Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Are The Mets Better With Pagan In Center?

I know it's early in his comeback, but Carlos Beltran, as reported here, is only a shell of the Gold Glover we've seen patrolling CF since 2005. As I said in that post:

I have guarded optimism of Beltran's return. I have always loved Beltran and the way he plays, but expecting the Carlos of old is foolish.

Since his return, Beltran has been respectable at the plate, hitting .263 in five games, with a triple and a double. This isn't my concern.

The added protection of having Beltran in the lineup hasn't helped Jason Bay the way we were all figuring. That isn't Carlos' fault. Bay must accept responsibility for his egregious short comings, not Beltran.

Where Carlos has hurt the Mets is with his glove. Where in years past, Beltran has been an elite Center Fielder, who could go back on balls with the best of them. Remember all the home runs he has stolen since his inaugural season with the Mets? Since his return Thursday from major knee surgery last December, there have been at least four balls hit that Beltran just couldn't get to. Two of the hits have gone for triples. Most recently was last night when Gerardo Parra hit a triple over Beltran's head. These are fly balls that Beltran used to gracefully gallop after and catch almost effortlessly. Now these balls are landing over his head winding up as extra base hits for the batter.

I have been in Beltran's corner since he signed with the Mets prior to the 2005 season, but he is not the elite outfielder we've come to expect in CF. It pains me to say thus far he has hurt the Mets with his defense. Can't believe I'm scribing those words, but it is true. I'm not surprised, but am hurt when I see balls go over his head and Carlos looks old and slow going after them.

Carlos is wearing a large, surely cumbersome brace on his surgically repaired knee which might indeed hinder his agility. Hopefully Beltran's apparent deteriorating defensive skills is nothing more than rust, but I'm not yet sold.

My suggestion to the Mets, free of charge of course, is to put Beltran in RF and allow Pagan to patrol CF. Once/if Beltran gets more comfortable and game ready, he can return to CF. Pagan is not, nor ever will be the OF Beltran was. His arm isn't as strong (real weak arm), and although fast, does not cover the ground Beltran did. But, at this point in Beltran's recovery, he clearly isn't the CF that Pagan is.

It is difficult watching players age and lose their skills. I have seen it with Piazza, Hernandez, Koosman, and Franco (among others). Maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit, but I am not confident that Beltran will return to the world class CF that we've become accustomed to seeing. Although we live and die with the players that wear the Blue and Orange (not black!), it's about winning games. It's about putting the best team and players on the field. It's about results.

Unfortunately, Beltran hasn't been providing the results in CF thus far.

Picture Courtesy ESPN.

No comments: