Carlos Beltrán: Cardinals vs. Blue Jays

CINCINNATI, OH: Carlos Beltran #15 of the San Francisco swings at a pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

This is me mashing up two tweets from Scott Miller (whose avatar, I will mention just in passing, doesn't do this handsome fellow full justice):

Carlos Beltrán hopes to make decision this week. Cardinals and Blue Jays among most aggressive. Has two- and three-year offers. Beltrán's choice appears to be weighing city he prefers to play in vs. larger average annual value of contract.

You gotta take care of your family. But Toronto's got so many great restaurants!

It would be a tough choice for me, too.

What I can't figure out is why the Cardinals would be among the most aggressive.

I mean, we've been over this ground before, but the St. Louis Cardinals don't need another corner bat.

In the absence of Albert Pujols, the Cardinals still have those four positions covered, and covered well.

1B: Lance Berkman
3B: David Freese
LF: Matt Holliday
RF: Allen Craig

Yes, Beltrán grades out as better than Craig, both at the plate and in the field and on the bases. But is the difference worth $15 million per season for two or three seasons? I doubt it, unless the Cardinals flip Craig for a couple of prospects. I'm reminded of Brian Giles, who never got a real chance to play until he was 28.

But if the Cardinals can't get more for Craig than someone Ricardo Rincón-ish, they should let him play right field and spend their money on Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson or Javier Vazquez. I suppose the front office does feel a bit hamstrung by the lack of options, though. With Rafael Furcal in the fold, the Cardinals' only obvious opening is at second base ... and there aren't any free-agent second baseman appreciably better than Skip Schumaker, the incumbent.

There is a big opening in the rotation, though. And it sure seems to me that spending $45 million on Edwin Jackson would be more efficient than spending $45 million on Carlos Beltrán. Again, unless John Mozeliak's already something working to swap Craig for prospects.

While we're on the subject, I'm not sure the Blue Jays really need Beltrán, either. They've got Jose Bautista, the best hitter in the American League, in right field. He used to play third base, but phenom Brett Lawrie's there now. Eric Thames deserves an extended trial in left field. But that does leave first base and DH, currently held by Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnación. Obviously, Beltrán would be a huge upgrade over either of those guys. And considering that Bautista's a pretty terrible outfielder, on paper you could improve in multiple ways by turning Bautista into a DH and playing Beltrán in right field.

That could actually be a pretty excellent lineup, particularly if Colby Rasmus ever plays like we used to think he would.

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