Adrian Beltre, Retrospective

Dave · June 29, 2009 at 9:49 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Now that Adrian Beltre is scheduled for surgery tomorrow and is looking at a 6-8 week recovery time, there’s a legitimate chance that his season, and maybe his Mariner career, is over. A two month recovery estimate would theoretically get him back for the month of September, but there are all kinds of potential issues that could arise – the surgery could be more complicated than expected or the rehab could hit a snag, and if his returns gets pushed back even a week or two, the minor league season will be over before he has a chance to go out on a rehab assignment.

Let’s hope Adrian comes back for the final month of the season, but I wouldn’t advise counting on it. Given that he’s a free agent this winter, that his offensive skillset is a bad fit for Safeco Field, that his agent will almost certainly try to guide him to a spot that would be more conducive to putting up offensive numbers to re-establish his value, and that the M’s were pretty impressed with Matt Tuiasosopo in spring training, there are a lot of reasons to think that Beltre and the Mariners might decide to part ways after the season.

So, if this is it, and we’ve seen the last of Adrian Beltre as a Mariner, we need to make one thing perfectly clear – his signing was a complete success and he’s been worth every dime the Mariners paid him. He’s in the conversation for best free agent signing in franchise history. He’s been a terrific asset to the team and a shining light through some really rough seasons.

You’re not going to get that perspective from the mainstream media, however. The first thing that is always brought up when people talk about Beltre is the big contract signed and his 2004 numbers, and how he’s never been able to replicate that performance. Of course, lost in that ignorance is that no one expected Beltre to repeat that performance. His 2004 season was worth 10.0 wins – the only other guys to post a +10 win season since 2002 are named Bonds and Pujols. If people were expecting Beltre to perform at his 2004 levels going forward, he’d have signed for about $200 million more than he actually received.

The fact that Beltre’s 2005-2009 performance never got near his 2004 performance wasn’t a disappointment – that was totally expected. What the M’s were paying Beltre for were an average to above average bat combined with a great glove, and that is exactly what they got. Over at FanGraphs, we have a system for translating on field performance into deserved salary. Here’s Beltre’s Actual Value and Contract Value for each year as a Mariner.

2005: $8.6 million in value, $11.4 million in salary
2006: $17.2 million in value, $12.9 million in salary
2007: $12.4 million in value, $12.9 million in salary
2008: $18.5 million in value, $13.4 million in salary
2009: $5.7 million in value, $13.4 million in salary

Total: $62.4 million in value, $64 million in salary

After a tough adjustment year, Beltre’s been worth his salary and then some for each of the last three years. He was going to easily justify his paycheck again this year until this trip to the disabled list. Even with missing half a season due to an unpredictable injury, his total value is basically dead even with what the Mariners decided he was worth originally.

Beltre has been a rock for the Mariners since he got here. He’s been a consistent +3 to +4 win player, and the kind of guy that every championship club would love to have. If Adrian Beltre’s career with the Mariners is over, it should be remembered as a good one. We hope you come back, Adrian, but if you don’t, thanks for everything. You were awesome.


61 Responses to “Adrian Beltre, Retrospective”

  1. GarForever on June 29th, 2009 3:11 pm

    This may be a dead horse by now, but how is it Beltre’s fault (or reflective of his contract) that the team would “need more”? It’s hardly incumbent on him to make up for a poorly constructed team around him, unless he were underperforming his dollar value or the reasonable expectations that most sensible baseball people had when the M’s signed him, which, clearly, he has not.

    As for extensions: I am all for it, but Boras’ history as I can reconstruct it suggests it won’t happen in-season, and Beltre will hit the market. Even given the surgery, there will be plenty of teams, I’m sure, willing to take a “flyer” on an established 3B who produces at the plate better than most 3B and who is a superior glove, particularly teams that play in parks where a right-handed power swing will play well. The Cardinals are not making payroll commitments now, so they’ll have flexibility and I doubt Glaus will be back. If Beltre and Boras look for a bargain 1-2 year deal to rehab his value, don’t be surprised to see Beltre in a Cardinals uni next year; their in-house options at 3B don’t appear much better than ours.

    Compensation: It appears Beltre was just short of being Type A status on the latest calculation, so I think with the injury that’s the best we can expect.

  2. GarForever on June 29th, 2009 3:12 pm

    Type B is the best we could expect. Sorry.

  3. TomTuttle on June 29th, 2009 3:17 pm

    I’m confused as to why so many people are only calling for a 1 year extension. Are they saying that because they don’t think he’ll sign another long term deal here for whatever reason, or is there something I’m missing? Three years @ ~15 mil a year would be nice. With all the money coming off the books I feel like Beltre and Felix should be priorities.

