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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Beltran Joins the Killer B's

As a Cubs fan I can't say I'm happy about the Royals dealing Carlos Beltran to the Astros. However, as a Royals fan I think that GM Allard Baird did what he had to do given the ridiculous financial world in which Major League Baseball operates.

As for Houston, they gave up Octavio Dotel now bound for the A's, who had converted 14 of 17 save opportunities and struck out 50 in just 34 and 2/3 innings. They'll be handing the reins over to Brad Lidge who has better numbers than Dotel, although he is more prone to injuries given his mechanics. Beltran will now patrol center field with Biggio moving to left. It'll be interesting to watch Beltran negotiate the hill and flag poll at Minute Maid park. In the long run, since the Astros can't sign Beltran, it's a pretty risk move but an understandable one given that with aging stars like Kent, Biggio, and Bagwell, they need to win this year.

Of course the A's desperately needed someone to fill out their bullpen having blown 14 of 27 save opportunities to date.

In the meantime the Royals pick up three prospects:

  • C John Buck, 23. He was hitting .300 at AAA and will now be inserted as the starting catcher. His power numbers were much better in 2001 and he has been hampered by injuries since. He also has little plate discipline. He's a big guy with a slow release behind the plate so it'll be interesting to see if he sticks as a major league catcher or ends up in the Mike Sweeney mold assuming he develops as a hitter.

  • 3B Mark Teahan, 22. By all accounts he was the key to the deal. He'll be assigned to Omaha for the time being until Joe Randa can be traded. He was hitting .275 with 8 doubles in 20 games for Sacramento and earlier hit .335 for AA Midland. At this point he hasn't found his power and whether he develops it will determine whether the deal goes down as a good one for the Royals.

  • P Mike Wood, 24. He was putting together a solid season in Sacramento going 11-3 with a 2.80 ERA. He keeps the ball down and tops out around 90 mph. He'll immediately enter the starting rotation along with Grienke, Reyes, Gobble, and May. His H/IP ratio has never been stellar nor has his K/IP or K/BB ratios. Seems to me like more of a fourth or fifth starter if he sticks at the big league level.

  • Clearly, the strength of this deal for the Royals is the possibility that they've found three major league starters who are all cheap, one of whom may just end up being above average. At the same time it gives playing time to David DeJesus to see if he can develop into a leadoff hitter. While it doesn't get them any closer to contending over the next several years, it does allow them to save some money. It will be interesting to see if the Glass family now cuts the payroll back in the $35 million range next year since they're freed from the $9 million Beltran was earning and will be rid of the salaries of Grimsely, Stairs, Gonzales, and Randa. Given the pendulum swing back to the youth movement I would expect that to be the case.

    On a side note, perhaps the most ridiculous comment I heard this week was on a sports talk radio show where the host was criticizing Beltran as perhaps not a player the Royals wanted anyway since he has never won a batting title, MVP, or led his team to the playoffs. Clearly, this shows a lack of understanding in what it means to be a player that helps his team win. Over the last 3 and half years his OPS has been in the .875 range, he's the best defensive center fielder in baseball, and he's the highest percentage base stealer in history. The fact that he's not won playoff games with the Royals has no correlation to his skills or his contribution to the team. On any team that Beltran goes to next year he will immediately displace the current centerfielder.

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