Oswalt would join already deep Texas stable
With or without righty, Rangers loaded with rotation candidates
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have had their meeting with free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt. There is no word yet if Texas will actually sign him, as a source said the situation remains ongoing and unresolved.If the Rangers sign Oswalt, they would be adding a proven, experienced Major League pitcher to their 40-man roster. They would be signing a two-time 20-game winner who was clearly a No. 1 starter in his prime. They would also have unprecedented starting-pitching depth. There were years in the Rangers' history when they would have gladly settled for a rotation consisting of the sixth-through the 10th-best starters on their current roster. There are teams in the Major Leagues right now that would be thrilled to have that for their current rotation. That is, assuming the Rangers actually sign Oswalt, which is not yet the case and may not come to pass. If it does, a case could be made that the Rangers would have at least 10 pitchers who could be considered legitimate candidates for a Major League rotation. Here is at look at those 10: Colby Lewis Credentials: He is a durable right-hander who is 26-23 in 64 starts and 401 1/3 innings over the past two years. He is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight playoff starts. Concerns: He doesn't throw as hard as the other starters and relies on pinpoint control and location. He has allowed 56 home runs over the past two years, tied for the fourth most in the Majors. Outlook: Lewis is scheduled to be the Rangers' Opening Day starter. He can be a free agent after the season. Derek Holland Credentials: He had a breakthrough season in 2011, going 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 32 starts. He was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in the postseason. The Rangers see him as a pitcher who can dominate with his stuff. Concerns: He has a tendency to be erratic, but that disappeared in the second half of last season, when he went 9-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 14 starts. Outlook: The Rangers thought highly enough of Holland this winter to discuss a long-term contract with him even though he is not yet eligible for arbitration. The deal did not get done, but the Rangers still think highly of him. They will not be taking him out of the rotation. Yu Darvish Credentials: He was a superstar in Japan and appears to be the best pitcher from that country to make the jump to the United States. He is 25 years old, stands 6-foot-5 and the reports say he has dominating stuff. Concerns: He has never pitched in the Major Leagues and will have a number of adjustments to make. Most notable will be handling the Texas heat. Outlook: The Rangers did not invest $111 million in him so that he could pitch out of the bullpen. Matt Harrison Credentials: He was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA that ranked as the 15th lowest in the American League last season. He had a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 1.28. It was the fourth-best WHIP on the staff but also the seventh-best by a qualifying Rangers pitcher since the beginning of the 1994 season. Concerns: He did not pitch particularly well during the World Series last year. He has probably had more physical issues during his career, especially with his shoulder, than any returning starter on the staff. Outlook: He would likely be the pitcher who would face the biggest threat from Oswalt. Alexi Ogando Credentials: He was an AL All-Star in 2011 in only his second season in the Majors. He ended up 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA. Concerns: He was 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA in the second half, which suggested opponents caught up with his lack of Major League-caliber secondary pitches. Outlook: He is likely headed back to the bullpen to make room for Darvish even if the Rangers don't sign Oswalt. Neftali Feliz Credentials: He pitched well as a starting pitcher in the Minors until moving to the bullpen at the Major League level. He was one of the best closers in the game the past two years. Concerns: He needs to sharpen his secondary pitches and adjust to the increased work load as a starter. He also needs to be more economical with his pitches as a starter. Outlook: The Rangers are committed to shifting him to the rotation. Roy Oswalt Credentials: He is 159-93 with a 3.21 ERA in 329 Major League games, including 326 starts. He won 20 games in both 2004 and '05. He is 5-2 with a 3.73 ERA in 13 postseason appearances. Concerns: He is 34 and has a history of back issues. He was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts for the Phillies last year. Outlook: He wants to be a starter, and his agent is making that clear. If the Rangers sign him, it wouldn't be because they want him in the bullpen. Scott Feldman Credentials: He was the Rangers' Pitcher of the Year in 2009, when he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA and was their Opening Day starter in 2010. Concerns: He has spent the past two years recovering from surgery on his right knee. Outlook: There are clubs that would love to have him in their rotation but most likely he will be a middle/long reliever again for the Rangers. He pitched well in that role in the playoffs. Michael Kirkman Credentials: Don't forget this guy was the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year in 2010 and was a legitimate candidate for the rotation last spring. If he had pitched better in March, he might have beaten out Ogando for a spot in the rotation after Tommy Hunter went down with an injury. Concerns: He got out of whack last season and did not pitch well, either at the Major League level or Triple-A Round Rock, where his ERA went from 3.09 in 2010 to 5.05. Outlook: His best chance to make the club will be as a left-handed reliever. Martin Perez Credentials: He is ranked 29th on MLB.com's list of Top 100 prospects and doesn't turn 21 until April. Concerns: He was 4-4 with a 6.43 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A last season. He seems to take time in adjusting to a higher level and better competition. Outlook: There were so many years when the Rangers would have killed for a pitching prospect of this magnitude and he would have been the biggest story of Spring Training. Now his best shot is making the team as a reliever but he might be better off starting the season back in Triple-A.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.