At the end of the 2013 season, Carlos Beltran will officially become a free agent again. Since the departure of Albert Pujols, he has been one of the most consistent power bats in the St. Louis lineup. Yet, with Oscar Taveras looming and Allen Craig fully capable of playing the outfield (and Matt Adams taking over at first base), do the Cardinals even need to re-sign Beltran? After all, he is 36 years old and will command a contract somewhere around the $15 million per year range.
I know that there have already been numerous articles written on this topic, but I figured I would give you my take anyways. In my opinion, I do think the Cardinals should re-sign Beltran for two more seasons, especially with Taveras’ health being in question. An All-Star two years in a row for around $15 million per year is a steal in today’s market.
One of the knocks on Beltran from last season was that he had a dismal performance after the All-Star Break. Numbers don’t lie, he did indeed struggle mightily in the second half–hitting just .236. Yet, in 2013, he has had 110 at-bats since the All-Star Break and has collected 33 hits–good for a .300 batting average. Thus, was his poor second half in 2012 just an anomaly?
We have a couple more weeks to find this out for sure, but he looks fine thus far. If you want to break it down further, Beltran is hitting .357 with two home runs and four RBI in his last seven days–including this moonshot against the Brewers.
After hitting 32 home runs last season, Beltran is on pace for 28 (22 thus far) this season. He had 97 runs batted in last season and is projected to have 86 this year. He still gets on base at pretty solid rate–.342–good enough for 29th in the National League.
Lastly, Beltran is statistically one of the best playoff hitters of all time. In 2012 for the Cardinals, he hit .357 with three home runs and six RBI in the playoffs. For his career, Beltran is hitting .363 with 14 home runs and 25 RBI in just three playoff years. If the Cardinals plan on making the playoffs the next couple years, wouldn’t it be nice to have a bat like this in the lineup?
I admit, I will be playing “Fantasy Land General Manager” here, so please bear with me.
I am not alone in saying that I believe the Cardinals should re-sign Beltran. However, I am one of the few that also believes that the Cardinals should trade Adams while his value is still high. One of the biggest holes in the Cardinals’ lineup this season has been at shortstop. I admire Pete Kozma, but he just is not an everyday big league shortstop.
Can Adams play shortstop? No, he cannot, but he just may provide the value (along with some minor league pitchers) needed to land a much-needed upgrade at the shortstop position. Adams started out on fire for the Cardinals, but his production has dropped off a bit in July and August–hitting just .239 in July and .267 thus far in August.
Adams is a good hitter, but as long as he is in the National League, he is limited to one position. Thus, his value increases in the American League with the designated hitter being an option for him as well. So, who has something that can help the Cardinals at shortstop?
In my opinion, the Baltimore Orioles. According to ESPN’s depth chart, the Orioles current designated hitter is Steve Pearce. He is hitting just .245 with three home runs and nine RBI. Adams is hitting .282 with nine home runs and 36 RBI this season. Based on the numbers, Adams would be a substantial upgrade for team at DH.
So, who do they have that would make trading Adams worthwhile for the Cardinals?
Jonathan Schoop. He is a top prospect for the Orioles who is currently playing at their Triple-A affiliate. He is fully capable of playing shortstop, second base, and third base. Schoop has played 58 games in Triple-A, and he is hitting .252 with eight home runs and 31 RBI.
Is Schoop even available? Maybe not, but it would not hurt the Cardinals to put together a package involving Adams and some pitching and give it a shot. Schoop was asked for in trades involving both Jake Peavy and Matt Garza so it will take a lot to pry him away from Baltimore, but as a mere blogger, it does not hurt to aim high sometimes.
Regardless of whether or not Schoop would even be available, the Cardinals would be better off in 2014 if they re-signed Beltran and traded Adams for an upgrade at the shortstop position, in my humble opinion.
Thus, let’s take a look at the my 2014 lineup projection:
1. Carpenter (3B)
2. Beltran (RF)
3. Holliday (LF)
4. Craig (1B)
5. Molina (C)
6. Wong (2B)
7. Jay/Taveras (CF)
8. Schoop/Other Upgrade (SS)
That would be a pretty potent lineup. I like Adams. I like him a lot. However, long-term, he is limited to one position in the National League, and that scares me. Craig can play in the outfield, but he has had injury trouble in the past. His bat has proven to be an integral part of the Cardinals lineup, so I feel more comfortable with him manning first base.
Re-signing Beltran and dealing Adams would not only improve at shortstop but would also keep Craig at first base. Also, should Taveras’ ankle be 100% healthy next season, the signing would not necessarily stunt his development either. Because of the injury, I think Taveras will start out in the minors, but he won’t stay there for long. Once called up, there would be plenty of opportunities for Taveras to play in both right and center to give Jay and Beltran rest. If healthy and successful, Taveras could even take over in center field for a few seasons, leaving the Cardinals with a high quality fourth outfielder in Jay.
As always, I am open to whatever criticism you may have.
Until next time…
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