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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Beltre: Beyond the Pale
2005-05-26 17:18
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

I've been wanting more time to pass before talking about Adrian Beltre's 2005 season, but in the meantime, it's worth noting this piece by Derek Zumsteg (thanks to Baseball Primer for the link. He writes that Beltre is far enough below even the most pessimistic, cynical projections for his 2005 season that it's worth asking if Beltre has physical problems (in the great, recent tradition of some Dodgers we remember) much worse than people are aware.

Neither Zumsteg nor I are sure that the answer is yes. But again, no matter how poorly you thought Beltre would do - and I'll be the first to say I thought he'd continue to do well - you probably didn't expect him to have what might turn out to be the very worst season of his up-and-down career. It's more than just a disappointment - it's a mystery.

Comments
2005-05-26 17:34:10
1.   FirstMohican
Does anyone know how long it takes to fully recover from getting bone spurs removed?

I have a feeling his 2009 season will be pretty stellar.

2005-05-26 17:57:23
2.   GoBears
Well, he's always a slow starter, so he'll end up better than he is now. But yeah, that's still a huge dropoff.
2005-05-26 18:00:38
3.   Eric Enders
In the couple of Mariners games I've watched this year, Beltre has been a dead ringer for Old Adrian. Flailing at every outside breaking ball, trying to pull everything instead of hitting the other way. Basically all the bad habits we broke him of last year have returned, from what I could tell.
2005-05-26 18:06:31
4.   Jim Hitchcock
Which is an interesting point, Eric...could Tim Wallach have had that much of an effect on him?
2005-05-26 18:08:50
5.   Eric Enders
No idea. But maybe Beltre should watch some film from last year.
2005-05-26 18:11:03
6.   scareduck
And from following the M's bloggers (Lookout Landing, U.S.S. Mariner), Beltre's reverted to his bad, pre-2005 form generally. I seem to remember a couple games vs. the Angels where he swung at sliders outside. Ouch.
2005-05-26 18:39:41
7.   LAT
I have to believe that if Beltre were still with the Dodgers he would be doing better than he is in Seattle. Probably not as good as last year, but better. As with many things in life, his performance is likely the result of a combination of factors, not just one. I would think a new, harder, ball park, a different league, a new hitting coach and new surroundings are all factors to create a perfect storm. Had he stayed in LA many of those factors would not be present. On the other hand maybe last year was an unexplainable aberration and he just sucks (I don't think so). BTW, although I would be disappointed if I were a Marnier fan (you know, the way I feel about Drew) they still got a heck of a defensive 3B.
2005-05-26 19:45:01
8.   molokai
I warned all my Seattle friends not to boo him in April/May and he will reward them in July/August/Sept. Last year was the only year he had a good start and thus the exceptional career year. This year I would bet that he still has a solid 2nd half but the Mariners didn't pay all that money for a 1/2 year player. Adrian got what he asked for when he made Boras his agent. He got the money but not the support that he would have here in LA. I bet his time in Seattle will be hellish.
2005-05-26 20:25:24
9.   Louis in SF
Interesting topic, and something that has fasinated me for years, the impact a move to a different league and how much does an agent tell his client about the positives and negatives about changing teams. I believe that for some players a move between leagues can have little effect. However, for a player who was establishing himself, feeling comfortable with his teamates, coaches and direction. and then to suddenly move, there is an impact. It can also go the other way too.

I would kill to actually have heard what Boras said to Beltre in those final days and how quick or "how slow" was DePo in fielding that call from Boras, which ultimately led to the signing by the Mariners..I still think Beltre will have a pretty good year and end up with about 30 homers.

2005-05-26 22:39:57
10.   DougS
What LAT and Molokai said, pretty much. I have felt all along that it was in Beltre's best interest to stay in LA, even if DePo's offer was not the most lucrative. The fans here adored him last year, and would have had more patience with his characteristic slow start. There would have been less pressure on him as a result of having a multi-year, big-buck contract. The way Seattle pursued him, it seems like he and Sexton are supposed to save the team all by themselves. And of course, there's the Wallach factor, although I'm open-minded about how important it really is.

