Blog Entry

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

Posted on: December 22, 2011 9:21 pm
File this under the Life Goes On Dept.:

The St. Louis Cardinals lost three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols ... and still may enter 2012 as NL Central favorites.

Yes, you read that right.

That's what two years and $26 million -- oh, and a full no-trade clause -- to free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran does for the Redbirds. No guarantees of course, because his knees have more mileage on them than Don Rickles. But if Beltran, at 34, can produce as he did as an All-Star last summer, look out.

Defending division champion Milwaukee is on the brink of losing Prince Fielder, and the Brewers could be without NL MVP Ryan Braun for the first third of 2012 if his suspension for a testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug is upheld. The Reds are coming off of a highly disappointing season and have young starters surrounded by lots of questions (Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, Mike Leake). The Cubs have miles to go. The Pirates fell off in the second half last season. Houston? Please.

In St. Louis, this isn't about the Beltran of 2006, when he played in 140 games and blasted 41 homers and collected 116 RBIs. That Beltran but a memory -- just as is the image of him standing there frozen at home plate, gawking at Adam Wainwright's knee-bending, Game 7 curve for strike three that sent the Cardinals, and not Beltran's Mets, to the World Series.

No, this is about how today's Beltran fits in with, yep, Wainwright and the rest of the post-Pujols Cardinals.

Wainwright should be sufficiently recovered from Tommy John ligament transfer surgery to start the season in the rotation. Add him to Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse and that's a winning rotation. Always, you start with pitching.

Beltran alone would not solve St. Louis' issues, pre- or post-Pujols. But with Matt Holliday (left field) and Lance Berkman (first base) in place, and with promising outfielders Jon Jay (center field) and Allen Craig (right field), now you've got something. Beltran fits well into that rotation. Veteran Rafael Furcal back at shortstop, World Series hero David Freese at third base ... mm-hmmm, the Cardinals will miss Pujols, but they're still versatile and potent.

With all that, first-year manager Mike Matheny shouldn't need to ride Beltran into the ground. But with Craig probably set to open the season on the disabled list following November knee surgery, Beltran can plug into right field early, stabilize the outfield and add depth and power to the lineup.

When Craig returns, Matheny surely will have no problem finding enough at-bats for Beltran in center and right field.

If he's got his legs under him, his bat is still there: His .525 slugging percentage in 2011 for the Mets and Giants ranked eighth among NL outfielders. Overall, he batted .300 with 22 homers and 84 RBI in 142 games.

You can argue that St. Louis overpaid for a guy who turns 35 in late April. But Colorado gave Michael Cuddyer $31.5 million over three years. It's a lot of money, but it's also a short-term commitment for St. Louis.

In that short-term, especially when measured against the rest of the NL Central right now, it looks like smart money. Yes, Pujols is gone. But that doesn't necessarily mean turn out the lights in St. Louis.

Since: Jul 21, 2007
Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:13 am

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

I wonder, with albert gone, will signing Yadier Molina get very pricey, given that his buddy moved to the American League? LA has three guys behind the plate who all look like journeymen in terms of offensive skills. I hope Yadier doesn't bolt at the end of 2012, buy a low-rider and move to SoCal.

Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: December 23, 2011 7:25 am

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

Houston is still in the NL Central. Why even comment if you truly don't know baseball?

Since: Jan 29, 2009
Posted on: December 23, 2011 6:25 am

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

Houston is not even in the division anymore there expert.

Since: Dec 23, 2010
Posted on: December 23, 2011 6:14 am

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

THE REST OF THE NATIONAL HAS TO BE LOOKING. The signing of Beltran is large. We will probably get 25 HR's and 100 RBI's in a full season. Hook that up with Furcal-Craig-Berkman-Holliday-Frees

e-Molina and where does anyone see a weak link. That is seven very good hitters in a row. I just hope Beltran stays healthy in CF. He can be relived by Jay anyday or time so that is a good situation also. Our top Three Pitchers are also very Good. Wainwright-Garcia-Carpenter. Who knows what we can get from our 4 th Stater Loshe but in the 4th spot he might shine. Our Pen is now solid. We have Motte our closer and a nice array of lefties and righties.We can dream that STL can win another World Series with this Team this Year. Really not a far fetch dream... Hey STL MGT here's a clue ...SIGN MOLINA THIS YEAR. Lets not go through that again !

