While most rank and file Cardinals fans I have spoken to in the last 12 hours seem to be pretty content with the signing of Carlos Beltran, I heard from a very esteemed long-time major league scout this morning who thinks the Redbirds have made a tremendous error in inking the former Royal, Astro, Met and Giant.
His take on Beltran: "He has knees that are shot, he's not the brightest person. He has no fortitude, he isn't a leader and the Cardinals screwed up even worse (on this deal then they did with Albert Pujols."
First, I think it's important to remember that everyone thought Lance Berkman was completely done for in 2011 and those who thought he could still hit were sure the Cardinals were insane to try to return him to the outfield. So, hopefully his health is better than what some expect. I was watching some highlights of his play last year with the Giants and he seemed to move pretty well.
The good part about this situation is that the Birds aren't counting on Beltran to play every day. Ideally Allen Craig will emerge as the player we hope he can bill and Jon Jay will play as well as he has the last two seasons in limited duty and Beltran will be part of a three-man rotation for two outfield spots.
Second, I don't think the Cardinals need a leader. Albert Pujols wasn't a leader in the clubhouse. Skip Schumaker was on the radio a few days after Pujols left and he made it very clear that Chris Carpenter was the leader in the St. Louis Clubhouse. Pujols was a great player. But he was surly to even his own teammates and they often felt like they had to walk on eggshells around him
I expect Lance Berkman and to a certain extent Matt Holliday to emerge as leaders now that Pujols is gone. And both of them are much more positive influences than Pujols was on the 20th to 25th men on the roster.