Neftali Feliz

So much for that: Rangers will keep Neftali Feliz in the bullpen

48 Comments

Neftali Feliz went back and forth on whether he actually wanted to move to the rotation after saving 40 games as a rookie closer last season, but now it’s a moot point: T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Feliz will remain in the bullpen.

He’ll be joined there by fellow flame-thrower Alexi Ogando, whose spring rotation tryout also resulted in the Rangers deciding against changing his role. Feliz, unlike Ogando, was actually a full-time starter for most of his time in the minors, but at this point his odds of ever leaving the bullpen are pretty slim.

It’s possible that the Rangers could pursue a veteran closer this offseason and then decide the bullpen is more able to withstand the loss of Feliz next season, but by then he’ll have gone nearly three years without starting regularly and, if he has another outstanding season as a closer, the fan and media sentiment to keep him as a reliever will be even stronger. Which is a shame. Moving a 23-year-old pitcher to the bullpen full time is something teams should do only after they conclude that he’s not capable of being an impact starter and that verdict certainly hasn’t been reached with Feliz.

Generally speaking a very good starter is simply more valuable than a great closer and it’d be nice to see what Feliz could do in a 200-inning role before locking him into a 70-inning role, especially since manager Ron Washington repeatedly failed to get Feliz into tight games throughout the playoffs and resorted to bringing him into blowouts just to get his best reliever a grand total of seven innings in 16 postseason games. And while keeping Feliz as a reliever makes the Rangers’ bullpen significantly stronger, it also means the starting rotation will include guys like Tommy Hunter and Matt Harrison throwing three times as many innings.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.