Well here we are at number nineteen on this list of the top 50 Mets of all time. For those of you who might have missed some ( or all ) of my columns here is a quick recap.
50. second baseman, Felix Millan
49. Left Fielder, Cliff Floyd
48. Starting pitcher, Craig Swan
47 Catcher, Todd Hundley
46. Right Fielder, Ron Swoboda
45. Center fielder, Lenny Dykstra
44. Third baseman/ Outfielder, Dave Kingman
43. First baseman/Outfielder, Lee Mazzilli
42. Shortstop, Rey Ordonez
41. Second baseman, Ron Hunt
40. Catcher, John Stearns
39. Reliever, Turk Wendell
38. First baseman, John Milner
37. Third baseman, Ray Knight
36. First Baseman, Donn Clendenon
35. Pitcher, Al Jackson
34. Left Fielder, Tommie Agee
33. Third Baseman, Howard Johnson
32.Starter, Bobby Ojeda
31.Second Baseman, Wally Backman
30. Shortstop, Bud Harrelson
29. Starter, David Cone
28. Starter, Ron Darling
27. Reliever, Jesse Orosco
26. Reliever, John Franco
25. Starting Pitcher, Sid Fernandez
24. Reliever, Roger McDowell
23. Reliever, Tug McGraw
22. Outfielder, Rusty Staub
21. Starter/ Reliever, Nolan Ryan
20. Starting Pitcher, Johan Santana
And now as we start to come down the homestretch, Let me ask a question. Who was quite possibly the most controversial Mets player of the last six years ? Well if you guessed Carlos Beltran you would be correct.
Carlos Ivan Beltran was born in Manati Puerto Rico on April 24, 1977. At the age of eighteen, Carlos was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the second round of the 1995 amateur baseball draft. He was considered a five tool player by the scouts who watched him play baseball in high school. Upon signing with the Royals, he was assigned to their rookie-level team in the Gulf Coast League.
Carlos would quickly ascend to the Major Leagues, making his debut as a September call in 1998. He appeared in fifteen games for the Royals that season.
In 1999, Carlos won the starting center fielders job. He was utilized as a lead off hitter because of his speed.He was moved to the number three spot in the batting order after he showed that he could hit for power. That season,Carlos won the American League Rookie of the Year award. He batted .293 , smacking 22 home runs. He drove in 108 RBI and stole 27 bases.
The start of the millennium would not be kind to Carlos.He was limited to 98 games that season due to injuries. He hit just .247, and lost his role of everyday center fielder to Johnny Damon. In ’01 Carlos would resume his rightful place in center field after Damon was traded to the Oakland A’s. the Fully recovered Beltran returned to his power hitting self, batting .306 with 24 home runs and 101 RBIs.
After a bitter contract dispute with the Kansas City Royals, Carlos would be traded in the middle of the ’04 season to the Houston Astros in a three team deal that saw, Astros reliever, Octavio Dotel dealt to the Oakland Athletics, the Royals would obtain minor leaguer pitcher, Mike Wood and third baseman, Mark Teahen along with Astros catcher John Buck.
With the addition of Carlos, the Astros would make it to the playoffs, where they faced the St Louis Cardinals. Beltran would slam eight homers that post season, tying the record set by Barry Bonds.
Carlos would become a free agent after the 2004 season ended. Allegedly before signing his seven year 119 million dollar contract , his agent , Scott Boras contacted the The New York Yankees and offered them a $20 million discount to sign Beltran, because he supposedly didn’t want to play for the Mets. As the story goes, the Yankees declined the offer and the Mets were the last team standing. Carlos struggled both at the plate and with adjusting to the big city market that is New York City. He would just .266 ( a career low) with 16 homers and 78 RBIs. He would also steal 17 bases. He was elected to his second All-Star team that season.
2006 was a better year for Carlos. He would hit a career high 41 homers, 116 RBI’s and swiping 18 bases, while batting .275. he was part of a potent line up that included Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Cliff Floyd and Jose Reyes. Carlos was elected to his third All-Star Game that season. The Mets made it to the post season on the strength of Carlos’ potent bat. Carlos would win his first Gold Glove as well as a Silver Slugger award.
The Mets would sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Carlos was lights out in the ’06 NLCS, hitting three home runs. But it would soon be forgotten when he took a call strike three on a Adam Wainwright curve ball to dash the Mets hopes for making their first Word Series in six years. I personally think that Carlos has been treated unfairly since that game. The curve ball that Wainwright struck Carlos out was unhittable, and even more accomplished hitters than him would have had their knees buckled at that pitch.
