Friday, January 30, 2015
A BETTER BELTRAN? I'D SAY SO
As spring training approaches, I always think about the scene from Major League where the group of misfits from the Cleveland Indians struggle and prepare for the season. They were all excited, many cocky, others goofy, all with chips on their shoulders who eventually found the winning formula. If anyone on the Yankees roster is chomping at the bit to get spring training started, it's Carlos Beltran. Although he is neither cocky nor goofy, I’m sure he has a chip on his shoulder and is prepared to prove to himself, the Yankees and us fans why the Yankees signed him.
Carlos Beltran is a true professional and borderline Hall of Famer in my opinion, but he struggled in 2014 while dealing with the bone spur in his elbow and has really taken some heat for it. He did sign a rather big three year contract worth $15 million a year at 36 years old. But his previous success warranted it. The criticism, sometimes cruel, he received is not warranted.
Remember Yankees fans, Beltran is a team player. Remember when Joe Girardi needed a first baseman with Mark Teixeira out after Francisco Cervelli popped his hammy? Beltran was your man. He took one for the team and played a very uncomfortable first base. But he sucked it up, succeeded well enough and even made light of it afterward. He said when asked about having the ball hit his way, “.. please God, hit it somewhere else!”
Joe Girardi was pleased and impressed with his willingness to be a team player at the time. “That man is willing to do anything you ask him to do,” Joe Girardi said. “Whether you put him some place he’s never been or you move him in the order, he just asks to play. He wants to contribute. That’s what I’ve learned. It’s very, very unselfish.” The skipper loves him, so he deserves our respect.
Us Yankees fans have to admire that. He wants to play. He wants to contribute. You know what? Injuries happen. It’s part of the game. 2015 is a brand new season, with new faces and some new coaches. If you ask me who is going to be ready come opening day, my money is on Carlos Beltran.
Although Beltran’s average dipped to .233 last summer, his other offensive stats weren’t too far off from his 2013 pace. He still hit 15 home runs in 109 games and added 23 doubles. In 2013, he hit 24 home runs and 30 doubles in 149 games. He also drew just one fewer walk than the previous season, showing a patient, professional approach at the dish. From 2011-2013 Beltran averaged 26 home runs, 88 RBIs and a .288 batting average. I don’t see any reason, barring injuries, why he can’t produce numbers similar to that in 2015.
With the respect of Joe Girardi and presumably everyone in the clubhouse, Carlos Beltran is one of the guys you want to be around. If I were a young player, particularly a Latino player, I would engulf myself with any and everything Carlos Beltran has to say. He has the experience, the knowledge and resume to back up everything he says. Soak it in while you can.
Beltran finally got his shot to be a Yankee in 2014. He famously asked the Yankees to sign him at a discount in 2005 and the Yankees refused. But years later, he is in pinstripes. One rough, injury plagued, season in which no regulars besides Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner really put up respectable numbers, shouldn't be a reason for negative publicity and cruel words toward Beltran.
Beltran wanted to be a Yankee and now he is. He is a team player with the willingness to do whatever it takes to help his ball club succeed. He should be respected and will come out swinging, literally and figuratively, this season. I have all the respect in the world for him and look forward to seeing him in the middle of the lineup.
2015 will be a year of redemption and all of us Yankees fans should show Beltran how we Bleed Yankee Blue for him! That's my take at least.
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