Adrian Beltre was everything the Sox could hope for last year, but will he be back?
Adrian Beltre is expected to decline the arbitration offered to him by the Red Sox this afternoon, which would ensure the Sox compensation in draft picks should he sign with another team. Today's the last day for players to decide to decline or not - and obviously Beltre will be declining.
Beltre's a Gold Glove defender at the hot corner who also hits for power and was amazing last year for the Red Sox. Since he's a $cott Bora$ client, and is coming off arguably the best year of his career, any team that signs him for 2011 and beyond will have to pony up both years and money. As recently as last week it looked like Beltre would not be coming back to the Red Sox as it was reported that the A's offered him five-year, $64 million deal which he declined, however, it looks like this report was false, so the Beltre Sweepstakes are still in full swing, with the Sox presumably still in it.
Beltre was a great presence in the clubhouse for the Red Sox, as long as you weren't touching his head, and he dealt with the Boston media and us Red Sox fans perfectly. It's always easier to do so when you're raking it, but still, that's not something to be overlooked in a market such as Boston. So as the Red Sox drift in the wake of losing V-Mart to Detroit, a large part of our offense from last year is gone, making the re-signing of Beltre a no-brainer right? Not so fast young Padawan.
As I've already pre-faced, Beltre was awesome for the Sox in 2010, and only being 31 years old, he still has some good years ahead of him I'm sure, but signing contracts heavy in years for ballplayers in their 30's is something that should be approached with caution.
Looking at Beltre's numbers from last year you can see that his stats will back up what he and Bora$ will be seeking, however - from looking at his splits I found it interesting to see that his numbers at Fenway actually brought down his overall average in the four main categories. I wouldn't doubt if Theo and his Team concluded that they caught "magic in a bottle" with how well Beltre performed last year, and from my elementary analysis, it looks like Fenway was not a clear boost to his numbers.
We also have to remember that prior to last year, Beltre was somewhat of a bust in Seattle, and the Sox had taken a one-year risk on him. Beltre's combined batting average for his last five years in Seattle (2005-2009) was .266 - almost 60 points lower than his 2010 totals. This makes me very wary, that spike isn't a trend, it's an anomaly. Adding to my suspicion of Beltre's 2010 numbers is the fact that he's only hit over .300 one other year in his entire career, and surprise surprise, that was also in a contract year of his back in 2004, where he hit .334 for Los Angeles. This is all very suspect, and brings me back to my anger for not re-signing Victor Martinez.
While there may be a drop-off in defense with V-Mart, there certainly isn't with his offense, as he's a CAREER .300 hitter, not a "Only two times in my 12 year career have I hit .300" hitter like Beltre. But I've already expressed my massive displeasure in losing V-Mart, especially for the economical price we could have had him for. Now we're forced to bend to $cott Bora$, and eat a lot of years and money for an inconsistent ballplayer who's only shown up during contract years? And are we not allowed to at least question the use of steroids in this case for Beltre? Not questioning is what got baseball in the "Steroid Era" mess to begin with right? The spike in his numbers during contract years is a little too fishy for my taste, and I don't like it.
What in the hell is the Red Sox plan moving forward? Where are their heads at, Liverpool? From what I've seen so far, which is nothing from them, it looks like they're preparing for another bridge year, and I'd much rather jump off that bridge then walk over it. If they keep this up the Red Sox franchise will quickly be playing third fiddle to both the Patriots and Celtics (if they aren't already), and honestly, I'm fine with that, those teams at least give the impression that they're trying to win - which is more then I can say for the Red Sox.