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Rangers Sign Joe Nathan, Move Neftali Feliz to Rotation, Likely to Lose C.J. Wilson

The Rangers signed reliever Joe Nathan to a two-year $14.5 million deal and introduced him to the media and fans Tuesday. The deal may sound like a lot for a guy who struggled last season, but the Rangers are hoping he can be the All-Star level closer he was from 2004-2009 before getting hurt. The signing also has a ripple effect for the organization.

By adding Nathan, the Rangers can now shift young fireballer Neftali Feliz to the rotation. Feliz started 54 games out of his 80 minor league appearances. He has been a reliever the past two and a half years for Texas, and he was the AL Rookie of the Year and an All-Star last season.

Joe Nathan for $7 million a season is a much more cost-effective solution for Texas’ pitching staff than retaining C.J. Wilson. Wilson, who has been the staff ace the past two years, is a free agent and seeking a long-term deal that will pay him big money. He’s met with the Angels, and he’s scheduled to meet with the Marlins. If his price ends up around $70 million or more, he would likely be too pricey for the Rangers to retain.

Texas now has Feliz, Alexei Ogando, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and Colby Lewis in the rotation (with Scott Feldman as another option). GM Jon Daniels says they plan to stick with those pitchers in their rotation. If Feliz’s transition to the rotation goes as smoothly as Wilson’s did, Texas’ pitching should not suffer a dropoff.

Related: Colin at The Sports Spin explains why Feliz’s transition to the rotation might not go as well as we think.

Buster Posey Over Jason Heyward for Rookie of the Year Was Easy Call

The tally for rookie of the year voting balloting came in Monday and, shockingly, for the first time in recent memory, the East Coast sporting bias did not rule the day. The National League award went to San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, the spark plug for the eventual World Series champions. The American League trophy went to Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who broke the rookie save record with 40 and helped his team reach the World Series.

Although the credibility of all postseason awards took a blow with the preposterous selection of Derek Jeter as the Gold Glove winner for the second straight year, Posey and Feliz were the obvious choices for ROY. And that was despite the tremendous media pressure — ESPN included — for the honor in the senior circuit to go to the young player hyped as the savior of baseball, perhaps the next Hank Aaron, Jason Heyward.

Heyward had a terrific season, batting .277 with 18 home runs, 77 RBIs and 11 stolen bases, but he was not the best rookie in the National League this year. That distinction belonged to Buster Posey by far.

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Neftali Feliz Guarantee? Rangers Have Better Team, Will Win World Series

We noted yesterday that the Rangers are favorites to win the World Series over the Giants. Walking into the Texas locker room, closer Neftali Feliz admitted to me that he had seen the story on LBS and agreed.

OK, that didn’t happen, but he really did tell Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that the Rangers have the better team and that they’ll win the World Series. Rojas relayed Feliz’s thoughts via twitter, prompting ESPN college basketball writer Diamond Leung to wonder if the guarantee makes Feliz “Jose Namath.” Guarantees are getting played out and nobody did it as well as Joe Namath who said it when it actually meant something.

Feliz is expressing confidence in his team as he should be. Between their pitching and the way they’re hitting, they appear to be the better team and that’s why they’re favored. Texas has the advantage with Cliff Lee starting Game 1 on Wednesday, but Game 2 goes back to the Giants as they have Matt Cain over C.J. Wilson. When it heads to Texas for Game 3, I’d put Colby Lewis as the slight favorite over Jonathan Sanchez. LBS author Danny Lee says it will be a snoozer, but I’m excited for the World Series. As a baseball fan, it’s impossible not to be.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez