When Sandy Alderson was hired to run the Mets baseball operations, the phrase we heard over and over again was “Now there are adults running the show”. When Terry Collins was hired as manager it was not the most popular choice to make since the bulk of the fan base wanted Wally Backman to get the job because if there is one thing that Mets fans love it’s former Mets players with World Series rings (that should be an incentive to present and future Mets, if you win a World Series as a Met your set for life. Meals will be free, endorsements plentiful; no matter if you are the star or 25th man you’re revered) but so far this early in spring, it’s safe to say, the on the field Mets are doing much better than the off the field Mets.
Before camp even started, Collins showed strong leadership by naming Big Pelf the opening day starter and the first seven spots in his lineup. He also made it known that the question of who will be the centerfielder will be answered quickly and decisively.
Alderson and Collins showed Carlos Beltran the veteran respect he has earned and deserved. They laid out the centerfield scenario; Beltran will be given every chance to prove that he and his knee are up to the task of covering the vast canyon that centerfield in Citi Field is. If he can’t, then the move to right field will be made and Angel Pagan, who has proven to be a terrific centerfielder, will take over the job. The key in this plan was, once the decision was made, it will be final, no yo-yoing back and forth.
I guess with that information and the fact that he has been treated with respect for the first time in his Mets career and knowing that his knee will be a problem for as long as he plays baseball, Carlos Beltran got to camp early yesterday, asked to meet with Collins and Pagan to let them know it’s time for him to shift over the right field and let Pagan take the helm of center field. It was a crowning moment for Beltran, Collins and Pagan.
Beltran has gotten a bad rap by the segment of Mets fans. It seems that called third strike he took from Adam Wainright in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS has followed him his whole Mets career. I’ve said before, the folks who criticize Beltran for taking that pitch obviously has never played baseball beyond Little League. The reason a curveball is such a potent pitch is when you’re standing in that batter’s box, pitchers who can throw a hook like Wainright, can throw the pitch with such a big break, that the pitch looks like it’s coming straight at you but then breaks over the plate. It’s the pitch that separates all stars from journeymen but I digress.
His first year as a Met was not as good as hoped and his last two seasons have been injury riddled but from 2006 to 2008 he was the best player on the Mets and one of the best in all of baseball. Hopefully the move to right field works for Beltran and helps keep the stress off his arthritic knee. This will be his last season as a Met but hopefully he goes out on the same high note as he has started this spring.
Who knows, maybe this is something Mets fans will look back on in September as a galvanizing moment for a club that might just be figuring out that if they stick together and block out the noise from ownership and the media barbs that this team is not worthy of having New York in its name, they can do something special. So far this early spring it’s been all positives coming from camp even when Ollie Perez pitches the team puts a positive spin like” no children or animals were harmed during Perez’ performance.” Who knows? One thing is for sure I can’t wait for a month from today.