Adrian Beltre

Dave · November 4, 2004 at 7:08 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Continuing with the short profiles on upcoming free agents, this one will be shorter than most others. Thanks to some in depth conversations we had on Beltre earlier this year, I thought I already wrote him up, but realized that I have not. We have two pretty good threads on him here and here, if you’re looking for more talk about Beltre. On to the mini-mini-article.

How much has Adrian Beltre improved his stock in the past year? Consider this quote from an August 4th, 2003 article by Peter Gammons: Will Adrian Beltre even get a big league, $500,000 contract next spring?

At that point, Beltre was in the middle of a .240/.290/.424 season and posting his third consecutive disappointing season. At the age of 24, he didn’t appear to be getting any better. Heading into this season, PECOTA projected him to hit .257/.311/.442, a modest increase but still an average player. Instead, he hit .334/.388/.629 and was one of the best players in baseball. The improvement was of historic proportions; it was just a huge leap over his last three years, which causes many to feel that it was an outlier and he’ll return to mediocrity after signing an enormous contract this fall.

I don’t happen to be in that category. You’ll hear quite often that 2004 was Beltre’s “first good year”, but that’s not really true. In 1999, at the age of 20, Beltre hit .275/.352/.428, drew 61 walks, and tossed in 18 stolen bases for good measure. The next year, still just 21, he hit .290/.360/.475, and all the markers pointed towards superstardom. He dominated the minor leagues, coming up through the system as a teenager and being annointed as the top prospect in baseball. He was already a terrific performer by age 21, and the performance matched the hype. There was little reason to think Beltre wouldn’t become one of the premier talents in major league baseball.

Then, in 2001, he had an emergency apendectomy in the Dominican Republic which went very wrong. He lost huge amounts of weight and strength and had to have several corrective medical procedures aimed at getting him healthy. It didn’t work, and he proceeded to struggle through the season. 2002 and 2003 brought the same mediocrity, but 2004 saw the return of Beltre’s talents. He has a history of being a terrific talent, and 2004 was not the first time he had flashed the potential to be a superstar.

So how good was Beltre last year? Once you factor in his terrific defense at third base, he was probably the second best player in the game. VORP ranks him 5th offensively, but Helton, Pujols, and Guerrero offer significantly less with the glove. But read those namees again; rather than splitting hairs, just look at the company he’s in. Bonds. Pujols. Guerrero. Adrian Beltre is pretty freaking good. At his prime level, he’s not a second tier star; he’s an MVP candidate.

How good should we expect Beltre to be in the future? That’s a bit trickier. It’s hard to believe that his .334 average was for real, after posting BA’s in the .260 range for most of his career. While his increased power certainly helped, he also saw a dramatic increase in the amount of singles as a percentage of non-HR balls in play (22 % in 2004, 15 % career). Singles are notoriously inconsistent, so for the sake of argument, let’s assume he reverts back to his career norm. That would cost him 32 singles, and his BA would plummet from .334 to .281, which would still be good enough to make an all-star player. However, I don’t believe we can realistcally assume that all the improvement was noise; he was geniunely hitting the crap out of the ball last year, and hard hit balls are obviously more likely to get through than dribblers up the line. At worst, I think we can take away about 15 or 20 singles, which would still leave him as a .300 hitter.

So, we have a player who has shown the ability to be an upper level talent and will likely continue to be, is a free agent at the age of 25, and plays a position of great need for the Mariners. He’s tremendous offensively and defensively. A 7 year contract doesn’t commit you into his decline phase. And because of his mediocre seasons from 2001-2003, he’s going to come at a bit of a discount, compared to the other upper echelon free agents.

He’s just about the perfect free agent for this team. Sign him. Sign him now.

Comments

64 Responses to “Adrian Beltre”

  1. U.S.S. Mariner » Free Agent Writeups on November 16th, 2004 4:23 pm
    [...] Matt Clement Carl Pavano Brad Radke Richie Sexson Troy Glaus Corey Koskie Carlos Delgado Adrian Beltre Hopefully, I’ll knock out Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew, Nomar Garciaparra, Kris Benson, [...]

  2. Matt on November 4th, 2004 7:25 am

    “but Helton, Pujols, and Guerrero offer significantly less with the glove”

    Uhhhhh . . . Helton is a three time Gold Glove winner. Including 2004.

  3. Dave on November 4th, 2004 7:28 am

    At first base.

  4. Matt on November 4th, 2004 7:53 am

    Yes, of course, but your point was that Beltre was a better mix of offensive and defensive skills. I was pointing out that Helton has a pretty good track record in the field, and it seemed that you weren’t aware of his defensive prowess.

    Regardless – I agree with everything you said about Beltre. He may not put up 2004 numbers every year, but I like his skill set and what he would bring to the Mariners. Go get him boys!!

    Keep up the good work, Dave.

  5. tyler on November 4th, 2004 8:34 am

    gold gloves are meaningless. palmeiro forever cemented the award in popularity and not defensive ability. it is the “offensive non-horrible-player-at-position player of the year award” i.e. anybody BUT Manny Ramirez can win it, and even he merits consideration due to his offensive exploits.

    it is a sham, and shouldn’t even be discussed with defensive excellence again until they change the parameters of the award.

  6. Troy on November 4th, 2004 8:50 am

    Thank you Dave. I’ve been on the Beltre bandwagon for months now, and I couldn’t have said it better. Sign him! Sign him NOW!

  7. paul mocker on November 4th, 2004 9:13 am

    Beltre or Beltran? Pick one.

    I say Beltran because of the speed, which is a better predictor going forward. And that high BA last year from Beltre appears to be an outlier; he would still be a very good player hitting .280.

    Where can I find BABIP? Would BABIP help determine if Beltre’s 2004 BA is an outlier?

