That’s more like it
Yes, Virginia, there is a new Cardinal with an OPS+ above zero!
His name is the one most of us penciled into our holiday wish lists once our number-one request was so rudely denied: Carlos Beltran. We feared him during the 2004 NLCS, when the Astros were a formidable team and Beltran was their newest Killer “B”; we thanked him after the 2006 NLCS when, wearing a Mets’ uniform this time, he stood at the plate with the bases loaded and admired a sizzling Adam Wainwright curveball right along with the rest of us. Now he’s one of the family, because free agency makes strange bedfellows.
No, Beltran isn’t Albert Pujols. But he’s a whole lot of other things:
- The American League’s 1999 Rookie of the Year
- A three-time Gold Glover
- A two-time Silver Slugger
- A six-time All-Star selection
- Half as expensive as Albert, with an escape hatch after two years rather than a commitment for ten
- A totally different guy from the one on the CD here, which I suppose is fortunate, since that Carlos Beltran is known for his song “Grandes Exitos,” and we’ve had enough grand exits from Cardinal Nation for one year.
At 34 and with a couple of wobbly knees, Beltran may not put up the kinds of numbers he did during his peak years with the Mets, but he’s been a consistently clutch hitter, capable outfielder, and smart baserunner, and he’s a good gamble at a not-unreasonable price. In the interest of getting to know one another, here are a few other factoids about Carlos the Newest Cardinal:
- He founded and operates a baseball academy in his native Puerto Rico, and is personally involved in every aspect of its program, including conducting the tryouts himself.
- He and his wife, Jessica, have a daughter named Ivana, who was born after two devastating miscarriages—one of which happened during the 2006 playoffs. Beltran, not wanting to create a distraction or be perceived as making excuses, didn’t discuss it at the time.
- IMDB gives him a writing credit for a 2005 Chilean documentary called “La Huella de Beauchef,” which, as far as I can tell from this clip, has zilch to do with baseball. Anyone know anything about this? Beltran? Beltran?
- According to his now-defunct website, he loves animals (he had a pet macaque named Bonnet) and would have liked to be a veterinarian had he not pursued a career in baseball.
- He’s at the center of this long but very funny essay by a self-flagellating Mets fan whose Welsh corgi is named Endy Chavez: “How Carlos Beltran Almost Made My Girlfriend Dump Me for the First Time.”
- In 2002, with help from his parents, he spent months restoring and upgrading a three-bedroom home he’d bought in his hometown of Manati. When the work was done, he thanked his mother and father and surprised them with keys to the house—which he’d been preparing for them all along. OKAY, THAT SEALS THE DEAL, I LOVE MY CHRISTMAS PRESENT.
Welcome to St. Louis, Carlos! May your tenure as a Redbird be marked by healthy knees, timely hits, appreciative fans, and not too much glowering at Wainwright across the locker room.