Check That, Neftali Feliz Now Wants To Be a Starting Pitcher

Categories: Texas Rangers

Rangers - Spring Training 11.jpg
After watching Neftali Feliz hurl an impressive first four innings of Monday's 5-4 exhibition win over the Los Angeles Dodgers here in Surprise, Arizona, I sat down with general manager Jon Daniels to find out exactly where the 22-year-old fireballer fits in this season.

Closer? Or starter?

"I think that door is still open," Daniels said at Surprise Stadium. "If we have a quality starter who can throw 200 innings that's something of real value and he's looking better and better. I understand the fans' hesitancy to move a guy from a position in which he's enjoyed lots of success, but this may be a situation where Neftali can help our team even more as a starter."

Against L.A. Feliz was hitting 98mph with his fastball, 77 with his knee-buckling curve and 84-86 with ... something? Turns out it's a cutter, the fastball-looking pitch with the late, boring tail that winds up on left-handed hitters' knuckles and persuades righties to hit weak grounders to second. It's the pitch - taught to him in the last 10 days by pitching coach Mike Maddux - that the Yankees' Mariano Rivera parlayed into millions of dollars and a Hall of Fame career as perhaps baseball's best all-time closer.

Feliz struck out five in his four innings, allowed three hits and a run and hit a batter. I like him as an elite closer. One of the reasons I'd be careful about moving to a starter is that I'm not sure who would step into the closer's role.

But if Feliz can be as dominant yesterday for seven innings every fifth day, I see what the Rangers are salivating at. Besides, somebody real important in the equation is suddenly on board with the move.

"I want to try to win a spot in the rotation," Feliz said yesterday. "Right now, that would be my preference. The cutter gives me more confidence."

A week after saying his heart is in the bullpen, Feliz now wants to start. He's 22. Who knows? Next week he might want to play right field.

The important thing is he's giving the Rangers options, if not also a difficult decision. Maintain an elite closer who last year saved 40 games and helped Texas into the World Series by nailing down the most difficult outs against New York? Or, like the St. Louis Cardinals did with Adam Wainwright, take a closer and transition him into being even more valuable as an ace.

Feliz, groomed to be a starter all during the minors, will make another long appearance before the Rangers decide on or about March 20th about his 2011 role. I'm torn. While I cringe at Mark Lowe or Alexi Ogando being handed the ball in the 9th inning, I was also here Sunday when the San Francisco Giants slapped around Tommy Hunter for seven runs and nine hits in 3.2 innings, and I think the Rangers need help in the rotation in the event that C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis can't match last year's career-best years.

"Of all the good, young arms we've had here," Daniels said, "Neftali has the best chance to be a dominant starter."


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20 comments
Kergo
Kergo

Dear Nolan, You wanted to be top cop, chief of police......now sit Nefti down and read him the riot act. Tell him he's the closer. Tell him to be quiet. Just because he pitched great against the Dodgers AAA team, this means nothing; I could pitch great against a bunch of fat guys working at Home Depot.

Plenty of time here. Lets not panic! Mike Young is already gettin' his whale tail in a big bunch. NO MORE TROUBLE! Heck, I heard Napoli was complaining last week about the lack of hot dogs and ice cream in the clubhouse. Nefti......shhhhhhh (put the gentle finger over his mouth).

BTW, great piece last week in the New York Times about John Wells/West Texas; ya'll should read it, instead of playing vidjja games. You know, out yonder is a greater purpose-you guys know that, right? Life is more than being in a marginal relationship, with some o' broad from Garland.

Kerg's tips of the week:

Hueco TanksTalimena Drive-Ok/ArkSugarrite Canyon-ColoradoWhite Mountains-New Hampshire.............................tomorrow we learn to prepare what the Kerg's calls flat tire chicken (note: if you get stuck in the San Juan Valley, NM and you have chicken, sage is plentiful and great for cooking!).

ps-Dear Lonely North Texas Denizens, The Kerg's and his daughter once got completely trampled by a tornado on HW 40 close to Amarillo-please use caution!

_______

Ten Greatest Baseball Players of Alltime:-Yaz-Teddy Ballgame-Nomar-Bill Lee-Fred Lynn-Fisk-Tony Conigs-Vern Stephens

Pj1-jb
Pj1-jb

rICHY uR A dick!

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

CJ has like 6 pitches, Feliz has two and is working on a third, that's a big difference.

I was completely wrong about CJ last year. Flat out, dead wrong. I thought he was going to suck starting. But I still feel like Feliz needs to close, he can still work on his pitches and dominate the end of games. Unless he goes out and give you 2 more really rock solid starts this spring, including one where he goes at least 6 or 7 and a batter sees him 3 times, I'd be reluctant to make the move.

So how good did Hurley look? Sounds like he had a great day.

And is Josh and Elf on mornings a vacation fill-in or permanent? Because I actually listened to The Fail this morning during a Muser break, which would only happen accidentally with Jagger and Gregggggggg and last all of three seconds before I went back to a commercial on the Ticket. I kinda like Arnie at middays. And from the hypothetical aisle, Arnie and Greggo doing evening drive could be a good show...

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

One more thought, Biggame Tommy sucks, he's at best a 5th starter until he finds an out pitch.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

RW thinks we need help in the rotation in case Ceej and Clew can't match last year..Hey Weeman, how about replacing Clee? Don't worry about Ceej and Clew, worry about the other three spots..rooting for the Dutch oven and Harrison too..but we need Feliz to get his feet wet in the rotation. If it doesn't work out, he can resume his position as one of the best closers in the game.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Ive been saying he needs to be a starter. This roatation will suck without him. I dont care if he sucks at first, he needs to start the transition now, itll only help him down the road.

Huggybear43
Huggybear43

Kind of funny how everybody thought CJ would not be much of a starter last year, although everybody also hated him in the closing role, the setup role, the long relief role....I'll be honest, I don't put much stock into what happens in spring training. I mean, Chris Davis was knocking the crap out of the ball last year in the spring, and couldn't carry it over into the regular season....happens all of the time. I'm willing to sacrifice him as a closer at the start of the year to see if he can have some success as a starter this year. It's easier to dial it down to a closer in the middle of the year than it is to dial it up to a starter at the same point of the year.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

It's not going to be so much fun when that cutter isn't working and one of the other two pitches isn't working. 1-2 innings in a close vs. 5-6 in a start, less exposure and time for the batters to catch on to you. Methinks it's not a good move but I'm a casual baseball fan so what do I know.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

You couldn't come up with two more Red Sox players to fill out the list? How 'bout Manny and Clemens? And where's Jim Rice?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

only got one gripe, Nomar dont belong on that list. Ill give him credit for not bieng a northeast douchebag, but thats it. I made somebaked lemon pepper chicken, the key was I sprinkled some grated parm on the last 5 minutes in the oven and it came out delish, laid it on a bed of wild rice and topped it off with some steamed asparagus. DAmn now Im hungry again

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

BDH and Greggo not do anything for you? I can't take Arnie during drive time.

Mishon
Mishon

Unfortunately, Josh and Elf in the mornings is temporary. I believe the suck that is Jagger and Henson will be back from vacation next week. I like Wally Lynn in middays. They should keep him there and pair him with like BDH or something and then keep Josh and Elf in the morning, but hell that will never happen.

Does anyone know when Jagger's contract runs out? Surely they won't keep him when it expires.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Everyone but me sir, Bradford's broken shoulder was quite sure that CJ was gonna be good, to quite good.

Kergo
Kergo

Well, I got real tired....how about Cy Young, Bobby Doerr, and Johnny Pesky. How about Pedro?

-Manny is second tier now because of steroids.-Clemens, he left for the Yanks like Boggs, so they get zero points-Jim Rice I like, but I was more of a Dwight Evans fan in the outfield.

Kergo
Kergo

very nice dish....Kerg's approves this message!

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Didn't hear that combo, I just want Greggo paired with someone who is sports first and schtick second. Hardline worked because Greggo and Mike could have amazingly good sports discussions and left the clowning to Corby and Danny. Having an amateur contrarian/yuk monkey as Greggo's partner isn't taking full advantage of a Greggo who is damn good when he's clean and focused. And I think Arnie would be solid if he had a serious sports guy to talk to and didn't have to rely on listeners for content.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Ah, like we know what we're talking about. Jagger must have a hell of a contract to be in that slot as long as he has. I hate being a hardass but how do you have a radio show on a sports station and don't know a whole hell of a lot about sports? The dude is screwing names and teams up all the time. I can't even flip over there during commercials, I don't want to give the Fan any undeserved 'cume.

Kergo
Kergo

and El Tiante! Luis Tiant.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

I like that combo BUT I think a sporty guy paired with Greggo that doesn't try to be shockish(that's you RW) and BDH as a yuk monkey, would be a good combo. As much as RW thinks I'm busting on him, he just goes too far out and be too funny. When he was a +1 on the Ticket and actually auditioning for a job, he was good. I'm a fan of Arnie, I remember him on late nights on the Ticket with Sporting News, and that drunk guy from New York that would always call in. It does suck ass when you have to use listeners for content, but that's all Arnie has ever done from what I can remember.

Mishon
Mishon

Yeah I agree. The first year the Fan had the Cowboys, I couldn't believe they put him (Jagger) on the pre game show. CBS has a shit ton of money, they should just buy him out and then fire Gregggggggggg. I'm convinced they just know they can't compete at that time slot, so they just keep them there.

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