Since: Dec 14, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 2:33 am

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

Playing in St. Louis has been a magic elixer for many "washed up" ball players (read: Lance Berkman; Roger Maris; Cesar Cedeno; Curt Simmons; Orlando Cepeda; Joe Torre; etc.)  Many of these guys had their best year(s) as Cardinals...Torre and Cepeda were NL MVP's as Redbirds.  (Incidentally, the Cardinals traded Ray Sadecki to SF to get Cepeda in 1966, traded Cepeda to ATL for Torre in 1969, and then traded Torre to NYM for Sadecki in 1975)

I'm not expecting all that from Beltran, but I do think that the friendly atmosphere of St. Louis and the fans' appreciation of great players will give him a great platform from which to perform.  Don't be surprised if he gets a standing O before he even faces a pitch.  That is the St. Louis tradition of paying due respect to one that has beaten up on the Cardinals in the past...just ask Will Clark, who tortured the Cardinals for years and then was given the standing O as mentioned before and promptly doubled in his first at bat as a Cardinal.

It could come to pass that Mozeliak might have wished he'd signed Beltran for three or four years...Go Cardinals !!!

Since: Oct 18, 2009
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:12 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Apr 29, 2008
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:11 am

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

mmmm. why would the Cardinals even go after Prince Fielder? They saved money from Pujols leaving. If they had kept Pujols or gone after Fielder, their payroll would be eaten up by giving money to a 1B, so then they couldn't hardly use money to spend elsewhere for the team. Berkman is only play 1B for 012, after that Matt Adams will be the 1B in 013 (unless he somehow shows the Cardinals in camp, that he's ready for the majors). Adams can hit and he's losing weight, will be the starting 1B for triple A Memphis in 012. Plus, Adam Wainwright will need a new contract, if he shows that he is fully recoverd from Tommy John, and Yadier Molina will need a new contract before the season ends (if I were the Cardinals, I'd re-sign Molina now, so he doesn't reach free agency). Because if he does, that could mean Pujols talks him into going to the Angels. And after this season both Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse are off the book, so Shelby Miller can be on the 013 team starting and maybe Carlos Martinez (if he's ready for the majors by then), if not then Lance Lynn or someone else can hold down the no.5 spot in 013. So, Pujols leaving helped the Cardinals in the long-term. Because more players will need new contracts.

Since: Apr 29, 2008
Posted on: December 23, 2011 12:59 am

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

Please get something right before posting, Beltran isn't from the Dominican .... that was Jose Reyes who's from there. Beltran is from Puerto Rico, and Abreu isn't from the Dominican also, he's from Venezuela. And Beltran will be a good player for the Cardinals. And he is a good player or the Astros wouldn't have traded for him in 04, and the Mets wouldn't have then singed him to that big contract, and then the Giants wouldn't have traded for him to try to get themselfs into the playoffs last season. Beltran showed that he still can play though, was an All-Star last season, and showed that he still has some defense left. Cardinals needed an OF who can hit for power, because Allen Craig is out until at least May, due to knee surgery. And who knows if Craig will be 100% in May, it takes awhile for players to be 100% after knee surgery. And last, I checked Skip Schumaker can't play OF everyday and neither can Chambers. Beltran was the best OF on the free agent market. The Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox, and Indians were after Beltran also. And the Rockies were also in on him, until they got Michael Cuddyer in free agency, which is what then set the price for a player like Beltran. Funny though, Beltran's OBP was higher than Pujols' last season.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: December 23, 2011 12:34 am

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

As a Phillies fan, I have to agree with the Mets fan on this one Riegert...Beltran is a lazy azz Dominican player who only cares (and only ever did) about me, me me....that's why the Mets let Reyes go as well...just like the Phillies let Abreu go...they are all cut from the same mold and you will not get the return on investment from them because even if they do stay in the lineup, they only play for themselves...and since he just got paid, he isn't going to be putting out anything extra special for the Cards. 

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:53 pm

Pujols gone, but Cards can win with Beltran

As a METS fan I was glad we got rid of him . Now he's the Cards problem. Overpaid ... hurt ... and lacks the abilities and hustle that he once had. This guy is no replacement ..... just a spot in the line up. Must be nice to be him thu. Paid all that money when he's used up.
Beltran problem with the mets was his health, Beltran could be a good player for St. Louis as long as he stay healthy.

Nobody can replace Pujols, but you can find someone who can play good enough.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or