FROM: Head-Butting Mr. Met
NEW YORK METS ~ CARLOS BELTRAN;
The Divorce Papers Are Signed. But How And When Will The Good-Bye Happen?
How do we say good-bye to a player that never wanted to be here in the first place?
After-all, he did go back to the Yankees and offer his services to them for less money than the Mets did while doing so with our offer in hand. Then he wondered why he got boo'ed by fans right out of the gate and as he struggled that first year. We found out he was sensitive to the jeers and that it took him a little while to come to grips with it. An unfortunate outfield collision with Mike Cameron took away important "bonding time" between him and the fans. But he played through all that and became a player of impact for this team. However, the lasting image of Beltran will be of him getting frozen on a curveball to end the 2006 NLCS. That still leaves a bitter taste in many fan's mouths. And quite frankly, no one has ever let him forget it. And it's unfortunate as he likewise, always held the early booing against us.
What came next was a series of media stoked, locker-room finger pointing games, Latino-phobia, injuries, miscommunication with the Front Office and surgery; all while having both him and the Front Office growing wearisome of each other.
Here's the other side to that.
He's one of the few Free-Agents as they go, who came here upon signing a huge contract and lived up to or exceeded his career averages, and in fact had his career year in a Mets uniform. So I'm inclined to say we got our money's worth out of Carlos Beltran while the window of opportunity was open for us and him. He was clearly one of the best center-fielders in Baseball. The money on him is now spent and should not be considered money wasted by us; not when he still has one more year to go in the Orange and Blue and can redeem himself from the previous two seasons. For as long as Aaron Heilman and 10 other reasons exist, blame can never be fully placed on Beltran for 2006.
When our starting players started falling apart like wet toilet paper and the Club was forced to call-up and rely on it's Minor Leagues these last two seasons, Angel Pagan also seized on an opportunity and took advantage of regular playing time and not only stayed healthy for a change, but also flourished. The end result is Carlos Beltran would eventually return to a team he was now suddenly out of place on. The fan base, in our minds, had already transitioned our minds towards a future without Beltran and invested more of our attention into our up-and-comers.
And now in this, the last year of his deal, his contract is looked upon by new management (and the fans) as an albatross (along with the contracts of Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo, although he is hardly at their level of Fan disgust).
Heading into this last season together, the wrangling over who should start in center field this season; Beltran or Pagan, has been going on for a while already. Beltran should start there (even though I am one of those who has moved on from him, but I still must be practical about it). Pagan is comfortable in the corner (RF) positions. If we get the good Beltran we can reasonably expect this far removed and recovered from knee surgery, he should be a good ball player; if not very good. That's a good thing...yes?
If he should slump, slouch, slack or just plain suck, that opens up an opportunity for Lucas Duda, because theoretically, Terry Collins doesn't have an attachment to this group of players......Yes?
There's a problem if we are in close contention of first place or a Wild Card spot as the trade deadline nears. Keep him or trade him; what do we do? I say trade him whatever our standing come July. I'd like to get something for him; whatever that may be. But, I wouldn't have a problem letting him finish out his contract in a Met uniform and getting a compensatory draft pick in return (once he declines arbitration that is) once he signs elsewhere...because we know he won't be resigning here.
His relationship with the fans was always a little contentious..(just a little), and more-so with the Media. But Beltran's conflict with the Club stemmed over a series of back and forth opinions regarding his knee. Then Beltran apparently went and had surgery on the knee without allegedly receiving clearance from the Club. That turned out to be another in a series of Media Nightmares lived out by the Front Office and signalled the signing of the divorce papers was eminent. Now, it's only a matter of time before the final separation between the N.Y. Mets, Carlos Beltran, and Us takes place.
He'll go down as one of the best players ever to wear a Met uniform, but I don't think he will leave New York with a lingering sentiment of endearment for his services. I think the ultimate good-bye will be an ambivalent one. I think the Organization, Carlos Beltran and us the Fans all share a sense of being incomplete as the 7th and our final year together officially marks the beginning of the end.
Who was he to us? Was he a Tommy Agee; Lee Mazzilli? Was he a Mookie Wilson; Lenny Dykstra type guy for us? - Lance Johnson (did you like him as much as I did?); Jay Payton; Cameron? ...Del Unser?
The fact Carlos Beltran's stats blow away any of the former Met center fielder's away and is still probably only third or fourth on many Mets' Fans Favorites Lists, speaks for itself ..(that also depends how old you are..). My All-Time Favorite is AGEE; second would be Dykstra. Beltran is clearly better than both those players.
So how exactly will this good-bye take place? Will he last the season then just walk away? If he does last the season, there inevitably will be that game at the end of the season when the home crowd will get a chance to give him a respectful good-bye. But will they? Or, will he be ushered out the same way he came in...being Booed? There's a-lot of apathy Beltran has always had to deal with and it begs the question, don't ya think?
He was an odd cat for us to try and figure out. He never did seem comfortable playing here..or maybe he just didn't do well with the Media. If he gets traded mid-season, that just may turn out to be the best way to say good-bye for everyone. He may perhaps escape having to get grilled one last time by the NY Media until they catch up with him down the way. And as for us and the fan reaction, who knows what we'd have done as he headed towards the door. We booed Beltran and Santana on the way in.
The rest is for us to think about till Opening Day and it's his turn in the line-up.