Texas Rangers pitcher Neftali Feliz throws during baseball spring training Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
For many people, it is news that comes as a fulfillment of their deepest desires. Feliz's boundless potential should be used for 200 innings a season because ace starters are far more valuable than closers. For this camp, the only thing standing in the way of Feliz's ascension was his own stated preference to be a closer.
Now that's out of the way, though, so it is all systems go for Feliz in the rotation, right?
Wrong. While you can count me in the camp that believes Feliz should be a starting pitcher for the majority of his career, this is the wrong way to go about it. It's great that he's found a new pitch and that the new pitch is boosting his confidence in his abilities as a pitcher. It will make him a better pitcher over the long run and will undoubtedly help the Rangers be a better team.
Less than a week ago, the team was convinced that using Feliz as a closer was the right move for the 2011 season. It might not have been the right call, but it was one they believed in and one that they had cultivated with consistency throughout the offseason and spring training. Nothing was precluded for the future, but the team wasn't going to fall into the trap of constantly reorganizing their pitching staff because of various whims about Feliz.
That's going to suddenly change because Feliz had a good outing against the Dodgers in the middle of March?
It shouldn't. A 22-year-old pitcher is going to see his confidence levels rise and fall on almost every pitch. You can't ride that kind of roller coaster over a full season as a starting pitcher. What happens when Feliz has three straight mediocre outings and says he feels like he'd be more confident coming out of the pen in the ninth?
There's a reason why baseball teams have managers, general managers and a litany of other people in charge of making decisions about how to utilize the players on their roster. How a player feels must be part of that analysis, but it has to be done on a macro level or else the team will be in a permanent state of chaos.
Thanks to the Michael Young fiasco and the Chuck Greenberg ouster, there's already a little sense of that around the team. It needs to stop and no better way than for one of the grownups to stand up and reiterate that Feliz's role isn't open to discussion.