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.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 7:47 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 12:57 am
Carlos Beltran continues to sort through interest from at least five clubs -- maybe more -- and hopes to make a decision by Christmas, sources with knowledge of the discussions say.
The Cardinals, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays were all said to be "in the mix" on Wednesday, and talks were heating up. By Wednesday night, the Indians had joined them in serious talks with the free agent outfielder.
Beltran is said to have offers for both two and three years, with the dollars varying significantly. He earned $20 million last season in the final summer of a seven-year, $119 million deal.
At this point, the six-time All-Star appears to be weighing his preferred city (cities?) against average annual value (AAV) in yearly salary. The many American League clubs involved suggest that, at this point in his career, teams view Beltran more as a designated hitter than as an everyday outfielder.
While Beltran still prefers the outfield, one source close to him said Wednesday that he would be open to DH'ing part-time.
One team that probably would offer Beltran the most time in the outfield is St. Louis. The Cardinals have been aggressive all along, especially since Albert Pujols signed with the Angels. St. Louis figures to move Lance Berkman to first base and go with Allen Craig in right field, with Matt Holliday in left and Jon Jay in center field. Beltran could mix in both in center and right in a rotating Cardinals cast.
Beltran has intrigued the Blue Jays all winter -- enough, according to a source, that their pursuit remained unchanged after it was revealed this week that the Rangers had won the posting for Japanese free agent pitcher Yu Darvish. In other words, did the Blue Jays, who were believed to be knee-deep in the Yarvish bidding, up their ante after losing the pitcher? No, they've been aggressive all along.
In Toronto, Beltran projects more as a DH-type, because the Jays, of course, have Jose Bautista in right field and Colby Rasmus in center. As of now, they've got newly acquired Ben Francisco, Travis Snider or Eric Thames in left field. Beltran has played very little left field in his career.
The Red Sox have had an exceptionally quiet off-season, losing closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies and so far failing to add any significant pieces. They have been looking for a bat to lengthen their lineup, and with right-fielder J.D. Drew gone, Beltran makes some sense in Boston. Right field can be demanding in Fenway Park, however, with the configuration of the fence, and David Ortiz is back as the Red Sox DH.
Tampa Bay, on a tight budget, needs help at both first base and DH, where Johnny Damon got most of the at-bats last year.
The Indians have been scrounging around for ways to improve their offense all winter, and their late entry into the Beltran talks Wednesday added intrigue as the outfielder moves toward making a final decision. Cleveland has been a distant admirer before -- the Indians spoke with the Mets last July about acquiring him in a deal. Beltran had no-trade powers then and, eventually, approved a deal to San Francisco. The Giants talked about bringing him back early in the off-season but scotched that idea fairly quickly because of a tight budget.
Adding Beltran not only would give Cleveland another potent bat that it seeks, but also depth behind center fielder Grady Sizemore. Banged up severely in recent years, Sizemore has undergone five surgeries in the past two seasons, including one to fix a microfracture in his knee. The Indians are set at the corner outfield spots with Mickey Brantley and Shin Soo-Choo, and at DH with Travis Hafner.
Now 34, Beltran batted .300 with 22 homers, 84 RBI and a .385 on-base percentage in 142 games last summer for the Mets and Giants. He's had serious knee issues in the past but was strong enough to produce an All-Star season in 2011.
The Rockies also were talking with Beltran, but earlier this week they signed former Minnesota Twin Michael Cuddyer to a three-year, $31.5 million deal.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:32 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 7:00 am
The market for Carlos Beltran is heating up, with at least five clubs and possibly more seriously talking with the free agent outfielder. Among them, according to sources: The Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and, as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported earlier Tuesday, the Colorado Rockies.
At least two other unidentified clubs are said to be engaged in talks with Beltran, with most of the clubs talking multi-year deals.
The Blue Jays' emergence as one of the clubs is noteworthy in that Toronto is in rebuilding mode and general manager Alex Anthopoulos has made several moves this offseason already, notably acquiring outfielder Ben Francisco from the Phillies, closer Sergio Santos from the White Sox and catcher Jeff Mathis from the Angels. The Jays are set with Colby Rasmus in center field and slugger Jose Bautista, who finished third in this year's AL MVP voting, in right field.
