Adrian Beltre Has Played His Way Out of Boston

Aug. 14, 2010 - Fort Worth, Texas, USA - August 14, 2010. Red Sox ADRIAN BELTRE tries to throw out the Rangers Nelson Cruz in the third inning. The throw was late to first base. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Texas Rangers 3 to 1 in a Major League Baseball game at the Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

Adrian Beltre has probably played his way out of Boston.

I’m sure when Theo Epstein signed Beltre in the winter, he hoped for a rebound and some health from the former Seattle Mariner. What Theo received was an ironman performance, a 5.2 WAR and a $21 million dollar return on his $10 million dollar investment.

Good buy on Beltre, but goodbye Beltre. It’s Scott Boras time!

This 2010 offseason is making its way towards us and the Red Sox will be golfing early. The questions in the winter will layer by the dozens as the snow starts to hit New England. What will the Red Sox do about Victor Martinez? What happens with David Ortiz? Will Boston go after Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth? Will the organization trade highly-touted prospects and acquire Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder?

Lots of opinions exist on Beltre and everyone fully expects him and Boras to run where the money is. Boras has a well-documented history of driving market price to their highest levels. What will the market set at and where might Beltre land?

We’ve already heard the Angels will be in the fold since Brandon Wood hasn’t quite lived up to the hype and the A’s are also supposedly pining for a ride on the Beltre-train. With all the dough they threw at Ben Sheets and the young staff in Oakland that looks like the next Mulder-Hudson-Zito trio, an offensive weapon with superior defensive skills may entice Billy Beane to push his payroll a bit higher.

It is doubtful that the Red Sox will break the bank to retain a 32 year old with the perception of mailing it in after he receives a big contract. Boston was tired of Manny Ramirez and his loafing; it’s hard to imagine John Henry and the ownership group buying that situation again. Fair or not to Beltre, that is the reality.

A whole bunch of combinations that are obvious in September 2010 exist for next season:

Keep V. Martinez
Keep A. Beltre
Dump David Ortiz

Keep D. Ortiz
Keep A. Beltre
Dump V. Martinez

Keep V. Martinez
Keep D. Ortiz
Dump A. Beltre
Add Carl Crawford

Keep V. Martinez
Dump D. Ortiz
Dump A. Beltre
Add Jayson Werth
Trade for Adrian Gonzalez

You get the point. The armchair theories go on and on but the truth of the matter is we won’t know much of anything with closure until December. By then, the prognosticators will be declaring with affirmation the fate of the New England Patriots while the Boston Celtics coast through the cold months and the Boston Bruins remain ignored. Sports fans will be waiting with baited-breath for news of a signing or trade. It could be Beltre at the hot corner just as easily as it could be something we could have never accounted for in the fall.

It’s been quite a bounce-back season for Beltre. He re-found his power stroke to the tune of 24 homeruns, 38 doubles, two triples and ISO of .230 – a power rating he hasn’t seen since 2004 when he put on that absurd display in Los Angeles. Beltre clubbed 48 homeruns in 2004 and amassed a WAR of 10.1. He is the only hitter this century to post a double-digit WAR whose name wasn’t Sammy Sosa, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez or Barry Bonds. No wonder everyone thought he was on the juice.

Someone in New York even went as far as to suggest that Beltre had performance products that were ahead of the curve in terms of drug testing. But leave it to an insecure Yankees fan to make suggestions like that when they have had a string of steroid poster children themselves.

In April, Beltre was an empty .300 hitter who looked like he’d never get a hit with runners in scoring position. Then suddenly he came alive and began to spray the ball all over the field and deliberately pulling flyballs to left, peppering the Wall, the seats and the parking garage. For awhile I thought he was going to ground out to third or fly out to the triangle every at-bat.

Nobody dislikes being touched on the forehead more than Beltre either. We’ve all seen him nearly start fights when VMart or anyone else tried to rub some off that good luck for themselves. When you explode into an MVP-caliber player, everyone wants a piece of the action.

Red Sox fans that I talk to want Beltre back. Somebody get this guy on a sales pitch now they tell me.