  8. Dave on November 4th, 2004 9:18 am

    I calculated Beltre’s BABIP myself; it’s not available online for hitters, as far as I know. However, don’t make the common misconception that BABIP for hitters is as variable as it is for pitchers; thats just wrong. Hitters have shown a consistent ability to control the outcome of hits on balls in play. Beltre certainly saw more of his non-HR balls in play go for hits this year, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something that we can expect to continue.

    I’m gonna write up Beltran later this afternoon. You won’t go wrong with either one, though I’d probably pick Beltre because of the expected lower cost and age.

  9. paul mocker on November 4th, 2004 9:21 am

    Thanks.
    You guys make make the most esoteric and formulaic stats easy to understand.

  10. Jerry on November 4th, 2004 9:25 am

    Dave,

    Good discussion of Beltre. I think that he makes the most sense for one big-time star player the M’s will sign this year. However, he is a huge risk and a really scary proposition. The other elite player that I would hope the M’s consider is Beltran. If you compare those two, I actually think that Beltre was the better player last year. Beltran probably plays a position that is a bit more important, but Beltre’s stats are better across the board (except steals).

    The main difference I see between these two is risk. Both are young enough that age isn’t a major factor, and both are healthy. But with Beltran, you have a guy who has been consistently good with slightly better stats over the past few years. While he did have better power numbers last season, his numbers were not at all out of line with his previous performance. In fact, you could expect him to improve a bit on the AVG and OBP in the ensuing years. Beltran is just a far safer bet.

    The nice thing about Beltre is that the uncertainty about him, plus the fact that there is decent depth at 3B in free agency, means that he will be a lot less expensive. He might be $5 million/year less than Beltran. And if we assume that he won’t have a major dropoff in production, and can average .300, .360 OBP, .950 OPS, 35-40 HRs, then he is worth the amount he will probably get. But there is always that chance to getting the next Richard Hidalgo. Hidalgo is not a horrible player, but he did have that one ‘breakout’ season and never really played to the same level again.

    It is a tough call on Beltre. I really hope that they do make him the #1 target in free agency. But it will be a nail-biter in that first season, watching to see how he handles the league change, new team, and being in a situation where he has long-term financial stability but the weight of huge expectations.

  11. paul mocker on November 4th, 2004 9:37 am

    Dave, I don’t want you to reveal your source(s), but do you think that he/she agrees with Bavasi or disagrees with Bavasi? Are there any contrarian viewpoints that you are aware of in Bavasi’s office?

    A write up of your views of the Front Office would be interesting.

  12. ChrisK on November 4th, 2004 9:38 am

    Beltre is a no-brainer, especially for this franchise. We’ll see if the M’s can get over their ‘space shuttle launch’-level risk-aversion and make a serious bid for the guy. On the one hand, I can already hear the excuses: 1-year wonder; we don’t want another Cirillo (don’t laugh – Finny actually used Cirillo as a cautionary tale to avoid Vlad last winter), etc etc. However, Beltre is a Dodger and Bavasi seems hell-bent on surrounding himself with his buddies (Evans, Cabrera, Squiggy), so that’s a positive in our favor. I just hope they have the cajones to do some actual negotiating and – gasp – bidding against other teams.

  13. Russ Queen on November 4th, 2004 9:51 am

    And Dodger Stadium played as the 25th toughest hitters park in MLB, so it is unlikely Beltre will be freaked by Safeco (the 30th and toughest place). I am wondering if there is any data regarding Chavez Ravine and right-handed hitters versus Safeco and right-handed hitters. Not that I wouldn’t sign Beltre in a heartbeat no matter what these numbers tell us.

  14. Jerry on November 4th, 2004 9:59 am

    I really hope that the M’s can try to sign three upper-tier players in free agency. From Dave’s posts here, it sounds like the front office might go after Beltre and Clement. Those two would be really smart moves. However, given that the M’s have a lot of resources at their disposal, a lot of money coming off the books this year, and a lot more coming off the books next year, it would make sense for them to try to stretch a bit for one more high-level player. If they do stick with Beltre and Clement, I would think that it would be a really good idea to go after JD Drew as well.

    If the M’s actually spend the money they have available, and can move one or maybe two contracts (like Winn and perhaps another), they could structure the contracts to get these three guys. Drew is sorta like Beltre, in that he has not been consistently good. But he put up awesome numbers this year. With him hitting third in front of Beltre, the M’s would score a ton of runs. Plus, he also fills a defensive need and would improve the OF a lot. With Drew, Ichiro, and Reed in the OF, they would have three players with CF-caliber range, and two players with RF-caliber arms. Even if Ichiro didn’t want to move to CF, they could work out an arrangement that would give them vastly improve OF defense.

    If the M’s could sign Beltre and Clement to contracts like Dave suggested before (6 years, 80 million for Beltre and 3 years, 24 million for Clement, with 2005 salaries of 9 and 6 million, respectively), the M’s could offer Drew something like 4 years, 45-48 million, again with a lower 2005 salary. If the value was 8 million for 2005, they would be spending $23 million to really solidity a core of young players for the long term.

    This lineup would be really good:

    Ichrio CF
    Reed LF
    Drew RF
    Beltre 3B
    Ibanez 1B
    Boone 2B
    Bucky DH
    Olivo C
    Lopez SS

    The offense and defense would be vastly improved. Plus, the M’s would have a really good core of young players locked up for a while. The money coming off the books would be more than enough to pay off the raises due to Beltre, Drew, and Clement, plus allow them to address other needs they might have. Mainly, this year would be about getting back to respectablity, and next offseason the goal would be adding some role players and the bullpen. Basically, this year they would get back above .500, and perhaps be one of those ‘interesting’ pseudo-contenders like Texas, Cleveland, and San Diego were this year. Next year, they would be putting the finishing touches on a real run for the playoffs.