I know DePo has been careful not to make Scott Boras the villain in all this. But it seems to me that agents have a disincentive against giving value to factors other than the $ value of the contract (assuming, of course, that sports agents get paid a percentage of the contract's value, as do literary agents). Not only do they get more money the more lucrative the contract, but they also get publicity that will help them lure other clients. Like Louis, I'd be curious to learn what advice Boras actually gave Beltre, to see how it squares with what I believe Beltre's best interests were.

2005-05-26 23:05:36
11.   Linkmeister
I don't know about the home runs. In SI this week Verducci has a four-pager about the dropoff in the number of dingers so far this year. Lots of speculation about steroids, about good young pitching, the aging of the big sluggers, etc. etc.
2005-05-26 23:14:00
12.   Jim Hitchcock
I have no doubt it's a confidence issue with Beltre, having to do woth the move.

As to Doug's last 'graph, I think he has the right take on agents...but I have to ask myself. How would Arliss have handled it :)

2005-05-27 00:09:31
13.   Bob Timmermann
Arliss would have handled it in an incredibly unfunny way and misused Sandra Oh too.
2005-05-27 04:16:51
14.   Doug N
I want to be extremely clear about this comment: I'm not saying that I think Beltre has used steroids. But one never knows.
2005-05-27 06:22:14
15.   Sam DC
Doug N -- This comment is sparked by your 14 above, but its length is more a result of the fact that the issue comes up with some frequency here and wherever I talk ball. I appreciate your good intentions and that you are just trying to note/raise for discussion a reasonable issue but, despite your efforts, I don't think your comment 14 is very clear. I gather you're saying that Beltre might have used steroids but we don't know. But, despite the careful and qualified way you phrase your comment, question-raising like this can't help but be part accusation, esp. in the context of a ballplayer who is suffering a big performance drop. But while I've not seen much of Beltre this year, folks here seem to be saying that the most obvious problem is he's swinging at bad pitches and ignoring the opp field again. Now so I'm clear, I'm not saying he couldn't have used steroids. Like you, I have no idea. But I think the same could be said regarding almost any player. And given how difficult it is for athletes to disprove steroid use, I think we should be very careful with the sort of question-raising contained in your comment. Gagne has gotten the same treatment at times, and I guess I just think it's unfair.

I'm not saying the discussion of this subject should be verboten, nor am I saying that you've done anything uncommon or ill-intentioned. (Heck, if we trawl the comments I've probably made similar comments as it is very natural to wonder.) Rather, you've obviously tried to be as fair as possible. My point is just that, given the way this issue has played out and the lack of recourse to those falsely accused, I am trying to be very cautious and would urge others to do the same.

Anyhow, I hope you don't mind my using your comment as a springboard for a little meandering rant. Unfortunately, I'll be offline most of the day, so if you respond and I don't answer, know that I'm not bailing out on the discussion.

2005-05-27 06:41:33
16.   Sam DC
It's disturbing how many of the sentences in the above over-long comment begin with conjunctions. Sorry I can't further edit; it could use it. s
2005-05-27 06:48:24
17.   Howard Fox
Last year, when the Dodgers were negotiating with Beltre, I went on record against a big signing. Everyone lambasted DePo, but I applauded him for not wasting money on a "one-hit wonder". Good ballplayer? yes...worth $60 or $66 mill? no...

Last year, he endured too much pain when fishing for that low outside pitch due to his foot problems. So he laid off it.

This year, his foot is fine, and he has reverted to the form displayed for the vast majority of his playing time.

He is a good, maybe great, defensive player. But he is undisciplined at the plate and lacks, and appears unwilling to learn, the strike zone. It didn't take the AL pitchers long to learn this.

2005-05-27 07:44:37
18.   TFD
Jon: Why is it a mystery when a guy has one great year, during a contract year no-less, then goes into the tank?

