Results tagged ‘ Carlos Beltran ’

Projecting the Opening Day roster: 3/10

I’m not going to count Carlos Beltran out for Opening Day just yet, considering the company line is a minor case of tendinitis. But if Beltran continues to sit out Grapefruit League games, he could have to start the season on the disabled list, possibly pushing Nick Evans, Lucas Duda or Fernando Martinez onto the Opening Day roster.

Also, if Brad Emaus continues to struggle, this may be the last week I project him onto the Opening Day roster. Even now, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt:

beltrandirty.jpgC – Josh Thole
1B – Ike Davis
2B – Brad Emaus
SS – Jose Reyes
3B – David Wright
OF – Jason Bay
OF – Carlos Beltran
OF – Angel Pagan
Bench – Chin-lung Hu
Bench – Daniel Murphy
Bench – Scott Hairston
Bench – Willie Harris*
Bench – Mike Nickeas

SP – Mike Pelfrey
SP – R.A. Dickey
SP – Jon Niese
SP – Chris Young
SP – Chris Capuano
RP – Francisco Rodriguez
RP – Bobby Parnell
RP – D.J. Carrasco
RP – Tim Byrdak*
RP – Taylor Buchholz
RP – Jason Isringhausen*
RP – Manny Acosta

In
the running: IF/OF Nick Evans, 2B Luis Castillo, IF Justin Turner, RHP
Dillon Gee, LHP Taylor Tankersley*, LHP Mike O’Connor*, LHP Oliver
Perez, LHP Pat Misch, RHP Pedro Beato, RHP Ryota Igarashi*, RHP Boof
Bonser*, RHP Blaine Boyer*.

*Denote non-roster invitee.

Comments: Nickeas makes the Opening Day roster due to the eight games remaining on Ronny Paulino’s PED suspension.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Analysis: Beltran to right field

Credit Carlos Beltran this: he made what appears to be the right decision for the Mets.

Beltran announced Monday that he will move to right field for the upcoming season, paving the way for Angel Pagan to start in center. According to metrics, it’s the smart move — in a little more than half a season in center field last year, Pagan ranked fourth in the Majors with an 11.8 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 defensive games, according to the web site Fangraphs.com, which measures a player’s overall defensive contributions. And that’s no aberration — he holds a combined 12.4 UZR/150 at all three outfield positions for his career. Even in Beltran’s best defensive season, 2008, he posted a 12.2 UZR/150. Considering he is one surgery and three years removed from that season, it’s reasonable to think he might never reach that level again — while Pagan, in his age-29 season, could potentially improve. (Disclaimer: defensive stats at times can be murky, but do give a general idea of a player’s worth.)

For all Pagan’s offensive improvements last season, his bat also plays better in center. The Mets insisted that whatever they decided this season would be final, meaning if Beltran started in center field and suffered an injury, Pagan would remain in right. But Pagan’s bat and skill set are a better match for center, meaning that if Beltran does get injured, the Mets can safely plug in someone with more power and less range — a Nick Evans type, for example — in right.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets, Angels reportedly discussed Beltran trade

An interesting item out of the New York Post today, revealing that the Mets discussed a potential deal earlier this winter to move Carlos Beltran to the Angels. Needing an outfield bat, the Angels instead traded for Vernon Wells last month, preferring to spend $86 million on a confirmed healthy player. Though Beltran has only one year and $18.5 million left on his contract, the Angels had questions about his health and his ability to play center field.

Though the Post did not reveal what the Mets might have received in return for Beltran, the report did float the names of outfielder Juan Rivera and reliever Fernando Rodney. For Wells, the Angels gave up slightly more, dealing Rivera and catcher Mike Napoli to the Jays.

There’s not much to be gleaned from this other than the fact that the Mets, while hesitant to make a major trade right now, are willing to explore any and all options. Recall that Beltran has a clause in his contract forbidding the Mets from offering him arbitration, meaning if they don’t trade him before the end of the season, they will receive nothing — not even a draft pick — if he ultimately signs elsewhere.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Previewing Mets position battles

Every Major League team has a few position battles in Spring Training, and the Mets are no exception. We’ll have plenty more on these over the next few weeks on Mets.com, but for now, a quick look at what to watch for come spring:

beltranslidingfielding.jpg1. CENTER FIELD
The contenders: Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan
The edge: Beltran

For the first time in 13 seasons, Beltran will walk into camp without a firm grip on the starting center field job. Missing the majority of last season with right knee issues, Beltran watched as his countryman stepped in and established himself as a legitimate everyday center fielder. Upon Beltran’s return, Pagan shifted to right — but there was no doubt that he remained the better player both at the plate and in the field.

