It all began last spring for me, this sort of Love-Hate affair if you will. I was in the middle rounds of a draft, in a newly formed ‘keeper’ league, and still lacked a starting Shortstop. Already having Robinson Cano at 2B, I thought I was assured the League’s inaugural Championship trophy when I plucked Elvis Andrus to play alongside him. Still only 23 years of age, he was tabbed to be the lead off man in a potent Texas Rangers lineup. I could not contain my enthusiasm as I dreamed of a .300 average, over 100 runs scored, and more than 40 stolen bases. I even went as far as naming my team after him, “In a Cano With Elvis”, to pay homage to the men who would lead me to the Winners Circle. Then the games started, and let us just say he did not exactly live up to my expectations. Although the Rangers were successful and did put up huge offensive numbers, Andrus did not really do anything to distinguish himself amongst the games elite. He set a career high in games played at 158, and he did raise his average to .286, but those were the only fantasy positives. The speed that was supposed to flourish had vanished. I prayed that Chuck Norris would don his ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ garb and solve this mystery before it was too late. But Chuck must have been out solving more serious issues, and Elvis finished with a paltry 21 stolen bases and only 85 runs scored. As a consolation prize he did add 62 RBI’s, however, I just could not get past the regression in speed, and thus the Love turned to Hate. The extended media attention for his ill timed Spring Training tattoo only added fuel to the fire. I will admit it is probably unwarranted criticism, but it lacked discipline and leadership in my eyes. And now he is rewarded with an 8 year contract extension worth $120 million?!? A .285 hitter with 25 stolen bases and 85 runs scored is a $15 million per year player? You would think I was ready to jump off of a cliff right now, but you would be wrong. The Hate has turned back in to the Love for Elvis.
Throughout the off-season, while the Rangers pontificated the future of Elvis, I promoted they trade him for pitching. I thought a natural fit would be with the St. Louis Cardinals, as they have a plethora of young arms, and Andrus has the look of a Cardinal shortstop. Perhaps something in the range of a Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez could have gotten it done, which would have paved the way for the Rangers über talented prospect Jurickson Profar to remain at shortstop. Maybe an MLB front office should be extending an offer sheet to me, or maybe this is why I am relegated to writing commentary – time will tell. But for now, the extension of Elvis Andrus to the Rangers creates a logjam amongst position players that should have any GM salivating. Still in the lineup are 3B Adrian Beltre (age 33), RF Nelson Cruz (age 32), and 2B Ian Kinsler (age 30), who all still possess at least three years of quality service. They also have high hopes for 1B Mitch Moreland (age 27), and CF Leonys Martin (age 25) who figure to be mainstays in the Arlington community. Add to that SS Jurickson Profar (age 20), whom many believe to be the #1 overall prospect, and 3B Mike Olt (age 24) who at one time was ranked higher than Profar, and still remains a Top 25 prospect. These names all before the inclusion of veterans 1B/OF Lance Berkman (age 37), and C AJ Pierzynski (age 36) would be enough to man a dangerous lineup. And then there is Elvis, still only 24, oozing all of that potential. Perhaps he plays better to real life than he does for fantasy games. Is the best yet to come, or is this truly what a $15 million per year player is supposed to look like these days. I trust in what Jon Daniels and the Rangers front office have done for over a decade now, so if they believe in Elvis I should as well. I would not discount them because they lost Josh Hamilton, and dare I say, they may even be better without him. The Rangers are poised to put up big numbers again in 2013, and it is Elvis who will be setting the table. You have to love all of that potential, so you can understand why the hate is now sub siding. It was a no brainer to protect Cano as one of my five ‘keepers’, so when again in the middle rounds I saw Elvis’ availability staring me in the face, I had to draft him. In part to preserve the team name, and in part with the hopes of him finally breaking out. Let the love fest resume, let the contract extension be warranted. I am happy Elvis has remained in the building. For the time being, that is.
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