Saturday, December 3, 2016

Astros sign Beltran

So the Astros did something today, signing Carlos Beltran to a 1yr/$16m deal.

I mean -

The thing is -

What th-

Okay. So, to me, this means that the Astros are likely out on Edwin Encarnacion, which is okay to me. I think Edwin Encarnacion's 5yr/$120m contract (estimated, by me) would look really good this year and next year, but would be straight up brutal in 2019-2021. Instead, the Astros get Carlos Beltran - you might know him - he will be 40 in April. Between the Yankees and Rangers in 2016, Beltran hit .295/.337/.513 with 33 doubles and 29 home runs, roughly the number of homers Beltran hit for the Astros in the 2004 playoffs.

Beltran is a career .280/.356/.484 hitter against RHPs, and a career .285/.348/.511 hitter against LHPs. In 2016 Beltran hit .279/.321/.484 against righties and .338/.380/.589 against lefties (with a .372 BABIP). He won't need to come out of the lineup, even as A.J. Hinch looks to keep him fresh by spelling him at DH.

One thing that immediately strikes me is the versatility of the Astros' lineup. Possible DHs include Gattis, McCann, Beltran, Gurriel, and anyone else that might need a break from the grind of the season. If Beltran is the DH, then Nori Aoki can fill his position for the day without a significant dropoff in production. When McCann catches, Gattis can DH, and vice versa. Bregman can fill in at SS if Correa needs a break, and Gurriel can switch to 3B. Gurriel can play LF when Beltran is DH. Don't sleep on Marwin filling in at 2B/SS. And we haven't even talked about A.J. Reed, who might need another spell at Fresno to work on aspects of his game and get in shape. He should probably watch Rocky IV every day until Spring Training starts to provide some motivation. There are more lineup possibilities than there are possible moves in chess. Don't look that up I already Googled it and I'm totally right so whatever.

I can't pretend to understand how "clubhouse chemistry" works. But the overall additions of McCann and Beltran provide the "veteran leadership" that the young-ish Astros could use. Think about last year: who were the leaders? Colby Rasmus? My love for Rasmus is well-documented, but it's not as though (and I could be talking out of my rear end here) he had plenty of post-season success. Twenty-four of his 35 career postseason appearances came with the Astros in 2015. He was maligned and abused by noted drunk Tony LaRussa in St. Louis, spent 3+ unremarkable seasons in Toronto, and then came to Houston. Who else would you look to as a veteran who understands "the will to win?"

Now the Astros have two veterans, more consistent than the players whom they are replacing. The Astros have switched out Rasmus for Beltran, Let's also discuss Beltran's 2016 pricetag is $200,000 more than Rasmus in 2015. They've also switched out Castro for McCann and more Gattis.

One year of Beltran also means that the Astros can afford to allow Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher another year to develop.

So the Astros have most definitely improved their offense. What about the pitching? Will the Astros deal for pitching? If they had gotten Encarnacion, given the length of the commitment, I would have assumed they'd deal someone like Kyle Tucker (and possibly Bregman, given Gurriel's contract) for a Chris Sale/Chris Archer caliber pitcher. But with the Beltran signing, I think maybe they go for Jake Odorizzi and plan for/hope that Keuchel's 2016 was an aberration and a healthy Lance McCullers to go along with Collin McHugh, Joe Musgrove, while still developing Francis Martes and David Paulino, et al. Can the Astros make noise with a rotation of Keuchel/McCullers/McHugh/Musgrove/Morton? The offense might say yes.

I still think the Astros make a move for a starting pitcher, but my completely uninformed opinion is that they target Odorizzi or a 2-3 type, hoping that Keuchel and McCullers can anchor that rotation. 2017 will be a Go For It year while still providing the flexibility

Today is a good day. If you boo Beltran next year, be sure to get a video of you doing it so I can present it as evidence in my assault trial for why I kicked you squarely between your balls and your tailpipe.