I didn’t know Carlos Beltran could pitch, did you? Yeah, he can’t play third base, either. Or second, for that matter. So why are the Tigers even looking at him?
In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s getting a little crowded in the outfield these days. Magglio Ordóñez came back from the DL to join Brennan Boesch, Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks and Casper Wells (not to mention Don Kelly, when we don’t need him behind the plate). So, the last thing the Tigers should be looking at is another outfielder, right?
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But, now, here we are, talking about Carlos Beltran. Oh, I’d love to get him for free, don’t get me wrong. But that is not going to happen. His 2011 salary? $18.5 million. The cost of our entire outfield – all of the guys listed above? $11,711,000 plus one Andy Dirks. So, what do you think the Tigers would have to give up in order to get a Beltran? And why on earth would they do that? No, seriously, I’m asking. I’m not a hypothetical trade person – I’m more of a “love of the game” type. So I don’t usually venture into these sorts of discussions. But here’s my uneducated take on the whole thing anyway … since you asked.
Beltran is a career .282 hitter. And it’s been a long career. But that’s a good news/bad news scenario, isn’t it. Beltran is 34 and was healthy enough to play about half of the last two seasons. Sure he’s having a great 2011 – 28 doubles, 58 RBIs at the break, named to the All-Star team (then again, who wasn’t). But what about the future?
A trade for Beltran is only about the present. And yeah, I want to win this year, of course. But I’m greedy – I want to win next year, and the year after that. So, would I take a $215,000, 26-year-old Boesch who’s batting .306 over a $9,000,000, 34-year-old Beltran for the second half of this season? Every day of the week.
A while back, people were suggesting they’d pay just about anything to get Jose Reyes to Detroit, which I thought was completely ridiculous. Here’s how I envision that starting lineup: leading off, Jose Reyes. Batting second, Don Kelly. Batting third, Jose Reyes. Batting clean-up, Jose Reyes … you get the point. Verlander would pitch, Kelly would catch and Reyes would cover all of the other positions. Or Reyes could catch and Kelly plays the field. Either way. That would be our team – the entire payroll.
Am I exaggerating? It’s one of my strengths. But, to put it in good old simple terms, if you’ve got a great shortstop batting in the .300s, you’re golden. And we do. So let’s not waste any time improving a good situation – like our outfield options – let’s fix the problems.
Pitching. Third base. These, in my mind, are the only two things that should weigh heavily on the Tigers before the trade deadline. Then maybe second base. But Ryan Raburn is currently hitting 30 points better than Inge, and Carlos Guillen might be able to do something there, so that, in my opinion, is a fire that can wait.
The real question is, can you carry a sub .200 guy at third and expect to win the division? Maybe. If that guy realizes he’s not hitting well and works hard to improve, then maybe you’ve got a shot. But Inge thinks he’s fine, despite his .067 average over the last 10 games. He thinks he’s “hitting the ball pretty damn well” – but right at people. (Just a quick side note about timing here … you might not want to make those kinds of comments the day before the All-Star break – I’m just saying, it’s a long, long week for 24-hour sports radio.)
Look, it’s not rocket science. Your lineup consistently puts Alex Avila (the guy with the second best on-base percentage on your team – second only to Miguel Cabrera) right before Raburn or Brandon “.184” Inge. What do you think is going to happen there? Is that run going to score? I’m guessing no.
And pitching … what more can I say? You’ve got a five-man rotation with only four starting pitchers. That’s a problem.
By all accounts, the Tigers are scouting some pitchers. Good. Now stay focused.
Maybe the Beltran talk is a smokescreen. For what? I don’t know. Maybe they want us to get all up in arms about how they’re looking at all the wrong things going into the second half, so that when they sign a middle-of-the-road starting pitcher, or some .250-hitting third baseman, we’ll all think they’re miracle workers. I don’t know.
But what I do know is this: The Tigers need pitching. So until Carlos Beltran can throw 97 mph through seven innings, I’m not interested.
And the Tigers shouldn’t be either.