Setting the Bar for a Beltran Freakout

Maybe I was too naive heading into the offseason. I figured there was a two-part plan to the offseason:

1. Re-sign Beltran
2. Find a shortstop that isn't Yuniesky Betancourt, Orlando Cabrera, or Miguel Cabrera

I'm kind of over #2. It sure would have been nice for the Giants to get Jed Lowrie for something, but they didn't have a setup-guy/closer with just over a year of service time to offer. But Brandon Crawford is growing on me. Kind of. I just stare at those 182 A-ball at-bats and hope that they mean something, ignoring every other piece of evidence that suggests he might not be ready to start just yet. Fool me once, statistics, shame on you! Fool me twice, and, say, is that a slot machine?

But I still can't fathom #1. Especially now that the Rockies have some degree of interest. The Giants need a middle-of-the-order hitter. They don't want to pay a lot for that muffler. Here comes Carlos Beltran, recently de-Borased, and long past any dreams of a four-year deal. The Giants have both Aaron Rowand and Aubrey Huff coming off the books next year. Oh, and they'll need a middle-of-the-order hitter next offseason too.

It's worth a brief pause to consider the predictions of Beltran's future that Dan Szymborski ran with ZiPS, which you can find here. His playing time starts at 107 games next season, and goes down from there. By year three of the contract, Beltran is projected to hit .270/.339/.443 in 95 games, good for 1.8 WAR. That's not someone you want to be paying $15 million. It's not like ZiPS -- or any projection system -- is the infallible word from the future, but it gives you a tangible reason to think of how a Beltran contract might not pan out.

I've maybe been a little too one-sided on this. Yes, the Giants could really use the Beltran who showed up in September, but he is made from tinsel and Chick-o-Sticks. That's not a small consideration.

So here's the open call for an over/under on freak outs with regards to the eventual Beltran contract. Something like …

If Carlos Beltran gets __ or less, I will freak the hell out.

If Beltran gets four years, best of luck. Wouldn't have wanted that on the Giants. Well, I probably would have ignored the long term to focus on 2012, but I don't think there's any way Beltran will be worth the money in four years.

If Beltran gets one or two years, well, time to get the pup tent out of storage and start camping outside of Willie Mays Plaza with a homemade sign.

I'm thinking the deal will be closer to 3/$39 million, though, and while I still think I'd be okay with that risk, I'm not sure if that's worth getting irate over. That's a lot to pay for a player who's good for at least one DL trip per year, and often a major one at that. I'd take the risk, but I'm not going to pretend I don't understand why others wouldn't.

Anything less than that, and I'll think about Beltran every time Huff lopes after a fly ball, or every time Melky Cabrera can't catch up to a fastball, or every time Nate Schierholtz chases the inside slider. The Giants had a real-life, honest-to-goodness offense last September. Beltran was a big part of that. If he signs for relatively cheap, the whole thing -- from trade to offseason -- becomes even more of a debacle.

(And if he signs with the Rockies, we can sign Ryan Spilbourghs as a counterattack. They'll never expect it!)

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