On the heels of Neftali Feliz’s elbow injury, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram this evening that they are considering alternatives for their rotation, including free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt.
“We’ll consider all our options, whatever’s best for the team going forward,” Daniels said. “He [Oswalt] is still out there. He hasn’t faced hitters yet. He’s not an immediate option.”
Scott Feldman will replace Feliz in the starting rotation on Wednesday against the Mariners, but the Rangers will re-evaluate things from there. Alexi Ogando enjoyed success as a starter last season, but he’s not stretched out and the team appears content using him in a late-inning role. At least right now. It’s unlikely the Rangers will turn to one of their top pitching prospects, including right-hander Neil Ramirez and left-hander Martin Perez.
The Rangers were one of three teams who reportedly watched Oswalt throw Friday in Mississippi, along with the Red Sox and Cardinals. Those are the same teams who were mentioned most often in connection with Oswalt over the winter. However, he’s likely about a month away from being major-league ready.
Oswalt, 34, posted a 3.69 ERA and 93/23 K/BB ratio over 23 starts with the Phillies last season while dealing with a back injury. He has never pitched for an American League team.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.