Carlos Beltran looking out for his legacy

Carlos Beltran has quietly put up career numbers that compare well with Hall of Famers. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

PHILADELPHIA -- Carlos Beltran waited for his turn in batting practice Sunday evening, and talked about his future. Beltran turns 36 on Wednesday, and as he acknowledged, you do start to think about legacy as you get older.

Beltran has 2,081 career hits, 1,255 RBIs and 338 homers, and he has reached that time when he is beginning to climb past all-time greats on the all-time lists. With four more home runs, for example, he will match Ron Santo, and with 10 more, he'll match Yogi Berra.

What became clear from the talk with Beltran is that he doesn't know exactly where he stands all-time among switch-hitters, among players from his homeland of Puerto Rico -- but his legacy will be part of his decision when it comes time to decide where to play next. Down the road, Beltran will be open to the idea of going to the American League and serving as a designated hitter, something that Chipper Jones could have done but chose not to do.

Beltran served as a DH in the World Baseball Classic and wasn't completely comfortable in the role. Players who are accustomed to being in the field talk about how difficult it is to make the adjustment to waiting in the dugout or clubhouse in the 30 to 45 minutes between plate appearances.

"If that happens," Beltran said, "I know exactly who I will call first -- Edgar Martinez."

Beltran is a friend to Martinez, the longtime DH of the Mariners, and to Eddie Murray, who served as a DH at the end of his long career.

Beltran is in the last year of a two-year, $26 million deal he signed with the Cardinals. He hasn't put a lot of thought into whether he'll stay in St. Louis, but the Cardinals have a surplus of outfielders and first base types -- with Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Matt Adams and rising star prospect Oscar Taveras, so it probably wouldn't be a surprise if St. Louis spent its dollars on some other part of the team.

Like Lance Berkman, Beltran could be attractive to potential AL suitors in the offseason because of his power and on-base percentage, no matter how much he can play in the outfield. Maybe the Yankees would be a fit. Or the Orioles, Rays, or any number of teams. Beltran had a .920 OPS in 2011, and .845 last season.

Beltran mentioned that he would like to get to 400 homers, a number that would be meaningful to him. He would like to rank among the best of the switch-hitters, a list that probably starts with Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose and Eddie Murray and includes Jones and Berkman. He is aware that the all-time leader in RBIs for a player from Puerto Rico is Carlos Delgado, at 1,512; Beltran is 287 away from that number.

There will be time later to think about all that. But as Beltran said, these are the types of things that come into focus for longtime All-Stars at the end of their careers.

• The Cardinals lost Sunday night, when Ben Revere and Erik Kratz came up with some big hits. Mitchell Boggs just could not get the ball down in his brutal stretch of work Sunday night, adding more puzzle pieces to the Cardinals' closer quandary. Sometimes, going with a single closer is not always a good thing, writes Bernie Miklasz.

Carlos Ruiz is expected to return to the Phillies' lineup next Sunday against the Mets, and Delmon Young played in his first rehab game over the weekend; if all goes well, Young could join the Phillies in a couple of weeks.

Around the league

• With Freddie Freeman set to rejoin the Atlanta lineup, Chris Johnson is moving to third base -- as a full-time player, writes Carroll Rogers. Jason Heyward is working on his patience.

• Wrote here Saturday about the improved offensive skills of Didi Gregorius, and the Diamondbacks benefited from those Sunday. The Diamondbacks are being careful with how they're using him.

John Buck continues to be the Mets' MVP, as John DeMarzo writes.

From Elias: John Buck opened the scoring with a second-inning solo homer that would be all the Mets needed in their 2-0 victory against the Nationals. Buck has seven home runs and 22 RBIs in the 15 games that he's started behind the plate for the Mets. Since the major leagues began tracking RBIs in 1920, no other player has accumulated as many as seven homers and 22 RBIs for a season in his first 15 games started as a catcher.

• The Angels frolicked at the end of a much-needed sweep.

• The Brewers have simply stopped losing. Which is to say, they played the Cubs, whose manager is losing patience. Dale Sveum talked about the consequences for those who don't play better. From Carrie Muskat's story:

The errors are both physical and mental, and are a surprise after how well the Cubs played in spring training, Sveum said.

"Some of these errors, they look physical but they're maybe a lack of awareness at the time or the situation at hand or they're trying to be too quick, or sometimes we don't have enough aggressiveness on balls or whatever it is," said Sveum, whose voice was hoarse after his argument with an umpire Friday that resulted in him being ejected.
"Sometimes defense is a rhythm and we're obviously not in any kind of defensive rhythm. Just like offense can be contagious, defense can, too.

"From top to bottom, we did outstanding in spring training, so to start out like this is obviously disappointing," Sveum said. "The bad thing is we're not picking each other up after these things happen.

"We're not overcoming our mistakes," Sveum said. "Good teams overcome those mistakes. A guy gets a ground ball double play and nobody thinks about what just happened."

• The Pirates had a really nice weekend against the Braves, taking three out of four, as Bill Brink writes.

