Adrian Beltre really, really hates it when someone touches his head and his Red Sox teammates did it so much in the dugout last season that there’s a website filled with video clips of him freaking out.
He changed teams during the offseason and signed a five-year, $80 million contract, but that won’t keep his new teammates from picking up the head-touching slack. In fact, as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes various Rangers are already making a habit of exploiting Beltre’s weird … I dunno, I guess phobia?
For instance, here’s Elvis Andrus:
Oh yeah … a bunch of times. He better get used to it. He might kick my tail, but I’m going to do it.
And now reigning MVP Josh Hamilton:
Guys just find out and everybody knows about Adrian. You can tell we get him to a point where he might lose it and then we back off. You don’t want it to come to a point where he doesn’t want to come to work because he feels tormented. I have to get to know him better, but that day’s coming.
Yes, you wouldn’t want to rub a man’s head without getting to know him better first.
The primary head-rubbing culprit in Boston was Victor Martinez, so at least Beltre is free from him. He’s still holding onto that grudge, though:
Sometimes I thought about killing him. But I thought about it. I have a family so I didn’t.
Beltre tried to tell Sullivan that the whole head-rubbing thing is actually “no big deal,” but there are a few dozen highly amusing video clips to suggest otherwise and a whole clubhouse full of brand new teammates don’t immediately take such glee in tormenting someone about something unless it’s a pretty big deal for them. Unfortunately for Beltre, he’s probably long past the whole “act like it doesn’t bother you” thing being an effective deterrent.
Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.
Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.
All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:
That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.
The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.
Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.
Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.
The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.