Davidoff's Baseball Insider: Rangers upgrade
If you watched him play third base last year, then you, too, could've realized how much of an upgrade Adrian Beltre represented.
But enough about Alex Rodriguez.
The Rangers (and Michael Young, who now has shifted from third base to designated hitter to make room for Beltre) defeated the Yankees in the 2010 American League Championship Series. And while the Rangers, like the Yankees, failed to sign Cliff Lee for 2011 and beyond, Texas found another way to improve its club because it has greater roster flexibility than the Yankees do.
Young, Texas' most popular player, had moved from shortstop to third base in 2009 to accommodate the outstanding Elvis Andrus. Now he's moved again because the Rangers had their DH spot open, having just received a good year from Vladimir Guerrero on a one-year contract.
Texas targeted Beltre at the outset of the offseason. The Rangers couldn't have afforded both Beltre and Lee, although they could've managed adding Beltre and Zack Greinke, whom they failed to acquire from Kansas City.
The Yankees lost DHs Lance Berkman and Nick Johnson to free agency, but to fill that void, they addressed a crisis bigger than A-Rod at third base. Jorge Posada, who had become an immense defensive liability at catcher, will work as the DH. A-Rod will patrol third base once more.
And the Yankees, despite a very disappointing winter, will try to upend the Rangers - who rebounded from the Lee disappointment - as AL champs.
Not feeling blue
Meanwhile, they've seen lefty reliever Scott Down leave to sign a three-year, $15-million contract with the Angels and righty reliever Kevin Gregg hook up with the Orioles for two years and $10 million. Consequently, Toronto picked up three amateur draft picks: two in the sandwich round and the Angels' second-round selection.
It's the proper discipline exhibited by a team that can't afford too many bad contracts. Especially at this phase; the Blue Jays, even after an 85-77 season, can't consider themselves extremely strong competitors for a playoff spot. If they can continue toward building a team with more accomplished, experienced players, then they can take such risks.
What could've been
It was the 1995-96 offseason, and the Yankees - having hired Joe Torre to manage them - needed a second baseman. George Steinbrenner dispatched Ray Negron, the team's longtime adviser, to Puerto Rico with an assignment: Bring back Roberto Alomar.
It didn't take much convincing to sell Alomar, who was playing winter ball in his native country, on the idea of joining the Yankees. But as Alomar prepared to travel to Tampa to meet with The Boss, agent Jaime Torres called: He had accepted a three-year offer from the Orioles on Alomar's behalf, and the two sides never hooked up again.
When Alomar retired, he sent Steinbrenner an autographed baseball that read: "My one regret was that I never played for you."
Now a Hall of Famer, Alomar finally will wear Yankees pinstripes when he appears in "Keeper of the Pinstripes," based on Negron's children's books, set for a 2012 release.
The Mets made an effort to sign lefty reliever Randy Choate, offering the free agent a one-year deal for about $1.4 million. Choate, a former Yankee, found a better offer from Florida: two years and $2.5 million with another $150,000 annually attainable in incentives.
If he hits those incentives - $50,000 each for 60, 70 and 80 appearances each season - Choate can match the $1.4 million annually that the Mets offered, with the benefit of relative job security.