As more and more guys begin signing with new teams, or are traded to new teams, Tigers President and GM David Dombrowski continues to come out and let Tigers fans know that the Tigers were never really in the mix for these players. He has done it with Yu Darvish, Aramis Ramirez, and Jimmy Rollins. Now, I haven’t necessarily been in favor of signing any of the three. In fact, I clearly came out against signing Rollins not very long ago. But if David Dombrowski comes out on Monday and says the Tigers were never in on Carlos Beltran, the question I then ask is why not Mr. Dombrowski?
Tigers fans can be an impatient bunch, including myself sometimes. We’re like an eager bunch of kids ready to pounce underneath that Christmas tree and unwrap the biggest present we can find. So far this year, our stocking has been stuffed full of unforgettable treasures, and there isn’t a big present for us to see lurking under the tree, waiting for us to open. Judging by comments around the internet world, some peoples legs are starting to bounce up and down, wondering if the Tigers are going to be in on anyone. It’s a legitimate question.
David Dombrowski isn’t doing himself any favors right now by telling his fan base that the Tigers really haven’t been involved in some of the bigger name free agents. Owner Mike Ilitch didn’t do Dombrowski any favors by declaring at the end of the season that the Tigers were going to go out and get a big time player. Both gentleman should probably just stop while they are ahead. The fact is, Dombrowski and Ilitch have many Tigers fans anticipating a stealth like move that may never come. After all, the Tigers won the Central Division going away in 2011, and no team has gotten decidedly better in the Central.
But that’s not the point is it? The point is the Tigers should be trying to improve enough to get to the World Series. MCB writer Chris Hannum provided in great detail earlier this week (reading the series is a good idea), what we could reasonably expect from the Tigers in 2012, and that is probably a little regression. They outperformed their Pythagorean record by 6 wins last year. There are still clear holes on the Tigers roster, and one guy that signed yesterday was to me a perfect fit that could’ve helped improve the Tigers for 2012.
Beltran was the perfect fit for the Tigers, yet there was very little talk of them actually being a part of the Beltran discussion outside of us here at Motor City Bengals. I detailed the lack of productivity by the Tigers outfield in 2011 a week ago here, and adding Beltran could’ve been a big part of the solution. Not just for his production, but for the spot in the order that he could’ve filled on the Tigers roster. Beltran is a perfect 3 hole hitter, and would’ve finally given the Tigers a guy to provide some on base ability in front of star slugger Miguel Cabrera.
Beltran signed for a very reasonable 2 year 26M dollar deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Considering that he put up 4.7 WAR last year, I am surprised there wasn’t more interest in him and was nervous when it was reported that the Indians were late players for his services. Yes, there were concerns with Beltran. He missed a lot of games the two previous seasons due to some knee issues. However, the 7 or 8 years before that, Beltran hardly missed any time at all, and was one of the most productive players in the game. If he plays 140 games plus over the next two years, the Cardinals got a steal.
Let’s look at the numbers.
Beltran hit .300 between his two clubs last year, the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets. Neither is considered to be hitter friendly by the way, and could’ve easily sapped some home run totals from Beltran, who still finished with 22. The best thing about him is his plate discipline. Beltran doesn’t strike out at a high rate, and his BB/K rate is fantastic for a guy whose OPS was .910 last season. His BB% last season was 11.9%, compared to a K% of 14.7%. His wOBA of .389 was 8th in all of baseball for outfielders. That is production the Tigers could’ve used.
Defensively, with his knees being not quite what they used to, Beltran did slow down. He was a below average defender, but outside of Austin Jackson, let’s not act like the Tigers are full of guys on that roster competing for Gold Gloves.
The obvious main concern here is Beltran’s knees and his age. He is going to be 35 in 2012, and the market wasn’t as good for him because of all the time he missed with those bad knees the previous two seasons. To me, I trust what I saw on the field last season, and his prior history of health to a bad two years. The Tigers projected starting outfield for 2012 provided 4.9 WAR total between the three of them last season. Beltran provided just 0.2 less WAR by himself, making me lament the fact he is going to be roaming the outfield for someone else next season.
There is certainly no guarantee that Carlos Beltran would’ve signed with the Tigers no matter what they offered him. Could they have swayed Beltran with just a couple million more dollars, or a third year option? I just don’t have that information, nor do I know if the Tigers did make an effort to get him. I’m just saying, if the Tigers weren’t in on Carlos Beltran, David Dombrowski should hold back on telling us so. It’s just going to make more people start asking why not?
And I might be the first one in that line.