The (presumed) addition of Yu Darvish to the Texas Rangers rotation has resulted in a strange and unusual situation for Rangers fans...wondering what the team is going to do with six starters for a five man rotation.
Numerous solutions have been bandied about. Ken Rosenthal, among others, suggested that Texas go to a six man rotation. That's a terrible idea, and the less said about that, the better.
One of the other popular suggestions has been to put Alexi Ogando back in the bullpen. There are several reasons why that makes sense...he was effective as a reliever in 2010, he's a two-pitch pitcher who profiles better as a reliever than as a starter, and while he started off great in the rotation last season, he faded badly down the stretch. You also have to be worried about Ogando's ability to hold up for 32 starts in 2012 after his greatly increased workload in 2011.
However...there's a wrinkle here, as well. Here's the Ranger bullpen at this point:
The Rangers almost certainly aren't going to go with an eight man bullpen. Of course, I say that now, but they started the 2011 season with an eight man bullpen, which included Dave Bush, Mason Tobin, and Arthur Rhodes. So I guess it is possible there's an eight man bullpen to start the 2012 season, though it is highly likely it will be seven for most of the season.
And of course, the Rangers are supposedly also interested in adding Oakland closer Andrew Bailey to the mix.
But let's assume that Bailey isn't added, that the Rangers go with Ogando to the bullpen, and they stick with a seven man bullpen.
Who do you drop from the bullpen?
Feldman? You'd have to pay the bulk of his contract to get another team to take him off your hands, and then you don't have a long man.
The random lefty? That's unlikely...the Rangers aren't going to go with no lefthander out of the bullpen. Even going with just one lefty is unusual, although if you have Koji Uehara in the bullpen, who is effective at neutralizing lefties, you could probably get away with it.
Or are you going to trade Uehara? The Rangers were reportedly looking at moving him earlier this offseason, but if you move him, you increase the need for another lefty in the bullpen. There's also a supposition that the Rangers would like to have Tateyama and Uehara on the team and in the clubhouse to assist Darvish in his acclimatization to the United States and to MLB.
Either Lowe or Tateyama would appear to be the odd man out in this scenario, Tateyama because he's limited primarily to facing righthanded hitters and has an option, Lowe because he can probably be traded (albeit for not much of a return) and he'd be pretty far down in the righty setup/middle relief pecking order if Ogando goes back to the bullpen.
This is working off the assumption, of course, that all your relievers are healthy come the start of the year. Someone could tweak a hamstring or strain an oblique and end up on the disabled list to start the season, which would allow you to punt off the final decision for a while. These things often have a way of working themselves out.
Nevertheless, while moving Ogando to a relief role would relieve the logjam in the rotation, it would create a new one in the bullpen.