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My last post re-started Adrian Beltre thoughts. Beltre was easily one of my favorite Dodgers from his eye-opening first full season in 1999, his botched appendectomy in 2001, and his monster career year in 2004. I totally believed he, Gary Sheffield, and Shawn Green were as good a power trio as anyone else in the league.

Well, Adrian had a little trouble after his looking even better in 2000. Before even playing a game in the 2001 season, he was out long-term, suffering from the aftereffects of an appendectomy gone wrong. Now why a major leaguer would choose to be operated upon in a 3rd world country when he has the option of using any doctor the team has access to is beyond me.

Adrian more than faltered from 2001-03, failing to post an OPS+ greater than 100 until 2004. Of course, by that point, it was too little too late. The Dodgers had apparently invested enough in him, and Adrian chose to sign the Mariners’ offer, which was worth slightly more than the Dodgers’ offer.

Since then, the Dodgers have trotted out four opening day 3B in four years (05: Jose Valentin, 06: Bill Mueller, 07: Wilson Betemit, 08: Blake DeWitt) and will trot out a fifth (Casey Blake) in this fifth year. And let’s not forget everyone else who’s logged time at the hot corner since — Norihoro Nakamura, Olmedo Saenz, Mike Edwards, Oscar Robles, Antonio Perez, Willy Aybar, Ramon Martinez, Julio Lugo, Cesar Izturis, Joel Guzman, Wilson Valdez, Tony Abreu, Nomar Garciaparra, Shea Hillenbrand, Russell Martin, and of course, Andy LaRoche.

That’s 16 different third basemen since Beltre departed for the Pacific Northwest!

While his contract at the time, not to mention his irregular play — presumably requiring mideseason 3B acquisitions such as Robin Ventura and Tyler Houston — didn’t exactly leave me pining for Beltre. But the revolving door since then does make you wonder how different things would be if AB were still around.

And I can’t forget who Beltre’s sharing baseball card real estate with either. Such a sad story was Fred McGriff’s one and only season with the Dodgers. To that point, Crime Dog played in more than 144 games in all but two seasons of his long career. Unfortunately for the Dodgers and McGriff, 2003 was not like the others. In a year in which he should’ve joined the 500 HR club, he instead languished on the bench, beset by injury. McGriff belted 13 homers as a Dodger, but he was still nine short of the milestone.

Much was expected of the Dodgers’ corner infielders coming into 2003, and sadly, they did not produce.


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