It's a bit strange, you see, because I like to pick margin players, guys who make an impact on the side lines or not as every-day-key-players which we know Carlos to be. But I picked him for several reasons.
For one, this is the mid-term of his seven year contract signed in the 2005 offseason. While his first year was a wash, we know what to expect of Beltran. Whether or not he feels hurt, you can count on him for great defense, on-base performance, he can hit for power and has speed, and you can usually count on him for 100 RBIs.
But this year is different, I feel, for Beltran. I think he has something to prove. Delgado has one more year with the team and to be honest, his hold as "team leader" has been somewhat diminished as he slumped for a season-and-a-half. Wright is simply too young and too "golly gee-wow wee" to be the team leader. Beltran is a smart player. He leads by example. Therefore, this is officially *his* team.
I remember when he first signed with the Mets, a friend of mine (who was a Chicago Cub fan who hated the Yankees - go figure) said that he wanted Beltran to sign with the Mets. And he told me this for two reasons: One was - *I* (meaning: Coop being a Mets fan in the vicinity of idiot Yankee fans) didn't want him on the Yankees, now, did I?
But the other reason was (much bigger) - Carlos Beltran has the chance to be the best player in baseball in a few years.
Read that again - best player in baseball.
2005 was a precipice year too for the Mets. The changing of the guard had happened in the front office, but also on the field team, when BIC Willie took over (BMF loyalists know what that stands for) and when Mike Piazza's long-ass contract was up. There was a feeling that - this was no longer Piazza's team. You looked around Queens and all the Mets marketing materials, all pictures and focus was now on Beltran (Pedro too - but mostly on Beltran).
Beltran was interesting though. He was quiet, non-flashy and just performed what was expected of him, especially after 2005. He never seemed to want to take responsibility for the team, and it showed back then. The same could be said of Piazza. While not the biggest Piazza aficionado, I loved him as much as any other Mets fan I guess. My biggest gripe with him was that he was not a leader. Neither was Beltran in his first year. But I feel he may have felt timid with the changing of the guard. Beltran's like that, I see. He's a respectful kinda guy.
Then his friend Carlos Delgado was traded to the team, and Delgado really took that over as clubhouse leader. This may have not been such a great thing as far as Beltran's development as a team leader. But then, I think 2007 (or the way the year ended, to be blunt) also made him into a stronger man in that he didn't want to be known as they guy who was part of a team that was in the septic tank.
In 2008, I think we got a glimmer of all that Beltran was capable of. The last game of the season at Shea, he hit a home run. I told Mr. E that the team would not lose. I was what you call "wrong." But Beltran showed me something that day. He was no longer part of my Big Pussy's Posse. He was one of us. He didn't want to go down, and tried his best not to.
This year is different for me though. SNK and I have discussed this, and I believe in my heart of hearts that 2009 will be Beltran's "break-out" year as a Met.
Huh? Hasn't he had that already, but on the Royals or even the Astros and that monster postseason in 2004?
One could argue that he may never have "that" year and if he just performs consistently, he'll still be a "great." But I disagree. Beltran has something to prove this year. He has two more seasons under contract plus he's shown interest in wanting to retire in New York. Delgado has one more. Beltran needs to step up, perform and BE the leader of this team. Not just lead by example. But be a mouthpiece to the media. Not be afraid of his own talent. And dammit, stop being a pussy.
Because you heard it here first - Beltran will win the NL MVP this year.
No, seriously. Beltran's break out year is going to be 2009. And my Cubs-fan-friend called it long ago. That Beltran had the goods and eventually *would* be the best player in baseball.
And this season, I think he'll be right. You can throw Luis Castillo out there. You can throw Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis and a brain-injured Ryan Church and a sucky Brian Schneider out there every day. Additionally, we can have outstanding offense from David Wright and speed and hustle from Jose Reyes to balance out the shit.
This team will be nothing without Carlos Beltran. And I am saying he won't let us down, folks.
That's why I am calling Carlos Beltran the fourth-key to the Mets season in 2009.