Daniels says Texas could add to 'pen
GM wants depth maintained, acknowledes scouting Pedro
PHOENIX -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said it's more likely that he'll be able to improve his ballclub by adding bullpen help than in any other area.
He still believes the Rangers will snap out of their offensive funk. He did admit the Rangers have scouted Pedro Martinez but the club's need for starting pitching is not as dire as it's being made out to be nationally.He is talking trades with other clubs, but Daniels said his most likely direction right now is to, "probably stay the course." On the amateur front, Daniels said the Rangers aren't close to signing Matthew Purke, their top pick in the First-Year Player Draft. "I would be surprised if he signs much before the [Aug. 17] deadline," Daniels said. That basically sums up Daniels views on a number of topics as he joined the Rangers on Tuesday night for their three-game series with the Diamondbacks. Daniels joined a team that is still in first place in the American League West. But it is in an offensive slump and a four-game losing streak had helped cut its lead to one game over the Angels. "I don't see any reason to panic," Daniels said. "Obviously we've hit a speed bump and the players know that. But I'd much rather talk about an offensive slump than the pitching issues we've had to deal with in the past. "These guys understand what we need to do. Obviously it would help getting Josh [Hamilton] back but I don't think there is anybody in the lineup you don't reasonably expect will improve. The reality is there is no knight in shining armor that's going to come riding in from the trade market." Daniels, like manager Ron Washington, continues to express confidence that first baseman Chris Davis will snap out of a season-long slump that has the Rangers considering other options at the position. Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson has been mentioned as a possibility and Cardinals infielder Troy Glaus could become available at some point. "We've said all along there will be a point where you have to reconsider things," Daniels said. "But one of the reasons why we're in the position we are today is how we're playing defense and Chris is a big part of that. Nobody is more frustrated than he is." The Rangers seemingly could use a right-handed hitter. They are batting .249 against left-handed pitchers, the third lowest in the league. "Right, left, you could say when a team struggles, it's easy to say you need a lot of things," Daniels said. "But I'm still in the mindset that we'll continue to try and strengthen the pitching staff if that is possible." That means adding to the bullpen over starting pitching even though Daniels has already brought in Jason Grilli and Darren O'Day since the season started and could have Willie Eyre close to returning from the disabled list. "Relief is more realistic," Daniels said. Starting pitching could be more expensive, both in prospects and salary that would have to be added. The Rangers are reluctant to trade top Minor League prospects and this could be a tough time to add salary with the current economic conditions. Club president Nolan Ryan said over the weekend that taking on salary will be "difficult." "Both are going to be factors in what we are and are not able to do," Daniels said. "We're going to look to improve the club, but much of it is going to come from within. Some of our guys that are being asked about may end up helping us at some point. "We're going to do our due diligence. It's a fine line between helping a team that's put itself in a position to win and not mortgaging the future." The other problem is that not many teams are eager to be "sellers" at this point with still more than five weeks to go before the July 31 Trade Deadline. "There are just not that many teams decidedly looking to move players," Daniels said. "There are very few teams that are not within striking distance." As for Martinez, Daniels acknowledged that a scout had been sent to watch him pitch in the Dominican Rublic, but word is that he's still looking for a $5 million salary that is probably beyond what the Rangers want to pay. "We're looking under every stone," Daniels said. "We're going to do our homework and make sure we're not overlooking anything. But [adding to the] bullpen is the most realistic. The 'pen has been very good except for the first two weeks of the season. If we can add to it, so it remains a strength, I'd like to do that."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.