MLB Rumors: 10 Reasons the San Francisco Giants Should Sign Adrian Beltre
As a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan at heart, let me be the first to assure you the team should not and almost certainly will not ultimately sign Adrian Beltre.
Though the slick-fielding third baseman is the best free agent left on the market by far, the fact that Beltre employs Scott Boras to do his negotiating means he will go for tippity-top dollar. It also means this is precisely the position Scotty wanted his client in i.e. the biggest and brightest name left in neon lights because it adds a heavy dose of leverage to the proceedings.
In other words, we can already see the grind for max money starting.
Furthermore, while the former Los Angeles Dodger star authored the greatest season of his career (2004) in the NL West, he's written far more underwhelming ones in the same or similarly hostile confines for a hitter (see: entire career with the Seattle Mariners).
Then there's the matter of the former Boston Red Sox' age—he'll be 32 within about a week of Opening Day in 2011. That's not ancient by any means, but it ain't young either and it's on the wrong side of a major-leaguer's prime.
When you fit all those pieces together, you get a very clear picture of a very inefficient allocation of resources. With Barry Zito (another high-profile Boras client, which is no coincidence) and Aaron Rowand already consuming more than they produce, bringing more contractual fat aboard makes absolutely zero sense.
Nevertheless, if you remove the franchise-killing agent from the portrait, a possible deal becomes a whole lot more intriguing.
Because there are definitely 10 reasons the San Francisco Giants could use Adrian Beltre...
No. 10—In This Scenario, He's Parted Ways with Scott Boras
And that's reason enough to bring him aboard in my opinion.
No. 9—He's the Best Player Left on the Market
This is not a good reason to sign Adrian Beltre from a baseball perspective, but it's a perfectly sound one from a business slant.
When a club secures the best asset left on the market, it gets more than its fair share of ink—both the real thing and the cyber-version.
Much of that ink is used to quote the general manager, coach, and/or owners as they profess how the acquisition shows the level of sincerity behind efforts to improve and contend. All the player's utility is emphasized while the flaws are kept far from cameras and microphones.
And tickets inevitably get sold.
Boom, good business sense (as long as coprophagous agents aren't screwing up the economics).
No. 8—He's Having Fun
A happy ballplayer is a more productive ballplayer.
Pat Burrell just played 96 regular season games in testament to that fact. Left for dead in Tampa Bay, Pat the Bat resurrected himself in his hometown and became one of the driving forces for San Francisco down the stretch. Even in the playoffs where his production disappeared, his presence loomed large over the clubhouse and was felt in the chemistry lab.
And, is it just me, or were there an inordinate number of smiling Beltres floating around the major-league diamond in 2010?
Maybe all the glee was directly tethered to his exodus from Safeco Field, in which case they'd figure to vanish if he took up residence at AT&T Park.
But you never know, the rainy days might've been metaphoric and connected to culture.
The Seattle Mariners conjure images connected to the Pacific Rim thanks primarily—but by no means exclusively—to Ichiro Suzuki. Toss in the mild, damp summers in the extreme Pacific Northwest and it's not hard to believe the geneses of Adrian's scuffles were more complex than a cavernous yard.
Los Gigantes can't make much of a rebuttal on the weather front, but they ave a much stronger Latin American vibe.
**NOTE—I've heard rumblings that the third baseman wants no part of San Francisco, but I can't find any direct quote and such a statement (while probably true) would make no sense from a Boras client in the middle of negotiations.
No. 7—Los Angeles Dodgers Overpaid To Yank Juan Uribe Away
If they take one of ours, let's take one of theirs.
Sure, it's not quite the same as stripping Uribe directly from the Gents, but Beltre was a Bum for much longer than Juan was in The City (seven years vs. two).
Additionally, as much as I enjoyed the shortstop-turned-Swiss-Army-knife, Adrian Beltre was and remains a better player.
And better yet, since insanity rules the day in Chavez Ravine these days, los Doyers shelled out $21 million for three years of Uribe's services. That means the Orange and Black can overpay and still come out on top.
No. 6—He Clearly Fits with the Team's Approach
Just so we're clear about that picture—Adrian Beltre is watching the flight of a ball off his bat with part of his right shin on the ground.
And that's not the only image of such a feat from Adrian floating around the ether.
It would appear ending up on one knee after minimal-to-solid contact isn't the rarest of occurrences during a Beltre at-bat.
Doesn't exactly scream "strike-zone discipline," does it?
The discerning additions of Buster Posey and Pat Burrell notwithstanding, that makes San Francisco and the 31-year-old a match made in grip-it-and-rip-it heaven.
Or hell depending on personal preference...
No. 5—He Still Has Some Good Years Left in the Tank
Yeah, that's Adrian Beltre back in his rookie year of 1998.
He played in 77 games at the tender age of 19 back then, so it's no surprise the mental impression he's left is of a much older athlete. The dude has been around for 12 YEARS already—that's a long time to be occupying any spotlight, but it feels considerably longer when you consider more than half those years have been spent under the often-harsh glare in Los Angeles and Boston.
So the mentality that says "Beltre's used up and the next step in his career is the one that takes him off a cliff" must be forgiven.
But it must also be refuted.
True, if Adrian's still in his prime, he's in the last gasp of it.
It's also true that this was one of the premier defensive options at the hot corner during the peak of his career. Offensively, you could've done a hell of a lot worse and even that valuation might be criminally low when you account for Safeco Field.
Here's some ground-breaking insider info: A 32-year-old (soon after Opening Day), once-elite player will still be very good for several years after the initial fade starts.
