Oct 12

Appreciating Carlos Beltran; Wondering About Return To The Mets

There are a lot of people who tell me if the New York Mets aren’t in the playoffs, and if there’s no arch enemy such as the Yankees to root against, they don’t bother watching the playoffs.

Too bad, because they missed a classic Friday night, and another example of Carlos Beltran’s post-season excellence to marvel over.

BELTRAN: I would take him back. (AP)

BELTRAN: I would take him back. (AP)

Beltran will be a free agent this winter, and because the man can still play and one must wonder if the Mets will make a run at him.

You do remember, that rather than pick up his $18.5-million option, the at-the-time rebuilding Mets chose to trade him to the Giants for Zack Wheeler.

I understood what the Mets were doing at the time, but even so I always appreciated Beltran, who is arguably one of the top five position players in franchise history.

I don’t know if Beltran is a Hall of Famer, but he’s a very good regular season player and an off-the-charts October performer.

Beltran drove in all three Cardinals’ runs and threw out a runner at the plate in a scintillating 3-2 victory over the Dodgers.

Add them up now and Beltran is hitting .345 with 16 home runs, 12 doubles and 34 RBI in 40 career postseason games. He also has 42 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. He’s played in October with the Astros, Mets and Cardinals, but has never played in the World Series. He is, however, an eight-tim All-Star.

“It’s just fun to watch him do his thing,’’ Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said last night.

A lot of Mets’ fans don’t want to hear that as they are instead they are caught up on one pitch Beltran took for a called third strike to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.

Hopefully, Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon was able to convey that to Beltran, along with the organization’s apologies for how his tenure in Flushing ended. You’ll remember, with the competitive part of the 2009 season over, instead of Beltran having knee surgery they opted to bring him back to play in 19 meaningless September games and was eventually shut down.

Then, in the offseason there was a snit between him and the organization – when Omar Minaya was still general manager – over knee surgery and Beltran had it on his own.

Beltran, as the team player he is, had no problem moving to right field for first year manager Terry Collins. Then came the trade for Wheeler and again the remembrances of the called third strike he took from Adam Wainwright.

That was a monster pitch that froze Beltran. It would have frozen Ted Williams. It would have frozen Babe Ruth. It was that good a pitch.

Instead of appreciating what Beltran gave the Mets during his tenure. Instead of acknowledging how he played hurt for the Mets, including with a broken face after his horrific collision with Mike Cameron, a great many Mets’ fans failed to recognize what they had.

Beltran, a free agent this winter, said he’d be open to a return to the Mets. I’d love for him to finish out his career here, where he’d take the pressure off David Wright and would be a tremendous influence to the Mets’ young outfielders in Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker.

Then, when 2015 rolls around with Matt Harvey’s expected return, we might enjoy seeing Beltran in another Mets’ October.

Oct 07

2013 Season Review: David Wright

david wright homers

DAVID WRIGHT, 3B

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS:

As they always are, expectations were high for David Wright, especially after a strong 2012 season, one in which he hit .306 with 21 homers and 93 RBI. And, those were numbers compiled with little protection in the line-up, at least in the first half of the season. They were also lofty because he signed a monster eight-year, $138-million deal through 2020 and was named team captain. Whenever a player signs a long-term contract, expectations are high. Staying healthy is always an issue, and if that happened Wright should have been able to meet his 162-game average of .301 with 26 homers and 103 RBI. If protected in a line-up surrounded by supposed sluggers Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, why couldn’t Wright hit 30 homers with over 100 RBI? Wright was expected to be among the league leaders in run production, and, of course, start in the All-Star Game at Citi Field.

2013 SEASON REVIEW:

Wright got off to a hot start, played in the All-Star Game, and despite little support was on a 30-homer, 100-RBI pace. However, as usual it was about staying healthy, and a strained hamstring sliced seven weeks from his season and limited him to 111 games. Nonetheless, Wright posted impressive numbers, such as a .393 on-base percentage and .909 OPS. Wright’s run-production numbers of 17 homers and 57 were paltry, but could have come close to expectations had he played a complete season. Remember, after Marlon Byrd was traded there was no protection. Wright lived up to his captaincy throughout the season. He was the go-to guy when reporters needed a comment, such as during the Jordany Valdespin fiasco. Perhaps most impressive, is with the competitive part of the season over for the Mets, Wright worked hard to get himself back to the lineup. He said he wanted to be an example for his young teammates. It is what leaders do.

CAREER STATS: 

Screenshot_1

LOOKING AT 2014:

John Delcos Says:

A healthy Wright is an offensive force. His best years were when he was complemented in the line-up with sluggers Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. This is why it is important for Davis and/or Duda live up to their expectations and offer protection. When there was nothing to play for, Wright said it was important to return so he could get a gauge on his health. Wright might have taken a risk, but wanted to know where he stood physically as to prepare for the off-season. So, what happens? He was beaned and jammed his thumb when he fell. The hamstring does not appear to be an issue. The Mets need to surround him with productive bats, and if they do that, there’s no reason Wright can’t play up to his 162-game average and have a big year.

