Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Closer?

Could someone from the Rangers please get Brenda Lee Johnson on the phone because they could use the help?
The Rangers are at it again.  They start off a series in convincing fashion only to be reminded of just how unreliable their bullpen is in the remaining games.  On Monday with Derek Holland on the mound, they basically held an extended batting practice against the Minnesota Twins scoring 20 runs and garnering 20 hits before the 6th inning.  Everything was going so smooth it was reported that Holland was seen in the concourse several times sampling barbecue and downing margaritas. 
But as soon as Holland was lifted, the bullpen got back to the business of doing what they do best: giving the opponents the opportunity to catch up.  Being down 19 is a lot of catching up to do but I have faith that this bunch of slugs could give any opponent all the assistance they need.
First up: Scooter Feldman jogged in for an inning and he surrendered the second run of the game.  He’s new to the bullpen so I’ll cut him a little slack until his ERA gets up to the seemingly selected goal of five.  He was followed by the cavalcade of degenerates who usually reserve their meltdowns for close games.  Arthur Rhodes pitched one inning as well un-assing three runs on three hits.  I know Wash wants to get him some work, and I agree with him.  I’d just like to see him working either in Round Rock or in another city, Cincinnati perhaps.  They score enough runs to make his charitable contributions obsolete.
But the star of the show has to be one Neftali Rasmussen Feliz.  That’s actually not his middle name but who cares, he freaking sucks right now.  The job of the closer is to shut down games, period.  Feliz, as we all keep witnessing, is not doing that.  He misses the strike zone regularly, walks batters consistently and is giving up hits as if he were a middle reliever.  If you want to know what’s wrong with this team, then one needs to look no further than Rhodes and Feliz.  It’s almost as if the motto between the two going into a game is “let’s make this interesting.”
 I was willing to give Rhodes a pass because the rest of the bullpen has been injured and unreliable.  I tried to chalk his mediocre play as recently as July up to fatigue and pitching in the warmest park he’s ever been in.  I can’t defend him any more because he is terrible and it’s time we either saw him in a reduced role or a nonexistent one.
Feliz, on the other hand, is a different animal.  Either he has lost his confidence, is too confident and it is backfiring or he is just not closer material any more.  I don’t know which one it is but someone (Mike Maddox) needs to figure him out fast and get it corrected.  I could go for a little more Yoshinori Tateyama who’s been unhittable lately while Feliz gets it figured out.  And by a little more, I’m looking through September if necessary after blowing save number five on Tuesday.  Hey I believe where there’s five that can be blown with ease, six is somewhere around the corner.
And here’s the kicker; it’s not just that he is blowing games but it the way he’s doing it.  Through 37 innings, Feliz has only recorded 26 strike outs, allowed 20 walks and given up 29 hits, four of which were homeruns (14 earned runs). His ERA is an unacceptable 3.35.  If I were his manager I would be afraid to let him pitch to a 7-year-old girl for fear he would hit her, walk her or she’d get a single up the middle.  
I now the rumors are everywhere about the Rangers pursuit of an outfielder but they need to concentrate on bullpen help.  Even though I love Tommy Hunter, I’m still not sold on him.  I don’t trust Feldman and I’m starting to only want to see Darren Oliver in action every 15 days or whenever his commercial comes on.  I’m still afraid of Mark Lowe because I know there’s a meltdown waiting to happen; he’s just saving it for the right time.
So what we are left with is the hope that the Rangers make a serious push for San Diego’s Heath Bell or Mike Adams.  Even though Bell stated he would be an eight inning guy if need be, the Rangers would be fools if they didn’t pull a Frankie Francisco on Feliz and move him to the set-up role until he gets his head right.  If they don’t think he can, then they can get an early jump on grooming him to be a starter next season and maybe he can fill the role Dave Bush had as a spot starter.
Whatever they do, they need to do it fast because the Angels are at the back door.  And if they get in, it will be hell trying to make it to the dance as a wild card.  Hopefully John Daniels can make the necessary moves in the next few days to shore up the bullpen. 
If not, maybe he can at least get Deputy Chief Johnson on the phone to try to solve the problem.

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