Since it's not even clear that Beltre's overall level of production has begun to flag, he should be a valuable contributor for several years yet to come.
No. 4—There's No Guarantee Pablo Sandoval Will Bounce Back
OK, enough with the fun and games. Let's get down to brass tacks.
As any close observer of Major League Baseball can tell you, Pablo Sandoval suffered through one of the more horrid sophomore seasons in the annals of recorded history. The Kung Fu Panda exploded on the scene in 2009, made a run at the National League batting title and became the centerpiece of the Bay Area's offensive infatuation.
There were concerns over his weight and ability to readjust to the inevitable book developed by opposing pitchers, but it's safe to say nobody predicted what happened in 2010.
I don't have the heart to relate all the gory details, so let's just let Little Money's slash line and plate appearances do the talking.
Or whimpering as the case may be:
—2009: .330/.387/.556 in 633 PA
—2010: .268/.323/.409 in 616 PA
Every remotely relevant metric regressed and most of 'em did so severely; he grounded into 26 double plays to lead the NL after only 10 in '09. By the end of the season, the horror had even crept into his fielding.
It was an all-around disaster.
The big fella is reportedly working hard to shed the weight and rebound in 2011, and it'd be unwise to dismiss the kid considering Pablo's a comparable baby at 24.
But Giant fans should prepare for the worst.
There's more-than-anecdotal evidence that suggests the reality for a major-leaguer who has an incredible first year and an incredibly poor second year is closer to the sophomore slump than the burst from the gates.
And that ain't good.
No. 3—He'd Be an Immediate and Obvious Defensive Upgrade
As noted, Pablo Sandoval's defense became a problem as the year wore on, eventually costing him his starting job.
Juan Uribe typically stepped into the void and was superb in the role, but he's gone and he didn't always get the call (hello, Mike Fontenot). Consequently, the body of work from the Giants' hot corner was unsteady at best.
Adrian Beltre is steady with the leather at worst.
And there are few followers of the game who would stoop so low for an adjective to describe Beltre's defense.
This a man who won back-to-back American League Gold Gloves at third in 2007 and 2008. The awards can and often are popularity contests based on reputation, but Adrian got his hardware while toiling in Seattle—not exactly the apple of the Show's eye.
Nor the media's, for that matter.
Nope, his glove is legit and would become doubly dangerous when used in support of San Francisco's dominant pitching staff.
No. 2—He'd Be an Offensive Uprade...Probably
It hardly seems worth pointing out that the 2010 version of Adrian Beltre would be an improvement.
We've already seen just how dismal Pablo Sandoval's production was; by comparison, the free agent's numbers look downright Bondsian—.321/.365/.553 with 49 2B (led all of baseball), 28 HR, 102 RBI and a 2:1 walk-to-strikeout ratio.
Although it should be noted that Adrian managed to hit into 25 double plays (not exactly music to the faithful's ears), any semblance of his '10 campaign would be an enormous boost from the position.
The matter gets considerably cloudier when you isolate his Mariner days, which are arguably more indicative of what his numbers would look like by the Bay than those accumulated in Boston. In those five years, he posted an unattractive slash line of .266/.317/.442 while average about 35 doubles and 20 big flies.
Those numbers represent only a slight improvement over Sandoval from last season.
Granted, AT&T Park and the current Giant offense are probably more forgiving than those Seattle environs were, but you'd also have to imagine Sandoval will make at least some of the lost production from 2009 back.
So while Beltre would certainly be an upgrade over the Kung Fu Panda from '10, the jury's decidedly less convinced he'd be an upgrade over Sandoval in 2011.
No. 1—The Giants Must Improve on 2010 To Get the Same Results
The San Francisco Giants are the defending World Series Champions so it's impossible for them to improve on the ultimate results from 2010.
You can call it fate, destiny, luck—if you're an idiot, show me a champion who wasn't lucky—or something worse. What you can't do is deny that the Giants won the Fall Classic and that's really all that matters.
Hey, the Gents won 103 games in 1993, got kneed in the groin by Lady Luck and watched the postseason from home. I'll take the World Series win.
Back to my point—that the team can't improve on the results doesn't mean it can't improve, period.
And SF must do so if it hopes to repeat.
Many of the mini-nukes have fallen in the offseason and a quick survey of the Senior Circuit's landscape is shocking:
—The Atlanta Braves traded for Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward will only get better (and that's scary) and Brian McCann is one of the best catchers in the Show. The rotation could get considerably more troublesome depending on the development of Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens.
—The Cincinnati Reds added by subtracting Aaron Harang; the rotation figures to grow from the playoff experience enjoyed by young talents like Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey. Offensively, Joey Votto has come into his own and will probably soon have company in the form of Jay Bruce and/or Drew Stubbs.
—The Colorado Rockies re-signed Jorge De La Rosa to pair with Ubaldo Jimenez, and added Ty Wigginton to an offense led by Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
—The Milwaukee Brewers heisted Zack Greinke from Kansas City, grabbed Shaun Marcum from Toronto and slide them into a rotation led by El Chupacabra, Yovani Gallardo. The batting order is all squared away so long as Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder stay healthy so Corey Hart can play the third wheel.
—The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Cliff Lee to go with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. They back that rotation with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins.
Step back from that and you'll see perhaps six of the top eight teams in Major League Baseball on paper now reside in the National League.
The San Francisco Giants are already equipped to deal with the new gauntlet simply by virtue of their own inchoate talents. After all, few baseball people think we've seen the ceilings on Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Wilson and Buster Posey.
Sprinkling Adrian Beltre into the mix at the right price could only help.
If only he had a different agent...