The 31-year-old right-hander agreed to a one-year deal with a $1 million salary and $1 million in incentives if he makes the club, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.
The early reports are that Bush will have a chance to compete for a long relief position in the bullpen and maybe even a spot in the rotation.
Ranger pitching coach Mike Maddux, who coached Bush in Milwaukee, discussed the acquisition with ESPNDallas.com’s Richard Durrett here.
“He pitches above his skill set a lot of times because he has a great desire to win, a great desire to compete. He’s got a wrestler’s mentality. It’s about preparation, dedication and execution when you go out there. The thing about Bushie is that you can’t ever count him out. He’ll surprise a lot of people. If you look on paper, we’ve got some talented individuals in front of him right now. But there’s the old Army Sergeant that says, ‘I’ve got a lot of fight in me,’” Maddux said.
The addition of Bush gives the Rangers a few more options and a little more flexibility in the back end of the rotation as well as the middle relief portion of their bullpen.
The top of Texas’ rotation- Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, and Tommy Hunter– seems to be set for now. Lewis and Wilson were both solid options last year and should be good as the number one and two starters in 2011. Hunter struggled some in the playoffs but let’s not forget that as a rookie he went 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA in only 22 regular season starts.
But after those three, the rest of the rotation could still be up for grabs. Right now, the Texas depth chart has Derek Holland listed as the fourth starter and newly acquired Brandon Webb as the fifth starter. With the departure of Frank Francisco from the bullpen, the Rangers are less likely to pull Neftali Feliz out of the closer role and into the starting rotation as some speculated they might do.
Because of that, the rest of the starting rotation looks to be a three man race for two spots between Holland, Webb and Bush. Let’s take a look at what each guy brings to the table and how each might fit into the Texas bullpen:
Holland was bred as a starter when we came up through the Rangers’ farm system and its sometimes easy to forget that him and Feliz were equally hyped at the beginning of 2009 when they were both at AAA-Oklahoma City but it was Holland who Texas felt could fall into the starting rotation first when he was called up before Feliz that year.
But its been an up and down couple of years for the young lefty. At times, he’s shown he can compete and even dominate at the bigi league level but at other times he’s shown he’s not quite ready to be a consistent starter.
He’ll have to prove that in 2011. If he doesn’t, then Texas’ rotation could have a gaping hole in it to start the season. The club is relying on Holland, who was apart of the young talent wave in the organization the last few years, similar to the way they relied on Feliz last year. As useful as he could be as a long relief guy in the bullpen, the Rangers have to have Holland in the starting rotation and he has to pitch solid.
As a Ranger, Webb will be an all or nothing type of pitcher. The only thing that should keep him from pitching at least a fraction as well as he did when he won the Cy Young in 2008 will be the shoulder injury that has kept him out the majority of the past two seasons. But if that injury does recur, then Webb won’t be helpful in the starting rotation and he definitely won’t be helpful in the bullpen.
On paper, signing a guy like Bush won’t turn many heads. Bush suffered from arm fatigue in 2009 and returned last year only to put up mediocre numbers (8-13, 4.54 ERA in 31 starts). But when you’ve also signed a high-risk, injury prone guy like Webb, a pitcher like Bush gives you more flexibility and back of the rotation experience you normally wouldn’t have in case Webb gets hurt. If Webb does get injured, then Texas could easily plug Bush into the fifth spot in the rotation without having to take a young pitcher out of the bullpen and if Webb stays healthy then Texas could easily turn Bush into a long relief specialist.
Bush is proven and experienced at the big league level and the fact that he’s worked with pitching coach Mike Maddux only helps matters. Its obvious Maddux is confident Bush will fight for a spot in the rotation and if he doesn’t get it he’ll fight for time in the bullpen.