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Rangers set themselves up for another run

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - While the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees were scrambling to find themselves a starting pitcher at Sunday's non-waiver trade deadline, the team that everyone seems to be overlooking in the American League, the Texas Rangers, may have set themselves up for another late October run.

Texas emerged as the big winners over the weekend, acquiring a pair of relievers who instantly put its bullpen among the best in the league and may have made the Rangers the favorites to once again claim an AL Pennant.

That is if they can ever shake those pesky Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who sit only two games back of the Rangers in the American League West.

Texas went into the weekend as the favorites to land San Diego closer Heath Bell. However, the asking price proved to be too much, as the Rangers turned their attention to another member of the Padres' relief corps, instead "settling" for Bell's set up man in Mike Adams.

That move came on the heels of perhaps the most underrated move of the weekend on Saturday when they acquired right-hander Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles.

The back end of Texas' bullpen has not been a problem this season. Closer Neftali Feliz is among the best in the game. But getting to him has proven to be difficult, as the Rangers own the American League's 11th worst bullpen ERA.

Mike Adams
Mike Adams' 1.66 ERA over the past four years is the lowest of any reliever in the majors.
Adams' 1.66 ERA over the past four years is also the lowest of any reliever in the majors.

How tough has Uehara been on right-handed hitters? Well he's issued just one walk to one since the start of last season. And that came in May of last year.

It was the Cliff Lee trade that put the Rangers over the top last season. This year it could be another pair of July moves that has them back into the Fall Classic.

So while the Rangers were bolstering their bullpen, the other favorites in the American League were trying to shore up their rotations.

The Boston Red Sox seemed to have a deal in place for Rich Harden on Saturday, but a medical issue forced them to pull out at the last second. They then added another oft-injured starter, picking up Seattle lefty Erik Bedard

With Jon Lester and Josh Beckett having terrific seasons and John Lackey seemingly back following his early season struggles, why were the Red Sox so hot and heavy for a starter? Well the news came down on Monday that righty Clay Buchholz will likely be lost for the season with a stress fracture in his back.

Plus you can never have enough pitching and in Bedard the Red Sox get a proven winner in the AL, who this year has allowed three earned runs or less in 13 of his 16 starts and two runs or less in eight of those games.

Staying on the field, though, has been a problem for Bedard, who missed all of last season recovering from numerous shoulder ailments and recently just returned from a DL stint for a sprained knee.

This deadline was certainly one of the worst as far as starting pitching availability was concerned, but the Cleveland Indians came away with the top prize, adding Colorado right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.

Cleveland paid a hefty price of four prospects - including highly regarded righty Alex White and last year's No. 1 pick Drew Pomeranz - but it was a small price to pay for a legit top of the rotation guy like Jimenez, who can shift the balance in the American League Central if he reverts back to his 2010 form.

Jimenez, a 19-game winner a year ago, has struggled this season, though, going 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA. But, he is 27, throws close to 100 mph and has a manageable contract over the next few years.

That is the type of chance you take if you are the Cleveland Indians, who find themselves 2 1/2 games back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. The Tigers also helped their cause over the weekend, adding right- handed starter Doug Fister from Seattle.

Conspicuously quiet in all this were the New York Yankees, who failed to pull the trigger on any deal in July for the first time since 1998.

It's no secret the Yankees needed a starting pitcher, but there was nothing out there that they could have justified sending any of their big time prospects for, including Jimenez.

Maybe their best move was not making a move at all.

They already have CC Sabathia, Plus Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova have all made at least 16 starts and each has a winning record with a combined ERA of 3.49.

But other than Sabathia would you trust any of them in a big spot come October?

Yea didn't think so, Expect some more moves in August.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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