Leftridge: Carlos Beltran; from the “Ah, What Coulda Been” Files

So this past weekend, the Kansas City Royals traveled down I-70 to play the Cardinals. We all know how this goes.

For the Cardinals and their fans, this weekend usually doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. St. Louis is usually playing much better ball and doing that whole thing where they perennially contend while the Royals, God love ’em, are throwing out a bunch of washed up rejects and young kids who are apt to be gone once they fall out of affordability.

One of these latter types who we lost to the highest bidder—long since gone from our humble burg, now—was Carlos Beltran.

And now that the current Cardinals outfielder is fast cementing a Hall of Fame candidacy, this is particulary depressing.

After being traded to the Houston Astros in the midst of their 2004 playoff run (for Mark Teahan! And John Buck! And Mike Wood! And wait—an Astros’ playoff run??!! What?), Beltran excelled in postseason play, ultimately setting himself up for a big-ass contract, the likes of which the Royals couldn’t have even started to dream about beginning to imagine thinking about affording (well, you know… unless they’d sunk early-funds into Beltran instead of Mike Sweeney).

In 2005, he signed a seven year deal with the New York Metropolitans worth $119 million. He hit 41 homeruns in 2006, setting the Mets’ single season record, and won his first Gold Glove. In that year’s NLCS, he hit three homeruns, bringing his playoff total to 11 knocks in 22 games. Before being traded to the San Francisco Giants in the middle of the 2011 season—he was due to be a free agent and the Mets were in cost-cutting mode—he’d tallied 3 Gold Gloves, won 2 Silver Slugger Awards and had made 6 All Star appearances. In December of last year, he signed a two year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals for $26 million.

And though his career has undoubtedly been hampered by injuries—his legs are particularly troublesome—he has put up the sort of career figures that everyone in Kansas City always expected him to.

Over the weekend, he recorded the 300th stolen base of his career. Coupled with his 300 homeruns, he is now in an elite fraternity with only eight other players, and the only switch hitter amongst the group. He just turned 35, and, if his recent return to astounding productivity is any indication of future successes, he could easily end his career with 400 homeruns, 350 stolen bases, 2,500 hits, and close to 1,500 RBI. Couple this with his previously referenced defensive hardware, and a very strong case can be made for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. VERY strong.

The frustrating thing as a Royals fan is that WE HAD HIM. He was ours to watch flourish and grow, but unfortunately, we never found the pieces to fit around him. Therefore, he languished and, when it was brutally apparent that there was no intention of him remaining a Royal, he was dealt for a bunch of long-departed promises.

This is nothing new.

As KC sports fans, we’re used to it. Unlike losing Jermaine Dye or Zack Greinke, however, we rarely have to deal with the loss of a future Hall of Famer. We lose good players—sometimes REALLY good players—but rarely do they go on to quietly achieve the sorts of amazing things that Beltran has. The unfortunate part—the one that not only kicks us in the teeth but then shits in our cereal—is that, unless the current regime does something to change the course of history (which TOTALLY sounds like the description of an Arnold Schwarzenegger film), he’ll head into Cooperstown rocking a New York Mets hat.

So hear me out: his current contract ends at the end of the 2013 season. He will turn 37 in April of 2014. Presuming that he’s still in working order—that his knees haven’t blown into a thousand pieces or anything equally as grotesque—we need to sign him to a two year deal worth, oh, I don’t know… he’ll be old then, so… $24 million? He can DH and maybe collect his 400th homerun as a member of the Royals. Maybe he’ll have fun, and maybe this eternal “youth-movement” full of ridiculously talented youngsters will be firing on all cylinders and maybe we’ll be winning. And maybe, just MAYBE, he’ll decide that he started here, he ended here, and when the committee asks his preference (they listen to the players’ wishes, though ultimately, they make the decision themselves) he’ll petition to go in as a Kansas City Royal.

Fools can dream, right?

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7 Responses to Leftridge: Carlos Beltran; from the “Ah, What Coulda Been” Files

  1. Markus Aurelius says:

    so bring in a 37 yr old Beltran who made no bones about
    wanting out of KC and kick a 28 year old Billy Butler to the curb as he hits his prime?? You’re crazy.

    Beltran never wanted to stay in KC and, unlike Damon, made that perfectly clear during his entire tenure here.

  2. Leftridge says:

    Oh… right.
    Butler. I guess ditching our best offensive weapon for sentimental reasons isn’t sound baseball, is it? That’s why I’ll probably never be a general manager.

  3. the dude says:

    walmart ball club
    does not allow good talent to stay for very long.

  4. kcobserver says:

    “fast cementing a Hall of Fame candidacy”?

    Any MLB player who plays for ten years is eligible for the HOF. Carlos “cemented” his candidacy in 2008.

    Perhaps you meant to say “fast cementing a Hall of Fame selection”? If so, even that sentiment would be flawed. Carlos is an excellent player, but probably two or three notches below HOF caliber. His closest comparables at baseballreference.com fall quite a bit short of being selected for induction.

    Please research a little bit before writing.

  5. PB says:

    Beltran HOFer?
    I’m with kcobserver on this one. While I didn’t bother to do the research, just from my general perception/”eye test”-like judgement, I’m simple don’t see Beltran as a HOFer, not when you have superior, dominant at one time players like Dave Parker and Dale Murphy on the outside looking in. I don’t give a fuck how his numbers end up as they were inflated during his era, he was never at any point during his career, better than those guys. Perhaps one of those years with the Mets but I’m not sure he’s ever even finished in top 5 in MVP voting? That’s certainly a major criteria in my book anyway.

  6. Leftridge says:

    “His closest comparables at baseballreference.com fall quite a bit short of being selected for induction.”

    Really? Sure you’re reading the right website? His top two “similar through age…” are Andre Dawson and Dave Winfield. Hall of Famers, both.

    It sucks that he left and everything, but we can’t let that skew our opinions of his body of work.

    I never said he WAS getting in– I said his statistics/accolades/accomplishments warrant a STRONG case for selection.


  7. chuck says:

    Fuck Curt Flood

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