Colorado has been surprisingly aggressive in the free agent market this winter and made a hard run at Michael Cuddyer, who late Tuesday night appeared to be closing in on ex-Twin status with Minnesota close to a deal with Josh Willingham. Willingham's deal, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Joe Christensen, is reported to be worth three years and $21 million. While the Rockies also talked with Willingham, multiple sources say that both Cuddyer and Beltran ranked higher on Colorado's wish list than him.
Beltran, 34, makes sense for the Cardinals, who are reeling in the aftermath of losing three-time MVP Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels last week. Most likely, Lance Berkman will move to the infield and play first base for the Cardinals and, given their current scenario, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday would play the corner outfield spots and Jon Jay would play center field.
In that arrangement, however, the Cardinals wouldn't have much depth and the middle of their lineup might be thin.
Beltran batted .300 with 22 homers, 84 RBI and a .385 on-base percentage in 142 games last summer for the Mets and Giants. He has had serious knee issues in his past but came back in 2011 to produce an All-Star season.
It is not yet clear which other clubs are in on Beltran. The Giants earlier this winter all but declared themselves out of the running because they expect to cap their payroll at $130 million in 2012. General manager Brian Sabean talked like they would stay in touch with Beltran but would not extend a large offer.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 1:27 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 4:27 pm
San Francisco struck trade-deadline gold Wednesday, agreeing acquire Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran in exchange for minor league pitcher and former first-round pick Zach Wheeler, according to multiple CBSSports.com sources.
The Mets also will pick up the "majority" of the $5 or so million owed Beltran this year before he becomes a free agent this winter, believed to be around $4 million.
The deal cannot become official until Thursday because of rules surrounding Beltran's 10/5 status. This came up last year when the Yankees acquired Lance Berkman from Houston. When a player has been in the majors for 10 seasons, the last five with the same club, he has no-trade rights and a deal does not become official until 24 hours after it's been agreed to.
In this case, sources say that Beltran will agree to accept a deal to San Francisco, and that the Mets and Giants have agreed that the right-handed Wheeler will go to New York.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has been fielding offers for Beltran for weeks, and Philadelphia, Texas and Atlanta have been among the most intense suitors. The deal began breaking the Giants' way earlier this week when the Phillies cooled on Beltran because the Mets refused to reduce their asking price, and Texas dropped out Wednesday morning.
The Giants clinched the deal with the inclusion of Wheeler, a top pitching prospect who was San Francisco's first-round pick in the 2009 draft. Beltran's bat will be a huge addition to a San Francisco team already in first place in the NL West.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:03 am
You bet the rumors swirling around his Tampa Bay batting helmet have gotten B.J. Upton's attention.
"Thanks for all the support on twitter - I appreciate it," he tweeted from his @BJUPTON2 account Tuesday -- presumably as Atlanta, or Cincinnati, or San Francisco phoned Rays general manager Andrew Friedman yet again.
"Now I know how my brother felt this offseason," came another tweet from Upton. "Anyone hear any good trade rumors this week? Still here!"
Matter of fact, the buzz grew louder Tuesday surrounding Upton. Several industry sources believe that the Rays, at 9 1/2 games out in the AL East, will dump Upton by Sunday's non-waiver trading deadline the same way they dumped Matt Garza and bade farewell to free agents Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Grant Balfour last winter.
Money -- the lack of it, thanks in no small part to horrible attendance in Tropicana Field -- remains a significant problem for the Rays. And it's not getting any better.
Several clubs are looking for the kind of spark that Upton (.229, 15 homers, 53 RBIs, 23 steals, terrific defense) can provide. He would fit perfectly in San Francisco, especially if the Giants fall short in their quest to obtain the Mets' Carlos Beltran. The Giants, according to sources, have interest. So, too, do the Nationals, Reds, Pirates, Braves, Cardinals and, possibly, the Phillies writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
And B.J. is right -- brother Justin, Arizona's right-fielder -- went through a similar stretch last winter.
"I've talked to him, and we laugh about it," Justin told me Tuesday afternoon. "When it comes down to it, like last winter with me, it's out of your control. You just have to do your thing, see what happens and let it be."