    If Lincoln and the owners are really serious about ‘budgeting for a loss’ in order to get better, this is the way to do it.

  15. dude on November 4th, 2004 10:00 am

    Certainly any Mariners fan should be happy with either Beltre or Beltran. But just for comparison sake, even with a couple of sub-par years, Beltre’s career line compares decently with Beltran.

    Beltre – ’04 .334/.388/.629; career – .274/.332/.463
    Beltran – ’04 .267/.367/.548; career – .284/.353/.490

    I guess I don’t see how Beltran is the clear cut #1 free agent this offseason (besides the post-season performance, and the speed factor) given Beltre is 2 years younger and Beltran played half of last year in an offensive park.

  16. Erik Allen on November 4th, 2004 10:01 am

    I said this on the last Beltre thread, and I’ll say it again on this Beltre thread…the projections for Beltre going forward are IMO far too optimistic. I am certainly not claiming that Beltre 2001-2003 is his true talent level, but neither is 2004. Dave is correct in noting that he was considerably singles lucky in 2004, but only correcting for the number of singles is only half the story. You need to regress every type of hit to some extent. Singles are the most variable, but one can be homerun hit lucky, and doubles hit lucky, and any type of hit lucky. And in cases of extreme performance from one year to the next, one has to assume that a significant fraction of that performance is luck.

    My biggest Beltre concern is not the dollar amount (which will probably be higher than he is worth), but rather the length of contract that is being thrown about. I think in the exuberance of the M’s potentially going after some big game, we are ignoring how often a big, long-term deal can come back to haunt a franchise (or be used as an excuse). Ken Griffey? ARod? Helton is still a great player, but his contract is viewed as an albatross for the Rockies.

    My point, if I have one, is that while the no-name approach the M’s take seems very bad right now, nothing is worse for a franchise than a bad long-term contract. Giving that long-term contract for big dollars to a guy who has had only one good year in the last 4 (admittedly, VERY good) is a bit of insanity IMO.

  17. PositivePaul on November 4th, 2004 10:02 am

    Indeed, our most glaring holes are: power at the corners, and defense up the middle. Beltre has shown his potential and displayed a 2001 Boonie-like breakout. Difference is, Beltre actually is still in the beginning of his career, and Boonie was more in the middle. Certainly the potential is huge with Beltre, and I agree that the only real difference between Beltre and Beltran is the risk factor, with Beltran having the edge in the proven track record department.

    Since Bavasi was with the Dodgers before he came here, I’d be inclined to trust his judgement on Beltre. It appears that he’s very hungry to get him, and I thought I’d read somewhere that Bavasi had been trying to trade for Beltre before 2004 began.

    So, it’s logical to believe that Beltre would be our top target, since although we have some interesting guys in the minors (Dobbs/Leone), having a big-time player there would be huge. Again, I’m not a huge proponent of Beltre, but that’s merely because I haven’t seen a whole lot of him. I’ll trust the judgements of Bavasi, and others of you who have paid more attention to him.

    It basically boils down to, then, either Beltre is the next Albert Pujols, or Beltre is the next Jeff Cirillo. That’s a huge risk, with a ton of potential upside. It’s the kind of move that would certainly change people’s perspectives on the M’s, but I’m curious if the common non-USS Mariner-addicted fan would have any clue who Beltre even is. Therefore, the splash that it might cause for the intellectual M’s fan base would be much huger than the olympic-gold-medalist-diver-sized splash it may create for the average fan.

    That’s what I’m concerned about — why the M’s brass might NOT battle for Beltre…

  18. Jerry on November 4th, 2004 10:07 am

    Dude,

    Beltran is a safer pick. The chances of him being a major disappointment are far less, because he has been consistently good 5 of the last 6 seasons (with one injury-marred in 2000). Plus, he is the only real mega-star CF in free agency besides Steve Finley, who is old. With Beltre, and with other free agents like Glaus, Ordonez, Nomar, Sexson, and Drew, there are real questions about durability and the possiblity of a melt-down. Obviously, Beltran is not a lock to perform for the next 7 years (see Ken Griffey Jr.), but he is by far the least risky investment out of all the elite free agents. If a team is going to commit to a 7-year contract, that becomes a really important issue.

    Again, I think that the M’s would be smart to try to sign two of the more risky free agents than just go after Beltran. But this will be a major factor in the amount of money these guys get, and the lengths of their contracts.

  19. Jon Wells on November 4th, 2004 10:21 am

    Re: #15, I’d disagree that Todd Helton’s contract is an “albatross” for the Colorado Rockies. An “albatross” contract is one that a) hampers the the team because it takes up a large percentage of the club’s overall payroll and b) cannot be gotten rid of because the players’ performance has declined significantly since the contract was signed and the player cannot be traded without the team paying a sizable portion of the money remaining.

    If the Rockies put Helton on the trading block this winter (and it’s possible they might) they should have 2 or 3 teams willing to trade them prospects AND take on Helton’s salary. Seattle should be one of those teams. I’d rather have Helton than Carlos Delgado, Richie Sexson or Troy Glaus. Yes, his numbers are Coors-inflated but it’s hard to argue with a guy who’s a .337 career hitter, with a lifetime OBP of .432 OBP. His OPS on the road the last 3 years (.939) pales in comparison to his home OPS over the same period (1.181) but it’s not bad at all.

    That said, given the amount of the contract, if Helton has an off-year for the Rockies in 2005, the contract will quickly become an albatross, as no team will want to trade for that contract once he’s in his decline. If the Rocks are smart they’ll deal him this winter…

  20. PositivePaul on November 4th, 2004 10:26 am

    Which is a greater risk: giving Glaus a 3 year 30 million contract, or giving Beltre a 6 year 65-70 million contract???