In 2007, Beltran would hit .276 with 33 homers and 112 RBI. He was named to his named to his fourth All-Star Game that year, but it was still considered by Mets fans as a disappointing year because of the dreaded collapse that saw them eliminated on the last day of the season. Carlos would win his second straight Gold Glove in 2007.
In 2008 Carlos would smash 27 home runs , knock in 112 RBIs and bat.284 for the season. But the Mets – who were in the thick of the pennant chase for the entire season , lost their bid to get into the playoffs on the last day of the season. Carlos was the last Met to hit a home run at Shea Stadium, as he tried with all his might to carry the team to victory over the Marlins. But the Mets bullpen like many times before in that season imploded, rendering his efforts useless. Carlos won his third s straight Gold Glove award at the end of that season.
The past two season for Carlos have been nothing short of a nightmare, He missed a huge portion of the ’09 season with two severe bone bruises in both his knees after he made a diving catch in the outfield. His injuries were misdiagnosed by the Mets medical staff, which made his injuries even more painful. He attempted to come back and finish the season with the Mets that September, and played in a few games before he was shutdown because f a tweak in his knee.
In January of last year, Carlos – against the Mets front office’s wishes had surgery on his knees. This caused a schism between him and the Mets brain trust, because the wanted him to get a second opinion before they would give their blessings to the procedure. The Mets threatened to file a grievance against Carlos and his agent, Scott Boras, but they thought twice before going through with it. It was thought that Carlos would originally miss the first 8–12 weeks of the season. But as the season progressed , his absence loomed large. Carlos would make his season debut in July, just in time for the Mets (who were playing decent baseball at the time) to come down to earth and ultimately settle in fourth place for the second straight season.
In recent interviews, Carlos stated that he feels good and is ready to return to form in the coming season.
During his tenure with the Mets, Carlos has 134 home runs, 493 RBIs, 97 stolen bases and a batting average of .279 in six seasons with the Mets. He is due to become a free agent after this upcoming season.
I think in ten years or so , Mets fans will look back at Carlos’ tenure here and admit that he was possibly one of the – if not the best outfielders this team has ever had !!
Tomorrow we will reveal number eighteen, and here’s a hint he was a Rookie of the Year for the Mets .
And with that said… HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!
Mets alumni celebrating birthdays today include :
Today would have been original Mets pitcher, Bob Miller’s 72 birthday (1939).
Mets coach from the ’78 season Dal Maxvill (1939) .
Mets reserve outfielder from the ’80 season, Jerry Morales is 62 (1949) .
Mets long time utility man from ’89-94, Jeff McKnight is 48(1963) .One time Mets pitching prospect, Kevin Tapani is 47 (1964). He was part of the deal which sent Rick Aguilera and some minor leaguers to the Minnesota Twins for Frank Viola. I personally wish we had kept Aguilera.
Utility man fro the Mets from the ’02 season, John Valentin is 44 (1967) .
Starting pitcher from the ’02 team, Shawn Estes is 39 (1973)His biggest moment for the Mets is when he tried to brush back then Yankees pitcher, Roger Clemens in retaliation for the Mike Piazza beaning that happened two years prior during the ’00 season. Needless to say Shawn threw the pitch ” just a little bit outside”, missing Rogers ample steroid ridden posterior all together.
The Montreal Expos signed starting pitcher, Ray Burris of the New York Mets as a free agent on February 18, 1981.
The New York Mets traded minor league infielder, Joe Dellicarri to the Detroit Tigers for third baseman, Kevin Morgan on February 18, 1994. Morgan would play just one game for the Mets before fading into oblivion.
The Minnesota Twins signed middle reliever, Luis Ayala of the New York Mets as a free agent on February 18, 2009. The Mets acquired Ayala that August to help plug their leaky pen. He pitched well at first, but even he blew a bunch of games in the end.
And while you are waiting for the other shoe to drop in the Wilpon/ Madoff fiasco, just remember that there are just 42 Ron Hodges days untilthe Mets open the 2011 season against the Florida Marlins in Miami and only 49 days until the Mets 2011 home opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
I think I saw Mo Vaughn working at the local Poppa John’s in Port Saint Lucie !!!