New York Mets News

The Mets Have a Carlos Beltran Conundrum

By Adam Garnett

When Carlos Beltran was removed from centerfield during Sunday’s Mets game in Philadelphia as part of a double switch, rock bottom was reached for this once proud athlete. Beltran’s stat line and the fortunes of the team in the standings have been nothing short of a disaster since Carlos returned from the DL following the All-Star break. Here’s a quick breakdown of both sets of numbers:

  • Since July 15th, Beltran has compiled a .195 BA (15-77), with 1 HR, 7 meager RBIs and a whopping 4 runs scored
  • Since July 15th, the Mets have hit the skids in a big way, going 6-16 and falling out of the playoff picture in both the NL East and in the Wild Card hunt

Is this all Beltran’s fault as some fans have been screaming overt the past 3 weeks? Of course not. I would say the stunning reversal back to ineptitude by Mike Pelfrey tops the list of why the Mets have gone in the tank. Other events getting votes would be David Wright’s cold stretch and Jose Reyes’ lack of production at the top of the lineup.

Yet, it cannot be overlooked that as soon as Beltran entered back into the picture, both back on the field and in the locker room, the chemistry of this bunch changed. It is only natural that the infusion of any new (old in this case) personality into any scenario is going to change its dynamics. Beltran is not the type of “A” personality who is going to make waves, but his mere presence is a game changer for the hierarchy in that clubhouse. Jeff Francoeur, despite his awful numbers at the dish, is a beloved figure in the Mets locker room, and I would guess some folks were likely peeved about him losing his starting RF gig.

In the meantime, on the field, Angel Pagan, who was playing a flawless CF, was forced to vacate his position to make way for his idol, Beltran. Though Pagan has still been steady at the plate and has make numerous fine defensive plays in both RF and LF, it is clear that the Mets miss his glovework in the middle of the outfield. The most glaring instance came on Sunday, when Beltran crashed unknowingly into the CF wall trying to track down a Jayson Werth home run ball. It was an embarrassing moment for Carlos, who clearly is hindered by the heavy machinery he is wearing on his surgically repaired knee. It was also moment that made maybe made the Mets realize Beltran’s days could be numbered in center, especially since Pagan has established himself as one of the best defensive CFs in the NL.

So what to do, what to do about this Carlos Beltran conundrum. I am not saying that Beltran is cooked, stick a fork in him, g’night. Remember, it took Reyes a few months to get his motor running again after missing almost a year’s worth of action. The problem is, when the Mets inserted Beltran back into the mix and as they continue to wait for him to return to his old form, his horrendous play has played a large role in the team’s downfall.

His $18.5 million salary and questionable health status makes him virtually untradeable this offseason. Though I do believe he will be highly motivated in the walk year of his contract, I am not sure what the guy, coming off multiple knee surgeries has left in the tank. As big as a supporter as I’ve been of Beltran’s overt the past five years, I think I am ready to move on. Hopefully, by hook or by crook, they can shed his enormous salary during the winter and use that cash to import some fresh new blood into the clubhouse. If not, the hope is that he comes back in April, on a mission, and you can deal him off at the trade deadline when a big chunk of his salary will be off the books.

Unfortunately, it appears as if the lasting portrait of Beltran for many Mets fans will be of him with his bat on his shoulder after watching a wicked Adam Wainwright hook drop into the strikezone to end the 2006 NLCS. Kind of makes me want to weep all over again.