Cardinals can't easily replace Beltran

Posted by Scott Wuerz on November 4, 2013 

I'm glad that the Cardinals decided to make a qualifying offer to Carlos Beltran.

While I think it was a no-brainer move, there has been a lot of speculation lately that the team wouldn't because of the play of Matt Adams in September. He hit .315 with eight homers after Allen Craig was injured and the lefty slugger moved from a part time role to being the starting first baseman.

I am unsatisfied with the potential subtraction of Beltran to make playing time for Adams partially because of Adams' October. He hit .192 with no homers and two RBI in the National League Championship Series and the World Series when the Cardinals were desperate for offense. The other reason I don't think letting Beltran go to make Adams a starter is because the Birds are already too vulnerably to lefty hitters.

With a strictly left handed Adams replacing a switch hitting Beltran the problem is going to only get worse. And then there is the possibility that the Cardinals will ditch righty third baseman David Freese for lefty Matt Carpenter. That swap would cause the Redbirds to start Kolten Wong or Daniel Descalso -- both lefties -- at second base.

If the Cardinals move Carpenter and/or if they let Beltran go they must find a right handed bat with some pop to insert into the starting lineup on a regular basis.

Where would they find that sort of impact bat for less than a $14.1 million, single season contract? Even if the Cardinals need to ante up and bid $30 million for two years it would be hard to imagine getting a starting quality slugger for less total cash.

There is a lot of speculation that the Yankees are the favorites to sign Beltran because he's a fan. But, at the age of 37, is Beltran more likely to go to a place where he wanted to play when he was young -- or in a place where he has the best chance to win?

The Yankees are a mess, strugging to finish third in a competitive division. If Beltran wants to go somewhere he can be a designated hitter there are no promises in New York where Alex Rodriguez may or may not be available next year and who will almost certainly be back sometime in 2015.

Beltran has proved he is healthy enough at this stage of his career to play the outfield. If he accepts the qualifying offer from St. Louis he could re-evaluate his health an opt to switch to the American League then.

Money shouldn't enter into the decision. Beltran has made $161 million to this point of his career and accepting the qualifying offer would guarantee him at least $175 million.

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