Commentary

How Texas should handle Neftali Feliz

Rangers should increase his innings this year and start him next season

Updated: March 16, 2011, 12:21 PM ET
By Matt Meyers | ESPN Insider
Neftali FelizJake Roth/US PresswireNeftali Feliz is a cog of the Rangers' bullpen. But would he be more valuable in the starting rotation?

Typically, when you're coming off a World Series appearance, spring training is fairly free of controversy. But that hasn't been the case for the Texas Rangers. Now that all the Michael Young trade-demand drama has died down, the Rangers must figure out what to do with Neftali Feliz. Last week, he said he wanted to remain the team's closer even though the team was trying to stretch him out as a starter. And then, after shutting down the Los Angeles Dodgers over four innings Tuesday, the 22-year-old flamethrower said he's on board with becoming a starting pitcher.

In the long run, it makes sense for both Feliz and the Rangers if he's in the rotation. As he probably figured out, even average starters earn a lot more money than elite closers. And that's because, as the Rangers know full well, even average starters are usually more valuable than good relievers. Of course, that's all true in a vacuum, and the 2011 season will not be played in one. The Rangers will likely be in a three-team battle for the AL West title, and messing with Feliz's success from 2010 could easily undermine their season.


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