the Texas lead to 3-2. Adrian Beltre then made a throwing error on a ground ball by Mike Trout and two runs came in for a 4-3 Angels lead. The Rangers totaled four errors in the inning.

Record setting: The four errors were the most in an inning by a Rangers team. Ever. It's the first four-error inning since 2010 and the first in the American League since 2007.

Fifth-inning debacle: Trailing 4-3, the Rangers loaded the bases on singles by Martin and Kinsler and an error by Andrew Romine on Elvis Andrus' sacrifice bunt. They scored zero runs. No. 3 hitter Alex Rios got up in the count 3-1 and swung through two sliders, the second one way out of the strike zone. Beltre then fell behind in the count 0-2 and grounded into a rally-killing double play to shortstop.

Up next: Texas right-hander Alexi Ogando (7-4, 2.93) will take on the Los Angeles Angels and former Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson (17-7, 3.36) at 7:05 p.m. Friday night on TXA Ch. 21 and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.

Lineups: Garza set for return of Trout

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
6:13
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout had the day off Wednesday against Oakland, but he was back in the lineup against the Rangers and Matt Garza on Thursday night at Rangers Ballpark as the teams square off for the final four games of the regular season.

Trout, a leading candidate for American League MVP, struggled on the Angels' recent homestand, going 2-for-17, thus the day off.

"He can find it with one swing," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Trout before Thursday's game. "Hopefully he will.

Trout has a career .351 batting average against the Rangers, so Garza and their pitchers know what to expect. Here are the lineups for Thursday's game:

RANGERS
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
RF Alex Rios
3B Adrian Beltre
C A.J. Pierzynski
1B Mitch Moreland
LF Craig Gentry
DH David Murphy
CF Leonys Martin
P Matt Garza

ANGELS
LF J.B. Shuck
SS Erick Aybar
CF Mike Trout
DH Josh Hamilton
2B Howie Kendrick
RF Kole Calhoun
1B Mark Trumbo
C Chris Iannetta
3B Andrew Romine
P Jerome Williams

Matchup: Matt Garza vs. Jerome Williams

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
1:30
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers open their final four-game series of the season on Thursday night when right-hander Matt Garza faces Angels right-hander Jerome Williams at 7:05 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.

Garza (10-6, 3.90 ERA): Garza had a dominant outing in his last start, allowing a run in eight innings as the Rangers beat Kansas City 3-1 ... It was the club's longest start since Yu Darvish went eight innings on Aug. 12 against Houston ... Garza snapped a four-game losing streak ... The Rangers are 7-5 in Garza's starts with two walk off wins ... Garza is winless in seven starts against the Angels, going 0-2 with a 5.61 ERA ... He is 0-1 with a 5.31 ERA against the Halos this season ... Garza is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA for six starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Williams (9-10, 4.55 ERA): Williams makes his third start against the Rangers this season ... He has won all four of his September starts for his career-best winning streak ... He allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings in a 6-5 victory over Seattle. ... Williams has a 3.75 ERA in September ... He is 1-1 with a 5.98 ERA in 13 games against the Rangers ... He is been better against Texas this season, with a 3.00 ERA in four games/two starts.

Hitters: Adrian Beltre is 10-for-24 with two home runs and five RBIs against Williams. Howie Kendrick is 6-for-9 with a home run and two RBIs against Garza.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.323 17 65 64
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 65
RA. Beltre 64
OPSA. Beltre .879
WY. Darvish 10
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182