The San Francisco Giants rumor mill is alive and cooking! After the Jonathan Sanchez-Melky Cabrera swap, rumors are flying about the Giants' next move. If Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman is to be believed, Cabrera has all but closed the door on a possible Carlos Beltran return to San Francisco, and at least one MLB executive thinks that Beltran will sign a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox.
However, if two years is what the market dictates and Beltran is willing to take it, the Giants need to be involved.
Here are five reasons why San Francisco should firmly plant themselves in the sweepstakes for Beltran's services:
In the 2011 season, Beltran hit 22 home runs, with a .300 AVG and 84 RBI. Assuming he has similar production in 2012, he instantly becomes one of the best hitters in the Giants lineup. With Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey, Beltran would add a solid third piece to the middle of the Giants order. In fact, one could argue that with Posey’s presence, Beltran will have an opportunity to put up better numbers.
Without Posey, in 44 games with the Giants, he had seven home runs, 18 RBI and a .323 AVG. If he hits ahead of Posey in the lineup, conventional wisdom says he will get more and better pitches to hit. On the other hand, if he bats behind him, Beltran will likely have more opportunity with runners on base and in scoring position.
In either case, Beltran projects to perform well and greatly enhance the Giants offensive production.
It is no secret that in recent years San Francisco has been devoid of any consistent, year-to-year offensive force. As a career .286 hitter with over 300 home runs, Beltran has the ability to provide something the Giants haven’t had since the days of Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent: a steady and reliable bat.
Currently, there is not one player in the Giants lineup that has a track record of solid offensive production. Pablo Sandoval had a poor 2010 season, but a strong 2011. Aubrey Huff did the exact opposite. Buster Posey was a force in 2010, but hurt for the majority of last year.
For Giants manager Bruce Bochy, the Giants pitching staff and the entire team, Beltran would ensure that in 2012 at least one position player is going to hit around a .300 AVG, with at least 70 to 80 RBI and 15 to 20 home runs.
As currently constituted, the 2012 Giants lineup looks like this: Melky Cabrera CF, Freddy Sanchez 2B, Pablo Sandoval 3B, Buster Posey C, Aubrey Huff 1B/LF, Brandon Belt 1B/LF, Nate Schierholtz RF, Brandon Crawford SS and then the pitcher’s spot. The No. 1 through 4 spots are fairly solid, but after that there are four huge question marks (plus the pitcher).
Now slide Beltran in: Cabrera, Sanchez, Sandoval, Posey, Beltran, Huff/Belt, Schierholtz, Crawford, pitcher.
That lineup strikes a whole lot more fear into opposing pitchers' minds. It is a lineup that does not rely on the possibility of an average player having an above-average year. There are five legitimate hitters, and then three hitters who could be solid contributors.
This is the key to the Beltran Castle for the Giants. In April he turns 35 years old, on the cusp of where production begins to decline for most major league hitters. Given this, it would be silly for the Giants to contemplate a contract over three years.
However, what if the MLB executive is right and two years is right around what a playoff-contending team like Boston is willing to offer? The Giants have the means to do that, and probably even include a performance-based option for a third year.
Remember, Beltran has made it very clear he wants to play for a contender, so there is little worry about him being swayed by a large offer from a team like the Baltimore Orioles. Two to three years at $12-15 million per year is worth the investment and well within the Giants' financial capabilities.
With two career trips to the postseason, Beltran has shown the ability to perform into October. In 22 playoff games he has a .366 batting average, 11 home runs and 19 RBI. Those are legitimate numbers considering that in the 15 games for the Giants 2010 World Championship team, no one hit over .300 with more than 10 RBI or five home runs. Their best hitter was Cody Ross and his career indicates he is anything but reliable.
Therefore, I ask what would be the problem with having Beltran in a Giants uniform for possibly the next two to three postseasons?
With their pitching staff, the Giants have an opportunity to consistently be in the playoffs for the next few years. Carlos Beltran gives them a chance to not only get there, but have another parade down Market Street.