Free Agent Frenzy: Profiling the 3B
Age on Opening Day 2005: 26
2004: .334/.388/.629, 48 HR, 121 RBI
Career: .274/.332/.463, 147 HR, 510 RBI
Beltre busted out in a major way in 2004 producing career-high numbers in every major statistical area. On his way to an MVP-type season the long-time Dodger hit the ball to all fields on a consistent basis and was the league's best hitter in clutch situations. Defensively Beltre has gotten better every year since 2001 and there is no reason he couldn't challenge for a gold glove sooner or later. On the bases, Beltre is solid base runner with better-than-average speed, though you won't see many steals on his stat line.
Beltre's only weakness is the concern of consistency. His first five years produced no two seasons that equaled the year he out up in 2004. Will he revert back to pre-2004? Will he keep the pace with his breakout year? Will he find a happy medium?
The Mariner Factor:
Beltre would instantly fix two deficiencies on the Mariners roster; An every day player at the hot corner and a true blue middle-of-the-order stick. If Beltre can find his way into a lineup where he is hitting in front of Carlos Delgado (Seattle?) or Miguel Tejada, he may not have issues coming reasonably close to his production of the past season.
Age on Opening Day 2005: 28
2004: .251/.355/.575, 18 HR, 42 RBI
Career: .253, 182 HR, 515 RBI
Glaus has as much raw power as any hitter in baseball, often smashing towering shots into the deepest parts of the ball park. The former World Series MVP has performed well in the clutch, and has been a very good hitter on both bad teams and playoff contending clubs. In the field, Glaus is more than adequate at third and on occasion will surprise with a prime defensive play or two. Lacking more than average speed, the 240-pound Glaus is a station to station base runner who won't be streaking home on a shallow fly ball to left any time soon.
Injuries. Glaus hasn't played a full season even if you combine his previous two seasons and couldn't play the field the last month of 2004. The shoulder surgery prevented his right arm from making the long throw from third to first and this could be a concern as teams negotiate the idea bringing Glaus aboard. Removing injuries from the occasion, Glaus has no glaring weaknesses unless you consider a career .253 batting average a weakness. His power more than negates the strikeouts and sub par average.
The Mariner Factor:
If M's fan turn out on opening day and see Troy Glaus strutting to the plate with Ichiro on third, Delgado on first and one down (thank Jeremy Reed for bunting Ichiro to second), the club has done it's job. Glaus brings a perfect approach to being a clean up or No. 5 hitter and is an ideal second fiddle to a more pure hitter like Delgado. The M's would be well-served with Glaus in the middle of the order.
Age on Opening Day 2005: 31
2004: .251/.342/.495, 25 HR, 71 RBI
Career: .280/.373/.463, 101 HR, 437 RBI
Koskie has made his name with a gritty gold glove and a solid left-handed stick and could be a quality addition to a contending team. In limited time, Koskie has produced a solid average and 20+ home run power over the last three seasons and has probably has been Minnesota's best power threat after Torii Hunter. As long as Koskie isn't expected to carry a team on a daily basis, he provides a strong bat in the second half of the order and would fit nicely on many teams that need a third baseman.
The theme of the winter is also Koskie's weakness- injuries. The 31-year-old has spent time on the DL every season since 2000, largely due to lower back problems. Like Glaus, this could scare a few teams off of a longer contract but whoever ends up with Koskie will be pleasantly surprised.
The Mariner Factor:
Should the M's add one impact hitter, such as Delgado or Beltran, acquiring Koskie could be the best alternative to a second mega bat. He solves the every day issue at third base and would fit Safeco as another left-handed hitter to go with Ibanez, Ichiro and Reed.
Age on Opening Day 2005: 36
2004: .271/.332/.535, 35 HR, 131 RBI
Career: .280/.324/.489, 303 HR, 1012 RBI
Castilla returned to Colorado in 2004 and got back to his bashing ways. After leading the league in RBI, Castilla might be able to parlay a mult-year contract from a contending team looking for a solid answer at the hot corner. Castilla still hits the fastball very well and hasn't lost much bat speed. Defensively, Castilla is very solid and sure-handed but has lost some range. Without much speed for his entire career he won't be turning any heads on the bases, but is a very smart base runner, as he takes after former teammate Larry Walker.
Castilla's age isn't the only factor that will hurt his market value but it might be the biggest reason why no GM wants to offer more than a one-year deal. His ability to hit in the thin air of the Rockies isn't as impressive as it used to be since he couldn't duplicate that success in Atlanta or Tampa Bay.
The Mariner Factor:
Castilla probably won't sniff a phone call from Bill Bavasi with the club looking to stay on the younger side of things via free agency. The presence of Jose Lopez is another factor that keeps Castilla out of Safeco where his power would be eaten alive to the furthest extent. If the Mariners were desperate for a third baseman, the M's would likely pass on Castilla, slide Lopez to the hot corner and look for a shortstop rather than adding an aging veteran.
Next: Saturday, November 6- Starting and relief pitchers by Ian Levin
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