WFAA Sports Blogger
Posted on August 1, 2012 at 10:15 AM
The news that Neftali Feliz would need Tommy John surgery kind of fell under the radar, as it was overshadowed by the Rangers' acquisition of starting pitcher Ryan Dempster. But the timing may have very well been strategic. Because over the last two years, the decision of what to do with Neftali Feliz has caused major debate between fans and even employees in the Rangers front office.
In 2010, Feliz saved 40 games for the Rangers in the regular season while only blowing three. Despite hisRookie of the Year campaign, Texas decided to take a risk by stretching Feliz out to see if he could make the starting rotation in spring training.
He did not make the 2011 rotation, but it was more based on the performance of others rather than himself. The Rangers decided to try it again in 2012, and this time signed Joe Nathan in the offseason to fully secure the notion that Feliz would be in the rotation.
It was a calculated risk. Very few teams can yank someone out of a role when they've performed so well in that role. The Rangers can afford to make risks like this, and this time they lost. The thought process behind taking Feliz out of the closer role and moving him to the rotation, is that the Rangers needed to know what they had in Feliz. They knew they had an all-star caliber closer, and some may call it greedy or even absurd, but Texas had to find out if Feliz could be a top of the rotation starter.
When you have a young, live arm like Feliz, you have to maximize that arm. In an attempt to maximize his value, the Rangers plugged him into the rotation this season and it just hasn't worked out. Nobody can be certain that the back and forth from bullpen to rotation is what has caused his injury, but it's definitely easy to point in that direction.
It stinks for Feliz that he's injured and will probably miss all of next year, but that's business. The Rangers swung and missed, but that doesn't mean they "got it wrong". The logic in doing what they did with Feliz is completely valid, and it was most definitely a gamble on their part, but there was a time when the Rangers couldn't afford to take risks like this.
Now they can take risks, and taking risks means you'll have to lose sometimes. In this case it's not only the Rangers, but it's also Neftali Feliz who lost in this particular gamble. It doesn't mean the Rangers got it wrong, it just means it didn't pan out like they'd hoped.
If we're at a stage in the organization where risks can be taken, then we also must be prepared to handle the fruits and poisons of the risks.
In short, just relax and take in every move this front office makes, because very rarely will you see a front office as stealthy, brave, and sucessful as this one.