Difference is, Arizona is committed to Justin Upton, 23. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers made that clear last winter when he traded third baseman Mark Reynolds to Baltimore.
The Rays? Not so much with B.J., 26 -- much to Upton's chagrin.
"Obviously, he's played his whole career there and he lives there," says Justin, who said the brothers probably talk four or five times a week. "He wants to stay. It's always tough in a situation like that."
Ubaldo Jimenez to Yankees?
The Yankees appear to be in the best shape to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez if the Rockies decide to deal him, as colleague Danny Knobler writes. Here are takes from two scouts who have watched Jimenez pitch in recent days:
Scout one: "Quite frankly, he's not the same guy as he was last year. Before, when he needed to go get it, he'd hit 100 m.p.h. When I saw him in Denver, he'd reach back to muscle up and it was 95. [Atlanta's] Scott Proctor threw harder. If Ubaldo at sea level is 91, 92, 93, he's not the same guy."
Scout two: "I can't imagine Jimenez going anywhere. If he's on a real frickin' contender, he's a No. 3 right now. Something's missing."
Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:
--Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he thinks Friday and Saturday will be the key days when the trade market loosens up and the action begins. "There are a lot of clubs out there with scouts looking at minor league clubs right now," Towers says.
-- While you might think they're looking to replace injured shortstop Stephen Drew, Towers says he is looking for pitching, pitching and pitching. Starting and/or relief.
-- The Giants, Rangers and Phillies have scouts in Cincinnati this week watching Mets' outfielder Carlos Beltran as New York GM Sandy Alderson enters the crucial final days before making one of the more significant decisions in recent Mets history. "Beltran looks real good right now," another scout who has been watching in Cincinnati this week says. "He's looking healthy."
-- One club that has spoken with Washington say closer Drew Storen can be obtained in the right deal.
-- Rival clubs say the Angels are diving into the trade market after owner Arte Moreno, hesitant at first, now has approved additional payroll for midseason help. While the Angels are looking for a third baseman, they would send shortstop Erick Aybar to the Mets for Jose Reyes straight up and take the rest of Reyes' $9 million 2011 salary if New York would bite (the Mets won't, they're keeping Reyes). "I'd do that if I'm the Mets," one NL executive says. "They're not going to be able to re-sign him. How can you give Reyes 10 years at $20 million [each] when he's hurt all the time?
-- Minnesota doggedly has insisted it can win a weak AL Central for the past month, and Tuesday night's comeback win in Texas was a big one. If the Twins do decide to become sellers, don't be surprised if they make outfielder Delmon Young available.
-- Well, in a weak market for starting pitchers, look who's coming off of the disabled list to start Friday for Seattle: Erik Bedard. He'll start against Tampa Bay unless something happens between now and Friday, and you can bet the scouts will swarm Safeco Field. Bedard has not thrown more than 100 innings in a season since 2007. He's at 90 now, so look out.
-- Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey continues to draw interest and Minnesota is expected to deal him.
-- The Marlins are looking to add, not subtract, and do not intend to deal closer Leo Nunez unless blown away with an offer. Florida is moving into a new stadium next season and has not gained near the momentum they had hoped this summer.
-- About that odd timing of Milwaukee acquiring closer Francisco Rodriguez and announcing it just after the All-Star Game ended? Rodriguez's former agent Paul Kinzer had failed to submit proper paperwork for K-Rod's 10-team no-trade list -- Milwaukee was on it -- and with K-Rod having hired Scott Boras recently, Mets GM Sandy Alderson was afraid Boras would correct the oversight. That's why, once the Mets and Brewers agreed to the deal, Alderson wanted it finalized as soon as possible, afraid that if they waited even one more day, Boras would get the list in and K-Rod would have power to scotch the deal.
-- Wonder what's taking so long for the trades to happen this week? Wonder why you read some rumors that turn out to be badly off the trail? Some insight from legendary executive Pat Gillick's Hall of Fame speech on Sunday: "As a young scout I, remember hiding up in trees with binoculars so no other scout would know I was interested in a prospect. I remember the assumed names or clever tactics we all used to get an edge and throw others off the scent."