    Both are ex-Bavasi players, and both are right-handed 3B-men. Glaus is three years older, and coming off shoulder surgery. Beltre is a Boras client, and younger, but with less proven skills. Both have shown that pitchers’ parks aren’t much of a concern (Glaus has no problems hitting the ball out of Safeco). Beltre probably has more upside than Glaus, yet there’s always the question of whether/not the switch of leagues would affect him. Glaus has been a decent hitter in the AL for awhile.

    I’d probably vote for Glaus being the bigger risk, even though the contract would be shorter. The type of injury he had really will affect his defensive performance at third, and he may very well be relegated permanently to DH…

  21. Jerry on November 4th, 2004 10:26 am

    One thing that Beltre has going for him is his tools. He has always been expected to do this. He has everything you want in terms of raw physical tools and talent. With guys like Aurillia and Cirillo, who are often brought up by M’s fans as an analogy for what might happen with Beltre, you are dealing with vastly different players. Aurillia was in major decline before he ever came to Seattle. With Cirillo, he had Coors-bloated numbers and was going from an extreme hitters park to an extreme pitchers park. Most importantly, Cirillo and Aurillia were both guys who were probably relying a lot more on preparation and knowledge than raw skill. Beltre is far far more athletic than either Aurillia or Cirillo. It seems to me that the athletic guys have less trouble switching leagues. It also seems like they are less prone to one standout season with major decline than less athletic players. Although Beltre would be switching leagues to come to Seattle, I just don’t see him having a major adjustment problem coming from another pitchers park in LA.

    I think that Richard Hidalgo is the best cautionary tale to compare with Beltre. He was also a toolsy player with power who had one breakout year at a young age. Hidalgo is still a good player, but is really inconsistent. With Beltre, he has also been inconsistent, but you don’t really know if it was adjustment problems, health, or just youth. You always have to remember that Beltre’s years of inconsistency were at ages 22-24. Most players aren’t even in the big leagues by that age. Hidalgo was similar, in that he had his breakout year at age 25.

    All in all, I think that Beltre is a good risk. He seems like a guy who always had the skill to play like this. He was rushed to the major leagues by LA, and has had to learn to play at the ML level. Plus, he did have some injury problems. He also showed signs that he was putting it all together at the end of last year, so this might not be a total abberation. I think with Beltre, you have a player who is doing what everyone has known he could do for a long time. Just like JD Drew. But I am sure that people were saying the same thing about Richard Hidalgo in 2000.

  22. Erik Allen on November 4th, 2004 10:32 am

    Re #18:
    John, I agree I should not have called Helton’s contract an albatross, since he is not really unmoveable. Nonetheless, I think my point about proceeding cautiously with a long-term contract stands, because as you say, it only takes a small drop in performance for that contract to look really, really bad.

    Giving a free agent a big, long-term contract is by definition “buying high.” If things go exactly as planned, you get a great player, go the playoffs, and everyone is happy (ala Manny Ramirez this year). If anything goes wrong, you are under an unmoveable contract, which puts the franchise in the hole for years.

  23. Jerry on November 4th, 2004 10:53 am

    Erik,

    I think that you are right about the stakes in taking on some big contracts. However, if a team makes good decisions and has a bit of luck, it can work out well. Look at St. Louis. They have given long-term, relatively big contracts to Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, and Albert Pujols and it worked out perfectly for them. They have three great players locked up for a long time. Granted, these guys were signed to extensions and not on the free agent market. But the point is, locking up a few guys to longer contracts is not necessarily a bad thing. The outgoing front office for the M’s erred too much on the side of conservatism, and it really came back to bite them in the ass this year. Really, not taking a chance on Tejada started a chain reaction leading to several bad moves.

    I totally agree that it is necessary to weigh decisions like these. Beltre is a huge risk because he will probably command a 6 or 7 year contract. However, he is a pretty good risk, and could be a bargain at 12-13 million/year if he can avoid a major drop-off. Even if his numbers decline a bit, if he can stay healthy and his .290, 35-40 HRs, and continue to play great defense, he is worth that much. And at 25, you have a player who will be just at the end of his prime at the end of a 7-year deal.

    Risky business, but it is necessary if the team is going to get back into contention before 2007.

  24. ChrisK on November 4th, 2004 11:00 am

    Re #20 Jerry:

    You are correct about the absurdity of using Cirilia as a cautionary tale for signing Tier 1 free agents. Only the M’s PR machine (ie, Finnigan) uses these signings as an excuse, and I dare them to try it again this winter. When Finny had the gall to play the Cirillo card as a rationale for not pursuing Vladimir Guerrero, just mentioning those two players in the same sentence should have been grounds for his dismissal.

    If we start hearing references to other previous “bad” free agent signings or trades, we know the M’s are getting the spin machine warmed up.

  25. Erik Allen on November 4th, 2004 11:20 am

    Jerry,

    I basically agree with everything you say in post 22, but I would come to a different conclusion than you about the usefullness of long-term contracts. Teams are in general in a rough spot regarding superstars…it is hard to contend without them (although the M’s and A’s have done without to some extent), but you are almost guranteed to pay free agents based on their upper-end projection of their value. It is a bidding war, and the team that convince themselves that the projections are rosy enough to pay the most wins.

