Leftridge: Will the Royals Land Beltran, and Should They?

3_28BeltranRoyalsWhen a friend with inside knowledge told me on Tuesday (before it was being reported elsewhere) that free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran was visiting Kauffman Stadium and being wooed like a five star recruit—replete with the highlight real on the scoreboard and the shining number 15 below it—I went through something akin to the Kubler-Ross Model, only without the grief, and with a couple of less steps.

What I mean to say, I suppose, is that I had a lot of sweeping, mixed emotions.

First, I was jubilant. I texted my friend back with lots of nonsensical letters strung together, misplaced exclamation points, and more than a few incoherent curse words. CARSLOS BELLLLITRAN!@!@@$$!!!!!, R U KIDDING ME?  HOLY FLUCK!!SHT,,,

Something like that.

Then, I heard what someone—not necessarily the Royals (the Seattle Mariners are courting him heavily, as well)—was offering. 3 yrs/$48m. Three years, forty-eight million. Dollars. USD. THREE YEARS.

Two things jumped out at me about the offer that made me cringe, and reconsider my initial, pant-pissing excitement.

1) Three years is a LOOOOOONG time for an outfielder with a history of health problems who’ll turn 37 at the beginning of next season.

butler2) $48mil—on a team already “strapped for cash”—would mean that something—or someone, rather—would have to go. In all likelihood, that’d be Billy Butler, the guy who makes a decent chunk of change and “plays” the “position” that Beltran would likely usurp: designated hitter.

So, second thing first: replacing Billy Butler. Since Beltran’s knees are crippled, arthritic, and mostly made of repurposed space-shuttle pieces, his outfield duties would mostly be an afterthought. He’d spend a majority of the time doing what he does best these days—batting. And that’s all fine and well—he’s a hell of a hitter, still—but is he really that much better than Butler?

I honestly didn’t know, so I took a look.

Over the past five years—playing in 160 games per year—Butler has averaged 40 doubles, 20 HR, 91 RBI, a .302 average, a .372 on-base-percentage, and an .840 on-base+slugging percentage. He has also grounded into an average of 23 double-plays over that period, something that remains THE most important statistic to his detractors. (I just had a conversation about Butler with a coworker, and the GIDP issue came up. He said, “ALL HE DOES IS HIT INTO DOUBLE PLAYS. I know, I’m the only guy in Kansas City who’d be glad to see him go.” No, no you wouldn’t.)

Beltran’s numbers over that same span? I was a little surprised—116 games played per year on average, 26 doubles, 19 HR, 68 RBI, .289 AVG, .365 OBP, and an .853 OPS.  Oh—but he hits into half as many double plays. So… there’s that. An injury-riddled final two years with the New York Mets obviously had a significant impact on these figures, but, well, that’s something that needs to be considered. Injuries. A history of them. And yeah, he’d probably miss less time as a primary DH, but when you have a primary DH who’s making considerably less? It’s hard to rectify changing things.

Look, I’d LOVE to have Beltran back. He’s a great guy, has had an outstanding career (I’ve made my Hall of Fame case for him before [it has a lot to do with being quite possibly the most prolific postseason hitter ever]) and there’s something to be said for the “coming full circle” aspect of professional athletics—especially in baseball where such things are a bit more rare. But—and it’s a pretty huge but—I just can’t justify paying that much for someone with a diminished skill-set.

carlos-beltranThe Royals need pitching (now and forever), they need a second-baseman and they need an outfielder. Carlos Beltran is none of these things, unfortunately. He’s simply a replacement for someone who already does the job he’d be taking. Someone who does the job well enough already, at that.

I love you like a brother, Carlos, and wish you all the best… just not in KC.

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12 Responses to Leftridge: Will the Royals Land Beltran, and Should They?

  1. dreamwriter326 says:

    Brilliant, well thought analysis, if that money figure is anywhere close to reality. I couldn’t agree more.

    Nice job.

    • I appreciate that.

      And, for what it’s worth, I saw an ESPN guy last night state that the Royals were NOT the team who reportedly made the 3 yr/$48mil offer… if that’s the case, I’m a little relieved. (Unless, of course, they attempt to outbid that deal… in which case, I give up.)

  2. Paul says:

    If the Royals signed Beltran, word is he would play four or five days a week. On the other 2-3 days he would DH with Butler resting or playing first, allowing Hosmer a day off. The question is, on those 2-3 days each week is our offense better than last year? I don’t think so. Essentially Beltran makes the Royals better for two-thirds of the games they play. Good, but worth the risky three-year big money commitment?

    The short-term signing of Aoki is much more exciting. The Royals now have a legitimate lead-off man, which means Gordo can move down in the batting order. We basically added a lead-off hitter and got a good #3, 4, or 5 hitter in the process. I like that.

    Finally, regarding Billy Butler, don’t you think all will be forgotten if he bounces back to something close to his 2012 season? There’s little doubt about what he gives the Royals. There have been comparisons of him to Edgar Martinez, which floored me until I looked at their stats. It wasn’t until age 32 that Edgar developed his power stroke. Now he’s considered the standard by which all DH’s are compared. I say hang on to Billy for as long as possible.

    • Very well said… all of it.

      I’m excited about Aoki– clearly, Will Smith had Giavotella Syndrome. The Royals seemed uninterested in seeing what he had given proper exposure. Since that was the case– right or wrong– get what you can for him. And looking at Aoki’s numbers got me pretty excited.

      As far as the public perception of Butler, it’s baffling. Some people (mostly casual KC fans) are going to dislike him, no matter what. They’ve been doing it his whole career.

  3. admin says:

    Well, Butler’s BBQ sauce is supposedly doing pretty well, so there’s that.

    Of course, whether or not he had much if anything to do with the recipe remains unreported.

    Zarda BBQ approached him with the idea.

  4. the dude says:

    If any AL team signs him for more than a year they are complete fools.
    At his age the NL is not an option anymore, that’s why the cards didn’t sign him to another year. Too much of a defensive liability with his shot knees.

  5. Reginald "Dis" Sputum says:

    They need to build a team to, specifically, get past the Tigers, who will be as good in 2014 as they were in 2013.

    So, pitching. Can Beltran pitch?

    Otherwise this is all window dressing, lipstick on a pig, kissing your sister, and other picture postcards from the Kansas City Royals Cliche Festival.

    And can they do something with Moustakas? Like release him? He’s the Jamarcus Russell of baseball.

  6. CG says:

    CARLOS BELTRAN IS A YANKEE. To be honest the Royals were NEVER in this thing, ever. Yes he came to listen and visit, but we were the teaser for the job he wanted THE NEW YORK YANKEES and a nice payday. Of course he wants to wear that pinstrip uniform once before its over and he likely goes to the Hall of Fame, as A YANKEE. A baseball players dream. Again WE WERE NEVER IN IT and we know it. You know it and damn right he would have mattered, see this guy, like Brett, hits MEANINGFUL HOMERS AND DOUBLES, we don’t. Need to learn to do that…Beltran is one of the all time best at timely hits and homers, ala his post season record. YES I think with him we would have been a much more dangerous team, much more. Our line-up to this point is far from scary…Butler is a nice guy, doesn’t lead the team anywhere, hasn’t and won’t…he’s Mike Sweeney part TWO…Beltran is the real deal. The 48 million was more than far given the circumstance, great deal for us, but now he’s a Yankee and even if we outbid them, he’d be a Yankee. End of that story. Man however did we get Joe Montana? Hmmm…

  7. Jess says:

    Well…,then that happened

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