GMs all over baseball wouldn't get near Beltre because they believed this exact thing would happen.

I hope he comes out of it, but....unproductivity may be what Beltre becomes known for from here on out.

2005-05-27 07:58:38
19.   Ben P
I would agree that his bad foot last year somehow allowed him to drive the ball to the opposite field in a way he's been unable to this year. From the games I've watched he seems to be pressing, trying too hard to hit home runs instead of just line drives. Perhaps he feels pressure to justify his huge contract.

If I remember correctly, last year Beltre really started mashing when he was 6th or 7th in the lineup and was only moved into the middle of the order a bit later. The Mariners have him stuck in the 3rd spot and should consider moving him down until he regains his stroke. I still think he can have a productive second half.

2005-05-27 08:22:30
20.   djt
Recently, the L.A. Times ran an infobox comparing the Dodgers' 2005 third basemen to Beltre's 2004. I thought that was cheating. You have to compare them to what he's doing now, don't you? And although the Dodgers have gotten a plateful of squat from third this year -- with a side order of injuries -- they're still doing better than Beltre, and for less money.
2005-05-27 08:31:48
21.   Howard Fox
re #20 - that's the LA Times...when Drew gets on track, they will compare him unfavorably to Bonds' 73 homer season
2005-05-27 08:37:50
22.   franklin
I suggest the Mariners fill his left shoe with sharp gravel for a few weeks and see if it makes a noticeable difference.
2005-05-27 08:46:19
23.   aloofman
I wonder if the LAT will ever run an article pointing out Beltre's problems to the Dodger fan base. This was the guy (along with Finley) that their writers went to the mat for and lambasted DePo for letting them leave. For all the problems that the Dodgers have hade at third base, a comparison to Beltre's current stats would be illuminating.
2005-05-27 08:51:42
24.   db1022
#17 - I think you're right on there. He's obviously a massive talent, as shown last year when he put it all together. He simply has a lot of holes in his swing, and I just don't buy the Tim Wallach as King Midas theory.
2005-05-27 08:55:15
25.   Howard Fox
if you are holding your breath waiting to read an article in the LA Times not negatively slanted against the Dodgers, you will turn blue and pass out...maybe that is their way of rallying the fan base...
2005-05-27 09:05:29
26.   db1022
OT - Came out last night, so maybe its been discussed, but Adam Dunn is more or less demanding a trade from the Reds. I don't want to be throwing out imaginary trades, but you'd think Depo would really make a move on this guy if was made available.

Werth, Brazoban, and one of our young pitchers?

2005-05-27 09:14:09
27.   LAT
When a guy like Beltre has a year like last year its not because it was a walk year or a fluke. You can't summon that talent for 6 months, 180 games, and then just lose it. If you have that much talent and you are 25 years old that talent is still inside you. Its just a matter of getting it out. This is not some no-name golfer who shots a one round 59 and falls back into obscurity. I believe one of the biggest differences is Tim Wallach. No hitting coach before him or after him has figured Beltre out. Those results speak for themselves. I still believe that by the end of 2005 Beltre will be out hitting our platoon of 3B. Likewise, I believe Drew will open it up pretty soon. But with 1/4 of the season they better get going because they are digging quite a hole.
2005-05-27 09:15:50
28.   Howard Fox
re #27 I think if you look at last year, Beltre did not have 6 months of greatness...look at September, he was already tailing off
2005-05-27 09:22:34
29.   franklin
already tailing off

Sept 2004 OPS: 1.015

2005-05-27 09:28:39
30.   the OZ
Here's what Nate Silver had to say about Beltre in his BP article this morning, where he revisits PECOTA projections that were especially erroneous:

"I see absolutely no reason to take anything other than the Occam's Razor explanation: Beltre's 2004 was one of the biggest one-year flukes in baseball history."

