For eleven days beginning on December 18, Qualcomm Stadium, football home of the San Diego Chargers and San Diego State Aztecs, will carry a temporary new moniker: Snapdragon Stadium. Snapdragon processors by Qualcomm are the digital brains inside mobile devices made by top manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Nokia, and HTC. Snapdragon Stadium will host the Chargers-Ravens game on December 18, the Poinsettia Bowl on December 21, and the Holiday Bowl on December 28.
One of the topics this offseason that has been talked about quite a bit in regards to the Rangers is the notion of the Rangers' "core" players. Prior to the Yu Darvish bidding, there was a lot of talk that the Rangers had largely been quiet on the free agent front because they wanted to focus on locking up their "core" players, rather than splurge on guys outside of the organization. C.J. Wilson was allowed to leave with only token resistance because, it seems, the organization did not see him as one of its "core" players.
But when the media, or the front office, talk about the "core" players on the Rangers, who are they talking about?
Two guys who immediately jump to mind are Mike Napoli and Derek Holland. 2011 was Napoli's first season with the Rangers, and it was Holland's first season in the rotation all year, but the Rangers have engaged each player in long-term contract talks, clearly a signal that they are viewed as part of the long-term future of the team.
Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are both part of the "core" of the team, at least as it exists right now, and there are indications that the team is interested in talking to each player about long-term deals. Hamilton is a free agent after the 2012 season, and is in line for a big payday, but his injury history and past drug use makes it risky to spend big money on him right now. Nelson Cruz can walk after 2013, and may be a candidate for a multi-year deal that buys out a year or two of free agency, but he also has been injury-plagued, and will be 33 when he hits the free agent market. He may feel like that will be his one chance to cash in with a big free agent contract, and thus make him less likely to allow himself to be tied down.
Then we've got Michael Young and Ian Kinsler, both under team control through 2013. We've talked a lot about each player on LSB, with many of us thinking Young is overrated and Kinsler is underrated (to the point that, on LSB, Kinsler may be getting overrated and Young may be getting overrated). But they are the players with the longest tenure on the team, two of the guys most readily identified with the Rangers, and two players pointed at as leaders on the team.
There's Adrian Beltre, who just finished the first year of a six year contract, and who met or exceeded all expectations, winning a (much-deserved) Gold Glove for his defensive work at third base, and rebounding from a slow start to put up terrific numbers on the season. There's Elvis Andrus, who was given the shortstop job in 2009 when many of us thought he was still a couple of years away, and who has responded with exceptional defense and electrifying play on the basepaths.
And then there's Darvish...when you spend $51.7 million for the rights to negotiate with a player, you probably believe that he's part of the "core" you are building around.
So putting the question to commenters here...what one player do you most identify with the Rangers' "core," and why?
Want a chance to win an HTC Rezound powered by Qualcomm's revolutionary Snapdragon multiprocessor? Just leave a comment on this post with who you think the team's core player is and why he's so important to their success. Vox Media will select one winner from among the participating SB Nation blogs. All entries subject to the official rules found here .