Mar 072012
 

Baseball Do Episode 10 – Spring Training Games & Surprise Players of the Year

Tim Howell joins Baseball Do to talk about the Rangers start to Spring Training, the upcoming Yu Darvish debut and all three of the guys pick their surprise player of the year.

Who do you think will be the Mike Napoli of 2012 that exceeds all expectations and shocks the pants right off of us?

Give the podcast a listen and be sure to comment below to let us know what you think.

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Feb 282012
 

We recorded he podcast last night with Jennifer Cobb and Holly Ballantine from www.RangersTalkers.com.  We’ll have it posted up here on the site later this morning be sure to check it out to hear how the sTalkers got started and all of our thoughts on the recent Josh Hamilton news.  Disclaimer: Jennifer’s dog is named “Hambone”.

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersThe Rangers announced Yu Darvish will  make his first Spring Training start on March 7th at 2 p.m. against San Diego in Peoria.  The game will be broadcast on texasrangers.com.  Darvish threw 36 pitches yesterday and seemed to be happy with the outing.
  • Here is the full rotation for the first five Spring Training games:
    March 4: Colby Lewis, Scott Feldman
    March 5: Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando
    March 6: Matt Harrison
    March 7: Darvish
    March 8: Neftali Feliz
  • Richard Durrett (ESPNDallas) provides an overview of the center field battle.

Ron Washington has said he’s going to allow Elvis Andrus to start taking responsibility for his own play, rather than watching over the young shortstop as closely and proactively addressing his play.  Andrus,while still only 23 years old, has been a full-timer at the major league level for the Rangers for the last three seasons.

  • Tuesday Morning SlidersWashington on Andrus, “He’s established himself now to the point where he knows what he has to do.  We’re going to give him some leeway. His teammates will make sure he does what he needs to do. I think we’ll see less of him zoning out than we have in the past.”
  • Andrus on the new found freedom, ”I am learning how to handle my body and my mind better.  Last year, he wasn’t on me quite as much. I appreciate the help and I needed it, but at the same time, as you grow as a player and a person, you want that responsibility to do it yourself. I don’t expect him to be behind me like he was earlier. I know when I make a mistake. I know he’ll be there to help me when I need it too.”
  • Andrus on wanting to improve his power stroke, ”I want to add some power.  I don’t mean home runs. Those happen with good swings. But I want to drive the ball more to the gaps.”

The starting rotation has been much of the talk so far this Spring Training, with potentially 7 viable options, not counting the always looming presence of free-agent veteran Roy Oswalt, and only 5 spots.

  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) writes that Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz are both making solid impressions early in camp here.
  • Sullivan on Feliz, “It is still early in camp but Washington likes what he sees from both pitchers, especially Feliz. Washington said he sees a pitcher who came to camp determined to be a starter.”
  • Scott Miller (CBSSports) writes that Oswalt still wants the Rangers.
  • For our take on the rotation, be sure to check out the Spring Training podcast special we recorded last week.
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Feb 272012
 
