Astros’ Carlos Beltran Brings His Bat And His Experience Back To Town

Mar 17, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; Puerto Rico outfielder Carlos Beltran (15) hits an RBI single during the first inning against the United States during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; Puerto Rico outfielder Carlos Beltran (15) hits an RBI single during the first inning against the United States during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

How Long Ago did Carlos Beltran play for the Astros?

In 2004, Brittney Spears was the queen of the world, and Napolean Dynamite had us all craving tater tots. Also that summer, Baseball fever was sweeping the city of Houston. The Astros swung a three-team trade that netted them Carlos Beltran. He was nothing short of phenomenal over his 90 games of work with the Astros. He posted an impressive .926 OPS with 23 HR and 28 SB in that span…and then that postseason.

We watched a man transform from a really good player into a superstar. In 13 postseason games, Beltran hit 8 HR and drove in 13 runs. He was going to be the future of Astros baseball. Beltran instead chose to sign a free-agent deal with the Mets and left us all with the memories. At his “Welcome Back to Houston” press conference, Alex Del Bario got this quote on why Beltran left the first time:

"“The no-trade clause was the one that really pushed me away,” Beltran said Monday citing his desire to return to Houston after his magical 2004 postseason. “The fact that previous ownership wasn’t able to give me that, basically I was forced to move on."

Dangit Drayton! Then-owner Drayton McClane Jr. balked at the no trade clause Beltran requested, and the Mets swooped right in. Unfortunately, Astros fans were so unhappy with the perception that mean ol’ Beltran “played” sweet Uncle Drayton that we passionately booed the man for over a decade. Well, now don’t we feel less that righteous? But that’s in the past, and all is forgiven, right?

Giving Back

According to Beltran, the future in Houston is bright. Beltran published a fantastic piece in the Player’s Tribune explaining his decision to return to Houston. I highly recommend reading it…after you finish here. Beltran touched on several things in the article, but primarily, he shares a couple of examples why he thinks Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa are legit.

He also said that he asked Hinch to put his locker next to the younger players so he could be a resource for them. Beltran explained his desire to be a leader and said that when he signed he called AJ Hinch with one request:

"“Put my locker next to young guys who I can help,” I said. “Get me around the kids … the players who I can have an impact on. In spring training, during drills, whenever you can. Give me the opportunity to help all the young players get better.”"

He has a desire to give back to the game. He talked about how much Craig Biggio helped him in 2004 and how he wanted to be the same kind of influence on young players. Even during the Word Baseball Classic broadcasts, the commentators talked about how much Beltran and Yadier Molina had impacted the younger players on from Puerto Rico. Just imagine what he’ll be able to do over the course of a full season.

Big Impact

This Astros team is as talented as we’ve seen in a long time. In 2015 they were young, exciting, and had zero expectations on them, so everything they did was just icing on the surprise cake. They were a bad inning away from going to a very winnable ALCS in 2015. As a result, they were the picked by many to win the AL Pennant in 2016. For the first time, they had a target on their backs. They were no longer the scrappy kids.

They were the favorites last year. That seemed to take a toll on them, especially right out of the gate. They got down too far, too early and despite playing well for a while, they couldn’t pull it out. They were bullied by the Rangers and just ran out of steam in late-September.

In short, they didn’t know how to win. They had all the talent necessary, but they just didn’t handle the switch from surprise upstart to odds-on-favorite. Enter the old guys.

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This Should Be Fun

The additions of Beltran, Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, Nori Aoki, and Charlie Morton each come with their own on-field upside. However, the most significant impact from these newest Astros may well be off the field. That’s not said to minimize what they’re going to bring on the field, though, because each of them represents a significant upgrade. With the young guys and the veterans in place, this should be one of the deeper lineups in the league.

When you look at the Astros lineup, 1 – 9, there aren’t any glaring weak spots. Opposing pitchers can’t take a break. This offense should be fun to watch. More importantly, having a strong veteran influence should impact the Astros well beyond the duration of Beltran’s one year contract.

The young players should take this opportunity to learn from a multiple time All-Star, clutch performer, and well-regarded teammate and they’ll be set up to succeed well into the future.

Next: Astros Season Preview: Predicting Top Award Candidates

Oh, and please don’t boo the man. He’s on our side now.

***Stats from Baseball- Reference***