Before baseball began this year, I called the Giants worst move of the off season the decision not to re-sign Carlos Beltran. The logic there was that the Cardinals got Beltran for just two years and $26 million, a relatively low-risk deal compared to what folks believed he might get.
And now Beltran's proving why that move was so disastrous, essentially outperforming the entire Giants outfield.
In his first 30 games as a Cardinal, Beltran's already swatted 10 home runs, knocked in 27 RBI, stolen five bases, walked 17 times and has posted a .284/.391/.569 line on the season.
As a Giant, Beltran hit just seven home runs and drove in 18 RBI. And that was in 44 games, which makes his high-value production with the Cardinals all the more impressive. Beltran's been good for 1.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which ties him for ninth in the big leagues.
Even worse is the fact that the Giants outfield hasn't performed as well as Beltran this year. Melky Cabrera's been a surprising revelation with four homers, 10 RBI and a .371 OBP. Nate Schierholtz had an insane hot streak and is still above-average, technically, but let's be real about his streak: It's growing smaller in the proverbial rear-view by the day. And Angel Pagan's got three home runs but he hasn't been able to get on base too often.
All told, the Giants have 10 home runs and 32 RBI from their outfielders this season and if those numbers seems familiar, it should, because they're just about what Beltran's done by himself this year.
Is it kind of a jerky thing to sit back with the benefit of hindsight and say "Hey, Beltran's 10 home runs would've been nice right now?" Sure it is. But because I said it before the season, and because I'm not the only person who believed the Giants should chase Beltran, and because Beltran signed with the Cardinals for a low-risk, two-year deal, it's hard not to imagine what the Giants could be doing if one of baseball's best hitters through a fifth of 2011 was sitting in their lineup.
But it's also not a jerky thing to do because the Giants traded their top minor-league prospect for a short season of having Beltran last year. It didn't pan out, obviously. And throwing good money after bad is a stupid economic decision, but Beltran showed during September that he's not exactly "bad money" in the first place.
This is the inevitable "what if" that's going to occur all season long, particularly if the Giants continue to scuffle. It'll only be made worse if Beltran keeps hitting like an MVP candidate.