Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beltran a Cardinal

The Cardinals have signed outfielder Carlos Beltran to a 2 year 26 million dollar deal today. Beltran debuted with the Royals in 1998 and has also played for the Astros, Mets, and Giants. Its a familiar name for Cardinals fans since he's punished Cardinal pitching in the past and his teams had met us twice in the postseason. I'll never forget Adam Wainwright striking out Beltran with his curveball to win the 2006 NLCS against the Mets, but I also remember Beltran feasting on Cardinal pitching earlier in that series and in 2004 when he was an Astro.

Beltran has had a really good career so far and will be 35 next April. He has 302 homers and 293 steals for his career and is closing in on becoming only the 7th player to join the 300/300 club. The others are Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Sanders, and Steve Finley. Beltran won the 1999 Rookie of the Year, has won 3 Gold Gloves, and has been named to 6 All Star teams. Beltran had a resurgent year last season after 2 injury plagued years. He's no longer a Gold Glove caliber center fielder, nor is he threat he once was on the basepaths. However he did have a .300 average, .525 slugging, 22 home runs, and 84 RBIs in 142 games last year. Beltran also was 7th in the NL in OBP with .385 and 2nd in doubles with 39.

Beltran will help replace the lost production from Albert Pujols leaving and can play any outfield position. Beltran has also hit into 99 less double plays during his career than Pujols despite playing longer, so thats a plus for a team who broke a National League record for GIDP last year. Beltran played in 142 games last year and should see about the same this season. Allen Craig will be out until around May, and after that there will probably be a three way rotation in center and right field between Beltran, Craig, and Jon Jay. Craig can also play third, second, and first; when healthy manager Mike Matheny should find a spot for his bat in the lineup. Less mobile Lance Berkman is moving to first base from right field, and that improves the defense from last year. The Cardinals now will also feature three switch hitters in the lineup next year with Furcal, Berkman, and Beltran.

2012 Projected Lineup
Furcal, SS
Jay, CF
Holliday, LF
Beltran, RF
Berkman, 1B
Freese, 3B
Molina, C
Greene/Descalso, 2B

Allen Craig is probably the best utility player in the league, and there's still Skip Schumaker on the bench. With David Freese and Rafeal Furcal's injury history that's a good thing. Judging by his performance late in the season and in the postseason Freese has All Star potential, but needs to stay healthy next year.  Yadier Molina is the 7th hitter and he had his best overall season last year. Tyler Greene is finally going to get a shot to play, and we will finally have a stolen base threat. Its possible Furcal, Jay, Craig, Descalso, Adron Chambers(off the bench), and even Beltran could steal bases next year. I think Mozeliak wants to get faster on the bases and more efficient on defense, and next years club will be better at both than it was on opening day last year. Pujols was a iconic figure for the franchise and a elite hitter, but this team is still good enough to win without him. There were parts of Pujols game like his lack of hustle on the basepaths, showboating after home runs, ignoring stop signs, and calling hit and runs that won't be missed. Remember the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011 without injured ace Adam Wainwright throwing a pitch.

Carlos Beltran's career stats

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