Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A small note to the Texas Rangers, in re the handling of Neftali Feliz

Gentlemen,

First off, a small note of congratulations on last year's AL Championship. Watching your team roll the Yankees was good fun, especially when Cliff Lee asserted his essential Cliff Leeness. As an A's fan, I wasn't rooting for you during the regular season, but once the playoffs came around, you had me at hello. Shame about the Giants continuing their roll against you. And while I'm not your fan, and I really think you crapped the bed karma-wise by associating with the Bushes, I don't harbor any ill will towards Nolan Ryan, Ron Washington, or any of the other members of your team that will wind up on my roto team this year. These would include Ian Kinsler, and the person I'm writing to you about today, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, Neftali Feliz.

You have been spending the early days of spring training stretching Neftali out, in the hopes of making him a starting pitcher. Let me save you some steps, and tell you how that will end.

Badly.

I get that starting pitchers are more valuable than closers. I understand that 160 to 200 innings a year of Neffy Goodness seems like a much better idea to you than 70 to 90. I understand that saves are a pretty meaningless statistic, and that it was probably never your intention to point his career path in this direction, but that you wanted to protect his arm at an early age.

But, um, well... have you looked at the history of young guys who close well, then get turned into starters?

Calvin Schiraldi. Joba Chamberlain. Dustin Hermanson. Todd Ritchie. Darren Dreifort. Kelvim Escobar. BK Kim. Danny Graves. Braden Looper. Not exactly the career comps you are hoping for, are they? More often than not, you take the really nice end of the game and turn it into a struggling mess of injury and ineffectiveness. I'm also really not buying the idea that the man is really 6'-3" and 215; he seems smaller, whippier, and more prone to breakdowns than that.

(And yes, sure, Pedro Martinez started life as a reliever, and that's the dream here, isn't it? Yes, but Pedro never saved 40 games in a year. He actually never saved more than two. Moving on.)

Oh, and by the way... have you actually listened to what your man is saying? He'd like to remain the closer. And generally, don't you think it's a good idea to let the guy who is nailing his role, and who is happy doing it, well, do it?

“I’m comfortable there and I’ve done it before at this level and I know what it takes,” Feliz told reporters through an interpreter. “What I went through last year made me more comfortable with that role. I experienced it at a very high level.”

Let's also look at who you'd be handing the ball to in the ninth inning in a Neffy-less pen. Alexi Ogando has never done it at the MLB level. Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver are both collecting Social Security. Mark Lowe has four career saves, Darren O'Day, two. Honestly, you really think you can blow a hole in the back end of the bullpen, in a bandbox park in hot weather, and have that work out?

So, um... can we just leave well enough alone, and leave my balls-nasty 40 saves closer with the rock-low protection price in the only fantasy league that I'm still playing in, well, be?

Thank you.

Now, let's not have this conversation again, OK?

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