Internal Bullpen Options Not Enough, Rangers Need Bell
Going into July last season the Rangers had a dominant bullpen, well above average defense and an offense that had finally learned how to play "Wash Ball" and do so effectively.
The only thing missing from the equation was a dominant force at the top of the rotation so Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels went out and made the deal with the rival Mariners for Cliff Lee.
This year obviously hasn't gone as well as 2010 to this point, but the defense and offense can both be fixed by Rangers players getting back to the caliber of baseball they're capable of.
The rotation is strong with CJ Wilson picking up where he left off from last season and Alexi Ogando surprising all of baseball with an exceptional start.
The problem now is the exact opposite of things in 2010 and that is the bullpen is the issue even with Mark Lowe and Neftali Feliz finally starting to pitch as expected going into the season.
The Rangers need bullpen upgrades and while you'll continue to hear about internal options like Tommy Hunter, Scott Feldman and Tanner Scheppers; the Rangers need to make another Lee caliber deal if they want to return to the World Series.
Sure, the Rangers are in first place despite the bullpen issues and very well could make the playoffs without a big July deal, but good luck going beyond the division series with a bullpen in shambles.
Heath Bell of the San Diego Padres is a slam dunk choice and with the Padres falling further behind in the NL West race, his market should start developing soon; if it hasn't already.
I caution all Rangers fans and even the front office to ignore the price on this one because it will be steep, but shouldn't be a heavier price than the Rangers paid last season for Lee.
Not to mention the Lee trade probably could have hit the Rangers farm a lot easier had the club not been in bankruptcy court at the time.
Bell is the top reliever on the market and probably the only reliever actually worth dealing top prospects for because he would be a shut down reliever ahead of Feliz this season and could potentially take over as the club's closer next season when Feliz moves into the rotation.
After Bell the caliber of relievers available falls off dramatically and it could be argued the Rangers internal options would be better for the Rangers overall making him the Rangers best option to solidify the bullpen and make the Rangers legitimate World Series contenders.
No doubt the Rangers have the pieces to pull off a trade with the Padres for Bell, but so do a few other contenders in search of pen help.
Daniels has already started his preliminary discussions with teams and I'm sure San Diego was the first team he called, similar to last season when he started talking to Seattle after the draft about Lee.
Should Daniels pull off the blockbuster the Rangers will have some much needed stability in the bullpen to go along with a strong rotation and perhaps finally start finishing off games like they did last season.
If he doesn't, then the Rangers will be putting their championship hopes in the hands of bullpen retreads and we've all seen how those turn out in Arlington.
The Rangers were a pitcher short this time last season and made a deal; they're once again a pitcher short this season.
It's time for Daniels to make another deal that changes everything, just like he did with Lee.