Beltran's talent on display for suitors
As Trade Deadline approaches, Mets have reason to sell
NEW YORK -- If this is the swan song for Carlos Beltran in a Mets uniform, the 34-year-old right fielder is going out in style.With 12 days to go before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Beltran returned from a three-day bout with the flu and was on base five times on Tuesday night in a 4-2 Mets victory over the Cardinals at Citi Field. That's two doubles, a single, a pair of walks and one of the four runs scored. Beltran, like teammate Jose Reyes, will be a free agent at the end of the World Series, and wants to stay put, he said. But Beltran understands that Major League Baseball is a business and that contending teams like the Giants, Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers could use his services to make a pennant push. Asked if he feels like he'll still be here when the clock strikes the witching hour on July 31, Beltran said:
"I don't know, my friend. Right now I haven't had any conversations with anyone. But I'm here and I'm looking forward to going out and playing. Whatever happens is whatever's going to happen. Like I said, it's something I can't control right now. So you have to focus on what's important and that's playing the game."The Mets are 48-48, with 12 games between them and first-place Philadelphia in the National League East. Even the second-place Braves, positioning themselves as the NL's probable Wild Card team, seem far away. Sandy Alderson, the veteran baseball executive and first-year general manager, said he hasn't determined whether the Mets are buyers or sellers. The club has already shipped closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers. "We're talking like all of the other clubs are, and we'll see what develops over the next few weeks," Alderson said. "We are where we are in the standings. I've said that the seven to 10 games after the All-Star break are going to be somewhat determinative. Not just us, but also those same seven to 10 games played by other teams. The Phillies have played well all season, and the Braves have played well the last few weeks. It doesn't mean either team will play well for the rest of the season." The fact is that the Mets are trying to fix serious financial problems and those circumstances also have to be part of the mix. There's no question they are destined to slash an NL-high $143 million payroll. Beltran, finishing up a seven-year, $119 million contract, doesn't seem affordable now, at any price. Reyes is going to want in excess of that money and probably a similar contract length. The Mets could hold him and take the Draft picks, because Reyes surely will be rated as a Type A free agent this coming offseason. Beltran, who has overcome serious knee problems to hit .293 with 14 homers and 59 RBIs, may not be as highly rated. Thus, the Mets could take prospects right now, while assuming a good portion of what's left of Beltran's $18.5 million contract for this season. "I have said I'd love to stay here," Beltran said. "At the same time, it has nothing to do with my preference, but the plans that the organization has. You have to understand that this is the business part of it, and in the end, the organization is going to do what's best for the organization. It doesn't matter what I think. It's what they think. Let's see what happens." Reyes, who recovered from a hamstring injury, was also back in the lineup for the first time since before the All-Star break on Tuesday night. David Wright is in the Minors on rehab assignment after recovering from a back injury and is a few days away from returning. Alderson said he would love to have traveled to Cooperstown, N.Y., this weekend for the Hall of Fame induction of fellow GM Pat Gillick, in particular, but he can't. Gillick is going in Sunday, with second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven. But Alderson said he needs to stay close to the phone and closer to the office -- just in case. Still, on Tuesday night, Alderson sounded like a man who has yet to give up on a season that has 66 games remaining for his team. "We're getting some players back," he said. "We got Jose back tonight. We had Carlos back in the lineup for the first time in three days. We'll get David Wright back on Friday. Things are looking up in Mets land." So the jury is still out, Alderson acknowledged with a smile and an affirmative nod. But it will be an anxious 12 days around Mets land until that jury comes back in.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.