Now that Carlos Beltran has played his first game with the Giants, it is time to look at his legacy with the Mets. It certainly is mixed.
When the Mets signed Beltran to that seven-year, $119 million contract prior to the 2005 season (below), it was the seventh richest contract in baseball history and the largest in Mets history, so a lot was expected of him. It took a while, but he finally delivered.
2005 was just an awful season. He hit batted .266 with 16 home runs and 78 RBIs, not numbers you’d expect for $119 million. The fans often booed, which surprised and offended Beltran. That was clear the following season when he began the year 0-for-9 and the boos intensified. When he broke the slump with a home run, then-manager Willie Randolph urged him to take a curtain call. Beltran refused — they don’t like me, why should I salute them? Finally Julio Franco practically pushed him out of the dugout. That won the fans over, and he was hardly even booed again.
2006 was his best season as a Met — .275, 41 homers, 116 RBIs. But the final bitter end of that season was Beltran’s signature moment, for better or for worse. He famously watched as a wicked curveball from Adam Wainwright passed him by to end the 2006 NLCS (below). Many fans were critical — how could he just stand there with the bat on his shoulder as the season ended? Personally, I never blamed him for that. If you’re fooled by a pitch, you’re fooled by a pitch, whether it is in spring training or with two outs in the ninth inning of game seven of the NLCS.
2007 and 2008 were also solid seasons, but he followed those with two with injury-plagued years that tarnish his legacy, through no fault of his own. He came back surprisingly strong this season, strong enough that the Mets were able to trade him for a top-notch prospect. If Zack Wheeler works out, that could be his ultimate legacy.
But here’s the thing about Carlos Beltran — except for the curtain call homer and the NLCS strikeout, there were no truly memorable moments in Beltran’s Mets career. He played a superb centerfield and he got some big hits, but nothing really stands out. For $119 million you’d expect more great moments, especially in the post season, where Beltran appeared just once as a Met. That was not all his fault, but as a team leader he should shoulder some of the blame. This does not mean his time in New York was a failure; it just leaves us wanting a bit more.