Last night Carlos Beltran made his return to Citi Field playing in his first game since June 21, 2009. At the time Beltran was placed on the DL the Mets were just 2 games out of 1st place in the National League East. They were above the .500 mark. One of the reasons why the Mets were staying close to the Phillies was Carlos Beltran’s performance in the field and especially at the plate.
Since Beltran signed with the Mets in 2005 I’ve always felt that he was very unappreciated by the fans of the Mets. I have always wondered why. Perhaps it was his injury plagued first season with the Mets in which he suffered a quadriceps injury that bothered him the majority of the season and limited his speed so that he only stole 17 bases that year. He also suffered a concussion in August when he collided with Mike Cameron. He finished the season with a .266 BA, only hitting 16 HR’s and scored just 83 runs. He still made the All-Star game in his inaugural season with the Mets.
Beltran rebounded in 2006, surpassing his home run total from 2005 before the 2006 season was half over. He made the all-star team again and had himself a great season. Beltran had 2 memorable walk off homeruns, one against the Phillies and one against the Cardinals. He hit 41 HR’s in 2006 tying a club record for single season HR’s, he scored 127 runs which is a single season record. He also won the Silver Slugger Award and a Gold Glove for his excellent defense in CF. He finished 4th in the MVP voting for 2006. In the NLCS Beltran had hit 3 homeruns in that series but the at bat that everyone remembers is the last pitch of that series. Adam Wainwright pitched a nasty curve-ball to Beltran, Beltran struck out looking with runners on, ending the 2006 season for the Mets.
Beltran has always been a great player with the Mets. He does his job in the field, winning Gold Gloves in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Yet it seems that he gets overlooked by fans. This year as the injuries were piling on it seemed fans were worried about most of the team getting hurt but for some reason Beltran’s name didn’t come up a lot.
Beltran is a player who does his job. He shows to the park, ready to play the outfield and get on base and drive in runs. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t look for the camera’s and doesn’t talk to the media unless they speak to him first. He likes playing here so much that there was talk that he was going to get Scott Boras his agent to start talking to the Mets after the 2009 season is over about a contract extension, something that Boras never does. I don’t know with this injury now if that will happen or not, but I would like Beltran to finish his career as a Met. He is a team guy who wants to earn his salary and help this team. The bone bruise he said is still there but he is going to play like he usually plays he says. Last night when asked why he was coming back this late in the year when there are no “meaningful baseball games being played in September” he responded simply by saying:
“Why not? I don’t feel obligated. This is my job.”
I don’t know if it was his bad first season or striking out looking to end the 2006 NLCS but I believe Beltran is one of the most under-appreciated Mets in the history of this franchise. If you look at the Mets record once Beltran went on the DL you can plainly see how important he is to the success of this franchise. When Reyes and Delgado went down, Beltran along with David Wright were keeping this team afloat. Once Beltran was placed on the DL the Mets postseason hopes in 2009 quickly disappeared. Last night he brought back some excitement that has been missing for most of this dreadful season. Even though he missed that homerun it was still great to see that excitement back at Citi Field. He also made a great Carlos Beltran type play in the outfield, putting his body out there by diving to make a catch.
Met fans please appreciate this guys effort, he is one of the good guys in an age where players are out for the almighty dollar and themselves not for the team. I hope that it does not take Beltran leaving once his contract is up in order for Met fans to realize just how valuable he is/was to this team. If there were more Carlos Beltran’s playing baseball this sport would be much better than it is right now.