    Your Cardinals examples are good, but the analysis is a bit incomplete in my opinion. The Rolen and Pujols deals are still in their first few years. All we can say is, SO FAR, the deals have been fair. Same with the Tejada contract. It would be more informative to think of long-term contracts that have gone all the way to conclusion without either the team or the player becoming unhappy with the terms. This seems to be a relative rarity, although the bad cases are more likely to make an impact in my memory. :)

    I suppose, being a risk-averse “investor”, I would argue that I would only give a long-term contract (6+ years) if the following criteria were all met:
    1) Young-ish player, not over 30.
    2) Complete player – good running, defense, and hitting
    3) A talent rare enough that having him on your team gives you a competitive advantage over other teams for the long-haul.
    4) No significant injury history
    5) A history of consistent greatness.

    Beltre meets a number of these criteria, but is not a lock. Most specifically, he does not meet number 5 at all. Let’s say there is a 10% chance that Beltre never again breaks 0.900 OPS. Would you be willing to stake a large portion of your team’s future on Beltre with that 10% sitting over your head?

  26. Scott G. on November 4th, 2004 11:48 am

    If they cost the same money, I’d go with Beltran every time over Beltre. Unfortunately, with his post-season domination, Beltran will rake in huge dollars and will get the attention of all the big spending teams. I don’t realistically think the M’s will make a serious play for him given those circumstances. In fact, I’ve pretty much given up on a Beltran in Seattle scenario.

    Beltre, on the other hand, will be a good deal cheaper and fill a big hole for us at 3B. I concede that he’s a definite risk but I’m fairly encouraged when looking at his month-to-month splits. If luck is a significant factor, you will see a few fantastic months along with several mediocre months. Beltre started in April with .353 & 7 HR. He then went: .283/5 (May), .354/7(June), .338/10(July), .362/13(Aug), & .350/6(Sep). If that’s luck, it’s an awfully long lucky streak. He had one really great month in August and one mediocre month in May. The rest seemed to be pretty much the same.

    I’d only predict .290/30 in Safeco next year but he certainly has the skills to outperform that.

  27. Evan on November 4th, 2004 11:54 am

    Keep in mind that Seattle is a large payroll team. Regardless of what we pay Beltre, it will never be more than about 15% of the total payroll. This isn’t like Carlos Delgado earning 40% of all the money Toronto spends.

    For a 10% chance of consistently mediocre performance – yeah, I take that risk. By the gods, someone needs to drive in Ichiro. I’d happily take a slick-fielding mashing like Beltre.

  28. msb on November 4th, 2004 12:11 pm

    FWIW, here is what Helton is still owed:
    2005: $12.6M
    2006: $16.6M
    2007: $16.6M
    2008: $16.6M
    2009: $16.6M
    2010: $16.6M
    2011: $19.1M
    2012: Team option $23.0M or $4.6M buyout

  29. PositivePaul on November 4th, 2004 12:27 pm

    That’s a lot of dough, even for Helton. He’s certainly not getting any shorter in the tooth. He’ll be 38 when that contract runs out (currently 31). Yes, he’ll likely be pretty good, but I bet he’ll start dropping off after 2007-8. Of course, though, that contract was signed back before the bottom fell off (2001). http://www.bluemanc.demon.co.uk/baseball/mlb/mlbconhi.htm lists the possibility that the contract can be voided after 2007. By whom???

    Also, that site hasn’t been updated since 6/03. Is there another site that has similar contract info on players?

  30. PositivePaul on November 4th, 2004 12:33 pm

    I mean, other than Dugout Dollars, who gets his info from the same source, but has tried to update it based on various things.

  31. Jon on November 4th, 2004 12:43 pm

    Beltre will resign with the Dodgers.

  32. stan on November 4th, 2004 12:54 pm

    Beltre played on a bad ankle all year. Does anyone know if he has had surgery on his ankle yet?

  33. Tiboreau on November 4th, 2004 1:07 pm

    Here’s a spot online where you can find a hitter’s BABIP.

  34. Jerry on November 4th, 2004 1:14 pm

    Jon,
    Thanks for the prediction. He is my prediction: no he won’t. Really, there is very little ‘rumors’ about the Dodgers trying to resign him. Most of the things I have read concern what the team will do if he leaves (Glaus). Since the Dodgers have exclusive negotiating rights with him right now, you would expect to hear a bit more about what they are doing to retain him, regardless of whether his agent is Boras. This lack of noise could be simply that the LA front office isn’t leaking information. But I am surprised that there isn’t any discussion of what the Dodgers are prepared to offer. They have been mentioned in rumors about Glaus, Delgado, and Nomar more than Beltre. That would be pretty surprising if they were making a real push to resign him.

    The Dodgers have far less money to spend than most people think. Plus, they have several important players going into free agency (Jose Lima, Odalis Perez, Steve Finley). They will have some tough decisions to make this offseason. The M’s are in a good position to outbid them for Beltre. Hopefully they will do so.

  35. Econ guy on November 4th, 2004 1:24 pm

    One free agent that I have not heard anyone mention is Travis Lee. Does anyone know if Lee is expected to be healthy by spring? If we were to have a lineup as suggested in post #22, there are a lot of high risk young players. 1B would also be very poor defensively (Ibanez with Jacobsen giving him rest sometimes). If Lee will be healthy and can be signed at a very low price, I think that he would make a nice safety plan. I would expect him to bat around .270 with decent walks, decent power, and good defense. I think that there are a lot of better options than Lee out there, but getting Lee at a very low price would be a lot better than getting Hillenbrand at $3.5 mill.

    I sure hope the M’s use some money this off-season to sign Beltre (and at least one more top free agent).

  36. Econ guy on November 4th, 2004 1:25 pm

    Sorry, I ment a lineup as suggested in post #13.

  37. Jerry on November 4th, 2004 1:29 pm

    I really hope that the M’s can bring in a lefty and a righty hitter with power. Among lefties, the best out there are Beltran (acually a switch hitter), Drew, and Delgado. Among righties, the ones that make the most sense are Beltre, Sexson, and Glaus.