  • Monday Morning FastballsOver the weekend, Josh Hamilton addressed his comments from Friday’s press conference saying, “If it does go to free agency, the first place I’m coming is here.  If I owe anything, it’s that. My loyalty is here. This is where I’ve been. This is where my family’s been, so obviously I’d love to stay here more than anywhere else. So first of all, they get a chance to do what they need to do to keep me here.”
  • Hamilton further clarified his “I don’t owe the Rangers anything” comments saying, ”What I owe is 100 percent on the field.  My employee-employer relationship is to give 100 percent in the clubhouse, to the fans, everything I’ve done while I’ve been here. That’s what I owe to the Rangers. I’ve done those things and I’m going to continue to do those things. That’s what I mean by it.”
  • Again, I know it’s a business, but you just hate to hear a star player have to use the “employee-employer relationship” line.  If you missed our take on his statement from Friday, check it out here.
  • Josh went on to comment on the potential of negotiations during the season, saying ”If it’s during the season, I’m not going to know about them because I’ve asked not to know about them.  I trust my agent. He’s not just my agent, but a close friend and mentor of mine, somebody I go to for advice and I really trust. I leave that up to him. I just say call me when there is something worth talking about.  I’m just going to leave it up to him. If they approach him and he feels like it is something to go forward with, I’ll leave it up to him. It’s not going to be something I’m focusing on, concentrating on.”
  • Monday Morning FastballsJoe Nathan addressed the team during a team meeting yesterday which was intended to be a chance for the team, coaches and staff to air all of their feelings about how the World Series ended.  The veteran newcomer said “I talked about what it looks like from the outside looking in.  For me, watching that, they were the better team. What happened is baseball. Stuff happens in this game is sometimes unexplainable, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t the better team and I’m excited to be here and that they had nothing to be ashamed about.”
  • Nathan went on to talk about the current state of the team, saying ”I don’t think anybody is hanging their heads about last year.  I don’t think there’s a reason to hang your heads about last year. They’ve got a lot of things to be proud of about what they did last year. Even though it’s tough and you want to win and had a chance to win, you’ve still got to be excited about where this team is and where this team has been and 28 other teams wanted to be in their spot even though it was a tough way to go down.”
  • T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) covers the team meeting in more detail here.
  • Monday Morning FastballsElvis Andrus is listed as day-to-day after having a Plantar’s wart removed from his heel.  Shouldn’t have any long-term impact on the young shortstop.
  • Evan Grant (SportsDay DFW) shared his thoughts on the Rangers batting order: “I’d move Michael Youngto second and Elvis down to the lower third, but only if Young could be more of a situational hitter. His track record suggests he’s been prone to too many double play balls. I’d rather have Elvis hitting eighth or ninth with speed around him there, than to dropMitch Morelandto the 8th spot. Think the Rangers could do some manufacturing from bottom third of order that way.”
  • Evan isn’t alone in his thoughts above.  Elvis makes more sense hitting 2nd in terms of small-ball, while Young brings better numbers all-around.  It’ll be interesting to see if this changes in 2012.  If I had to guess, I’d say that it won’t change, only because I think Elvis will take another step forward in his offensive development in 2012, and you can tell that Ron loves having him in the 2 hole.
  • Grant also discussed the pitching staff, saying “I’m a little concerned. There is a lot of talent, but little track record. Both Holland and Harrison have only one half season each of real success. Lewis gave up 35 homers last year and I don’t expect that number is going to go down markedly. While Feliz and Darvish have limitless potential, neither has started a major league game. If everything goes right, it’s a dominant rotation, maybe the best and youngest in the league. But how often do things fall just right?”
    ROTATION: Lewis, Holland, Darvish, Harrison, Oswalt.
    BULLPEN: Feliz or Nathan (closer), Feliz or Nathan (setup), Ogando (setup), Mike Adams (middle/setup),Scott Feldman (long), a lefty TBA and one spot open for a Tateyama or someone of that level.
  • Jasen and I provided our thoughts on the pitching staff in last Monday’s podcast.  While it would be shocking to see Feliz not have a spot in the rotation after the signing of Nathan and the way things ended in 2011, I understand Grant’s position in that Oswalt brings more of a track record.  With the improvements that the Angels made, this is not a season where the Rangers will be able to risk losses due to experimentation – Feliz needs to prove he can be in this rotation during Spring Training.
  • As far as the “lefty TBA” mentioned above, watch out for phenom prospect Martin Perez.  Both minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark and manager Ron Washington have talked about his limited performance so far this Spring and have been impressed.
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Feb 212012
 

Baseball Do Podcast   Spring Training Special

We’re back…

Spring Training is upon and we answer some key questions facing the Rangers as they get to work in Surprise.

  • Center field – Gentry, Borbon, Martin, or….
  • Mitch Moreland
  • Pitching Rotation
  • Yu Darvish Distractions
  • Josh Hamilton Hangover (may be a better way to describe this…)

Be sure to listen carefully for an easy way to win a free “Nolan is my Homeboy” T-Shirt and for a way to participate and contribute to Baseball Do!

Smile folks…it’s time for Baseball!

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Feb 182012
 

This is the final round of our American League West Position Rankings.  To see how we got to our current standings/scores, be sure to check out the first three round.

