Neftali Feliz:

Closer, at some point?

Derek Holland:

Stopper, right now.

Nice Twin-killing tonight, in every phase, but it’s the two cover boys from the 2009 Bound Edition whose efforts I can’t stop thinking about.

Holland’s record in starts following a Rangers loss: 4-2, 2.91 in nine games pitched, 43 strikeouts and 17 walks in 55.2 innings.  Money.

Holland’s record since July 30, when it became public that Texas wouldn’t include him in any trade for Roy Halladay: 4-1, 1.85 in five starts, with all four wins over contenders (Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston, Minnesota).

Halladay since July 29: 2-3, 3.41 in five starts, with losses to Seattle, New York, and Boston.

The Rangers didn’t make Holland available because they didn’t want to sacrifice the future.  As it turns out, incredibly, had they capitulated and parted with Holland they might have actually sacrificed some of the present.

As for Feliz, let me just say this: If you haven’t been in the building to experience him entering a game first-hand, watch his usage patterns and get yourself out to the Ballpark when things set up for it to be his night to pitch after the Rangers come back home.  The entrance of a relief pitcher is a fairly unique thing in sports in terms of its impact on the crowd.  The Neftali Feliz jog in from the bullpen – even if it’s in the sixth inning – is unique among reliever entrances, at least in Rangers history.  It borders on frenzied.

My report last night, after a second straight gut-punch loss, ended this way:

All that said, this team is a game out of a playoff slot.  It’s been an entertaining, energizing, sensational season.

But man, I can’t wait for 2010, as this club continues to grow.  Some roster spots will get younger and better, and the young players already playing key roles will be more experienced.

An important aspect of that experience, the experience of battling through a pennant race in the season’s final fourth, will be invaluable.

Some of you understandably misunderstood my unclear point.  I wasn’t saying that I’ve given up on 2009 – only suggesting that things should get even better going forward, and the extra experience gained this season could help this club win games in 2010 and beyond that are ending up as losses this year.

One reader who took exception with my words wrote something that I wanted to share here, because I thought it was right on target:

Most people spend their lives sifting through memories or anticipating some future event.  The here and now generally gets short shrift.  There are 6 weeks left and we are on the brink of the stretch grind . . . . 

What we have is today and then tomorrow and then the next day.  We have September 2009.  That is the one and only focus.

I love the prospects for 2010 and beyond as much as anyone but I’m going to wait for February 15, 2010.  Your report today has the faint aroma of a requiem.  “It’s been an entertaining, energizing, sensational season” employs the wrong tense.

I have never gotten the impression that those guys in the dugout have ever cast their eyes toward 2010.  Neither should we.




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(c) Jamey Newberg
Twitter  @newbergreport

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