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The Rangers are going after Adrian Beltre. Have they lost out on Cliff Lee?

Dec 13, 2010, 10:54 AM EDT

Adrian Beltre

Karl Ravech — via a tweet from Buster Olney — reports that the Texas Rangers are “moving aggressively” on Adrian Beltre.  Which suggests that they think they’re not going to get Cliff Lee, as there is no way Texas can sign both of them.  Earlier this morning we heard reports that the Yankees have been in touch with Lee’s agent. Is it possible — and I’m merely speculating — that Lee’s decision has been made and the Yankees have won?  This report would fit in quite nicely with that.

The problem: Michael Young, the Rangers’ incumbent third baseman.  Last week there were rumors that the Rangers were shopping him and would then pursue Beltre.  If they keep him around, however, where does he play? Not third base, because Beltre is an outstanding defensive third baseman. Possibly first base or in left field, but remember, Young is not a guy who takes well to moving positions. He had a major hissy fit when he was moved off shortstop. Not that I think Nolan Ryan cares about his infielders having hissy fits. Nor should he.

Personally, I think Adrian Beltre at just about any price he’d likely command on the market would be a better signing for Texas than Cliff Lee, so if they have lost out on the lefty, they may have actually won in the grand scheme of things.

  1. sknut - Dec 13, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    Boy if Anaheim loses Crawford and Beltre, there going to be some ‘explainin’ to do. I would think that Texas would wait until its official that Lee is gone before moving on to Beltre, we know Boras will wail so there is no real rush in my mind.

  2. yankees1996 - Dec 13, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    Hey, the Rangers might simply be trying to follow in the footsteps of the Boston Red Sox, they have not exactly had a bad offseason.

  3. apbaguy - Dec 13, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    Call me crazy. I watched Beltre play while he was at Seattle, and he’s not the greatest teammate. He was much more into it during his contract year, and you absolutely can’t touch his head! Rumble in the dugout, if you do.

    Big contrast to Michael Young in both respects (playing hard and good teammate).

    Bottom line for Texas: proceed with caution on Beltre. It’s not a roto league (ie Wash signing Werth).

    • Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:06 PM

      Beltre’s contract year in Seattle was actually his worst season, though it was still above average. But you can’t say the guy doesn’t play hard. He took a ball off his ball and kept playing, eventually scoring the winning run (or something dramatic, I can’t remember).

      I’ve heard some vague hearsay he’s not the easiest guy to get along with, but man, unless he’s a total dick I doubt anyone cares that much.

    • mcsnide - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:44 PM

      This past year, the highlight of any Beltre HR was the cameras following him around the dugout as Victor Martinez waited for the perfect time to rub his head. I don’t know what that was all about, but it provided great comedy. As did Beltre’s penchant for appealing his OWN check swings.

      Dude’s clearly crazy, but he’s an outstanding player. And, personally, I question how great a teammate a guy can be who freaks out over a position change like Young did.

    • tomemos - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:53 PM

      He’s also a big contrast to Michael Young in that he (Beltre) is an excellent defensive infielder and Michael Young is, to quote Joe Sheehan, “a pillar of salt.”

      Anyway, why does everyone talk about Young as a great teammate when he made such a fuss about switching positions? Is this the “white guy=scrappy” phenomenon again?

  4. gt929 - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    Rangers could have avoided the minor controversy when Young had to switch from ss to 3b if they just talked to him about it first. I believe he found out by media, and it caught him off guard. It blew over pretty quickly. I’ll bet they have already talked to him about it this time.

    Now, geez, if he has to switch to first, he will have been around the whole infield. Does anyone know of any (non-utility) precedents?

  5. mtner77 - Dec 13, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    IF Texas is in on Beltre, I think that it is fairly obvious that Young moves to 1B. Since trading Justin Smoak to Seattle for the half year rental on Cliff Lee last year, the one glaring hole you see in the Rangers’ lineup is 1B.

    Does this mean that the Rangers’ are out on Lee? Maybe. I think that the point of shopping Young at the winter meetings last week was that if Texas could find a team to take on his salary, they would then be free to go after BOTH Beltre and Lee. With Young’s huge salary and with what it would take to sign Beltre, there is no way they could also afford Lee.

    Overall, I like this move. I think whoever signs Lee (NYY or Texas) is overpaying both in dollars and years. I think that if I am Texas, I sign Beltre, move Young to 1B, resign Vlad, and move Feliz to the rotation. Let the Yankees’ take the big 7 year gamble on Lee.

    • gt929 - Dec 13, 2010 at 4:54 PM

      Mitch Moreland did quite well at 1B for the Rangers after he was called up (he was the only one to somewhat solve SF pitching in the WS) but the sample size is small. The problem with trading Young is that the Rangers would almost surely have to pick up some of his $16m contract. So, adding that $5m-$7m to Beltre’s $8m-$10m or so makes him that much more expensive. There are chemistry intangibles associated with MY that are worth something, so I think another position change is more likely than a trade in his case. As far as their rotation, I believe a conversion to starter is more likely for Ogando and/or Kirkman than Feliz. Feliz still needs a lot of work on the command of his secondary pitches.

      Also, Cliff Lee or not, I still think the Rangers plan to attempt a trade for Greinke or Garza. They have the prospects to make it work, if they are willing to let some of them go.

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