2005-05-27 09:38:59
31.   Chris H
All the stats guys (MGL, etc.) who ran the numbers said it was a long shot for Beltre to produce more than $8 million a year worth of value. At the time I thought that was a tad pessimistic, but right now it looks like it may be generous.

I'm a little surprised that Beltre is as bad as he has been, but it is pretty common for a player to have a poor couple of months. No one should be expecting to see the 2004 version of Beltre show up any time soon though.

The bottom line is that the Mariners drastically overpaid for a player because they are, to borrow a phrase from Joe Sheehan, economically illiterate bitches.

2005-05-27 09:40:43
32.   Howard Fox
re: #29 - look at his home runs and clutch hits in September...numbers aren't always reflective, and that is coming from a CPA...look at Drew this year, with all the walks, his OBP is terrific, but would you want him at bat right now with the game on the line?
2005-05-27 09:46:57
33.   Langhorne
Re: #14+15

This is one of the more insidious aspects of steroid use. Once one player is found to be using performance enhancing drugs it brings suspicion on everyone. It is natural to wonder, especially when there is a marked improvement or decline in performance. Wondering isn't accusing and the fact that we wonder at all is the fault of those that use steroids. I must also say that I lay a good deal of blame on Bud Selig for not addressing the problem for so long. It's hard to just blame players who were doing something that was not against the rules of baseball until very recently.

2005-05-27 09:58:16
34.   mcrawford
#32 -- Beltre had 6 HR in September. This was obviously not as good as July (10) or August (13!) but it's the same as April through June (7,5,7). He had 23 RBI in September, which was better than any month except August (24).

Methinks we have some selective memory going on here.

One thing that is weird about his September is that he stole 5 bases, compared to only 2 the rest of the year. I guess his foot was feeling a lot better.

2005-05-27 10:06:03
35.   the OZ
When a player suddenly starts trying to steal bases, I always wonder if he is imagining they're a big suitcase full of cash waiting at the base for him, for having an extra 'tool' upon reaching FA.
2005-05-27 10:06:48
36.   the OZ
they're = there's
2005-05-27 10:13:24
37.   Icaros
26 - I would love to have Adam Dunn. You have to like a 25-year-old with speed who can bat .243 and still be OPSing at 1.006 (.407 OBP and .599 SLG!). It would be a lot of fun to watch him hit HRs off of the 76 station.

That being said, I don't think the team can afford to give up much in the way of pitching at this point (Brazoban). Perhaps if DePo has the magic ability to discern which of our pitching prospects aren't the real deal, he can send a couple of them, but I fear that the asking price for Dunn will be extremely high.

Too bad Bowden isn't still their GM. DePo could have really fleeced that idiot.

2005-05-27 10:38:34
38.   djt
Oh, God, not Dunn! I'm a bred-in-the-bone Reds fan, and if we trade Dunn, I may lose the will to live.

Anyway, I wanted to follow up on my assertion that the Dodgers' Wheel-O-Stiffs at 3B was outproducing Beltre, so I hit mlb.com. I didn't break it down game by game, so these numbers have some overlap where someone's playing 1B, for instance:

Edwards + Nakamura + Perez + Roblez + Valentin:
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP OBP SLG
192 23 45 6 3 3 22 24 34 3 .329 .344

Beltre:
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K HBP OBP SLG
180 25 43 8 0 5 24 5 32 1 .263 .367

Eerie!

2005-05-27 10:41:19
39.   mcrawford
Wow, .263 OBP? That's phenomenally bad. 24 BB for our guys vs. 5 walks for Beltre, that's the real difference.

Oh, and the fact that our guys completely dominate Beltre in triples. Whoo-hoo!

2005-05-27 10:44:01
40.   Chris H
The real problem at 3B has been defense, but Perez has been very good. It remains to be seen if he can keep that up. In any case, he has a lot more range than Edwards and Nakamura and so far he looks a lot more steady than Valentin (who I thought would be pretty good).
2005-05-27 11:08:24
41.   dzzrtRatt
If Antonio Perez establishes himself as LA's everyday third baseman and hits even half as well as he's been hitting since his return, DePodesta is going to have a hard time fitting his gigantic swollen head into his office. To keep him modest, someone needs to send him video tapes of all Jason Grabowski's at bats in 2005.

