(Baseball StL) -- How can you not love Carlos Beltran? He continues to put up big numbers offensively, and play solidly in right field.
In Sunday’s win over the Marlins the 36 year old Beltran beat out a bunt single, stole home plate for the winning run, and made a sliding catch in the outfield in the 9th inning. Yes, Yadier Molina is the most valuable player on the Cardinals. But Beltran has to be a close second.
Beltran’s .307 batting average is currently 11th best in the National League. His slugging percentage of .533 ranks 6th best. He’s 5th in home runs with 19. He’d no doubt be among the league leaders in rbi’s if he didn’t usually bat second in the line-up. There were plenty of skeptics when the Cardinals signed Beltran as a free agent shortly after Albert Pujols bolted for Anaheim. But Beltran has been a considerably better player than Pujols over the last two seasons, with a contract that pays him about $10 million a year less. Beltran has been voted a starter for the National League all star team in both of his seasons here. It’s time for the Cardinals to lock him up for another two seasons.
I know the arguments against it. Beltran is 36 years old and he’s got creaky knees. Oscar Taveras is waiting in the wings in Memphis and should be ready to go by next season. But Taveras, as well as he’s done in the minors, is not a guaranteed star. To hand him the rightfield job next season and expect him to put up Beltran-type numbers is probably not realistic. It would make more sense to bring the 21 year old Taveras along more slowly, let him learn the ropes under Beltran, and become an everyday player when he proves he’s ready for that. Not every prized prospect, like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper or Yasiel Puig, becomes an instant all star. Taveras might someday join that group, but for now, it would make more sense to keep Beltran around and go with the proven commodity.
Beltran will likely want another two year contract, probably in the $15 million a season range. After what he’s done these past two seasons, he’ll get that somewhere. Hopefully it’s with the Cardinals.