Score at the end of Round 3:

    1. Rangers: 53
    2. Angels: 49
    3. Mariners: 26
    4. Athletics: 22

The primary reason for doing a full review of the American League West, rather than a Rangers vs. Angels review, was to provide a better reference point for how a player truly stacks up against his peers.  That said, the Rangers and the Angels have dominated the top two spot at most positions (exceptions being DH and CF).  The final round will consist of all facets of each team’s pitching, including 5 rotation spots, relief and the closer position.  Similar to the adjustments we made to the scoring for Manager and DH, we’re going to increase the weighting for the relief position since that is made up of a handful of pitchers and not just one.

Starting Pitching

We’re going to go through the starting 5 for each team’s rotation and stack them up against each other.  In order to avoid making assumptions around the rotation order, I’m going to be the using the depth charts for each team that they have posted on their team’s website.  They seem to be pretty accurate as to what most would think, with the exception of a few.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The Ace

  1. Jered Weaver, LAA
    1.  Felix Hernandez, SEA
  2. Colby Lewis, TEX
  3. Brandon McCarthy, OAK

Only real debate lies between the top two here, and I’ve gone back and forth on the order of these two guys quite a bit over the last few days.  It’s very close, but I give Weaver the slight edge, no I give it to Felix, no Weaver…you get the point.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresYou could debate for days over who will have a better year in 2012, and in the end, I think they will both have dominating years where they finish in the top 8 in Cy Young voting.  With that said, I’m going to give them both the top spot from a points perspective, and I’m going to give them both the bonus point.  It’s not a knock on Colby Lewis, it’s just how good these two guys are.

The #2

  1. Dan Haren, LAA
  2. Yu Darvish, TEX
  3. Dallas Braden, OAK
  4. Jason Vargas, SEA
2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresI’d love to give Yu the nod here, and this is one where I could dispute the order of the rotation, as I envision Darvish being the 3rd starter and Holland pitching 2nd, but it wouldn’t really matter, as Haren has an edge on both of them given the unknowns around Darvish and the need for continued development with Holland. While I think Darvish is capable of putting up similar numbers to what Haren delivered in 2011 (16 W’s, low 3 ERA, low WHIP), Haren has proven what he can do at the MLB level and takes the top spot here.Darvish takes the second spot in the rankings over a rehabbing Dallas Braden and a mediocre Jason Vargas.

You could make an argument for putting Vargas in the third spot, but I think Braden is the better pitcher if he can bounce back from injury successfully (and word is he is ahead of schedule).

The #3

  1. 2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresC.J. Wilson, LAA
  2. Derek Holland, TEX
  3. Brett Anderson, OAK
  4. Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA

This is another close race between the top two, and I know my fellow Ranger fans are throwing their hands up in the air as they look at the ranking, but if I put my bias aside and look at the two  pitchers, I lean towards C.J. having a slightly better campaign in 2012.

Baseball Do followers probably don’t want to hear this, but I think C.J. is going to improve slightly in 2012, primarily due to his new ballpark and being closer to home – which you could argue that his pitching ability isn’t really improving, but rather his conditions are.

I also believe that Holland is going to take the next step in his progression towards being a front-line MLB starter.  He showed flashes of brilliance last year down the stretch and of course in showing us all that he could one day be an Ace with his performance in Game 4 of the World Series.  All that said, he needs to prove that he can put a full season together, avoiding a slow start and showing more consistency.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The #4

  1. Neftali Feliz, TEX
  2. Ervin Santana, LAA
  3. Blake Beavan, SEA
  4. Brad Peacock, OAK
Not going to spend a ton of time on these next two spots.  If you don’t already know how we feel about Feliz and what we expect from him production-wise in 2012, check out “The Other New Guy”.  Santana is a very good #4, but I think Feliz will have a better year.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

The #5

  1. Matt Harrison, TEX
  2. Jarrod Parker, OAK
  3. Jerome Williams, LAA
  4. Charlie Furbush, SEA
We all know how good of a pitcher Matt Harrison is, primarily because his case has been stated so often as a reason for not signing Roy Oswalt.  For many teams, he is easily a mid-rotation guy, and far outpaces the other three pitchers on this list, and for that get’s the bonus point.
I give Parker the edge over Williams on speculation of what Parker could become vs. what we know of Jerome Williams.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

Relief (not including Closer)

Given the importance of the bullpen and the fact the bullpen is generally made up of 6-8 pitchers, we are going to adjust the scoring for this position by multiplying it by two.

