Why I have hope Beltre will return to the team
We’ve talked about this a little before, but here, from an article on Mike Lowell:
Adrian Beltre, after a disappointing five-year run in Seattle, could come at a reasonable price for a team willing to chance that Beltre may yet have the thunder in his bat that he displayed with the Dodgers, for whom he hit 48 home runs in 2004.
Were you disappointed in Beltre’s five year run here? I was not. He earned his money and then some. Anyone who thinks he was paid to repeat 2004, or that his value is dependent entirely on his ability to hit, is not giving the subject enough serious contemplation. Or is ignorant. Or doesn’t care whether what they write is true.
What’s even funnier about this particular piece is that after a paragraph discussing Lowell’s UZR and whether he was affected by injury and might get better, there’s this gem:
Among free-agent third basemen, Beltre ranked first in the Fangraphs UZR/150. Figgins was fourth, Feliz 11th, and Mora 12th.
Defense is a reason that Lowell might get traded. And as long as the leaderboard is open, we can talk about other players. But defense isn’t something they’re evaluated on, and certainly doesn’t inform the larger discussion about other options. If the Red Sox swapped Lowell for Beltre, I suppose the Red Sox would lose some offense and there’d be some salary differences to work out. Team defense, hey, who knows?
This is exactly why I hold out hope that the M’s will make a better offer to Beltre than anyone else. That writer’s views represent a vast pool of belief for inattentive baseball writers, fans, and even front-office types. Beltre will not get the kind of contract offers he’d get if he was an average fielder and his value came from his offense, and probably would get better offers still if this five-year run hadn’t come on the heels of his 2004 season, setting it up as a “disappointment” contract.
The M’s though have two advantages in evaluating how much they should offer: they’ve seen Beltre every game for five years, and have seen what he contributes on both sides of the inning, as well as having a realistic view into his shortcomings on offense. And they’re smart, and should be able to value that correctly.