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, B.J. Upton, Carlos Beltran, Drew Storen, Erik Bedard, Florida Marlins, Francisco Rodriguez, Justin Upton, Kevin Slowey, Kevin Towers, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Pat Gillick, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals
Posted on: June 6, 2011 9:31 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 9:46 pm
KANSAS CITY -- If Bubba Starling, the Royals' first-round pick in Monday's draft, follows the same path as Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon (this year's model), Billy Butler, Luke Hochevar, Aaron Crow and even Mike Moustakas, an already rich farm system will become even more fertile.
Mixed in among the 25 consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance was one significant recent false start, in 2003. The Royals that year had their only winning season in the past 16, and Tony Pena was named American League manager of the year. Beltran, at 26, was the center fielder.
By the middle of '04, Beltran had been traded to Houston and by the middle of '05, Pena had been fired.
The general manager is different now -- Dayton Moore instead of Allard Baird -- but the owner is still the same in David Glass.
"Everybody wants to sign good, young players long-term," Moore told me during a conversation shortly after the Royals made Starling their top pick. "We're no different in Kansas City. We've demonstrated that over the last three years by signing Zack Greinke, although we traded him, Billy Butler and Joakim Soria to long-term deals. Those have been our three most productive players over the last four years."
And in the Royals' defense, though they're short on pitching, their price for Greinke was high, including current shortstop Alcides Escobar.
"That's why you've got to have a great farm system," Moore said. "If you have a lot of good players, it's going to be hard to sign all of them long-term in the economy of today's game.
"John Schuerholz in Atlanta [the former GM and current president] signed Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones long-term, but he couldn't keep Rafael Furcal. He signed John Smoltz long-term but couldn't keep Tom Glavine, even though he tried.
"Our goal, by 2012, 2013, is to have the majority of our 25-man roster reflect home-grown talent. Hopefully, we can do it. We're on pace to do it. Then there's a pride factor -- they know the rookie ball hitting coach and manager, the know the coaches and managers all the way up."
Then, Moore says, if players decline long-term deals or leave via free agency, "they're not just saying no to the Kansas City Royals. They're saying no to every coach, instructor, scout and front-office person. That's a major split."
"That's what we're trying to do," Moore said. "I believe in the plan. We have to execute the plan."
For more on the MLB Draft: http://eye-on-baseball.blogs.cbsspo
Posted on: May 18, 2009 9:39 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2009 10:12 pm
LOS ANGELES -- The New York Mets say they're not going to panic while Carlos Delgado is gone for what could be two months or more. They say they're going to use a combination of Fernando Tatis and Jeremy Reed at first base with maybe a little Daniel Murphy thrown in.
And that's all well and good.
Until the Mets, leading the NL East by half-a-game over Philadelphia heading into Monday night's games, hit one of those infamous valleys they've had a habit of slipping into over the past few summers. Then all bets are off.
"The team is playing well," says Tony Bernazard, the Mets' vice-president for player development. "As long as we continue to play well, I don't see any need to make changes."
Question is, are these Mets (21-16) capable of continuing to win at a .568 clip without Delgado?
That's a question that will come with a multi-layered answer over the next several days and weeks:
• Gary Sheffield, 40, will see more playing time in the immediate future, and for the Mets' sake, that cannot come with diminishing returns. He was hitting .254 with a .390 on-base percentage, two homers and seven RBI in 31 games heading into Monday night's. For a guy who looked nearly finished in Detroit, he's shown some life at the plate. But what's the shelf-life of that if he plays every day?
"These are the things we have to find out, and we don't know until we go through a stretch of games in a row without off days," Mets manager Jerry Manuel says.
Short-term, expect Sheffield to serve as designated hitter some this weekend in Boston when interleague play begins.
• Manuel's managing acumen will be tested. Because he's going to have to find the right combination of pushing Sheffield with more playing time than anybody originally planned, but by pulling back if Sheffield tires, his swing slows or his body begins to ache.
"I'm going to have to manage him," Manuel acknowledges.
The Mets like Sheffield in the middle of their lineup because, even though they acknowledge he's not the hitter he once was, he's a presence. That helps make up for the presence they've lost in Delgado (.298, four homers, 23 RBI).