Keep in mind, that the names representing each team’s bullpen could change between now and Opening Day, and obviously by mid-season or season’s end.  That said, I’m going to try to avoid too much speculation with prospects and trades.

  1. Adams, Uehara (or maybe Mike Gonzalez…), Feldman, Ogando, Tateyama, Lowe – TEX
  2. Downs, Hawkins, Takahashi, Thompson, Cassevah, Bell, Mills, Jepsen – LAA
  3. Devine, Balfour, Fuentes, Wagner, Blevins, Carignan, Godfrey, De Los Santos – OAK
  4. Kelley, Wilhelmsen, Ruffin, Delabar, Sherrill, Jimenez – SEA
You could write an entire article breaking down the bullpens, but this is not the place.  The Rangers take the top spot primarily based on depth.  Downs and Adams are both top-notch set-up men, from there I think the depth of the Ranger bullpen gives them the edge.  They still need another left-handed specialist to replace Darren Oliver, which could be Mike Gonzalez, whom they are rumored to sign after they deal Koji Uehara.

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final ScoresCloser

  1. Brandon League, SEA
  2. Jordan Walden, LAA
  3. Joe Nathan, TEX
  4. Whoever, OAK
Three years ago, JoeNathan is the clear cut leader on this list and easily gets the bonus point.  That was then.  Now Nathan has something to prove, and while I’m fairly optimistic that Nathan will serve as a strong closer, I think Walden and League rank higher until Nathan proves it.I went back and forth between League and Walden for the top spot here.  League was better last year, and while I think Walden will get more saves than him in 2012, it’s going to be based on the fact that he will be presented with many more opportunities.  The better number to look at here is Save% (Saves/Opportunities), where League (88%) outshines Walden (76%) and I think he’ll continue to do so in 2012.

Final Score of the Baseball Do American League West Position Rankings

  1. Rangers: Score After 3 Rounds of 53 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 8 + 2 = 80
  2. Angels: Score After 3 Rounds of 49  + 5 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 6 + 3 = 76
  3. Mariners: Score After 3 Rounds of 26 + 5 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 42
  4. Athletics: Score After 3 Rounds of 22 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 36
There you have it.  On paper, according to Baseball Do, the Rangers should win the American League West in 2012.  And while I’m always on board with victory for the Rangers, the best part of all the time and work that went into these rankings and write-ups is that the games still have to be played on the field.

Keep in mind as well, that all four of these teams could look different by the trade deadline, with the Rangers and Angels both of some attractive pieces they could move in order improve, and the Mariners and Athletics have some attractive veterans they could deal in an effort to add youth.

My honest belief is that this is going to be one hell of a season for the Rangers and the Angels, which will come down to the final week, if the not the final 2-3 games.  The final series between the two is here in Arlington, September 28th through 30th, so get your tickets for those games now, as the entire season could hinge on those three games.  As fans, let’s just enjoy the ride.  A ride which will hopefully continue into the post-season for the Rangers and end with the ultimate reward…

‘case that’s the way baseball go…

2012 American League West by Position (Part 4)   Final Scores

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Feb 172012
 
  • Friday Morning Knuckleballs

    Gary Carter celebrating after winning the 1986 World Series over the Boston Red Sox. R.I.P. "Kid"

    Gary Carter passed yesterday at the age of 57.  Carter was a big part of my initial baseball consciousness.  He was diagnosed with four brain tumors last May, which he was fighting, but in January it was revealed that his doctors had found several more tumors on his brain.

