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Belting It Out

Posted on December 23, 2011 at 9:33 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals | United Cardinal Bloggers
As Nick said in the latest Pitchers Hit Eighth podcast, we've been talking about the Cardinals acquiring Carlos Beltran for so long and the fit seems so right that it seems like it's already happened.  Yesterday, the formalities were completed and Beltran agreed to terms with the Redbirds.

This was such an obvious fit after Albert Pujols left that there hardly seems much to discuss.  Lance Berkman moves to first and Beltran can either play some center or right, filling in for Allen Craig while he continues to heal up from surgery or spelling Jon Jay once Craig is back.

It's obvious that Craig needs some regular time once he returns, but I don't see Beltran impeding that much at all.  Craig will move around the diamond, it's true, but his versatility and Beltran's ability to play center means days off for Matt Holliday and Berkman as well as limiting the strain and stress you put on a couple of guys with knee issues in their past.

I found it interesting that it is being floated that Beltran will hit in the two-slot of the lineup.  I had immediately thought that he'd be a potent five or six guy, but if Mike Matheny subscribes to the "damage" theory espoused by Tony La Russa, Beltran would look nice right after Rafael Furcal.  A lineup of this, perhaps?

Furcal SS
Beltran RF
Holliday LF
Berkman 1B
Jay CF

I'm still not sold on Furcal as leadoff and I'm starting to think that Greene might be our surprise guy in 2012.  If he starts off strong, with his speed being a leadoff guy might be an option.  Nevertheless, you pair this lineup with the pitching staff the Cards have and there's no doubt they have to be favorites to get back to October.

Plus, after Craig gets healthy, that means you'll always have one of him, Beltran, Holliday and Berkman on the bench.  Talk about shoring up the reserves!  The bench had been looking pretty paltry (and it still isn't necessarily a strong suit) but getting that boost surely helps.

Beltran's put up some solid numbers in his return from knee surgery, as Bernie Miklasz lines out in his article today.  I also like the fact that he got better as last year went on, seeming to show that he improved the farther away he got from the surgery.  I don't know that he can have a Berkman-like impact on the squad, but I do think he can be the missing piece to an already-strong lineup.

Here's the press release from the Cardinals.  After that, please click on to read a personal message.

CARDINALS & OUTFIELDER CARLOS BELTRAN AGREE TO TWO YEAR DEAL 

ST. LOUIS, Mo., December 22, 2011 - The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have agreed to terms with outfielder Carlos Beltran pending a physical. The parties have agreed to a two-year contract for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The 34-year-old free-agent has over 13 years of Major League service time with Kansas City, Houston, New York Mets and San Francisco. The club expects to make a formal announcement shortly after the holidays. 

"Beltran is a proven outfielder who obviously has been a tough opponent against the Cardinals for many years." said Cardinals' Senior Vice President John Mozeliak. "It is going to be nice to have his bat and competitive nature working for us instead of on the other side of the field for the next couple of years." 

The switch hitter is a career .283 hitter with 302 home runs and 1146 RBI. His 302 home runs rank 4th among switch hitters from his first full-season in the Majors (1999) to present. The 6' 1" outfielder has driven in over 100 RBIs in a season seven times, most recently in 2008 with the Mets. Last season, Beltran split his year between the Mets and Giants, where he hit a combined .300 with 22 home runs in 142 games. 

Beltran is a six-time National League All-Star (2004, '05,'06, '07, '09, '11) and a three-time Rawlings Gold Glove winner (2006, '07, '08). He won the Louisville Silver Slugger Award in 2006 and 2007 with the Mets, seasons in which he had 41 homers and 116 RBI, and 33 homers with 112 RBI, respectively. Beltran has made appearances in the postseason twice, in 2004 with Houston and in 2006 with the Mets. In both of those years, Beltran and his team faced the Cardinals in the League Championship Series, with the Cardinals advancing to the World Series each year. In 2004, Beltran set numerous MLB postseason records including a record-tying eight home runs and a ML postseason record with a home run in five consecutive games (Game 5 of the NLDS through Game 4 of the NLCS). 

The Puerto Rico native resides in his home country in the off-season and has played for Puerto Rico during the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic.


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As I was putting this together, some news broke that has little to do with the team but a lot to do with how you perceive it.  For as long as I've been doing this (and much longer) Matthew Leach has been the beat writer over at MLB.com covering the Cardinals.  Matthew has done the job with class and style plus a fair bit of good writing.  

Now, he's off to bigger things (I can't say better, because how does it get better than covering the Cardinals, really?), having been promoted to national columnist at MLB.com.  That's wonderful news for him and I know he's going to be outstanding in that role as well.  It's great that his work will get more exposure and he'll have more opportunities.  There's no doubt that I--and I think I can speak for all of the United Cardinal Bloggers--wish him the best in the next stage of his life.

That said, we are really going to miss him around here.  Matthew has been on the UCB Radio Hour and related shows more often than anyone else, always being generous with his time and information.  (For example, he already was going to be the next guest on Conversations With C70, which means I have some new questions for him!)  He's been involved with UCB projects in the past and has always been encouraging to any of the members.

I think the one moment that stands out to me was last summer.  It was August 25th and the Cards were having a Social Media Night.  Christine Coleman and I had spent some time over at Fox Sports Midwest and were sitting out front of Busch Stadium, waiting for the gates to open and planning the UCB postseason publication (which, by the by, is still coming, though may be a bit dated by now).

We didn't see Matthew come up, but he saw us and made a point to say hi and talk about what was going on.  He didn't walk by or ignore us, even though he was on his way into the stadium.  From all I know about Matthew, that wasn't the exception to the rule--he treated everyone with respect.

I know Matthew says we're not going to be disappointed with his replacement and I'm sure that we'll grow to like and respect the new guy as well.  However, no one is going to replace him, they can just do the same job.  Best wishes to a great guy and I look forward to reading his national columns!


1 Comments

1 Comment | Leave a comment

I'm in favor of this move AS LONG AS Allen Craig doesn't lose ANY at bats in the process. Great post.

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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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