Joe D. Says:

This team has a lot of problems, but David Wright isn’t one of them. That said, the Mets continue to squander the prime years of his career without affording him any protection or other big bats in the lineup. Apparently, he gave the Mets an $8 million dollar, interest-free loan last Winter to help get that big bat, but it never happened. And even when they backed into some unexpected production from Marlon Byrd, the plan was to ship him off as soon possible once any value was established. I feel bad for Wright, who still believes that there’s a plan in place for this team to contend for a championship as soon as 2014. I’d love to see if Wright could ever duplicate the numbers he posted back in 2007 and 2008 when Carlos Beltran and other big-league bats complimented him. But listening to some of the names being bandied about so far, it looks like the Mets captain will have to do most of the heavy lifting himself again next season. Hopefully, when the front office does decide they are a championship caliber ballclub, Wright will still be as productive as he is now and not slipping into his career decline.

button No 5 wright

Oct 05

Looking At Mets’ Free Agent Options For Position Players

Supposedly, with money to spend the New York Mets are scouring the free agent market to ascertain options to address their numerous issues and holes.

GM Sandy Alderson said adding to the rotation and bolstering the depth of the bullpen is a priority. Even so, Alderson has a multitude of other issues to address, with only two positions – David Wright at third base and Daniel Murphy at second – seemingly secure.

BELTRAN: An encore?

BELTRAN: An encore?

There’s a question nearly every where else:

CATCHER: Travis d’Arnaud goes into spring training the starter despite a small window of performance. Anthony Recker proved more than a capable back up behind John Buck. However, d’Arnaud and Recker together is a young combination, and a veteran back up is likely to be signed.

Free-agent catching market: The best catcher on the market is Atlanta’s Brian McCann, but that will never happen. The way McCann calls a game and his leadership capabilities would be ideal for a young staff, but that’s a dream. The Braves are built on pitching and would be foolish to let McCann go. … John Buck will be on the market, and I wonder if the Mets will attempt to bring him back. They could do far worse. … Jose Molina, Dioner Navarro, Miguel Olive are available, but neither stands out. … A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be on the market, but both will want to start.

FIRST BASE: The Mets haven’t decided between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, although speculation is they’ll choose the latter and attempt to deal Davis. Duda has shown a better plate presence than Davis when it comes to working the count and having a higher on-base percentage. However, the Mets remain seduced by Davis’ power potential and have not forgotten his 32 homers in 2012. Given they have two options, it’s unlikely they’ll sign a free agent unless they work deals for both.

Free agent first base market: The guy I am most interested in is Justin Morneau. He’s healthy and his line-drive style would be ideal for Citi Field. However, he might cost too much, but if the Mets clear the roster by dealing Davis and Duda, it might be worth it to give him a call. … Mike Napoli would also be expensive. … Mark Reynolds would provide power, but if the Mets are trying to reduce their strikeouts, he’s not the best option. … In looking at the first base market, it is easy to understand Alderson’s comments on a thin selection.

SHORTSTOP: Ruben Tejada will get every chance to regain his position, but he’s recovering from a broken leg, so there’s no telling if he’ll be ready. Omar Quintanilla was more than capable off the bench and should be invited back. … I would have liked to see Wilmer Flores play shortstop. He did some in the minors, but there’s concern about his range.

Free agent shortstop market: Yunel Escobar is out there, but the Rays have an option. … Rafael Furcal and Stephen Drew would be an upgrade over Tejada. … With Derek Jeter rehabbing for the Yankees, the Mets will get competition in the market.

OUTFIELD:  The Mets like Juan Lagares and envision him in their 2014 outfield. They also like Matt den Dekker’s defense, but wonder about his offense. The Mets’ improvement coincided with the acquisition of Eric Young, who resolved their leadoff hole. Young’s speed is an asset, but some scouts don’t have him rated any higher than a fourth outfielder. The Mets say they want power in the corner outfield spots, but if they replace Young their leadoff dilemma will resurface.

Free agent outfield market: The marquee names are Shin-Soo Chin, whom I am cool on. He’ll want a lot and I don’t think he’s worth the dollars. … Jacoby Ellsbury could turn this into a productive offense, but he’ll cost a lot. … Nelson Cruz, who is coming off a PED suspension, could be had for less than expected. … There has been talk in the media about bringing back Carlos Beltran, who should go down as one the Mets’ most productive players. Mets fans never forgave him for taking that third strike against Adam Wainwright in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, but they easily forget what he gave them over the long haul. Two years plus an option might get him back. … Also expensive, but somebody who could give the Mets the power they seek is Curtis Granderson, who made $13 million this season with the Yankees. … Another option who could be pricey, but is the kind of player the Mets should consider is Hunter Pence. … Nate McLouth, whom the Mets considered at one time, will be on the market.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

Sep 20

Mets’ David Wright Wants To Play As Gesture To Fans

David_Wright_on_June_23,_2008

DAVID WRIGHT WANTS ONE MORE SWING

There are several reasons why David Wright wants to be in the New York Mets’ lineup tonight in Philadelphia, but catching the Phillies for third place in the NL East is not among them.

