Washington lays out Rangers' wish list
Veteran starter, lefty reliever are top offseason priorities
ANAHEIM -- A veteran starting pitcher, a right-handed hitter and a left-handed relief specialist top manager Ron Washington's offseason wish list for the Rangers.Texas seems to have enough starting pitching candidates, but Washington said the club could use one more veteran for a rotation that will be headed by Kevin Millwood and Scott Feldman. "I would think so," Washington said on Wednesday before the Rangers faced the Angels. "We need one with experience that could help our younger kids move along so we don't have to push them into situations they're not ready for or can't handle." Millwood and Feldman are the only two who are guaranteed spots in the rotation. The other candidates are Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Matt Harrison, Brandon McCarthy, Dustin Nippert and Neftali Feliz. "The only one of those who is experienced is McCarthy," Washington said. "It's not that our young kids can't do the job. They did a great job this year. But there's that old baseball axiom you never know what will happen the second time around. If we can put our hands on another starter, we will. If not, we'll continue to build these young kids up." The Rangers are expected to take a hard look at Feliz in the rotation next spring. If so, that would change Washington's wish list. He wants a left-handed relief specialist to replace Eddie Guardado, but if Feliz goes into the rotation, the Rangers will need a power right-handed reliever in the bullpen as well. "If Feliz stays in the bullpen, then there is your power arm," Washington said. "If we lose Feliz out of the bullpen, we've got to find another piece: a guy who can pick up the sixth and seventh." The Red Sox appeared to have enough pitching last offseason but still went out and signed Brad Penny as a free agent. That allowed them to start Clay Buchholz in Triple-A after he went 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA in 15 starts for them in 2008. Then, when the Red Sox rotation faltered, Buchholz was summoned from the Minors and is 7-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 15 starts for them to this point. "He came in at the right time and gave them a shot," Washington said. "It would just be nice if we have some depth. We'll take the best five, and the others will have to be ready. That would give us some depth we can count on." Washington wants another right-handed bat for the lineup but first he is hoping the Rangers will be able to re-sign Marlon Byrd. "I'd definitely love to have Marlon Byrd back," Washington said. "I know they'll try to do everything they can. We'll just see if we can do it." Washington also wants Ivan Rodriguez back at catcher, knowing that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is coming off shoulder surgery and Taylor Teagarden has yet to establish himself as a frontline Major League catcher. "I don't know what the economics would be, what it would cost or if we could afford it," Washington said. "But I told [general manager] Jon Daniels I would like to have him back." Andruw Jones was supposed to be the Rangers' extra right-handed bat this season, but he has slipped out of the picture with a .217 batting average, although he had 17 home runs and 42 RBIs in 269 at-bats. "I just want a right-handed bat that's consistent," Washington said. "He doesn't have to be a guy who hits 25-30 home runs, but just a right-handed bat that can hit and drive in runs. Someone who can help us against left-handers. It would be nice if he can play first base and the outfield. "Whatever we do though, I just hope Marlon is in the mix."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.