The Texas Rangers will be an explosive, entertaining baseball team to watch all summer long and Mr. Rodriguez will lead them.

However, the guy I have in mind is not the $252 million man, Alex Rodriguez.

Instead it?s the guy who has been the Rangers most valuable player over the past few years ? namely Ivan Rodriguez.

All of the hype this spring was about A-Rod and how he is going to markedly improve the Rangers.

No one really mentioned that Pudge was lost for most of last year with an injury, and his return to health this year may be even more important to the Rangers success than the A-Rod signing.

Ivan Rodriguez is simply the greatest defensive player at the hardest position on defense ? catcher.

Practically by himself, Pudge shuts down other teams on the base paths ? and the Rangers weak pitching staff needs all of the help it can get.

For his defensive work behind home plate, Pudge receives a Gold Glove every year, yet he is only 29 and still in the prime of his career.

Although Pudge plays the grueling position of catcher in the Texas summer heat, he is also a terror for opposing teams as a hitter.

In 1999, he won the MVP in the American League as he hit .332 with 35 home runs and 113 RBIs.

Last year, he was on pace to exceed his MVP numbers before blowing out his knee. In only 91 games he was hitting .347 with 27 home runs and 83 RBIs.

Pudge is the most complete player at the most difficult position in all of baseball.

Sure, Mike Piazza is a great hitter, but when it comes to defense, Pudge is head and shoulders above him and everyone else.

It?s true that Alex Rodriguez will have a big impact on the Rangers both on the field and economically as well.

However, Pudge is the most valuable player for this team ? he is the glue that holds all of the pieces together.



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