Will Beltran, Wright win Gold Gloves?
Injuries, even offense, could cost outfielder, third baseman
NEW YORK -- Joe Morgan relinquished his hold on the National League second-base Gold Glove Award after 1977, allowing Davey Lopes, Manny Trillo and Doug Flynn the opportunity to be recognized for their Midas defensive skills. Lopes followed Morgan, and Trillo displaced Lopes in '79. And in '80, Flynn's soft, quick and reliable hands brought a Gold Glove to Shea Stadium for the third time.
Trillo won the award again in 1981, prompting head-scratching in Queens. But Joe Torre, who had managed Flynn through 4 1/2 seasons with the Mets, offered a viable explanation for why someone other than Flynn had been elected.
"Dougie didn't hit enough to win a Gold Glove," he said.
Torre's comment, as incongruous as it sounds, may again be apropos for a Mets player this year. Carlos Beltran had been a member of the NL Gold Glove outfield for three years, and David Wright has been the league's Gold Glove winner at third base for two. The 2009 Gold Glove Awards are to be announced on Wednesday, and neither Beltran nor Wright nor any teammate is likely to receive one. In the case of Beltran, he probably didn't play enough to be a viable candidate, and in Wright's case, he probably didn't hit enough to win a third straight award.
It does seem illogical that the criterion for an award winner that recognizes defense is somehow shaded by something other than defense. But witness the outfield Gold Glove Bobby Abreu won as a member of the Phillies in 2005, the infamous election of Rafael Palmeiro -- then of the Rangers -- as the American League first baseman in 1999 when he played 28 games at the position and Flynn's runner-up status to Lopes in 1978. A .300 average might have made the Mets' second baseman a better fielder.
Because of injuries, Beltran wasn't in center field for most of the Mets' 2009 season. He appeared in merely half their games, playing 77 in the field. His innings in center field numbered 676, 604 fewer than he had averaged in his first four seasons with the Mets and his fewest, by far, since 2000. Wright missed time because of the concussion he suffered in the late summer and played the fewest innings since his rookie season. But his offensive downturn and the marked improvement offensively of Ryan Zimmerman is likely to make the third baseman the Nationals' first Gold Glove winner, meaning the Mets will be shut out in postseason awards.
Wright, if he were to receive mention on one ballot for the NL Most Valuable Player Award, probably would be the only Met to receive consideration for an award presented by the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year Awards. Daniel Murphy might have been a consideration for a place on the rookie award ballot, but his final plate appearance -- a strikeout -- in 2008 cost his status as a rookie.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.