My Aunt Paula got me a dozen clear plastic baseball cubes so that I can display some more of my autographed baseballs, and my dad got me 2 more, so I was super excited about that. I still need at least another dozen, but it’s a great start! And I’m planning to keep getting autographs, so I hope my family keeps ’em coming!
But the best thing was that my dad got me one of the Michael Young bats that was designed when he became the franchise hits leader this season! They only made 2010 bats, and mine came with a certificate stating that it was number 109!!
My dad said he got it several months ago, so it has just been sitting at his house waiting for Christmas!
My mom and step-dad also got me a framed picture that says “Texas Rangers,” but each letter of “Rangers” has a different picture. The first one is the famous Nolan Ryan picture with the bloody jersey after Robin Ventura charged the mound, and all of the other pictures are from the 2010 season, including Josh Hamilton, Vladdy, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Neftali Feliz, etc.
I think those were all of my baseball-related Christmas gifts, but a few days ago I purchased my 2011 20-game Mini Plan! Woo-hoo!!!
I know I haven’t blogged since Cliff Lee decided to go to the Phillies, so some of you may think that it caused me to go into a massive depression and I couldn’t bear to write about baseball.
The truth is that I just got busy. It’s easy to put baseball on the back burner when it’s not baseball season. And the longer I wait, the more stuff happens and I get farther and farther behind. So bear with me, okay?
Alright, in the last month (after Cliff Lee left), Zack Greinke was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers and Matt Garza was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Uh oh. That means all the good pitchers are gone, right?
After the Greinke trade but before the Garza trade, the Rangers signed Brandon Webb. When I first heard the name, I knew it sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember why.
As it turns out, Webb won the Cy Young while playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006. But he hasn’t played in a Major League game in the past 2 years because he’s been recovering/rehabbing from a shoulder injury/surgery.
I have a good feeling about Brandon Webb, and his surgery was performed by Rangers’ team doctor Dr. Keith Meister, so THAT’S gotta be good. But Brandon Webb could be to 2011 what Rich Harden was to 2010. Who knows, right?
The Rangers also signed lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes, and I knew his name was familiar as well. He is 41 years old! But he made it to the All-Star team for the first time last year as the representative from the Cincinnati Reds.
He has been in the Major Leagues since 1991, and his age doesn’t seem to be adversely affecting him. He missed all of the 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery, but in the last 3 years since the surgery he’s had a 2.32 ERA and an opponent’s batting average of .204. Not too shabby!
He’s also a native Texan, which is always nice.
But the Rangers’ biggest aquisition this off-season is at what was previously considered a very stable position: 3rd base.
Michael Young is the face of the Texas Rangers, having spent all of his time in the majors on this team and even holding the franchise record for hits. He is signed through 2013. But since his move to 3rd base 2 years ago, his defensive ability seems to have taken a hit.
It had been suggested by numerous blogs (maybe even mine, but I don’t remember) that Young might be better used as a DH. And that is exactly what MY offered to do when Adrian Beltre became available as an option for the Texas Rangers.
Beltre accepted a 6-year $96 million dollar deal from the Texas Rangers, and he will be our 3rd baseman of the future. I’ve always liked Adrian Beltre, but since he’s 31 years old, I’m not too comfortable with giving him such a long contract.
But Beltre has won 2 Gold Gloves at 3rd base and is obviously defensively superior to Michael Young. No offense, Mikey, but the Rangers now have the strongest left side in all of baseball with Beltre at 3rd and Elvis Andrus at shortstop.
The only thing that makes me sad about adding Beltre? No more Vladdy. Michael Young has become the DH of the near future, so there’s no longer an open spot for Vladdy.
I know his performance took a sharp downward turn midway through last season, but I just love Vladdy. His personality seemed to fit perfectly in the Rangers’ clubhouse, and his quick smile is so contagious. I’ll miss you, Big Bad Vlad.
Now the Rangers are rumored to be courting Jim Thome to take turns at DH with Michael Young. Since MY can play all 4 infield positions, I’m sure the Rangers can work out a schedule where Young spends half his time at DH and the other half giving the other guys in the infield a break.
Jim Thome seems to make more sense for the Rangers at DH than Vlad for 2011, especially in light of this article by BBTiA a few weeks ago. It predicts that Thome will probably expect 350-400 plate appearances in 2011, whereas Vlad would probably expect somewhere around 600 or so.
Thome is also generally regarded as a good clubhouse guy, so that’s promising. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
The Rangers’ Winter Caravan has kicked off, and I’m planning to attend 2 of the appearances to gather some more autographs to my collection.
Then on January 22-23, the Rangers will be hosting their first 2-day Fan Fest, and I can’t wait to see what that entails! Some good stuff coming up!