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For a team planning to challenge for the pennant, the Rangers roster sure does have a lot of moving parts days before the start of the season.
Matt Treanor has been sent packing, Alexi Ogando is moving to the rotation and C.J. Wilson probably won't know who will be chasing down balls in center field until he turns to face the flag for the anthem on Opening Day. No place on the team is in more flux than the bullpen, however, and that's going to dictate a lot of other moves.
It's been a rough spring for the relief corps. They've gotten roughed up regularly and now they've lost one of Neftali Feliz's best set-up men to plug a temporary hole in the rotation. Ogando may be back soon or he may be gone for good, something that leaves a lot up in the air in the late innings.
In an effort to fill that gap, the Rangers are reportedly considering keeping eight relief pitchers on the roster. Feliz, Arthur Rhodes, Darren O'Day, Darren Oliver and Dave Bush are already ticketed to Arlington and four other pitchers are in the mix for three other spots.
The team would likely lose Rule 5 pick Mitch Tobin if they tried to send him to the minors, so he's probably in. The other three contenders -- Pedro Strop, Mark Lowe and Brett Tomko -- can all get sent down to Triple-A, however, which raises the question of why you'd keep two of them in Texas.
They are all going to be doing the same job, after all. Feliz is the closer, Oliver and O'Day seem ticketed for big outs in the seventh and eighth and Rhodes is the lefty specialist. Bush, Tobin and one other guy can certainly handle the rest of the workload without much worry. If they can't, someone else is a phone call away while they work regularly instead of sitting and waiting for a chance in the majors.
These bullpen roles cant be filled by committee. Someone actually has to step up and get the outs on a consistent basis, something the Rangers clearly don't think anyone on the roster can do at this point. Better to be fluid and actually try to find out which of these guys can do the job than to keeping spinning the wheel without any rhyme or reason.
Keeping seven relievers also offers a chance for more roster flexibility with position players. Seeing as how the Rangers built their roster with players like Mike Napoli and Michael Young as super subs, that would seem to be something with appeal.
The Treanor trade signals otherwise. Napoli will now be catching more regularly, leaving Young more at-bats at designated hitter and first base, and the team will be thinner as a result. There's not much reason to gamble on being short in the field or at the plate simply so you can have another mediocre arm on hand to help you get through the sixth inning of a blowout.
Relief pitching figures is going be a problem for the Rangers this season. Remaking the entire roster around the bullpen isn't the solution. It merely compounds the issue into one that drags down the entire team.