“Hopefully he’ll sign a three-year deal. Fenway is perfect for him. He’s awesome to watch and he hits home runs on one knee. He could be a gigantic superstar in Boston if he stays. “

I don’t know about gigantic superstar, but this contract year as a Red Sox has lifted Beltre’s hit rate to 34% (.340 BABIP) and in turn, lifted his 2011 salary to another level.

Back in March, Tampa Rays fans were lauding the Beltre deal and singing the praises of run prevention. Jason Collette, a Rays writer, specifically cited in an interview I did with him instances where the Rays scored because of ball that Lowell couldn’t get to at third base or a noodle-armed throw from Jason Bay in left field that allowed BJ Upton to score. I could remember those instances and I was instantly hooked at the idea of “run prevention”.

Beltre’s defense is superb in advanced metric systems, but his 16 errors give the non-SABR community reason to raise their eyebrows over his reputation as a defensive whiz. Beltre’s UZR current sits at 11.9 in early September – good for 4th overall at third base behind Ryan Zimmerman, Chase Headley and Kevin Kouzmanoff. His 16 errors rank 5th worst in all of baseball so you can see why these two schools of thought clash.

All in all, Beltre has been the Red Sox ’10th Player of the Year’ in my book. He’s been fun to watch and incredibly productive in a lineup decimated by injury. You can almost guarantee that he is a Type-A Free Agent as well. If Beltre were to take a three-year deal at $13 million per year to stay in Boston, I would think it gets done. But Boras is likely to hold on for a four or five-year deal and that will mean waiting until nearly Christmas before Beltre signs. The Red Sox will either need to commit to the historically inconsistent Beltre or take the picks and continue to stock the system.

We’ll know by the holidays. Until then, let’s just keep speculating. But by all accounts and purposes, you can probably put away your #29 t-shirt jerseys next year.

Beltre has played his way out of Boston.

Categories: Boston Red Sox

4 Responses to “Adrian Beltre Has Played His Way Out of Boston” Subscribe

  1. El Guapo's Ghos September 4, 2010 at 7:13 AM #

    Boras isn't the one going to hold out for the most money, it is Adrian Beltre. Boras works for him. See: Tek two contracts ago.

    • Darryl Johnston September 5, 2010 at 6:24 AM #

      True indeed and once Beltre gives him the green light, it's Boras time. He's the best agent in the business. Like I said, if this could be done at a 3-year deal and reasonable money, then I will be thrilled and somewhat suprised.

      Maybe Beltre will take a weird turn and just exercise the $5 million player option for 2011. Haha

    • Darryl Johnston September 5, 2010 at 9:48 AM #

      Plus Tek was a rare circumstance. I bet Beltre could be coaxed out if Boston a lot easier than Varitek would.

  2. Sam September 7, 2010 at 5:51 PM #

    Wait so you’re saying the market right now is A’s, Angels, and Red Sox. And Boston won’t be willing to “break the bank”? With only three players for Beltre, and Boston being clearly the one with the biggest market (although Angels aren’t far off I’ll admit), why wouldn’t they stand a chance? You really expect that much of a bidding war from Angels/A’s? Boston NEEDS Beltre, and I think Epstein knows that. Now, if Beltre insists on four or five years, and the Angels will give em, then its over. But if he can be coaxed down to three years, I could see Boston be quite willing to bid away. He’s an important cog of that team, and a lot harder to replace than you’d think. I mean come on. Do you honestly think its smart to move Youk back to third? He loses a lot of his defensive value there, and with age and extended time away from the position, he’s just not a viable third-base option anymore. And after Youk? Who? Miguel Tejada? Yamaico Navarro? This is when you see how big of a hole Beltre filled. He is an essential part of this offense now, I believe, and I would be very surprised not to see Boston at least make a very strong push for him, Boras regardless.

    What I’m most interested in is who get the catching job. Will V-Mart be resigned, even with his defensive woes and age? Or will they give Saltalamacchia the job they’ve wanted to see him in for years?