Recent Royals: 2002 SP Signature Carlos Beltran

I have very few card collections given my limited resources and space, but I did decide some time ago to begin collecting on-card Royals autographs. It’s been a blast so far trying to track these things down and this is the latest addition to my collection. To view the cards currently in the collection, take a look at the Gallery or the other posts in this series. I’m working on getting a legit want list together on my trade page but, in the meantime, if you have any on-card Royals autos that it looks like I don’t have, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

Hey look, another version of SP from 2002.

Boy, it sure is nice to finally have an autograph with an ending that doesn’t go something like, “And, after kicking around in minors for 5 years, he called it quits and now sells lawn furniture out of his dad’s pickup truck.” Of course, we all know the Beltran story has its ups and downs. But let’s get to the happy parts first!

Beltran (whose name actually has an accent over the a but I forget the ASCII code for that letter) won the ROY award with the Royals in 1999 and it was not close. He seemed a natural. And, for a few seasons after that (barring an injury-shortened 2000, dude seemed a legit 40/40 threat. Of course, being represented by Scott Boras meant that he was not long for Kansas City and, in 2004, the Royals swung a 3-team trade that sent Carlos to the Astros and netted Mark Teahan and John Buck- both future major leaguers for the Royals. He continued to crush the ball and steal bases and absolutely killed for the Astros in the postseason. As a free agent at the end of that season, he signed a ridiculous contract with the Mets. I say ridiculous because it was backloaded so heavily that you have to wonder if Scott Boras spikes the drinks of the people with whom he’s negotiating. Carlos Beltran will make $19M this year. That’s a steal for a 40/40 guy.

But here’s where the strings come in. Injuries have prevented Beltran from playing a complete season since 2009. His speed took a serious dive shortly after his signing and his power seems to have dried up quite a bit. I’m not saying the Mets have a very expensive 4th outfielder on their hands or anything, but this probably isn’t exactly what they expected. Beltran projects to have a decent 2011 if he can stay healthy (current OPS: .818) and, in a contract year, he’s probably hoping to put together good enough numbers to get another MLB starting gig. Hard to believe that’s a concern from the guy who was considered one of the best in baseball for a short time. At 34, he’s probably got some left in the tank and I’m curious to see where he ends up. At any rate, his career line still looks impressive, with 5 All-Star appearances and 3 Gold Gloves. He’ll likely hit 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases (possibly this year) which are important milestones though, at this point, he may be a long shot for Hall of Fame consideration.

Any Mets fans want to chime in on how they feel the Beltran signing worked out 7 years later? This article seems to think he may be gone by the trade deadline if they can find a taker. If he’d give a discount, I’d love to see him finish his career in KC… but that’s a long shot too.

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