From ESPN Stats & Info: Justin Upton earned top honors in Web Gems on Sunday. Teammate Andrelton Simmons was second. The Braves entered Sunday with 12 defensive runs saved this season, second most in the majors. The only team better was the team that beat them Sunday, the Pirates, with 14.
Simmons had 24 career DRS in 553 innings entering the day, second most among shortstops since the start of the 2012 season.

• Watched some of Jake Arrieta's start against the Dodgers Sunday, which was a microcosm of his big league career. In the first innings, he was completely and utterly dominant, throwing a fastball in the mid-90s past the L.A. hitters, mixing in a slider/slurve thing which was almost unhittable as a finishing pitch. Then, almost without warning, Arrieta lost the strike zone, breathing life into the struggling Dodgers, and an early lead was squandered. This must be frustrating for Arrieta, and for the Orioles' staff, because the tools are all there for something really good.

Dan Connolly addresses the question: What should the Orioles do with Arrieta?

Dings and dents

1. Albert Pujols's foot problem could limit him to the DH role for awhile.

2. Dylan Bundy will throw today.

3. Chad Billingsley has an elbow issue. So much for the overabundance of starting pitching for the Dodgers, which is the way it seems to go for teams with a surplus. Even when the Dodgers win, they seem to lose.

4. It looks like Brett Anderson will be able to make his next scheduled start for the Athletics, after an aggressive side session.

5. Kyle Blanks hit the outfield wall hard, writes Corey Brock.

6. Ryan Hanigan landed on the disabled list.

7. Octavio Dotel's elbow is a problem right now.

8. John Danks is anxious for a rehab assignment.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Mets called up Robert Carson.

2. The Royals summoned a lefty.

3. Matt Holliday got a day off. Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny joked -- sort of -- that no matter what lineup he writes out, somebody's going to be mad, because Matt Adams or Allen Craig or Holliday or Carlos Beltran or some other good hitter is going to sit.

Sunday's games

1. Dillon Gee was The Man for the Mets Sunday.

2. After the emotional and rewarding Saturday, the Red Sox were swept Sunday.

3. The Rockies lost a hearbreaker.

4. Barry and Buster.

From ESPN Stats & Info, how Zito won:

A. He threw 69 percent first-pitch strikes (season high).

B. He didn't offer hitters too many fat pitches -- only five of his 102 were classified as "middle-middle" in our pitch-tracker (middle-third of strike zone, both horizontally and vertically, or to think of the strike zone as a grid, the No. 5 key on your phone). He typically throws seven such pitches per 100 pitches thrown.

C. Zito has quietly submitted his fair share of gems since the start of last season, punctuated today by seven innings of shutout ball against the Padres.

Most starts with 7-plus innings, zero earned runs, since Opening Day 2012

Felix Hernandez: 9

Clayton Kershaw: 8

R.A. Dickey: 8

Barry Zito: 7

Hiroki Kuroda 7

NL East

• The Nationals aren't playing well right now, and they were shut down again by the Mets Sunday, in Anthony Rendon's debut.

NL Central

• To Clint Hurdle, the numbers being put up by Francisco Liriano in the minors are trivial.

• Hal McCoy writes about how the Reds chewed up a terrible team.

NL West

• The Rockies have a chance to show they are for real in a series against the Atlanta Braves, writes Patrick Saunders.

AL East

Yunel Escobar got to be part of the Rays' rowdy celebration.

Ivan Nova is something of a mess right now.

CC Sabathia is learning to live with diminishing velocity, writes Andy McCullough.

Brett Lawrie provided a pick-me-up, as Bob Elliott writes.

• We've got the Rays and Yankees on "Monday Night Baseball," CC Sabathia against Matt Moore.

From ESPN Stats & Info: Moore's off-speed pitches have been nearly untouchable this season, with opponents hitting .000 against his changeup, and .053 against his curve.

AL Central

• Please refer to them as the "first-place Royals."

Aaron Hicks shook off his slump.

• The Indians took care of business in Houston.

Asdrubal Cabrera thought he broke his wrist Saturday, as Paul Hoynes writes.

• From Elias: Adam Dunn snapped the longest hitless streak of his career (31 at-bats) with a seventh-inning homer in the White Sox' 5-3 loss to the Twins. Last season, both Tampa Bay's Luke Scott (41 at-bats) and Milwaukee's Brooks Conrad (36 at-bats) ended personal hitless streaks of 31 or more at-bats with home runs.

AL West

Derek Holland says he wants to bring the Cy Young Award to Texas. The Rangers have a real crisis on their hands with their rotation, writes Evan Grant.

The Rangers are flexing their muscles.

• For Oakland, it was a lost weekend, writes Susan Slusser.

• At a time when the Seattle hitters are struggling, Kyle Seager is swinging well, writes Ryan Divish.

Other stuff

• A fan chose a baseball over his popcorn.

• Two Marlins catchers raced.

• The Red Sox, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are doing a really nice thing.

I've got some early travel today, so I couldn't get to all the links. We'll have the podcast today and Tuesday, and then will be back with the column Wednesday.

And today will be better than yesterday.