The Carlos Beltran Paradox
July 18, 2010
His return has been highly anticipated. Now that Beltran is here, what does it mean to the New York Mets? I am sure that opinions on this subject vary as greatly as K-Rod’s pitch types. Even if you have an opinion, do you really feel strongly about it?
The Carlos Beltran Paradox has many layers. Let’s peel them shall we?
For starters, we can state the obvious. He has been out of the game for almost a calendar year. Even for a seasoned veteran like Beltran, that is a lot to adjust to. You just don’t jump into the pool without that initial temperature shock. Jose Reyes is the obvious example of this, as he struggled mightily upon his return. There is obviously going to be a hard adjustment period here for Beltran, and this is going to make things murder for Jerry Manuel when he makes out his lineup card each day. More on this in a moment.
Next, it is important to discuss what kind of player Carlos Beltran is at this point in his career. Is he the guy that they signed to that $100 million plus mega-deal in 2005? Not likely, as he has rarely lived up to that status as a Met to date. So who is he, and what can be realistically expected of him? Follow me people. Just a little more patience and we’ll be there.
Certainly, we need to discuss his health. The last we heard before his return is that his knee would never be 100% from this point forward. As a matter of fact, his doctor was quoted as saying that if his knee were to worsen at all, then microfracture surgery may be necessary. This procedure is nothing to sneeze at, and is only prescribed when there is a certain level of cartilage damage in the knee-joint to begin with. Enough medical jargon, though. Here is my point. No one, including his surgeon, has any idea how his knee will hold up. I don’t blame the Mets in any way for trying to get him here and playing by the way. After all, it is their money that is being spent here. They might as well try to get what they can out of him. If his knee begins to howl, then they gave it a shot, didn’t they?
Lastly, where and how does he fit in with this team? The easy decision of predominantly benching Franceour has been made. However, Angel Pagan does play a mean centerfield, doesn’t he? It is my assumption that your center fielder needs to cover the most ground out of all of your outfielders. At least that is what I learned from little league. I know that the Mets want Beltran to feel comfortable and all, but shouldn’t they field their best defensive team? Why not play Beltran in right for a while, which leaves your best outfielder to man center as it should be. If his knee continues to mend, then perhaps make this switch later.
What about where to hit Beltran? Is he a number four hitter? Was he ever? That breaking in period I mentioned only makes batting Beltran cleanup even more silly. Is he a number two hitter like his days on the Kansas City Royals? Back then, he had wheels that worked. I think that it is a safe assumption that Carlos’ burning days are over. So where do you bat him? Number five? Number six? There is that little thing called ego that might get in the way of those decisions.
Sheesh, that is a lot to think about for Jerry Manuel. I am glad that I am not the one making these calls.
In summary, this subject is quite complex, and a lot to absorb. Ultimately, Calros Beltran better be worth our effort.