    Given the amounts these guys will make and the risks involved, I really think that Beltre and Delgado or Drew makes the most sense. But adding two hitters is the way forward. The M’s biggest problems last year was from run production from the #3 and #4 holes in the lineup. If Boone, Bucky, and Ibanez are pushed back in the lineup to 5-7, the lineup becomes a strength. Assuming these guys can remain healthy, you have 5 players that all have the ability to hit 25-30 HRs.

    Obviously, the pitching was a problem last year. But this is an area where I think a rebound is most likley. Pineiro, Meche, and Madritsch all looked good at the end of the season. Pineiro’s health is the biggest issue. Adding a guy like Clement, who will at least add some reliablity to the team, would probably be enough. Hopefully Moyer can return to his first half performance.

    Pitching is an area where I think that it makes the most sense to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. The M’s probably won’t contend next year. I hope that, if they only can add two big free agents, they focus on the lineup. Ideally, they can structure the contracts to get two hitters, a starter, and a few role players.

    The M’s have three guys who are question marks with a lot of upside (Meche, Madritsch, and Pineiro), two pretty reliable guys who can at least eat up innings (Moyer and Franklin), and a few interesting prospects (Nageotte, Blackley, Baek, and perhaps Felix in September). Some of these guys will faulter. However, if four of these pitchers can establish themselves as good long-term options, it would put the team in a good position to contend soon.

    Obviously, the pitching is the biggest wild-card factor in how this team does in 2005. It is essentially the same staff that was good in 2003. Besides Moyer, most of these guys are more likely to improve than get any worse. If a guy like Clement is added, this could actually be a strong point in 2005. You can’t say the same thing about the offense, which cannot really be expected to improve at all without a major overhaul. The M’s could really rebuild the lineup with two key additions and some minor tinkering. If they can do that, and add Clement, the team could actually be really good if the pitching comes around. Probably not playoff-caliber, but at least good enough to break .500 and get some respectibility back. If the pitchers do faulter, it is an area where the M’s are the most able to improve internally by bringing up the youngsters for another audition. I still think that Blackley, Nageotte, or Baek could be solid ML pitchers and deserve another chance.

  38. PositivePaul on November 4th, 2004 1:53 pm

    Yeah, and in 2000, the M’s were going to re-sign A-Rod. That’s why he wasn’t traded at the break.

    With Boras as his agent, I highly doubt Beltre will resign any time soon. He’ll definitely test the market. It’s just nice to know that we have a GM who will actually talk to Boras instead of trying to pretend that he doesn’t even exist…

  39. Nintendo Marios on November 4th, 2004 1:54 pm

    Have you guys got any inside poop on season ticket reservations? Or at least the FO’s perception of season ticket reservations?

    I don’t want to “hate myself in the morning” after thinking seriously about how great it would be to have a Beltre or Beltran unless I have some evidence Howard Lincoln is terrified enough to actually spend money.

  40. Elliott on November 4th, 2004 2:03 pm

    Dave or DMZ, how might Reed and Jacobsen be figuring into offseason and 2005 plans? I’ve read about shuffling Ibanez and Winn to make room for an outfielder, but does that mean they arent expecting Reed to be playing? He looked ready.

  41. PositivePaul on November 4th, 2004 2:04 pm

    The M’s farm system has focused pretty hard on pitching, and neglected developing offensive prospects. Considering our most recent top draft picks, it’s possible this trend is balancing out. However, for the short to mid term, the M’s have a dire need of offensive players moreso than pitchers. Of course, we can’t ignore pitching, but we cannot over-focus on it either.

    I personally feel that the pitching woes of 2004 were really due to shellshock: the pitchers were shellshocked by not getting any run support, and developed this shell shock into feeling that they had to pitch a perfect game every time. Then, mid-season the offense started to improve slightly and they started to get leads early. However, a new catcher was thrown into the mix, who knew neither the pitchers nor did the pitchers know him. Therefore the passed ball plague shell shocked the pitchers even further. Finally, the pitchers were so shell shocked by the shell shock, they just lost the will and the poise to pitch. The only exception was, really, Madtrisch, who hadn’t been exposed to the early shellshock and was trying to win a MLB pitching job. Sherrill, too, showed a lot of promise for the same reason, and was shut down early for good reason (to prevent injury). Both of those guys will fight for a job in spring training, win it, and fight to stay up the whole season.

    Unlike Ben Davis, Miguel Olivo appears to have the will to learn the pitchers, and the humility to realize that he’s got a lot of work to do. I’m fairly confident that he’ll work with the pitchers this spring and get back on track. There’s a lot to that chemistry between battery mates that affects performance (and that doesn’t show up in the stats) so having Olivo there at the get-go for a whole season will help the pitchers return to a more consistent form.

    Except, that is, for Ryan Franklin, who should not be on this team…

  42. PositivePaul on November 4th, 2004 2:05 pm

    Reed looked MUCH more ready to play than Lopez. And Reed only played a month…

  43. Dave on November 4th, 2004 2:28 pm

    Right now Reed is viewed as a backup plan. They aren’t actively moving people to get him in the line-up. If things break and they end up penciling him in, they’re fine with that, but there isn’t a mandate to clear a roster spot for him. Bucky is a little more secure; he’s probably the opening day DH next year.

    Also, keep in mind that Reed was playing way over his head in September. He’s probably not ready to contribute every day to a winning team.

  44. Jon on November 4th, 2004 2:41 pm

    Beltre is the Dodgers’ top priority. It is wishful thinking to conclude the M’s definitely will have more money to spend and will in fact spend more money than the Dodgers. The Dodgers are a high revenue team, too, and they need to stave off the Angels for SoCal support. Beltre will resign. Beltre a Mariner? Well, there have been many other highly productive free agents in the past few years that I wanted the Mariners to sign.

