Like others during the holiday season, the children of Redleg Nation have their hopes for the New Year – and wish lists.
It’s not that we’re ungrateful. We appreciate that Uncle Walt has already delivered a wonderful holiday present, The Boy with the Baseball Tattoo. That 6’6″ gift is wrapped with a bright Reds ribbon on top. We wait anxiously to open it on Saturday, April 7.
The boys and girls of Redleg Nation are truly grateful for that bounty. Yet is it unreasonable for us to want one more nice thing? If I were lucky enough to be chosen by our baseball family to ask for another goodie, I’d snuggle up right next to
Uncle Walt and whisper in his ear the name Carlos Beltran.
Prior to Latos Day, I’d assumed the Reds would be spending scarce new salary dollars on James Shields. But now that it turns out our new top-shelf starting pitcher will work this year for league minimum, and we have the paychecks of Volquez and Alonso to spend, I’ve looked more ambitiously at whom the Reds might hire to roam left-field at GABP.
Criteria: A player with success batting in the clean-up spot, solid defensive skill, pop in his bat, a great OBP, and playoff experience. And, to make the team’s manager happy, one who hits from the right side of the plate.
Carlos Beltran fits perfectly. In 1200+ career plate appearances batting fourth, his slash stats are .293/.378/.513. Playing for the Mets and Giants last year he hit .300/.385/.525. Beltran, at age 34, can also play CF and RF, if necessary. Imagine the pitches he’d see batting between Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
So where does Beltran’s free agency stand now? Here’s a hot-off-the-internets summary. The case for signing him in this Fangraphs report notes the market for Beltran has been “strangely thin.” A one or two-year contract sounds possible from his side.
And while the notion of “sticking it” to one’s opponent probably isn’t consistent with the spirit of the holiday season, another positive outcome would be keeping him neatly away from the St. Louis Cardinals. They’re the team with a giant (Pu)hole in their lineup, brought on Angelic wings to the NL Central.
Sadly, Beltran’s salary doesn’t come close to fitting in our current budget. Uncle Walt would have to talk to Uncle Bob about this present, because unlike Mat Latos, Carlos Beltran would cost serious cabbage.
But Redleg Nation kids can dream, can’t we? Especially at this miraculous time of year.
And pssst, Uncle Walt and Uncle Bob, it’s the Cardinals. Remember them?