Will Beltran's Bat Be Missed?

Beltran hit .323 for the Giants in 44 games.

How will the Giants fill the hole left by Beltran? That's the question Giants fans are asking after GM Brian Sabean replaced outfielders Beltran and Cody Ross with Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan.

Carlos Beltran's departure from the Giants became official when he signed a two-year, $26 million contract with the Cardinals.

He's no Albert Pujols, but he's part of a mix of players the Cardinals hope will fill the huge hole created by Pujols' exit.

Beltran is an all-around hitter who combined a high average with pop, exactly what the Giants could use. Pablo Sandoval was their best hitter in 2011, and no one -- at least until Beltran started hitting in September -- was close. Beltran hit .323 with seven homers and 18 RBI in 44 games.

Management hopes the return of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez, who missed most of last season with injuries, will make a difference. Plus, Aubrey Huff is coming off a rotten year and is expected to bounce back, at least in the Giants' eyes.

The outfield of Cabrera, Pagan and Nate Schierholtz will be leaned on to help turn the offense from meek to mighty. Or at least mightier than in 2011.

The Giants set their payroll at $130 million, and they say they can't add anyone significant without topping $130 million. Obviously, a contract for Beltran similar to what he received in St. Louis would have pushed it above $140 million.

For many fans, that would have been fine. For ownership, it's not.

Which is why Beltran is an ex-Giant.

"I think all of us appreciated his gifts and talents that he had and what he did for us," manager Bruce Bochy said. "But again, our resources are somewhat limited."

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