This afternoon Ranger fans get their first look at the second most valuable free agent of this off-season, Adrian Beltre. For most of us it seemed like he was a consolation prize to the Cliff Lee sweepstakes as the Rangers had a more than capable third baseman in Michael Young. As circumstances turned out Young felt the same way. Personally I was not entirely sold on Beltre, obviously he is a great hitter and a talented defensive player, but Young has been the face of the franchise since I started following the Rangers in college in 2004.
Beltre has been out most of this spring with a Grade 1 calf sprain suffered shortly before spring training started. The team has been cautious with the injury and will continue to be throughout the spring. The Rangers who made an investment in Beltre to the tune of 5 years $80 million with a vesting option for a sixth year would certainly want to make sure everything is cleared up before risking a more serious injury. Tomorrow he will get his first game action with two to three at bats I assume, it should be interesting at defense to see how active he may be. On a funny note in 2009 as a result of Beltre’s refusal to wear a cup suffered bleeding in one of his testicles after taking a ground ball to his crotch, upon his return to the lineup in Seattle his intro music was the Nutcracker suite.
In 2010 with the Boston Red Sox, Beltre played 154 games hitting 28 home runs and batting in 102. This is where people would normally insert the “career year” argument; his career average numbers dispute this. Although in his contract year with the Dodgers in 2004 he did hit 48 homers, throughout his 13 seasons he has averaged 25 home runs and 89 RBIs a season. If the Rangers can get this type of production over his next few years few of us will complain about the acquisition.
To me it seems like the NFL Draft strategy that some teams use, to get the best player available regardless of need. Once Cliff was taken off the board it was Adrian Beltre who became the best available player. Rangers GM Jon Daniels certainly seemed confident with his decision, and he’s come out on top with most decisions so far.
As a result of Beltre’s return we will see more of Michael Young at the first base position; it is currently unclear as to whether he will play the position in today’s game. Rangers’ manager Ron Washington will have to be creative with the lineup assuming everyone stays healthy. Washington continues to maintain that Young will get his at bats. The question is whether Mitch Moreland will get the at bats needed as a young developing player.
Most Rangers fans like myself are in “wait and see” mode, this is simply another chapter in the team’s history. Starting this afternoon we see how the Adrian Beltre part of this story plays out.