The New York Mets took a chance nearly two years ago when they traded an established outfielder and clubhouse leader in Carlos Beltran. Beltran, who still ranks in the top ten in several offensive categories in Mets history, has recently stated that their gamble paid off.
At the time, the experts proclaimed that the immediate winner in the Wheeler-Beltran deal was the San Francisco Giants. They had gained an offensive threat to balance out their lineup and help give run support to their rotation. However, the Mets would be the long-term winners in the deal, according to these same experts. The Giants missed the playoffs that season and Beltran was gone that winter.
Fast forward to present day. Beltran is a major part of the St Louis Cardinals offense and still searching for that elusive World Series ring. Meanwhile, the prospect that the Mets acquired for him in that July 2011 trade, Zack Wheeler, has been labeled the next big thing. This is a comparison that has not been used improperly according to Beltran.
In an interview with ESPN NY, Beltran states “All I’ve heard is he’s a good prospect. He has good stuff. I mean, he’s a young guy. I think they’ve got the people here to mold him to be the pitcher he can be for the organization — the ace that they’re looking for”.
This quote is very telling of Beltran’s affection to the Mets. It’s obvious he holds them in high regards to this day. And why shouldn’t he? It was the Mets that rewarded him with that massive seven year deal after his amazing playoff run with Houston. It was with the Mets that he earned five of his seven All-Star game appearances.
He enjoyed a wonderful career with the franchise. His 149 home runs, 559 RBI and 208 2Bs with the Mets are the most that he has with any other team. Yet, he is remembered mostly not for these great numbers in Queens, but for leaving his bat on his shoulder in the NLCS for the final out. This begs the question: why?
Here’s a man who did and said the right things under constant scrutiny of the New York media, played the game fluidly and with great grace and was well respected among his teammates. If we were to ask David Wright, the only remaining player on the Mets roster from the Beltran days, about Beltran, he would speak in extremely high regards.
In fact, in a very recent Newsday article, he did so. Wright says “he was the type of guy you want to mold your game after — a five-tool guy that could steal bases, hit for power, hit for average, play Gold Glove defense. That’s the kind of player everybody aspires to be — to do it all”.
So, why the continued hate on Beltran? His peers love him, the statistics favor him and the media are intrigued by him, yet, there are many fans that hate him, even to go so far as to say that he was overrated. One thing is for sure, though he was injured for chunk of the final few years of that seven year deal the Mets awarded him, not many players in Mets history have lived up to their enormous contracts the way Beltran had.
In the end, fans must look at his Mets career with the same level of fondness that they do when evaluating any great Mets player. He was and still is a very dangerous hitter and exceptional fielder. His prime years were spent in Queens and it was an honor for us all to be witness to them.