  • Carter’s daughter, Kimmy Bloumers updated the family’s website yesterday afternoon with ”I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m. This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know.
    It’s a sad day anytime we lose someone that has made an impact on any facet of our lives.  Carter was one of those people for many.  R.I.P. Gary.
  • ESPNNewYork.com has a good column about Carter and a video about Carter here.
  • CNNSI also has a great column on Carter here.
  • Tom Verducci (CNNSI.com) wrote a great tribute in “Gary Carter, the light of the Mets”.  That season was magical and provides the moments in time for which I’ll always remember Gary Carter.
  • Pitcher & Catchers report Wednesday.
  • Round 4 of the Baseball Do American League West Position Rankings is in the works and I hope to have it out this evening.  Check out the first three rounds if you need to catch up.
    Round 1 – Infielders and Catcher
    Round 2 – Outfielders and DH
    Round 3 – Bench and Manager
    Round 4 will cover all pitching including starting rotation, relief and closer.
  • Bryan Dolgin (ESPNDallas) wrote a short piece about Conor Jackson, and his approach with the Rangers.
    Jackson says ““They’re a pretty left-handed hitting team. First of all, I’ve got to make the squad. That’s the biggest thing for me.  I can’t have a usual slow spring training. I’ve got to come out bangin’ and show ’em I can still play. I’m just looking forward to an opportunity.”
  • Richard Durrent (ESPNDallas) wrote a brief column on Jon Daniels continued support of Josh Hamilton.
    Daniels said “There will be some additional steps that we’ll take as a club, along with Josh, just to continue to support him and to insure to the best of our abilities that this doesn’t happen again.  We have more ability to help with that during the season.”
  • Durrett also provides a look at ESPN’s Future Power Rankings for MLB, in which the Rangers took the top spot here (with a brief video).  The full article is available to those that have ESPN Insider access, so thanks to Durrett for at least extracting the Rangers portion of the article for those that don’t have that access.
  • The Rangers are ready to settle in for a productive and calm Spring Training after a busy off-season.  T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com) provides a good summary of the off-season with an eye towards Spring Training here.  The link also includes a video interview of Thad Levine from MLBTV’s Clubhouse Confidential.
    A great statement from JD, ”You name it and this team has dealt with it and thrived on it.  That’s a direct reflection on Wash and the leadership in the clubhouse, the players and the staff. These guys come to Spring Training ready to play and don’t let anything distract them.  We want to embrace and celebrate what was accomplished and reward the people that made it possible, but you need to turn the page at some point. What I have been encouraged by is in talking to people and the meetings we’ve had, our players and staff are hungry. They are as hungry and as motivated as ever. If we can keep that mentality, we can keep this going.”
  • Drew Davidson (Star-Telegram) wrote an article on the Rangers confidence level heading into Spring Training.
    Wash says “I think we head into camp pretty strong.  I think the key going in there is for everyone to stay healthy.”
  • On Yesterday’s episode of Sports Day on Fox Sports Southwest, Evan Grant and Anthony Andro shared their expectations of how Neftali Feliz will perform in 2012.
    Grant warns to not expect an Ogando type of performance, saying “Well, it depends on what you consider a successful starter. He’s not going to be Alexi Ogando from last year; he’s not going to be C.J. from two years ago. It’s going to be tough to have the conversion continue for the third consecutive year. He was really good last year when he was mixing up his pitches, but when he went back to the bullpen it was fastball, fastball, fastball. He can’t do that again. If he can win 11 or 12 games and be a starter for the entire year, that would be a successful year depending on where he’s come from.”
    Andro likes how the Rangers have prepped Feliz and the team for the move, saying “I think the Rangers took all the right steps in trying to create an environment where there is a closer in place with Nathan and they could move him early. I think what’s important between Neftali and the guys from the last two years is that those two made it clear from the start they wanted to be starters; they asked and did whatever it took to get there. I think the Rangers want to see the Rangers put a lot more into and as the spring goes on. They know he has a lot of work to do, and they know he has work to do with the breaking ball, but they think that’s all there.”
  • Wanna know what Baseball Do thinks about Neftali’s upcoming debut season in the starting rotation, check out “The Other New Guy”.
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Jan 252012
 

The Other New GuyWith much of the focus on Yu Darvish over the last 4-6 weeks, some of the limelight that may have been on Neftali Feliz’s transition from dominant closer to starting rotation was redirected.

Shortly after the 2011 season ended, the idea of Feliz moving to a starting role was being pondered by many Rangers fans.  Feliz has made it no secret that he wants to be a starter and after the devastating end to the 2011 World Series, and the role that he played in it, it seemed like the timing was right.

Feliz was noticeably bothered and distraught over the way things went down in Game 6 of the World Series, and who could blame him.

A few months removed from that fateful night, Feliz said ”I’m not mad at myself because I threw my pitch, it just got hit.”  He also discussed his emotions following Josh Hamilton’s 10th inning 2-run home run, saying ”I was upset, but after we hit the home run, I thought I was ready, but no one told me to pitch. When we got the lead back, I thought I was going to be able to come back because I was more calm and relaxed after that.”

As you know, Feliz never came back in the game, and the rest is history.  Oliver and Feldman allowed 2 runs in the bottom half of the inning which knotted the game up again, and then the unbelievable…

That was how Neftali finished his season.  That was his final moment in the 2011 World Series…the lasting memory that he got to carry into the off-season.

Then, just weeks later in mid-November, he got the call.  His role was changing.  The Rangers had signed Joe Nathan to take over the closing duties and Feliz was being transitioned into the starting rotation.  A chance to start fresh.

The Other New GuyIt was only two years ago that the Rangers were making a similar move with C.J. Wilson.  In 2008 and 2009, Wilson spent time as the Rangers closer before successfully transitioning to the starting rotation in 2010, winning 15 games with 3.35 ERA that year.

So, while the transition from closer to starting rotation is something that Rangers fans will get to experience twice in three seasons, the list isn’t long of major league pitchers that have successfully made the change in roles.  Looking at career statistics across all major league pitchers, we wanted to identify pitchers that met three criteria:

  • A minimum of 40 saves, which is meant to signify the equivalent of two seasons as a closer.
  • A minimum of 90 games started, which would signify that the pitcher was at least successful enough to maintain a role in the starting rotation for roughly three seasons.
  • The last thing we look at is the order of things.  We want to only identify the pitchers that served as closers prior to moving to the starting rotation.

The list is 7 guys long.

7 major league pitchers that started their careers as relievers/closers and saved at least 40 games, then transitioned into the rotation, starting at least 90 games.  They are (in no particular order) Charlie Hough, Derek Lowe, Wilbur Wood, Kelvim Escobar, Shane Rawley, Doug Bird and Braden Looper.  I know…who cares about who they were.  I just figured the list was too short not to share.  Note: C.J. Wilson doesn’t even make the list because he hasn’t started 90 games yet.  A milestone that, barring injury, he’ll eclipse something in late June/early July.

You could easily argue that none of the above pitchers, with the exception of Lowe,  were as dominant as Feliz has been as a closer over the last two seasons. All of them went on to achieve a reasonable amount of success in the starting rotation, with Bird being the least successful and bouncing back and forth between the bullpen in later years.

The point of all of this is that Neftali Feliz is attempting to do something that few pitchers have accomplished before in Major League baseball.  And do you have any doubt that he’ll be successful?

Define success…

Let’s look at two of the more recent pitchers that fit the mold.  Derek Lowe moved into the starting rotation in 2002 and won 21 games, finishing 3rd in the AL Cy Young voting.  Looper won 12 games with a 4.94 ERA when he made the switch in 2007.  And of course, we’ve noted above the success that former Ranger C.J. Wilson had in 2010.  A relatively vast range here, but the results were in line with the abilities of each of the three pitchers.

The Other New GuySo, what can we expect from Feliz in 2012?

We know Feliz has a devastating fastball, which make his curve and change-up that much better.  In 2011, as a closer, Feliz threw that fastball 80% of the time.  He’ll have to learn to rely more on his off-speed pitches and his slider, as the majority of starting pitchers utilize their fastball 70% of the time or less.  I’m confident that he’ll be able to make this change and with the right coaching from Mike Maddux and Napoli’s presence behind the plate, take full advantage of his abilities.

The skill and abilities are there.

Location and team are both contributing factors to success, especially when looking at statistics.  He pitches in a hitter-friendly ballpark, but has a stacked line-up that will put runs up on the board to support him.

The final piece is endurance and health, which both lead to opportunity.  Neftali is young and it will be interesting to see what restrictions the Rangers coaching staff put in place throughout the season to protect his arm.  Assuming no injuries, I think it’s reasonable to project him at 29-32 starts with 175-190 innings pitched.

While I’m not ready to project a performance in line with what Derek Lowe had in 2002, I think it’s reasonable for us to believe that Feliz can perform close to the level that C.J. did just two season ago.

Baseball Do’s official prediction: 16-7 with a 3.70 ERA, 165 K’s

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