Report: Rangers reach agreement with Webb

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From Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse comes word that the Rangers have reached agreement on a contract with free agent right-hander Brandon Webb.  The deal is only pending a physical.

The Reds, Yankees, Rangers, Cubs and Nationals all showed interest in the 31-year-old this winter, but he chose Texas in the end and should open the 2011 season as the club’s fourth or fifth starter.

Webb comes with plenty of risk.  He hasn’t thrown a pitch in a major league game since the opening week of the 2009 season because of chronic shoulder issues and he did not display good velocity during a couple of late-season throwing sessions earlier this year.  But the Rangers needed a body to fill the massive gap left by Cliff Lee’s departure and Webb was once regarded as a top tier National League starter.

In 2008, he finished with a 3.30 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 34 starts, fanning 183 batters over 226.2 frames.  In 2007, he posted a 3.01 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 236.1 innings.  In 2006, he won the National League Cy Young Award with a 3.10 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a 178/50 K/BB ratio across 33 starts.

If Webb can get anywhere near that kind of production down in Arlington, the loss of Lee might not sting so badly.  Of course, it’s far from a guarantee that he will have enough stamina to last the entire season.

UPDATE: ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark says the deal is for one year.  As expected.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.