Archive for the ‘Carlos Beltran’ Category

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

Write out a list of the best outfielders of the past 30 years. How many names do you scribble down before you get to Carlos Beltran? In all likelihood, most of those players haven’t produced more than Beltran has since the turn of the century. In the expansion era, very few outfielders have put up numbers like Beltran. Among center fielders, the list shrinks even more.

Carlos Beltran is one of the most talented baseball players in recent memory, a true five-tool all star putting the finishing touches on a brilliant career. At 36, Beltran might not be the power/speed wunderkind that from his days in New York and Kansas City, but he’s still hitting.

He keeps hitting as his body changes and his role transitions to one suitable for his current skill set. I spoke with Carlos Beltran about reintegrating himself into the American League and the adjustments of 21st century baseball.

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New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

The Yankees don’t have fun beards and don’t have sexy blue chip prospects lining their rotation like some teams. Instead, the Yankees pay top dollar for established stars and known commodities.

In signing Carlos Beltran to a thre-year, $45 million contract, the Yankees now have a glut of aging outfielders who are mostly DHs. The difference between Carlos Beltran and Vernon Wells or Ichiro or Alfonso Soriano is Carlos Beltran remains very, very productive. While his body might betray him, he can still provide value in right field.

The former center fielder showcased some defensive chops during the World Series and the RF job at Yankee Stadium is not the most challenging place to play. More so thanks to Ellsbury & Gardner gobbling up fly balls in left and center.

Beltran put very nice numbers for the Cardinals in 2013 and should take advantage of the short porch in the Bronx when hitting left-handed. The Yanks can pay somebody like Soriano to play for someone else or trade Brett Gardner for a starter if they so desire.

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ortiz grand slam

Clutch isn’t dead. This year, the titans of clutch are Carlos Beltran, perennial postseason superhuman, and David Ortiz, the “inevitable” hero of Game 2 Sunday night in Boston.

By Beltran’s standards, he isn’t even hitting well this postseason. He owns an absurd .340/.448/.740 line in 41 career playoff games and is hitting just .231/.333/.538 in seven games this October. He has, however, had a pair of gigantic games already. In Game 3 of the NLDS, he supplied the game-tying home run off Mark Melancon in the eighth inning and a two-run single in the fifth inning to boot, but the club ended up losing the game in the eighth on a Pedro Alvarez single. Then, in the Cardinals’ Game 1 NLCS victory over Los Anglees, he supplied the walk-off single against Kenley Jansen, part of a 2-for-6, 3 RBI day.

Ortiz, on the other hand, has been above and beyond this year. His home run to tie Game 2 was already his third, and he owns a ridiculous .300/.462/.800 line in six games thus far against a .284/.394/.542 career line in 72 postseason contests. The game-tying grand slam was his first and only hit of the ALCS thus far in seven at-bats, but his timing was impeccable.

As these postseason legends continue to ply their trade, the concept of clutch surges to the forefront again. It’s an October tradition, baseball’s rise of the Great Pumpkin (aside, of course, from Dan Johnson).

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beltran the best

Playoff baseball tends to evoke the memories of great pitching duels. To aces matched-up, throwing BBs for eight innings, demonstrating how and why the two competeting teams made it this far.

Despite David Price‘s gutty effort in the tiebreaker game, we were yet to be treated to such pitching prowess. Until last night, that is.

Clayton Kershaw put on a postseason pitching performance to remember, a far cry from the guy who appeared near tears in the Dodgers dugout in the 2009 NLCS, having just walked five Phillies in just 4.2 innings.

Clayton Kershaw pitched exactly how one expects an ace and Cy Young shoo-in to pitch. He seemed to get strong as the game went on, striking out 12 Braves — recording eight of his last nine outs by strikeout — while allowing just one run on three hits and three walks.

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Kansas City Royals v St. Louis Cardinals

The 35-17 St. Louis Cardinals are currently on top of all of baseball with a .673 winning percentage. They are only one game ahead of their run differential. They lead the National League in runs scored per game. They allow the fewest runs per game. They currently project to end the year as the team with the most wins in baseball. They are tied for first in the National League in wRC+, and are first or tied for first in the NL in ERA-, FIP-, and xFIP-. Just in case this is your first time reading Getting Blanked: the 2013 Cardinals are pretty good.

It certainly isn’t because of their manager, though. Sure, the Cardinals made the playoffs last year and looks like the best team in baseball so far this year, but I’m not sure how much credit should go to Mike Matheny. Even if he wasn’t the successor to the Great Mind of Tony LaRussa, one would have questions about his decisions — particularly his batting order. At least on the surface, exoteric level, it seems, well, blasphemous and heretical.

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Such is the way of the Blame Beltran meme. A chance encounter between two players, at opposite ends of their careers, once traded for each other, ends in injury. Wheeler pays respect to the mighty Beltran and, seven minutes later, comes out of his start with a strained oblique. Touching Carlos Beltran leaves him worse for wear… coincidently, of course. OF COURSE.

Not a coincidence: all the excitement surrounding the Mets young right-hander. Between Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, Mets fans actually have something to look forward to in this post-Dickey way.

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It is often said (frequently by the kind of people who write blog posts on sites just like this one) that free agency is a fool’s errand. That the kind of money required it takes to lock up talent on the free market is better spent elsewhere, that the long-term nature of many big time contracts means paying through the nose down the road for a decent return in the present.

Such is the price for locking up premium talent on the free agent market. When players like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and C.J. Wilson are offering up their services, the contracts will get long and the risk substantial.

The next tier below this elite talent is where a smart GM can really punch up his/her lineup. There is a lot of value offered in a more manageable price range and, so far in 2012, it looks like a lot of GMs did a lot of good work with more modest deals.

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