January 11, 2005
So now that Carlos Beltran has left the Astros, the question is are they better off without having to spend the kind of money it took to sign him? Tom Kirkendall says Yes, while David Pinto thinks the Mets got a bargain.
Personally, I don't think the annual salary is as important a consideration as the length of the contract. Beltran is a very good player, but he'll be 34 in the last year of this contract, and for sure he won't be as good then as he is now. He's got no history of injury, and he's got the type of skill set (in particular, speed) that ages well, but those last couple of years are a huge risk. Throw in the no-trade clause, which will cost more to waive in the event he no longer fits in with the long-term strategy down the line, and one can certainly argue that losing out on him is not the end of the world. No guarantees, of course, but it's reasonable to see it that way.
By the way, did the Mets have a great offseason or what? Omar Minaya did some pretty good things with a spare-change budget in Montreal, and now he's showing he can spend money, too. Joe Sheehan gives them their props.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 11, 2005 to Baseball
I certainly hope folks in Houston are smart enough to lay off the Astros for "not spending to build a winner". I think they made a fair offer and given the heat they have taken for the Bagwell contract that has tied up a lot of money, it's better that they didn't do something foolish like add an option for an 8th year.
The big question here in the office regarding the Mets is "What would have happened had Minaya been around last year?" The consensus is that the Mets would have a starting outfield the season of Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran and Vladimir Guerrero.
If nothing else, he's taking chances no other Mets GM has. Pedro Martinez is known for shutting down late in the season since he always has arm trouble, but the Mets didn't hesitate to sign him. There are still question marks in the bullpen, but this team is a possible wild card possibility.
As for the Astros, I think the window of opportunity is closing, if not already closed. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio are getting close to retirement, Roger Clemens will probably not return, and there appears to be more players on the roster that make me say "Who's he?" than ever. Maybe the younger players can develop in time to help take the place of Bagwell and Biggio.
Watch for Drayton to do something horribly stupid, like go after Sammy Sosa instead. Sammy's in serious decline, instead of Beltran who was getting better and better.
Bagwell and Biggio are no longer the Killer B's. Instead, they are The Twin Sins, coming back to haunt the Astros as they go through the motions in their twilight years.
Future generations will collect their baseball cards, looking at the last line or two of stats and wondering why the Astros didn't offload them or see the rapid decline in those two crippled veterans.
Laurence, I don't think you will find the Astros making a play for Sosa. I think they actually played the Beltran situation as well as they could.
Furthermore I find it difficult to lay the "Twin Sins" moniker on Bagwell and Biggio. The Astros problem has less to do with them and their play than it does with their contracts. The Astros were at fault for signing Bagwell to a long-term deal with heavy money at the back end. He'll turn 37 this year and has a nagging shoulder injury that has hampered him for a few years. As you would expect his production has suffered and yet he's being paid like he's still an MVP. As a result he's now essentially untradeable.
But to accuse Bagwell of mailing it in is IMO unfair. Despite his shoulder, he has been a player that has always hustled. He's been moved around in the order and didn't publicly pout. Even with a bum shoulder he's missed 4 or fewer games in each of his last 6 seasons. He led the team in runs scored, was 2nd in on base percentage (pitchers not withstanding), 3rd in RBI behind Kent and Bertman and tied with Kent with 27 HR, just 3 behind Berkman. Not worth the money but certainly not goofing off.
As for Biggio, he's going to be 39 this year and his contract is actually quite reasonable. Last year he had a career high with 24 HRs, had his third best season ever in doubles (4th in the NL), and scored 100 runs - the same as Juan Pierre. And I have never seen Biggio play less than 100%. I've never seen him not hustle down the line.
Yes, both have slowed down but what due you expect from guys that age? The problem that the Astros have is one of contract obligation. Bagwell's contract ties up a whole lot of money and runs through 2006 when he will be 38. That's one reason the Astros were reluctant to go to even 7 years for Beltran. They didn't want a similar situation where they would be tied to a big money contract for a guy who would be making big bucks in his mid-30s, especially when you consider Beltran's biggest asset is his speed.