• Now is a good time for third baseman David Wright, 26, to step up and lead. Wright's place in the Mets' clubhouse hierarchy has been debated before in his development. It's reached the point where it should be his team, but when longer-tenured and older veterans like Delgado are around, that's easier said than done.
Now, with a clear void, does Wright step into it?
"That's a good question," Manuel says. "I think you want a guy in the infield taking charge. It's difficult to do that from center field. To be a third baseman and out there every day performing, it's definitely a good opportunity. And I think I've seen some of that (already)."
• Wright, Carlos Beltran and shortstop Jose Reyes have to be careful not to try and make up for the loss of Delgado by themselves, but they need to produce.
"Of the two Carloses, Reyes and Wright, we've always wanted two of the four of them hot," Manuel says. "Now we want two of the three hot. As long as it's still two. ..."
• As for the first base combo, the right-handed Tatis and the lefty Reed should get most of the playing time at the bag. Tatis, 34, has been impressive so far: .308 and a .365 OBP in 23 games (65 at-bats). Reed, 27, is hitting .357 with a .400 OBP in 32 games (28 at-bats).
Murphy's time at first likely will depend on how much time Sheffield spends in the outfield and how Tatis and Reed are doing at first. While none of the three is a natural first baseman, that doesn't bother Manuel.
"We made a real good run last year with people not at their natural positions," he says. "We had two third basemen in the outfield (Tatis and Murphy) and they responded well."
For now, the Mets will find out what they're made of.
They hope the answer is more positive than when they faced that same question in each of the past two seasons.
Posted on: February 19, 2008 5:34 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2008 5:35 pm
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Don't believe it? At our current pace, by the end of the spring, one guy from each of baseball's 30 clubs will be on record as guaranteeing a World Series victory in 2008.
The always-fun Kevin Millar was the latest to join the growing parade of big leaguers chirping "We're the team to beat!" on
Tuesday as the Orioles held their first full-squad workout.
their clubs the team to beat in '08.
Of course, it's like the old Sesame Street bit "One of these things doesn't belong with the others."
The Red Sox, Mets and, yep, even the Cubs have a reasonable chance of winning this year.
The O's? Uh, no.
That didn't stop the Millar Stand-Up act Tuesday morning though as he worked overtime at deflecting the steroids questions
"I'm guaranteeing a 2008 World Series," Millar crowed, grin plastered firmly in place. "Everybody else is.
"I'm going on the record right now. We're going to shock the world."
Then he took off after Dempster,
"I don't know who Dempster is in Chicago, but if he thinks he's going to win the World Series, he has to come through us
first," Millar continued. "I'm going deep off Ryan Dempster."
Actually, Millar does know who this Dempster cat is. The two were teammates with the Marlins in Florida several years ago.
Ah, details. They only get in the way, right?
Yep, Millar was revved up good. Lockering close to Brian Roberts, he provided the background noise as Roberts was being quizzed
by reporters about the possibility of being traded to the Chicago Cubs.
"Guaranteed World Series," Millar said of Roberts. "Cubs or Orioles, either way."
Likes: Kevin Millar's best days may be behind him, but he's one of those guys who add character to baseball. Football is simply too serious to mine for humor -- at least, that's the way most football coaches and players seem to see it. ... Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie telling me, regarding his outstanding rookie season last year (7-5, 3.70 ERA in 32 appearances, 26 starts), "I was pleasantly surprised, for sure." Honest to a fault. "I came into the rotation doing what I did, competing against the best hitters in the world in the best division in baseball, I was really pleasantly surprised. Now I have to build off of it because one year is only one year." ... Netflix. ... The Rock Me Gently Jeep commercial featuring the old Andy Kim hit. What an acting job by the animals -- or the computerized animals. ... Morning coffee strong enough you can chew -- especially when you're in the car and off to the next camp at 6:30, 7 in the morning.
Dislikes: Subway commercials congratulating Jared for keeping all those pounds off for 10 years. With whatever money they're paying him, he should keep himself from blimping out again. Wait, could that be the start of a Blimpie campaign?
Sunblock day? Cloudy, cool and sometimes rainy today in Fort Lauderdale. Why, I probably should have even worn long pants to camp today. Horrors. ...
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"Pale invaders and tan crusaders
-- Jimmy Buffett, Floridays