Carlos Beltran Making His Case for 2014 and Beyond

Photo Credit: USATSI

Photo Credit: USATSI

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?

Bold Statements:

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…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe

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3 thoughts on “Carlos Beltran Making His Case for 2014 and Beyond

  1. I could not disagree with you more on resigning the ageing Beltran…

    1. He is a liability in right field, has no range anymore nor does he even try a lot of the time…Way too many errors and misplayed balls and that will just get worse
    2. His post season stats are blown way out of proportion. He put up good numbers for us last postseason in games we won as blowouts. What about his 0 rbi in last 6 of nlcs…What about fact that when Houston saw him strike out against waino they let him go and then went to world series next year… what about the giants winning the world series, then getting beltran and not making playoffs, then dumping him and winning world series…What about us winning world series, getting beltran only to have him give us no rbi in last 6 nlcs games and costing us back to back world championships..
    3. We win when he doesn’t play – 21 and 6 last two years when he doesn’t play!!!!!
    4. He pads his stats during year in blow out games. His hits mostly come with no one on, ahead or behind by three runs or more and before the 8th inning
    5. He completely blows during late inning pressure situations ba of .220- just awful !!!
    6. He strikes out more than holiday
    7. He doesn’t do any of the little things – slide hard to break up double play – sac bunt -sac fly -steal bases – take walks – run fly balls out

    I would rather have adams at first and craig in right and trade Oscar for a shortstop, if they are to trade. But I believe they should stay pat. Outfield of holiday, jay, craig with robinson as 4th. Infield of adams, carp, Koz, freese with wong and DD on bench. Yadi and Cruz catching…that is a world series championship team right there.

    Its kind of funny how for three years everyone says that Jay will be a 4th outfielder. He is our centerfielder for the next 5 plus years. Oscar, if he makes the majors as a Cardinal with play right or left. Jay is a great centerfielder, a great hitter and helps the Cardinals win all the time. Jay is the anti Beltran. Jay hits with runners on and not so good without runners on. .315 vs .232..Kills it in late inning pressure situations .381 in late inning pressure situations with runners on… .381!!!!!!!!! Jay also among lead leaders in sac bunts, hbp, walks has higher obp than beltran and drives in more runners already on base than beltran. Even in your idea of Jay, Holiday, Beltran, Oscar – Beltran should be the 4th outfielder and that is too high a price for a 4th outfielder.

    With everything I said being facts- not opinions- it makes zero since for us to resign Beltran.

  2. I knew you would be the one to comment.

    First off, thank you again for reading.

    Though what you may say are facts, you are missing something. Carlos Beltran is NOT on the Cardinals to do some of the things that you listed. He is on the team to hit for power and drive in runs. He is not on the team to sac bunt, break up double plays, steal bases (although, he does only have 2 less stolen bases than Jay this year). Yes, his defense is down this year, but he more than makes up for it with his bat.

    You also cannot discredit him for his performance at the end of the NLCS last season. The ENTIRE offense flopped at the end of the Giants season. One win away from the World Series, and the offense just could not come through. There are 9 players in a lineup, cannot blame that solely on Beltran.

    Also, your statement saying that Beltran was on Houston when Wainwright struck him out is also 100% false. He was on the New York Mets at that time, and he stayed with the Mets for another 5 seasons after that. I am sorry, but that is just a fact.

    Beltran is an incredible player, a perennial All-Star, a future Hall of Famer, a leader in the clubhouse, and MOST IMPORTANTLY a GREAT guy in the community. The fact that you are unable to see that through all those stats that you listed scares me.

    Oscar Taveras is the #1 prospect in baseball. They will not be trading him for a shortstop unless another Derek Jeter-like player is found somewhere.

    Lastly, if you read into my post further, my lineup listed Jay first in the CF position. That is because I think it is JAY’s spot to lose next season. I just wrote a post about how great Jay has been in the second half this season. He is a career .300 hitter and does all the stuff that you mentioned above. Beltran’s standing on the team really does not affect Jay at this point, largely because Taveras is projected as a right fielder long-term. Maybe he will get to play some in center field, but that is not where he will play long-term, especially with his ankle injury.

    Thank you so much for reading,
    Joe

    P.S. I also do not see Freese on the team next year like you said in your comment, but that is another argument for another day.

  3. Pingback: St. Louis Cardinals: Statistical Snippets for 2013 | stlcupofjoe's Sports Page

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