Carlos Beltran went 1 for 3 in his spring debut against the Red Sox today and scored a run – sliding into home plate for added effect though he clearly looked rusty running. He admitted being at 80% running the bases after the game, but said he felt great swinging the bat. It was a good first step for Beltran.
He is expected to play again on Monday and will be playing right field in about 6-8 days.
Beltran is entering the final year of his 7-year, $119 million dollar contract and yesterday, he spoke about those first six years with reporters. He is clearly still haunted when he thinks back to how the 2006 season ended and what happened the following season as reported by the Daily News.
“After that year, I thought we would be in the playoffs many more times,” Beltran says. “Unfortunately, something that I have no explanation for happened, and we were out of it. It was . . . ,” his voice trails off, and he shakes his head. “It was terrible. As bad as it was for the fans, it was worse for us. Honestly, there was no explanation for it. It happened to us, but we just couldn’t believe it.”
The talented centerfielder has missed significant time in the past two seasons thanks to a New York Mets medical team who botched the original diagnosis on his seriously injured knee, sent him out to play twice after giving him cortisone shots to numb his pain, and finally misdiagnosing him again and prescribing rest instead of the surgery he badly needed to repair his damaged knee.
No longer able to walk without severe pain, he seeked out a second opinion from the country’s leading orthopedic surgeon which revealed extensive damage and bruising that required surgery – a surgery the Mets were still unwilling to approve despite the recommendations of their own team doctor who had confirmed the prescribed course of action. You know the rest of the story and the hatchet job that ensued.
Despite the time missed, Beltran has already given the Mets more than what they paid for according to FanGraphs who writes:
Carlos Beltran has been worth $39 million more than his $119 million contract. Even if he doesn’t play at all in 2010, even if he goes all Roberto Alomar and ends his career with a plunge, Beltran will not waste away that excess value next year.
From 2006 through 2008, Carlos Beltran was the best player in the National League not named Pujols. His combination of hitting, batting eye, power, speed, baserunning smarts, fielding prowess and clutch hitting made him an extraordinary performer. It is very difficult to fault him for the Mets’ collapses in 2007 and 2008. In fact, he was one of the few Metropolitans to step up to the challenge.
For those of you who are into projections, Bill James projects that Beltran will bat .274 and hit 20 Home Runs with 74 RBI and 74 Runs Scored,
I look at those marks as his minimum baseline of production and expect something more along the lines of 27 Home Runs, 92 RBI, 89 Runs Scored while batting .283 this season.
Like most of you, I wish him the best and look forward to some positive developments in todays game and tomorrow.