With a couple weeks left in the year, it’s been a slow offseason for the Philadelphia Phillies. Aside from the opening salvo that was the Jonathan Papelbon contract, it’s been a relatively quiet few months.
True, there isn’t too much out there on the open market. There are no Cliff Lees to sign, or Roy Halladays to trade for, and aside from the Jimmy Rollins contract, there isn’t anything else really pressing for Ruben Amaro to address. But there is one piece that he would be wise to pursue: Carlos Beltran.
The internet is abuzz with rumors about how the St. Louis Cardinals or the Toronto Blue Jays might be pursuing the outfielder, but there is neither hide nor hair of the Philadelphia Phillies. And why not? It'd be a perfect fit for a team who will be without their biggest power threat for the foreseeable future and with a vacated hole in the outfield, but it would appear that very few members of the brass see it that way.
There are reasons, some of them sensible, why they would shy away from the former New York Met. One, he is 34-years-old. It's a perfectly fine age for say, a high school teacher, but for a baseball player with some injury history on a team loaded with guys in their mid to late 30s? Not so much. The last thing the Phillies need is another guy who could hit the DL in a heartbeat.
Two, well...he used to play for the Mets?
But for every reason not to look into Carlos Beltran (as you can see, there aren't that many), there are a ton of reasons why the Phillies should entertain the switch-hitting outfielder. He can hit for power and for average, as evidence by his .300/.385/.525 line from the 2011 season. And above all, he is the kind of player who knows how to take a pitch and get on base. A free swinger, he ain't.
On top of that, he's a switch hitter, so lineup placement isn't an issue, and despite his aging body and declining range, he is a more than capable defender, and would make for a fine left-fielder to go along with the already above average duo of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence.
Next, he's a historically clutch hitter, whatever that’s worth. I'm not one for the whole “so and so is clutch” argument, but in October of 2004, Beltran was the greatest hitter in the world, when he hit eight homers in the first two rounds of the playoffs. In 22 career postseason games, he's a .366 hitter with a paltry .817 slugging percentage. Sure, maybe his last appearance in the postseason was five years ago and it ended with him striking out looking to end the Mets' 2006 season, but still, the guy can swing the bat when it counts.
If that's not enough, he isn't going to be terribly costly. At 34 years of age, he is more likely to take a short term deal, say, for two years. Maybe three. And seeing as how he has made some 130 million dollars in his career to date, he isn't necessarily going to break the bank.
And while his injury history isn't encouraging (although it wouldn't surprise me if he played more games than Chase Utley in 2012), he did play in 142 games last season, and with the exception of the 2009 and 2010 seasons, has been more than durable throughout his career. Sure, he is older than what you'd want out of a new acquisition, but what good does getting younger do you if the younger players can't perform?