On Sunday, I was surprised to read an article from Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald which started out as a knock on Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has fallen out of his good graces because of his UZR rating. His column takes a surprising twist when he suggests that Carlos Beltran would be a likely trade target for the Bosox in the off season.
Naturally, this is nothing more than a sports columnist penning a Sunday article full of speculation on what was a slow news day in Bean Town, but it does make for an interesting debate.
One situation that bears close monitoring is Carlos Beltran with the New York Mets.
The Big Apple’s other team has descended back into the depths of mediocrity the past two years. There has not been a word about the team going into rebuilding mode, but Beltran, arguably the best defensive center fielder in the game the last few years, has $18.5 million left on each of his remaining two years in 2010 and ’11. He also has a full no-trade clause.
Beltran’s salary is about $1-2.5 million more than what Bay is likely to end up commanding per year, not that big a difference at all, plus Beltran plays the premium position and is considered the better all-around player.After reading the complete article, Silverman even convinced me that Theo Epstein would most likely come to the same conclusion as the author and at the very least inquire about the availability of our gold glove centerfielder. Especially if they were to get shut out on their attempts to retain Jason Bay.
The question for Mets fans becomes is there any package that the Red Sox could offer, that would make trading Beltran worth it?
With $37 million dollars remaining on Beltran’s contract, two surgically repaired knees, a lingering bone bruise, and the fact that he’s not getting any younger, maybe trading Carlos Beltran isn’t such a bad idea. Right?
At this point in time, Carlos Beltran is more than just an aging centerfielder who can play a solid centerfield. He is now officially the Mets’ lone legitimate power source who could be relied on for 30 homeruns. Until David Wright proves that last season’s power outage was just a fluke, the Mets could hardly afford to part with their one true power hitter.
Beltran has also been a quiet leader in the clubhouse and a steadying presence on the team. His signing legitimized the Mets as a contender and he was chiefly responsible for getting us to within one out of the World Series even though so many choose to remember just one solitary at-bat in his MVP type season that year.
Before going down with a bone bruise in 2009, Beltran was on the verge of another MVP caliber season and led the National League in batting average, on-base percentage, RBI’s, and runs scored before the injury wiped him out. Still, in 300 at-bats he still finished with a .325 batting average and a .915 OPS. Add to that a remarkable .415 on-base percentage, 50 runs scored, 48 RBI and 11 stolen bases in just 81 games played. Even an older and injured Carlos Beltran can run circles around most MLB centerfielders. And when you add in his gold glove defense it becomes much more obvious that trading Beltran for a pitching prospect like Clay Buchholz and another another minor leaguer would amount to insanity on the part of the Mets.
Trading Beltran while his value is so low could possibly be the worst thing the Mets could do this off season and goes completely against the the old adage of sell high and buy low.
Furthermore, it creates an entirely new set of problems for a team that is already swamped with them. How do you replace Carlos Beltran’s offense? Who patrols centerfield at Citi Field, which boasts the most ground to cover than any other park in the Major Leagues?
An in-house option like rookie Fernando Martinez is still years away from being Major League ready, as he showed all of us during his brief cup of coffee in the Majors this past season.
As presently constructed, the Mets are a win-now team. Trading Beltran would be akin to blowing it all up and starting over from scratch. And if that’s the case, then the Mets should trade Johan Santana and K-Rod too.
The bottom line is that the Mets have the core players to put a championship caliber team on ther field in 2010, and Carlos Beltran is one of those key core players. With a number two starter and apower bat in either left field or first base, the Mets could easily overtake the Phillies next season. But that would be an impossible quest if we didn’t have Beltran on the team.