The market for Adrian Beltre wasn’t what he or agent Scott Boras believed it was, and the Gold Glove third baseman eliminated one team from consideration the day he became a free agent.
Beltre’s one-year and an option contract in Boston will give him the chance to build power numbers, although there’s a risk with his penchant for trying to pull the ball that Fenway Park will become an obsession with him.
When he left the Mariners after five years, he loved his teammates – it was mutual – and the fans. He loved manager Don Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik.
And he loathed Safeco Field.
For all the injuries Beltre suffered in his Seattle career – from groin pulls to shoulder impingements, torn thumb ligaments and a bruised testicle – the one he never discussed was his heart.
Safeco Field broke it.
Beltre was not going to hit 48 home runs in a season as a Seattle Mariner, though he’d done that his last year in the National League. The problem was, he tried.
No matter which batting coach worked with him, and there were plenty over the last five seasons, Beltre couldn’t stand hitting long fly balls to left field in Safeco Field and watching them get caught. No more than he could stop trying to hit them.
In batting practice he would spray the ball around the field, and in games Beltre was at his best hitting the gaps at home that led to doubles. He never had more than 26 home runs in a season as a Mariner.
He wanted more and believed he’d hit more – Safeco Field simply kept stealing them from him.
So when Beltre signed in Boston, his agent leaked the fact that he’d turned down longer offers for more money from two teams. Neither was Seattle. It turns out the Athletics and Angels tried to bring Beltre in, though not for the kind of money Boras wanted.
So Beltre went to Boston, where the Green Monster will turn hard hit balls into singles off that wall, and yield fly ball home runs that Safeco Field would have devoured.
The Mariners will miss him. Unlike the surly Richie Sexson or the statistics-crazed Alex Rodriguez, Beltre played hard every day and would not publicly complain about the park in which he played.
He just wasn’t going to come back and play 81 games a year in it.
Now, a few links:
- Shannon Drayer has posted a fun Q & A with Ichiro on her blog, and for those who wonder what it’s like to talk to the man himself, this will let you know. Ichiro remains one of the mos unique players and interviews in the game.
- Now that Beltre has signed, veteran third baseman Melvin Mora is hoping to land a job, and his agent said three teams have expressed interest in the 37-year-old.
- One ex-Mariners catcher replaces another in Colorado, where Miguel Olivo signed a one-year deal with an option – at the expense of Yorvit Torrealba. Olivo will join his sixth team since 2002.
- Columnist Dan Shaugnessy takes on the Edgar Martinez Hall of Fame candidacy – he did not vote for him - and sabermetricians with lines like this: “The stat geeks, those get-a-lifers who are sucking all the joy out of our national pastime, no doubt will be able to demonstrate that Edgar was better than Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby. I’m not buying. Stats don’t tell the whole story. A man can drown in three feet of water.”
- Yet another reminder why it’s great to be left-handed: the Kansas City Royals have signed former Mariners reliever John Parrish. Parrish didn’t pitch well in Seattle and missed all 2009 following shoulder surgery.
- Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano has been a rumored target for the Mariners, and after a 5-13 season last year, he’s pitching well in winter ball. Manager Ron Gardenhire’s excitement could be genuine – or a sales pitch.
- Big news! Rihanna has been seen in public with boy toy and erstwhile Los Angeles Dodger Matt Kemp! That passes for news in Hollywood, and in Britain, where this story is a must-read if only for it’s headline.