I read a great article on the NY Daily News website that touched upon Carlos Beltran‘s often strained relationship with New York Mets fans during his tenure in Flushing. After signing a huge seven-year/$119 million contract before the 2005 season, fans were expecting monster numbers from their new star center fielder. So, after a .266 average, 16 home runs, and 78 RBI in his first season in a Met uniform, not meeting expectations with the Met faithful was the understatement of the century. That started a somewhat rocky relationship with the soft spoken Beltran and one of the busiest cities in the world.
Now that Beltran has signed a two-year/$26 million deal to join the St. Louis Cardinals, he had a few things to say to those Mets fans who still haven’t picked their jaw up off the ground after he watched that nasty curve ball from Adam Wainwright end the NLCS in 2006. Now that he has joined the same team that eliminated his hopes of playing in a World Series six years ago, some fans are shocked that he would join the “enemy.” His message to Mets fans was quite clear: we unfortunately can’t rewind back to 2006 and re-do what happened, so it’s time to move on. Beltran’s goal, like any other player, was to win a championship, and he’s not happy that he wasn’t able to accomplish that with the Mets, but it is what it is. As for joining the Cardinals, at this point in his career, he stated that he just wants to make it October, and the Redbirds give him the best chance to do that.
After reading this article, I couldn’t help but have the utmost respect for Carlos Beltran. As a die-hard Mets fan myself, I remember sitting on the floor of my dorm room back in 2006, hoping and wishing that Beltran could come through in the clutch one more time, and then shedding a tear when the Cardinals began to celebrate on the field at Shea. I had quite a few moments where I had my doubts about Beltran because he was often injured, and sometimes, I didn’t feel like he was worth the huge contract that Omar Minaya awarded him.
However, at the end of the day, he was a great Met. Yes, no championships were brought to Flushing, but he did all he could while he was a part of the team, especially mentoring younger players, such as Lucas Duda. I had the honor of being at Beltran’s last home game at Citi Field, which was (ironically enough) against the Cardinals, and I joined the rest of the crowd by giving him a standing ovation for the six and a half years of service he gave us. Sometimes, I feel that baseball fans can be too harsh on a player; when they’re slumping, it’s not as if they’re doing it on purpose. We (myself included) have a tendency to put professional athletes on a pedestal that is unfair to them. They are humans after all, and are far from perfect.
Those reasons were the main drivers as to why it was such an up-and-down relationship between Beltran and Mets fans; they expected perfection. For those that think he performed better when he was in Kansas City, check out the comparison of his stat lines. Keep in mind, he spent just about seven years with both the Royals and the Mets:
Kansas City Royals:
.287 avg, .352 on-base%, .483 slug%, 123 HR, 516 RBI, 546 runs, 899 hits, 164 SB, .835 OPS
New York Mets:
.280 avg, .369 on-base%, .500 slug%, 149 HR, 559 RBI, 551 runs, 878 hits, 100 SB, .869 OPS
Outside of his stolen base total, all of these offensive statistics are pretty darn close. So, looks like his performance at the plate and on the base paths fall right in line with his career averages, and better as a Met than a Royal. I know his monster postseason with the Astros drove up his price and expectations of fans, but at the end of it all, his production didn’t drop from his career averages. Good luck in St. Louis, Carlos.