    Felix should be the #1 priority BY FAR because he actually WANTS to stay here and isn’t one of those players who has sold his soul to Scott Boras (and yes, I say this knowing Dustin Ackley has Boras as his “adviser”).

    Beltre will be with the Dodgers or Angels next year at a reduced price, count on it.

    He never sold his house in L.A. after all.

  4. 6-4-3 on June 29th, 2009 3:17 pm

    Dave said:

    You don’t acquire “hitters” or “fielders”. You acquire baseball players who do both. Beltre is a really good baseball player.

    Well, maybe you shouldn’t, but in reality I think lots of times teams do. How many times have you heard a team needs a lefthanded infielder with some pop, or some such? There are always expectations for an incoming player, and most often these expectations are built around their offensive skills. I’m not saying that’s the way it should be, just reality…

  5. Gump on June 29th, 2009 3:18 pm

    Hopefully with the economy how it hit the offseason this last one can help the m’s re-sign him. Thats a big hope tho considering his agent

  6. JMHawkins on June 29th, 2009 3:37 pm

    You don’t acquire “hitters” or “fielders”. You acquire baseball players who do both. Beltre is a really good baseball player.

    Well, maybe you shouldn’t, but in reality I think lots of times teams do. How many times have you heard a team needs a lefthanded infielder with some pop, or some such? There are always expectations for an incoming player, and most often these expectations are built around their offensive skills. I’m not saying that’s the way it should be, just reality…

    Well, sometimes there is a difference between what teams think they are doing and what they actually are doing. A team might think it is acquiring “a left handed bat with some pop”, but what they are actually acquiring is exactly what Dave said – a baseball player. He’s a guy that either plays defense to some level of ability, or is a DH who forces some other hitter with a marginal glove out of the lineup or onto the field.

    That’s the “stupidity” Dave is talking about. Every position player a team acquires has both offensive and defensive abilities, and both matter in the final box score.

    It doesn’t matter what the GM is thinking when he makes the move, both sides go into the lineup. Aside from the DH, you don’t get to put Raul Ibanez’ bat in the lineup and Endy Chavez’ glove in LF. If you want to do that, you have to get Ben Zobrist or Jacoby Ellsbury.

  7. msb on June 29th, 2009 3:37 pm

    I would suggest Beltre was brought here under those very conditions — as a hitter. And that’s why he’s not viewed so glowingly by everyone else.

    I wish I could find where I quoted it back in ’04, but Bavasi made a point of saying at the time that if they got Beltre’s numbers excluding 2003, they would be happy.

  8. Breadbaker on June 29th, 2009 3:40 pm

    With AB *and* Endy Chavez out, we’re going to see a lot more doubles down the LF line and the team ERA is going to go way up.

    Langerhans will do just fine in LF. Can’t speak for 3B, obviously we have nothing in the system as good in the field as AB and neither does anyone else.

  9. msb on June 29th, 2009 3:43 pm

    um, that would be his 2004 numbers. Obviously.

  10. Puffy on June 29th, 2009 8:46 pm

    I see the real tragedy here is that Beltre represented one of the Ms best trading chips for a deadline deal, if they end up sellers by the end of July. He certainly would have caught the eye of some contenders – look at Lowell’s health issues in Boston, Arod in NY, Glaus in St. Louis, etc.

    This injury may have cost the Ms a decent prospect or 2.

  11. downwarddog on June 30th, 2009 2:18 pm

    So true, after leading the majors in homeruns at pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium only idiots expected Beltre to be an offensive force. According to the orthodoxy of this site, everyone knew those numbers were unattainable and that Beltre was really just a slightly above average hitter.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the way Beltre’s signing was greeted: ESPN announced the trade saying the M’s just got “another slugger.” The Seattle Times ran a story saying the M’s had just signed “the next Sammy Sosa.” “Respected scout” Don Wilke was quoted in the Times as saying his offensive numbers were not a one time aberration. “He just matured,” Wilke said. “Adrian was always a premier prospect, and last year he just put it all together.” In the PI, where they drooled over the slugging combo power of Beltre and Sexson, a Mariners executive is quoted as saying “The question is, did he play for a contract, or did he turn the corner? All the information indicates that he turned the corner.” Even the USS Mariner gushed that the M’s picked up a “franchise player who is entering his prime.” If his meager offensive output form 2005-2009 was “totally expected,” no one was saying it at the time, not even the soothsayers here, unless your definition of a “franchise player” is someone who is so great the team’s fans are too stupid and casual to appreciate and your definition of “entering his prime’ is “you’re an idiot if you expect him to do what he did last year.” Please tell us more about this fantasy world where “franchise” third basemen who sign big free agent deals off homerun titles are only expected to hit “average to above average.” It should be fascinating.

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