At age 41, and with 18 major league seasons under his belt, Darren Oliver is no spring chicken. What he is, however, is a vital member of the Texas Rangers’ bullpen over the past couple of years.
I don’t always enjoy watching Oliver, but as the 2012 season approaches, the Texas bullpen needs a left handed situational pitcher. While the projected starting rotation offers a pair of left handers in Matt Harrison and Derek Holland, Michael Kirkman is the lone southpaw in the bullpen as the roster stands today. Rangers GM Jon Daniels has been in contact with representatives for both Oliver and fellow former Ranger Mike Gonzalez this winter.
As the Yu Darvish bidding has reminded all of us, there is no getting into the head of Daniels, who has played his cards very close to the vest this winter. There may be moves in the works that most of us don’t know of yet, but re-signing Oliver would seem to be the easiest decision out there. His presence would not only provide yet another veteran element to the Rangers bullpen, but also give manager Ron Washington a trusted and reliable arm to use in tight spots.
Despite overtures from both sides early in the off-season, Oliver has remained on the market. Now, along with Texas, Oliver is drawing interest from the Red Sox and Angels as well. Knowing that the Rangers’ chief rival is interested in adding Oliver to bolster their bullpen might be reason enough to re-sign him even if he were a luxury. That Oliver would yet represent the Rangers’ primary bullpen lefty makes keeping him in Arlington a bigger priority.
Oliver’s 2011 numbers of 2.29 ERA, 1.137 WHIP and a 4.0 SO/BB ration are remarkable enough for any reliever, but it is even more remarkable for a 41 year old man. If he will come back in 2012 he will be the 6th oldest man in Major League Baseball.
Compared to the numbers that Jonny Venters put up with the Atlanta Braves at an ERA of 1.84, WHIP of 1.091, and a SO/BB ratio of 2.23, Oliver compares pretty well to one of the game’s dominant relievers. They don’t do it in the same way, of course, but the numbers are close enough to be respectable. And close enough to illustrate why Oliver should be re-signed for the 2012 season.
As Always Go Rangers!