Another offseason of rehabilitation should have Beltran and his knee in better shape come spring. But at 33 years old, can he still be an elite defensive center fielder? The Mets may be better served putting Pagan in center, considering the impressive quickness and glovework he displayed last season. But Beltran’s value would be higher at his natural position, so if the Mets really do intend to trade him before his seven-year contract expires after the season, they may give Beltran the outfield edge.

All that’s clear right now is that whoever loses this battle will start in right field. And whoever wins will be entrenched in center regardless of injuries, slumps and overall results.

2. SECOND BASE
The contenders: Luis Castillo, Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy
The edge: Emaus

For the sake of this exercise, we’ll ignore Justin Turner, Luis Hernandez and Chin-lung Hu, all of whom are effectively competing for bench spots. The real battle here is between Murphy, who has spent much of the last year attempting to prove his defensive prowess at second base, and Emaus, a Rule 5 pick from the Blue Jays. Emaus’ Rule 5 status gives him an early edge in this battle because if he does not make the team, the Mets would need to offer him back to the Jays for $25,000. In addition, Emaus would provide a right-handed bat at the bottom of a lineup that already includes lefties Ike Davis and Josh Thole. And his presence at second would allow the Mets to keep Murphy stashed on the bench, where he could serve as a sort of super-sub at first base, second, third and left field.

That’s a pretty significant edge for Murphy to overcome. But the Mets remain hopeful regarding Murphy’s offensive ceiling. If he outperforms Emaus with the bat in Spring Training, the job could (and should) be his.

As for Castillo, there’s really only one scenario in which he makes the team: he rakes in Spring Training while the other two falter. Otherwise, the Mets know, they’d be better served to cut him and the $6 million remaining on his contract.

3. BULLPEN
The contenders: Taylor Tankersley, Taylor Buchholz, Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Beato, Manny Acosta, Pat Misch, Oliver Perez
The edge: Tankersley, Buchholz, Beato, Acosta

Of what appears to be a total of seven spots in the bullpen, only Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell and D.J. Carrasco will head into camp with guaranteed roles. Tankersley, the strongest lefty candidate, is on a non-guaranteed Minor League deal but should make the team. Buchholz, barring a poor spring performance, should as well.

That leaves two spots for Beato, Acosta, Igarashi, Misch and Perez — and it’s truly impossible to handicap this battle without seeing them perform on spring. On paper, Beato has an edge due to his Rule 5 status. Igarashi is owed $1.75 million this season, providing the Mets with some incentive to give him innings. But he has also cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Buffalo, meaning the Mets won’t risk losing him if he doesn’t make the team.

The Mets like — but don’t love — Acosta as a middle-innings guy, so they’re pleased he missed the arbitration cutoff by a relatively slim margin. But that won’t guarantee him a job — he’ll have to earn it. Misch will make the team only if manager Terry Collins deems it necessary to keep a long man. And Perez? Not likely.

It’s possible also that a Minor Leaguer could surprise in Spring Training and make the team. But right now, with a little less than a month to go before pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie, Beato and Acosta appear to be the early favorites to round out the bullpen.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Quotable: Phillies sign Cliff Lee

In case you missed it (or are trying to ignore it), the Phillies swooped in last night and signed free-agent lefty Cliff Lee to a five-year deal, giving Philadelphia four legitimate aces in Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki has all the details on Phillies.com and his MLBLog, The Zo Zone. But the Mets also had plenty to say at today’s holiday party for area children. A sampling:

  • clifflee.jpgManager Terry Collins: “I was taken by surprise, I can honestly tell you. I really felt that New York and Texas were the two places and certainly I was shocked, but I know better than to be shocked in our business … They’ve got our attention. Not like they didn’t have it before, for sure. We’ve got some preparation ahead.”
  • Third baseman David Wright: “On paper, they look great. They’ve made all the right moves, they’ve put together that pitching staff and that’s what wins baseball games. But there are a lot of variables that go into playing a season and that’s why we’re going to go out there, and it’s going to be a challenge. But I think we’re up to it and we’re going to prepare, go out there and win.”
  • Outfielder Carlos Beltran: “I don’t like to be negative. I never like to be negative. I always like to be positive. So I always say that in baseball, there’s nothing guaranteed. You can go to Philly and probably on paper look great, but we don’t know how it’s going to work out. We’re all speculating that it’s going to work out great. If you ask Philly fans, they’ll say it’s going to be great. If you ask me, I say I don’t know.”
  • Outfielder Jason Bay: “They were already, rotation-wise, pretty good without him. Now,  obviously, they’re really, really good.”
  • First baseman Ike Davis: “Their whole staff, especially the starters, are pretty amazing. It’s just going to make one more game that much tougher and really [there's] no letdown. The whole team’s got to come ready to go.”
  • General manager Sandy Alderson: “I don’t think it affects how we plan long-term. In the short-term, really, the only impact is that now there are two other clubs that are out there looking for starting pitching today that weren’t there yesterday. So that has some impact. Otherwise we have our own plan, our own approach and this doesn’t really change things too much for us.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Beltran decision should (and will) wait until spring

Don’t expect a resolution anytime soon regarding Carlos Beltran and a potential move to right field. Though Angel Pagan proved to be a significantly better fielder last season than the 33-year-old Beltran, the Mets owe it to their three-time Gold Glover — and to themselves — to make the center field job an open competition this spring.

beltranfielding.jpgSo that’s what they intend to do.

New general manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday in Orlando that he doesn’t anticipate making any rash decisions regarding Beltran, whom he met last weekend at a charity event in Puerto Rico. The two spoke, but not about center field. There is a time and a place for that. November in Puerto Rico was not it.

“The purpose of my trip to Puerto Rico was not to accomplish a position change,” Alderson said. “My goal was simply to meet Carlos and several other players, which I was able to do — Angel Pagan was there, Jose Reyes — and establish a relationship. It was a great event. I met everyone, had a chance to talk to Carlos — not at length, because I didn’t want to get in the way of what was clearly an important event for him. But I was pleased with the fact that I was able to be there and was able to make contact and shake hands.”

Despite Beltran’s struggles in the field last season — he had a -3.4 Ultimate Zone Rating according to Fangraphs.com, compared to 15.1 for Pagan — he remains one of the premier center fielders of his generation. The Mets owe it to themselves to see if his knee, now supposedly 100-percent healthy, will allow him to rediscover his old excellence.

They can do that this spring in Port St. Lucie, Fla. They can’t do it now, in a conference room in Orlando.

“I think that’s really the only fair thing,” Alderson said. It’s not necessarily that that subject is only broached after spring training begins, but I think it’s only fair to think about that and deal with it in the context of real information as opposed to opinion. So we’ll see.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Do you remember this Mets lineup?

Try to find something significant about this Mets lineup from April 13, 2009:

Jose Reyes, SS
Daniel Murphy, LF
David Wright, 3B
Carlos Delgado, 1B
Carlos Beltran, CF
Ryan Church, RF
Brian Schneider, C
Luis Castillo, 2B
Mike Pelfrey, RHP

Give up? That’s the last time the Mets fielded a lineup with all eight of their regular starters. It happened against the Padres in — get this — the first regular season game in the history of Citi Field. Since that time, due in large part to injuries to Beltran and Reyes, the Mets have gone more than 15 months and played 247 games without ever fielding their ideal starting nine.

Until now. The team’s incompleteness should finally change Monday, when Castillo returns from the disabled list and Reyes plays his first game of the second half. Monday, barring something unforeseen, the Mets will field a team full of first stringers (albeit a drastically different lineup than they had 247 games ago) for the first time since last April 13.

The lineup (knock on wood, Mets fans) should look something like this:

Jose Reyes, SS
Angel Pagan, RF
David Wright, 3B
Carlos Beltran, CF
Ike Davis, 1B
Jason Bay, LF
Rod Barajas, C
Luis Castillo, 2B
Mike Pelfrey, RHP

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets beisbol, Puerto Rican style

Despite the tremendous popularity of baseball in this US territory, only 21 Puerto Rican natives opened this season on big league rosters. The Mets employed three of them — Angel Pagan, Pedro Feliciano and Alex Cora — and recently added another in Jesus Feliciano, who may soon lose his roster spot to countryman Carlos Beltran. So it is of course fitting that the Mets — statistically the most diverse team in Major League Baseball history — are participants in the San Juan Series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

hiram_bithorn2.jpgPagan and Jesus Feliciano both live within a stone’s throw of San Juan, and both expected to have plenty of family and friends in the stands for all three games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Cora, who grew up further down the road in Caguas, said he would pay for any of his family and close friends who wanted to attend the games. This is a big deal for the native Mets, and it’s a big deal for Puerto Rico.

Even those Mets who played here before in the World Baseball Classic were struck by the gravity of wearing Mets threads in their capital city.

“I can’t imagine wearing a big league uniform,” Jesus Feliciano said last week, “and playing in front of your friends, your family and your country.”

Now, he no longer has to.

—–Follow along on Twitter @anthonydicomo.

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