According to the Mets manager Terry Collins, Carlos Beltran will move to right field, which gives Angel Pagan the opportunity to play center field full-time. The announcement is surprising only because the Mets previously seemed adamant about continuing to let Beltran play his natural outfield position despite his lingering knee injuries. However, based on Pagan’s play last season, it is a well deserved promotion.
Beltran, who has three Golden Gloves and was widely considered one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, is actually taking the move quite well. The veteran told reporters, “In my heart, I still feel that I can play center field. But at the same time, this is not about Carlos. This is about the team.” Considering Beltran will be a free agent after the season, proving his ability in center would seemingly have been a priority for both Beltran and his agent, Scott Boras. But the switch-hitting outfielder, as mentioned above, appears to be prioritizing the Mets’ best interests over his own ego–a rarity for high-paid ballplayers.
If Angel Pagan picks up where he left off defensively last season, Mets fans won’t miss the once graceful Beltran in center field. Pagan posted a 11.8 UZR/150, which was second only to Michael Bourn’s 18.5 UZR/150. Since Jason Bay’s range in left field is suspect, the Mets will need all the help they can get covering ground in 2011. The Mets hope Beltran will be able to use his outfield instincts and natural athleticism to adapt to the new position. While asking the veteran to move positions might be a risk, at least they’re not forcing him to play second base–which might have been an interesting idea too.