The Texas Rangers agreed to terms with free agent starting pitcher Roy Oswalt on Tuesday to help fill the void left by the injury to Neftali Feliz. The 34 year old righty passed a physical Thursday to complete the one year minor league deal worth $5 million with $1 million in performance incentives.
Oswalt has been on the Rangers radar for some time now. There with rumors that they were looking at him during the off-season, but decided that they liked the rotation/bullpen the way it was. The upside to this deal is huge if Oswalt is able to pitch nearly as well as he has earlier in his career. He will be an amazing #5 starter and a bargain at that, considering he made $16 million a year the last two seasons pitching for the Phillies. The 3 time all-star has won 159 games, has 3.21 ERA in his career, and he made 8 opening day starts as the Houston Astros ace from 2001-2010. There is some concern regarding whether Oswalt will be able to return to form and pitch for Texas the same way he did for Houston because of lingering issues with his back, but Rangers scouts believe that is not a problem now.
Oswalt will be sent to AAA Round Rock, somewhere he is very familiar with as it used to be the Astros AAA affiliate, to make around 4 starts there and arrive in Arlington sometime around June 20th. In the meantime, Scott Feldman will continue to pitch in the #5 spot for the Rangers and hopefully do it much better than he has lately. Perhaps the most important aspect of this signing isn’t what we will see on the field, but the fact that Oswalt, a high caliber free agent pitcher, wanted to play for the Rangers and nobody else. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies all wanted to sign Oswalt, but the Rangers were at the top of his list and have been since the off-season. High profile free agents wanting to come to play for the Texas Rangers is not something Rangers fans are not used to, and something that would not have happened even just 3 years ago. Joe Nathan made that same decision this past off-season, and its one that we should all get used to seeing as the Rangers are on the way to becoming a baseball superpower. The Rangers are 1st in the AL in attendance this year (averaging 43,452 fans per game), they have a $1.6 BILLION TV contract that doesn’t even start until 2014, a great team, and a top 10 farm system; all of these things combined with the best front office in baseball should mean plenty of winning and superstar players in the future. If you want to read more about this Jonah Keri of Grantland.com has a great story about it.
SportDFW.com Rangers Mailbag question of the week
"Darren in Mineola, TX “How concerned are you that the Angels are only 5.5 back in the standings and creeping up, only losing two of their last ten games?”"
The LA Angels have really been playing well lately, Albert Pujols is on a tear right now, and their young players are stepping up all the time. We knew this team wasn’t as bad as they had been playing, we also knew they weren’t as good as some people were saying they would be in the off-season. I’m not worried in the long run because I believe the Rangers are a far better team: the Angels still can’t score runs (they are 12th out of 14 teams in the AL in runs scored), and their ace Jared Weaver is on the shelf for at least 15 days with a back injury. Adding Pujols helps their offense and they have a very good pitching staff, but this team won’t score enough runs to keep up with the Rangers in the long run. What I’m more worried about is the Rangers struggles against the AL West and teams under .500; 11 of their 20 losses were against those teams and 5 of them were to Seattle. As long as the Rangers get their act together, I don’t see anyone in the West hindering their chances at making the playoffs and another run at the World Series.
Other Notes/Upcoming Schedule
Nelson “Boomstick” Cruz has been hitting a little better lately and is now 2nd on the team in RBI’s with 34, but he also leads the team with 56 strikeouts so far (a pace that would blow his career high of 118 K’s out of the water). Watching Cruz, you see a lot of free swinging that looks like he’s trying to hit a home run every time up. If he could take some tips from another power hitter like Mike Napoli at working the count, Cruz could get back into past form.
In case you missed it, Derek Holland cut his hair and shaved his high school mustache before Wednesday’s game against Seattle. Things didn’t really go well for him against the Mariners: he lasted just 1.2 innings, gave up 8 runs on 8 hits, and got the Mariners on their way to a 21-8 win. I think I speak for everyone in saying “I hope he uses the next 3 months to grow it back”. The Rangers make their first trip to Anaheim tonight to face the Angels in a series that will feature Yu Darvish vs. CJ Wilson part II, and start a 12 game road trip in the Bay area that includes series’ with the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants.
Do you like the Roy Oswalt signing? Are you worried about the Angels? Who wins Yu vs. CJ PII?