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Less is more for Cardinals and Beltran

While the $26 million total the Cardinals are paying Carlos Beltran is a bit shocking, I'm glad to see the team was able to limit the deal to two years.

Beltran was known to be asking for three -- and that probably played a large part in it taking so long to get this deal done. Being on the hook for $13 million in 2013 hurts. But it's not nearly as painful as it would be to owe a 37 year old player another $13 million in 2014.

The Cardinals have opted to replace franchise cornerstone Albert Pujols with a more balanced attack. But how soon we forget that everyone and their brother seemed to think Lance Berkman was washed up in 2010. While he had a great season last year, let's not forget he's going to be a year older in 2012. How long can the Space Cowboys keep it together and continue to produce at a high level? The Cardinals are going to need that financial flexibility to find a longer term fix for their offense at some point in the next two years. And if Carlos Beltran costs $13 million a year at 35 years old, how much will Josh Hamilton or David Wright cost?

The addition of Beltran is going to create an interesting log jam at 15.

As most will recall, Rafael Furcal wrestled it away from Jon Jay last season by playing the seniority card and Jay was forced to switch to number 19. Furcal has been in the majors since 2000. But Beltran has seniority over him, breaking in the big leagues in 1998 and playing his first full season in the majors in 1999.

The Cardinals have only one number 15 to give four of their starting eight have worn the number in the big leagues -- including the entire starting outfield of Matt Holliday, Jay and Beltran.

You can't reverse it and give one of them 51 on account of the fact that the Cardinals refuse to retire Willie McGee's number, yet they won't let anyone wear it since Bud Smith caused outrage in Cardinal nation when he donned it in his rookie debut. You also can't bump somebody up to 25 (Mark McGwire), 35 (Jake Westbrook), 45 (retired for Bob Gibson) or even 55 (Skip Schumaker.) So do you give one of them Pujols' former number 5?

If the Cardinals did plan to retire number 5 for Pujols, they couldn't do so until 2032 -- at least not without the Angels' permission. Pujols is banned by the contract he signed with Anaheim to appear with any other team without the Angels' permission.

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