  45. Steve on November 4th, 2004 2:55 pm

    The Dodgers are in a big market, but Frank McCourt’s purchase is very highly leveraged and team finances are very shaky. The Dodgers have significant financial limits.

    I expect the Dodgers to drop out of the bidding for Beltre rather quickly, and shift their focus to Glaus or Koskie. They will use the money they would have spent Beltre to address the other holes in their lineup.

  46. tyler on November 4th, 2004 2:58 pm

    Travis Lee fits several criteria, and i would so much rather enjoy having him than hillenbrand.

    solid defender.
    proven to be a consistently solid though not great offensive player, with line-drive gap power. (and we know he has the potential, if healthy, for more, the guy has tools and tore cover off the ball in college/minors/olympics.)
    should come cheap.
    finally-
    he is local (bragging point– hit the game winning RBI against him in little league championship in Oly– South Bay over Westside!)

    I say easy choice if we can move Ibanez/Winn/Spez. Or if we can’t, he’s a good bench bat/field on the cheap.

  47. big chef terry on November 4th, 2004 3:20 pm

    With the controversy over how much money is actually available pounded to death on previous threads and the fact that they’ve never signed a tier one free agent it seems somewhat over the top to think they’ll sign any of these guys, Beltre, Beltran, Drew, Glaus, etc.

    The statements and disinformation come from the same source, that is the Mariners. They engage in this type of organizational behavior because they’re not going to sign anyone. If they were they’d keep their powder dry. In that case there is not positive outcome to putting the pocket lint stuff out if they wanted to sign someone of the top free agents.

  48. ChrisK on November 4th, 2004 3:28 pm

    Not that Travis Lee is a bad player, but he is exactly the type player the old Gillick regime would have signed – inexpensive, hometown boy with marginal upside. If he was an ex-Mariner to boot then it would almost guarantee his arrival. He should be low on their priority list given their other screaming needs.

  49. PositivePaul on November 4th, 2004 3:32 pm

    It’s not like Reed is Bloomquist, though. Indeed he’s not going to hit close to .400, but he sure showed the most poise of any of the non-pitching yewt’s they brought up. I saw him a lot in Tacoma, and I’d take him over Winn any day of the week. I also still stand by my statement that he looked MUCH more ready for MLB than Lopez.

    We’ve got a glut of outfielders, so I really don’t expect the M’s to pursue Beltran heavily. I think they should, but doubt that they will, merely because of this backlog. Plus, we’ve got some prospects (Reed, Choo, Snelling, Strong) who are itching for a chance to patrol Safeco.

    Bucky is likely, to reiterate what Dave has said, the penciled-in DH for next season. He’s certainly the low-risk, high potential for reward type, and probably would hold the M’s back a bit from going after someone like Glaus. As long as he’s not relied upon too heavily, I’m okay with saving the cash going after someone like Glaus, provided they spend that cash upgrading elsewhere.

    I, too, would prefer Lee over Hillenbrand. I’d also prefer Tino over both of them. He’s probably got some game left, and would thrive nicely at Safeco.

  50. tyler on November 4th, 2004 4:22 pm

    i didn’t say he’d be the first guy i’d sign, but he would be a great “CHEAP” bench addition, and possibly a starter. He’s 28/29 yrs old and i can’t believe has “slight” upside when compared to Hillenbrand for 3.5 mil a year. He would fulfill upside merely by NOT getting an extra 1 mil a year to be average.

    And when did we turn into Hubie Brown? Upside? ;D

  51. paul mocker on November 4th, 2004 4:33 pm

    Jeremy Reed:

    We should be working on his projections rather than Beltre or Beltran since we have him locked up.

    Dave mentioned that he played over his head and an OPS+ of 155 would indicate that. His slugging of .466 was good; however he had only 4 doubles and NO HOME RUNS. I don’t think his power was substantially above projected.

    Who are his comparables? He will be 24 in 2005. BB-ref does not list any? Would someone with BPro membership please list the PECOTA comps, if you don’t mind.

  52. M.O. on November 4th, 2004 6:47 pm

    PECOTA Comps for Jeremy Reed:
    Rank Hitter Year Score Trend
    1 Francona, Terry 1982 56
    2 Gwynn, Tony 1983 52
    3 Turner, Jerry 1977 49
    4 Office, Rowland 1975 49
    5 James, Dion 1985 49
    6 Mattingly, Don 1984 47
    7 Erstad, Darin 1997 47
    8 Alou, Matty 1962 43
    9 Thomasson, Gary 1974 42
    10 Boswell, Ken 1969 41
    11 Tolan, Bobby 1968 40
    12 Bosley, Thad 1979 40
    13 Blair, Paul 1967 38
    14 Upshaw, Willie 1980 36
    15 McAuliffe, Dick 1962 36
    16 Driessen, Dan 1974 36
    17 Johnstone, Jay 1968 35
    18 Jones, Dalton 1966 35
    19 Buckner, Bill 1972 35
    20 Russell, Bill 1971 34

    Pretty nice company…

  53. Dave on November 4th, 2004 6:58 pm

    Those comps are from last season. They’ll get worse after he had a pretty mediocre season in Triple-A.

  54. M Kubecka on November 4th, 2004 8:05 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with #45! When have the M’s ever opened up their wallets? Only on the order of Yamauchi – to give Ichiro big bucks, and to Sasaki ($8M ?). It would be great if they break tradition, but I’ll be surprised to see it happen. They will probably go with mid-range players at mid-range prices.

