The Carlos Beltran free agent maneuverings could have domino affects all over baseball, but especially with the Yankees and Red Sox.
Normally I totally ignore Joel Sherman of the New York Post (aside from when he’s plagiarizing me—scroll down to the section beginning with “Hmmm”), but he’s repeatedly suggested that Beltran might be a possibility for the Yankees to replace Nick Swisher if they choose to decline Swisher’s 2012 contract option for $10.25 million.
It’s a good idea if the Yankees are willing to commit the years (probably at least three guaranteed with a player option for the fourth) to sign Beltran and allow Swisher to leave. Beltran proved he was healthy and able to be a superior, All Star player in 2011 with the Mets and Giants; he’s only 34 and despite his reluctance to DH, presumably he’d be willing to do it part of the time to extend his career and stay on the field.
There are other issues with Swisher/Beltran that have to be considered.
The Red Sox also have a hole in right field and Beltran’s quiet professionalism might be a welcome addition to the poisoned Red Sox clubhouse—but then again, so might Swisher’s.
Swisher is anything but quiet, but his gregarious personality keeps things light for the Yankees and they might miss it if he leaves; the Red Sox could use Swisher on and off the field.
You know what you’re getting with Swisher and can reasonably assume you’ll get similar 2011 production from Beltran.
Swisher is 3 1/2 years younger; Beltran has been great in the post-season; Swisher’s been terrible. Because Beltran is a switch-hitter, he’d add a dimension to both lineups that the clubs currently lack. Swisher’s 2011 splits were odd in that he batted well over .300 vs lefties and .232 vs righties; most of his power numbers (17 of his 23 homers) came off of right-handed pitchers.
Both players handle the spotlight of New York and would also deal well with Boston. If the Red Sox make substantial changes to their club, Beltran might be expected to take an active role in the new configuration; that would not be the case with the Yankees where he could replicate Bernie Williams and fade into the background and be left alone to do his job.
Two players that were sorely misjudged in the Red Sox culture were Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez; the players that replaced them were quieter types Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Both Beltre and Martinez would’ve put a stop to some of the things that went on as the Red Sox came apart. Beltran brings some of what Beltre and Martinez did in an understated way. But Swisher brings back some of the “idiot” attitude from 2004.
The money’s not an issue to the Yankees, but with Jorge Posada leaving, it’d be a drastic change to let Swisher go as well and replace him with the subdued Beltran. But Beltran’s the better, more consistent and versatile player; and more importantly, has come through in the playoffs when the Yankees needed Swisher and he faltered. Plus signing Beltran won’t cost any compensatory draft picks making him more attractive to Brian Cashman.
They have to decide which is more important. Clubhouse cohesion; a better player; or the the Red Sox making a move on either Beltran or Swisher.
Don’t be surprised if one winds up in Boston and the other in New York.
The only question is which goes where and for how much?