Image by tedkerwin via Flickr
In Port St. Lucie today, Carlos Beltran is scheduled to make his spring training debut against the Red Sox as a designated hitter. His achy knee still isn’t well enough to play the field more than a year removed from surgery that the Mets didn’t authorize. Today begins the seventh and final season of Beltran’s run with the Mets that has gone from disappointing to exhilarating and back to disappointing again. Most seven year contracts will have their up’s and down’s but this one has been a wild ride. The final season of that long-term contract begins with serious question marks about how effective Beltran can be, especially in the field. Beltran already deferred to Angel Pagan in center field, moving to right field. The last time he played a game in right was in 2000 with the Royals.
I haven’t talked to any Mets fan that makes an argument that Beltran will, or should, be back with the team next season. Frankly, I don’t think he’ll be with the Mets for the entire 2011 season despite his full no-trade clause. The Mets financial situation combined with Beltran’s $18.5 million salary and dim prospects for a playoff berth should lead the new “All-Star” front office to do everything they can to trade Beltran during the season. Probably sooner than later.
|NYM (6 yrs)||741||3221||2780||490||776||178||15||134||493||97||16||389||484||.279||.366||.499||.864|
A reasonable expectation in 2011 is for Beltran to play as well as possible for a 34 year-old outfielder rehabbing a major knee surgery. Unfortunately for Beltran, this happens to be a contract year. Don’t feel sorry for him though, he’s made about $116 million in his career to this point. So I think he’s pretty well set financially. MLB Trade Rumors posted a good piece this week about this being a make or break year for him. And it is.
If you look at Beltran’s career as a whole, he’ll have spent his prime years with the Mets. He spent seven years with the Royals and he’ll spend six and a half or seven with the Mets. The bulk of the statistics he’s accumulated during his career came with the Mets. Beyond the Box Score did a good comparison of how he compares to some of the top center fielders in history. If he continues to play fairly well until age 40, he should be on target statistically for enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He would likely go in as a Met. That would be ironic for a player that had a hard time adjusting to New York by underperforming in 2005, offered to take less money to play for the Yankees, and is best known for the 2006 NLCS watching strike three from Adam Wainwright. That’s the paradox of Beltran’s Mets career.