  55. joebob on November 4th, 2004 8:33 pm

    So someone tell me I’m wrong here:

    C – Olivo .3
    DH – Jacobsen .3
    1b – Ibanez 3.75
    2b – Boone 9
    3b – Beltre 9
    lf – Reed .3
    cf – Beltran 9
    rf – Ichiro 10.5
    b – Speizio 3.1
    b – Wilson 1
    b – FAMI .75 (Free Agent Middle Infielder)
    b – FAUT .75 (Free Agent Utility)
    b – Strong .3
    sp – Moyer 7.5
    sp – Clement 6
    sp – Piniero 4.3
    sp – Meche 3
    sp – Madritsch .3
    cl – guardado 4.5
    rs – hasegawa 3
    ls – sherrill .3
    mr – putz .3
    mr – mateo .3
    lr – franklin 2.4

    Not on team: cirillo 4.78, jarvis .5, gonzalez 2.25

    Benefits: 7.4

    Total 96 million (figures above are rounded and probably won’t add up exactly to 96 mil)

    The point is why the hell don’t we go hard after Beltre, Beltran and Clement, it’s well within our budget withou even having to raise it up near or over 100 million. At the very least we should be able to sign beltre, clement and an of/1b like delgado, ordonez, drew, sexson, etc. I really think the team above has a good shot at a playoff spot, why wouldn’t we try to put it together?

  56. joebob on November 4th, 2004 8:36 pm

    and for those who are going to say the obvious, beltre and beltran will cost more than 9 or 10 million a year, here are the contracts I would offer them:

    Beltre 9m 13m 14m 14m 14m 15m 16m: 7year 95 million
    Beltran 10m 14m 15m 16m 16m 17m 17m: 7 year 105 million
    Clement 6m 8m 10m 2m: 3 year 24 million option for 12 million in 4th year

  57. joebob on November 4th, 2004 8:51 pm

    Oh and I assume we trade Winn for bupkis

  58. Rebecca Allen on November 5th, 2004 12:14 am

    I’ve said it before and will say it again, you’re dreaming. The M’s are not going to go after high-priced, long-term-contract free agents (except for show, a la Tejada). Period. The organizational structure, with a lot of owners having to agree, just doesn’t allow for risk-taking. The only way this team will ever be successful again is via the draft and the minor league system.

  59. The Ancient Mariner on November 6th, 2004 12:44 am

    Well, Rebecca, terry, et al.: Time will tell.

  60. Gargoyle on November 6th, 2004 5:47 am

    Which one would you rather have?

    Player One (Very good defender at power position)

    Age 21: .303/.355/.474
    Age 22: .227/.328/.420
    Age 23: .314/.391/.636

    Player Two (Awesome defender)

    Age 22: .299/.360/.466
    Age 23: .296/.353/.486
    Age 24: .355/.409/.541

    Player Three (Very good defender)

    Age 20: .275/.352/.428
    Age 21: .290/.360/.475
    Age 22-24: Worse
    Age 25: .334/.388/.629

    Player 3 (Adrian Beltre) would probably be my last choice. Player 1 and Player 2 are Richard Hidalgo and Darin Erstad. A seven year contract would be ridiculous, in my opinion. Maybe a three year contract to see if his improvement sticks, but I would never do even that. Factoring in the AL’s superiority to the NL and the AL West in particular, along with being in Safeco, I’d be surprised to see Beltre match his raw 2003 numbers. Hell, I’d give Justin Leone a 25% chance of having a better year than Beltre next year.

    Nobody has EVER gone from years like Beltre’s 2001-2003, had a year like his 2004, and had most of that improvement stick. Out of about ten trillion pro baseball players in recorded history, not a single one (unless I’m missing one). If you think Beltre’s improvement will stick, you might as well sign Luis Ugueto to a seven year, $50 million contract because you think he’ll hit .300/.400/.600 for those years and have the contract run out before his decline phase. No baseball player has ever performed like that before with his history, but why not this time?

    (I concede Dave is smarter than me, though, and the Beltre talk is probably the only thing he’s ever said on the Internet that I didn’t think was genius.)

  61. The Ancient Mariner on November 6th, 2004 12:16 pm

    Gargoyle, a) that’s hugely overstated (Ugueto? Please . . .), and b) that underscores the fact that players aren’t merely stat lines. Is there a chance Beltre’s ’04 was a fluke? Certainly; there’s a chance pretty much anything could happen. There’s a chance Barry Bonds could suddenly become a popular and well-liked player. However, thorough investigation would suggest the chance of that is low.

  62. The Ancient Mariner on November 6th, 2004 12:21 pm

    Oops–hit “Enter” when I didn’t mean to. Anyway, as I was saying, yes, there’s a chance this is a fluke season on Beltre’s part; imho, however, when you take a good look at the player and his situation, that doesn’t seem very likely. True, the stat line would be unprecedented in baseball history, but then, so was his medical situation.

  63. Dave on November 6th, 2004 10:13 pm

    Nobody has EVER gone from years like Beltre’s 2001-2003, had a year like his 2004, and had most of that improvement stick.

    This is just wrong. There are so many examples to disprove it, but I don’t have time to pick them all out. Here’s a few.

    Sammy Sosa:

    20: .257/.303/.366
    21: .233/.282/.404
    22: .203/.240/.335
    23: .260/.317/.393
    24: .261/.309/.485
    25: .300/.339/.545

    Gary Sheffield:

    20: .247/.303/.337
    21: .294/.350/.421
    22: .194/.277/.320
    23: .330/.385/.580

    Jose Guillen:

    21: .267/.300/.412
    22: .267/.298/.414
    23: .253/.315/.340
    24: .253/.320/.430
    25: .274/.317/.378
    26: .238/.287/.367
    27: .311/.359/.569

  64. The Ancient Mariner on November 7th, 2004 3:56 pm

    Thanks for that correction, Dave (though I don’t see that either Sheffield or Guillen is really on point).