I agree with the theory that Beltre's success last year was partly predicated on his inability to swing like Vladdie due to bone spurs. As is true about many players with abundant natural talent Beltre is not a disciplined player. Pain concentrates the mind, and forces you to let the game come to you.

Adjusting to the league seems like a dodge; how differently do they really pitch in the AL anymore? If anything, the stereotypical AL "challenge you with a fastball" type of pitcher should play to Beltre's strengths.

As for steroids, in the NY Times about a month ago, Michael "Moneyball" Lewis quoted an anonymous coach who said he suspected Beltre last year because he had put on more than 20 lbs. during the offseason. That was his rule of thumb apparently. For what it's worth.

I wonder if Seattle's climate has anything to do with it. Cold and damp isn't exactly the environment Beltre's grown up in.

2005-05-27 11:13:03
42.   Howard Fox
all I have to say re: Beltre is, he made his bed, now he has to sleep in it...

he will always blame the Dodgers for not resigning him, but in the end he signed with the M's, his choice...he would have taken less to play with the Dodgers? he also had that choice...

he exemplifies that there just might be more to it than chasing the highest salary...maybe, just maybe, finding a "home" also has some importance...

2005-05-27 11:27:34
43.   DougS
Howard, that's why I'm interested in knowing what advice Boras gave Beltre. I can see why athletes who are young and maybe not so worldly put a lot of trust in agents. But maybe they shouldn't. After all, the agent has little incentive to consider anything other than the $ value of the contract. That whole "finding a home" for the player thing doesn't necessarily fill his bank account or help him lure new clients.
2005-05-27 11:43:11
44.   Icaros
Continuing with the Adam Dunn discussion, I'd be willing to part with Joel Guzman and one of the pitching prospects for him.

In 2007, after Kent is gone, the Dodgers will have Choi, Izturis, and Perez all in their late 20s prime years. That will leave one infield spot to be filled by either LaRoche, Aybar, or Young (could be two spots if Choi or Perez ends up not being so great, more likely to be Perez).

I fear that Guzman could be another free-swinging Beltre type, despite his tools. Dunn has proven to be the ultimate TTO player, and an opportunity to acquire him two years before his prime is hard to pass up (not that I'm totally convinced that the opportunity really exists).

2005-05-27 11:48:34
45.   Eric Enders
db1022 (#26) -- Where did you hear that about Dunn? It hasn't been reported in any news outlets (including the Cincinnati papers &etc.)
2005-05-27 12:11:37
46.   Chris H
I'm extremely skeptical about these Dunn reports, but if such an oppurtunity arose I'm confident that Depo would make sure that Dunn was patroling LF in Dodger blue.
2005-05-27 12:41:30
47.   dzzrtRatt
He's not too much of a prima donna?
2005-05-27 12:47:27
48.   mcrawford
Based on ZiPS, here's the all-Adam-Dunn team -- players whose plate appearance is most likely to end in a HR, SO, or BB. Maybe we can acquire some of these guys:

LF: Adam Dunn
1B: Jim Thome
3B: Russell Branyan
CF: Jim Edmonds
2B: Mark Bellhorn
RF: Sammy Sosa
C: No big names here, but several nice players -- Todd Pratt, Bobby Estalella, Dave Ross
SS: I can't find any real starters. The highest one listed is Jose Hernandez.

Barry Bonds just misses the LF cut to Dunn. There are a bunch of guys who aren't actually playing in real-life (I think) that I left out. Rob Stratton, Jack Cust, Ryan Howard, Steve Lomasney, Jonny Gomes. Cal Pickering is a good choice for DH.

2005-05-27 14:09:46
49.   djt
Don't forget hitting coach Rob Deer.

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