The Mets will have their fifth consecutive losing season, with long odds of catching the Phillies as they trail by three games with ten to play.

“In my eyes, third place, fourth place, you’re still going home,’’ Wright told ESPN. “So, to me, it’s not all that important. What’s important is that we try to go out there and win each game, to try to play good baseball and finish strong.’’

That has been the Mets’ mantra since mid-August, when they were swept in a three-game series in Los Angeles to fall back to ten games under .500. The Mets had been making overtures about finishing .500, and even catching Washington for second place, but those three games against the Dodgers – all winnable – deflated their season and shifted everybody’s attention to 2014.

When Matt Harvey was shut down shortly after, there was a winter chill in Flushing, and currently, the Mets’ roster has a Kissimmee travel squad look.

As team captain, Wright has been supportive of manager Terry Collins, and continued to echo his sentiments.

“I think there is something to be said – especially when you have a young team like this – to finish strong,’’ Wright said. “Where you have guys competing for jobs for next year, guys competing for playing time. With the injuries that we’ve had, with the trades that we’ve made, it sure has opened up some chances for guys that probably wouldn’t have a chance right now.’’

Collins has been saying that for weeks.

Wright knows his return won’t mean anything in the standings this season, but it could instill something that might in the future. As captain, Wright is giving his teammates a year-end glimpse into this work ethic, which could be of value to Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares to name a few.

Significantly, they play positions where the Mets are looking for upgrades or improvement. Wright also wants to play to get a feel of his health heading into winter, but there is something more.

Although Wright is too modest to say it, his coming back is a gift to the Mets’ fan base that hasn’t had much to cheer about since Carlos Beltran took a called third strike from Adam Wainwright in in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.

Wright knows expectations have been low in this Ponzi era, and the fans were disappointed again this season, with seemingly much of the anticipation for 2014 diminished with Harvey gone.

If nothing else, Wright wants to show Mets fans he still cares about his profession, playing well and performing for those who cheer for him. It is his way of thanking them for sticking by the team as the season faded.

It might not seem like much, but heading into an uncertain winter and future, it is a classy gesture by the classiest player the Met have to offer.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Aug 27

Loss Of Matt Harvey Leads To Purge; John Buck And Marlon Byrd First To Go

Not too long ago, I wrote the New York Mets should stand pat at the trade deadline to make a run at respectability, but with Matt Harvey gone for the year, that goal has been flushed. The gurgling sound you’re now hearing is the news the Mets sent John Buck and Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh for infield prospect Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

The garage sale has begun and should not stop. With the Mets’ timetable for competiveness now 2015 instead of 2014, the Mets’ thinking should be to stockpile as many prospects and draft choices as possible, which means it shouldn’t end with Byrd and Buck.

BUCK: Gone.

BUCK: Gone.

Until the Aug. 31 deadline to make waiver deals, the Mets should be shopping Daniel Murphy, LaTroy Hawkins, Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda, Scott Atchison and anybody else not fitting in their immediate plans.

Nobody will net a top prospect, such as what the Mets received for Carlos Beltran, but at this point it doesn’t matter. It’s garage sale time, so they should take what they can get.

Byrd was having a tremendous season, well enough for him to want – and warrant – a two-year deal, or one plus an option. Based on their history, the Mets would have offered one and he would walk without the team receiving compensation.

As for Buck, he evolved as Harvey’s personal catcher, but his playing time was reduced with the addition of Travis d’Arnaud. Buck played the good soldier, but realistically, he performed well enough to look for a full time job.

It won’t be with the Mets, and with Harvey likely done until 2015; Buck would not sit around. Catchers in a pennant race, especially those with a little pop in their bat, are valuable to a contender. The Pirates needed relief for Russell Martin, and it didn’t hurt Buck has a National League background.

Buck was terrific for the Mets, but they wouldn’t have gotten anything for him if he left after the season.

The Mets must now make a first base choice between Davis and Duda. It’s not likely they’ll tender Davis a contract, so get something now. That upside the Mets promised with Davis, well, we haven’t seen it.

Duda would be cheaper, so I’m inclined to believe they’d keep him over Davis. They can’t carry both, especially with Duda not playing the outfield.

Murphy is a reliable bat and could come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, and to an American League team, he has DH potential. And, does anybody believe they’ll bring back Hawkins?

Just a few weeks ago the Mets were thinking about .500 and second place. With Harvey and Wheeler, the future looked bright.

Not so much now.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos