Mac Engel

Beltre is the best, and worst, thing to happen to Rangers GM Jon Daniels

It will be remembered not only as one of the great days in the history of the Texas Rangers, and essentially serving as the grand finale to the 2017 season.

Appropriately, each Rangers player had a bottle of Dom Perignon in his locker on Sunday afternoon.

There was catcher Ivan Rodriguez in Cooperstown, N.Y., being enshrined with grace in the Baseball Hall of Fame as the best player ever to play the position.

Ten minutes later, in sweat-fest heat in Arlington, Adrian Beltre drilled a double down the third baseline for career hit No. 3,000.

The ball and Beltre will one day be joined in Cooperstown with Pudge.

Although Beltre arrived in 2011 after stops with three previous teams, he’s ours just like Pudge and should wear a Rangers cap when inducted into Cooperstown. Like Pudge.

It was hard not to get a little choked up watching Beltre’s kids unveil the giant “Adrian Beltre 3,000 career hits” banner in right center field and then sprint to their dad to hug him and celebrate this rarest of moments.

“It’s been one of the best moments in my life,” Beltre said after the 10-6 loss to the Orioles. “I didn’t know how to feel when I saw the joy in their faces.”

A few players cried. Fans wiped some tears from the eyes of their own.

“It’s kinda weird to get emotional when things aren’t related to you,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said.

He’s right, but because it’s Adrian Beltre it doesn’t feel weird.

Just as the case can be made he is the best third baseman to ever play, he is also the worst thing ever to happen to general manager Jon Daniels, who needs to seriously contemplate trading this wonderful player in a season that continues to consistently disappoint.

Monday is the MLB trade deadline, and if JD is actively trying to deal Yu Darvish, Jonathan Lucroy and every player not named Nomar Mazara, then Beltre best be on the block, too.

Beltre signed with the Rangers in the offseason of 2010 specifically because he wanted to win a World Series, which he mentioned Sunday.

When I asked him if he wanted to remain with the team to see that through, he said, “That’s the idea.”

As much as we celebrated career hit No. 3,000, we can never forget what he did in ’11.

In the top of the seventh inning of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, it was Beltre’s solo home run that broke a tie and gave the Rangers the lead in what should have been a title-clinching game.

But the bottom of the ninth inning happened. And the bottom of the 10th.

Not that I’m bitter ....

For as much criticism as JD received for signing Beltre to a six-year, $96 million deal in the winter of 2010 — the contract was called out by then commissioner Bud Selig in front of all of the MLB owners — it turned out to be the best deal of his career, other than the Mark Teixeira trade.

Beltre has been the rare free agent over 30 to sign for big cash, meet the expectations generated by the size of the contract, and then eventually take ownership of the team. He is the face of the franchise, runs the Rangers’ clubhouse, and is one of the biggest reasons Jeff Banister survived some early bumps.

“To share that with him was special for all of us,” Banister said. “To see him enjoy that moment ... you could see it in his face.”

Beltre is a pro’s pro. He is everything an owner, a GM, a manager, a teammate or a fan could want. You do not trade these guys, unless the season is gone and the guy is Adrian Beltre. Then you try to accommodate him because it’s Adrian Beltre; this is a 38-year-old man who knows he’s an MLB short timer.

It was the addition of Beltre who emboldened, and empowered, JD to do more Beltre-like deals; to add veteran big contract players in the hopes of winning that World Series.

Now, when I tossed this theory to JD in the offseason he politely disagreed. In his mind, one move has nothing to do with another.

Yeah ... don’t believe him.

Had Beltre not been such an immediate success, JD may never have taken the route that he pursued, which resulted in two division titles but now has the club on the precipice of an era-ending purge.

Since signing Beltre, JD has added big-money players such as pitcher Yu Darvish, first baseman Prince Fielder, outfielder Shin Soo Choo and pitcher Cole Hamels.

(I don’t include the eight-year, $120 million contract extension for Andrus, because he was an in-house player).

The success of Beltre was proof that these types of moves would work. Only Beltre was worth it, whereas none of the others came close to making the type of impact he did, all while receiving a similar-size check.

Even though he missed a good portion of the 2017 season because of various leg injuries, Beltre still has a potent bat, a golden glove, and he can even run; in the eighth inning, he actually beat out a throw to reach first base after a dropped swinging third strike.

After all of these years, miles, hits, doubles, home runs and RBI, he’s still got it.

What he no longer has is a team good enough around him to be a player in the postseason, which is the only thing remaining on his to-do list.

What he does not want to do is leave Texas. He wants to see it through here as a Ranger, so we should celebrate that as much as we just did No. 3,000.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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