All signs and rumors are pointing toward the Boston Red Sox acquiring Carlos Beltran and it’s a crying shame. The Red Sox are first in runs scored, first in batting average, first in on base percentage and first in slugging percentage. Meanwhile, they are 16th in team ERA and 26th in quality starts.
And yet, they will spend what they can to get Carlos Beltran, an aging bat with injury issues. And he’s not cheap. As much rap as the Yankees take for “buying championships” the Red Sox signed two nine-figure contracts this offseason and now are looking to trade for a 34-year-old at the tail end of his own nine-figure contract.
The logic is that their starting right fielder, JD Drew, is batting .225 with a .637 OPS. Josh Reddick is the only outfielder on the bench who has had any success, and the Mets would likely be willing to pick up a chunk of Beltran’s salary. But whn you are leading every major offensive category, the question remains why Boston needs a rent-a-bat.
The other argument for adding Beltran is that the Red Sox are most likely going to make the playoffs with the pitching staff as is, and Lester, Beckett and Buchholz make up the needed 1-2-3 for a playoff series. On the other hand, a weak bat in the lineup can spell disaster when every out counts against the best teams in baseball.
All that being said, if I’m running the ship in Beantown, I’m looking for a quality starting pitcher. Josh Beckett has been stellar, and Jon Lester has been solid, as always. Clay Buchholz battled some health issues, but has been decent (3.48 ERA, 1.294 WHIP) when healthy.
John Lackey is flirting with a 7.00 ERA. For the second year in a row, Jonathan Papelbon’s ERA is floating near 4.00 and Daisuke Matsuzaka is on the 60-day disabled list, and his ERA was over five before the injury. Tim Wakefield has made 11 starts, and has a 4.74 ERA on the season in 20 total games.
Something I wrote about before the season started, and a recommendation I stand by, is making Daniel Bard the closer. Look at the numbers.
2010 Bard: 1.93 ERA, 1.004 WHIP
2010 Papelbon: 3.90 ERA, 1.269 WHIP
2011 Bard: 1.94 ERA, 0.820 WHIP
2011 Papelbon: 3.96 ERA, 1.190 WHIP
I tend to be in the minority in that I don’t buy the “closer’s mentality” spiel. Philadelphia has seen their rich closer do down and they used Jose Contreras because people said Ryan Madsen didn’t have the “closer mentality” but they said he was “a perfect eighth-inning guy” and Madsen has been one of the best closers in baseball since Contreras went down, and left the Phillies with no choice.
With Francisco Rodriguez already being dealt, teams looking for a closer might consider giving up a starter for Papelbon. Boston would be wrong not to listen.
So, yes, all signs point to Boston acquiring Carlos Beltran from the free falling New York Mets. That doesn’t mean it’s the best move for an organization that needs an arm a lot more than it needs another bat.
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