Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis Cardinals’

Caught Looking

Posted by JD on October 25, 2010

Steve Lombardi at the Baseball Reference Blog had an interesting post the other day listing all of the players who ended their team’s post season by taking a called strike three. The post was inspired by the season-ending strike outs of Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez this weekend. The last occurrence prior to that was, of course, Carlos Beltran’s season ending backwards K against Adam Wainwright. No surprise there.

What is surprising (at least to me, anyway) is that Beltran wasn’t the first Met in that situation: Howard Johnson took a called strike three to end the 1988 NLCS. Hojo’s K was slightly less dramatic than Beltran’s: the Mets were trailing the Dodgers 6-0 at the time and Orel Hershiser was working on a complete game, five hit shutout. Those circumstances likely spared Hojo from the treatment Beltran has received in the past four years. In fact, I could only find two Hershiser-centric articles that briefly mentioned Hojo in passing (here and here). Given the pounding Beltran’s taken, I wish Johnson had been a little more vocal about his experience (though part of me understands: it’s never easy to talk about negative events).

Another ex-Met on the list also stands out, even if his post-season ending moment didn’t happen in the orange and blue: Willie Randolph took the final strike against the Royals’ Dan Quisenberry in 1980. Now, I could swear I remember Willie mentioning his strike out in defense of Beltran at some point, but I can’t find it in a Google search. While I’ll trust my spotty memory to give Willie the benefit of the doubt, I’m still frustrated with the media (and fans) who refuse to give Beltran a pass. It’s past time to move on and let it go, but Beltran’s career as a Met is doomed to be overshadowed by that one at bat.

In the interest of thoroughness, three other players with connections to the Mets appear on the list: former Met Randy Myers struck out Omar Vizquel to end the 1996 ALDS, future/former Roberto Alomar K’d looking against Jose Mesa to end the 1997 ALCS (in another twist, both series pitted the Indians against the Orioles), and Derek Lowe punched out former Met Terrance Long to end the 2003 ALDS. Throw in the fact that A-Rod and Alomar will both eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame and Vizquel has a decent shot, Beltran isn’t exactly keeping poor company here. But I’m sure that fact will go unreported, too.


Posted in Carlos Beltran, Flushing Frivolities, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What’s the Rush?

Posted by JD on September 20, 2010

Carlos Beltran’s days on the Mets are numbered: whether it be an off-season trade (Ken Davidoff thinks there may be a market for him), a deadline deal in July, or simply letting his contract expire, Beltran will not be here in 2012. The player/team relationship has deteriorated to the point that a divorce seems inevitable. As much as it pains me to believe it, believing anything else is indulging in fantasy at this point.

Personally, I think the third option makes the most sense. An injured Beltran is better than most major league outfielders even if he insists on playing center field (which he probably will). Trading him at the deadline makes a good bit of sense, too. Sure, it’s a a gamble: he could get hurt again. But it would give him a few months to rebuild his trade value while giving the Mets their best chance to win in 2010. All that being said, I’m almost positive they’ll rush into it and trade Beltran this winter.

I’m hedging my bets: there’s every chance that whoever gets the GM job will realize that it’s better to hold on to Beltran rather than dumping him. But, given the way the Mets have operated over the past three seasons, the new GM may be pressured to move Beltran as soon as possible. It’s the least palatable option, but that’s no reason to say it won’t happen.

Davidoff lists the Cardinals and Red Sox as potential trade partners. I took a look at their roster commitments on Cot’s Baseball Contracts and saw a couple of possible trades that I think highlight the position that the Mets will be dealing from this off-season. Setting the table, Beltran will earn $18.5 million next year, $5.5 of which will be deferred for an unspecified period of time at 1.72% compounded interest. This is a key (if under-reported) figure: it means that Beltran will actually make “just” $13 million next season.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the terms of Bobby Bonilla’s contract by now. On July 1, he’ll begin receiving annual payments of $1.19 million from the Mets until 2036. Beltran has a similar arrangement, the main difference being that we don’t know how the future payments are structured. Let’s set aside the deferred $5.5 million from 2008, 2009, and 2010 for now (I’d love to say that they’ve $16.5 million stashed in a safe investment, but for some reason I doubt it). That leaves the $5.5 million from 2011, the key to which is the payment’s due date:  the further out it is, the less that has to be invested today (here’s a primer on the time value of money). If it’s one year, the payment is worth about $5.4 million today. Ten years lowers the number to $4.64 million, 20 lowers it to $3.91 million, 25 lowers it to $3.59 million. We don’t know when the payments will be due, but we know that less than $5.5 million has to be set aside to cover it today. It’s a safe bet that the Mets would be willing to front whatever that number is, given that they can make up the difference in more profitable investments and that interest rates will surely go up (after all, the Great Recession is over). Wait, what?

Cheap shots aside, let’s use $13 million as a guideline: there are players on the Cardinals and Red Sox that come close to matching Beltran’s contract. On the Cardinals, Kyle Lohse is due to make $11.875 million in 2011 and 2012. He’s been mediocre (to be kind, he was injured this season) since signing his current contract and has a full no-trade clause. The Red Sox offer a similar option: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is due to make $10 million in 2011 and 2012. Dice-K has been less mediocre than Lohse (while pitching in the much more difficult AL East) but also has a full no-trade clause. Given the uncertainty in the Mets’ rotation next year, they might attempt to convince Lohse or Matsuzaka to waive their no-trade clauses (and, in the process, probably spend more money to do so).

There are undoubtedly more alternatives available should the Mets choose to get creative, but I think these two scenarios nicely highlight market conditions: they’ll have to acquire less talented players with longer contracts or pay the receiving team even more money to obtain higher quality players or prospects. The alternative is to hold on to Beltran long enough to regenerate his trade value (and reap the benefits of having him healthy and productive). This fan thinks it’s a no-brainer to keep Beltran, but I won’t put my money on that happening.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

That Carlos Beltran, He’s Pretty Good

Posted by JD on July 29, 2010

I know there’s a lot going on today, what with Roy Oswalt joining the Phillies and R.A. Dickey holding the Cardinals to just three hits over 8 1/3 innings, but I’d like to address something that’s been festering with me for the past two weeks. It’s become pretty clear that Mets fans have split into two camps: those who properly value Carlos Beltran, and those who think he’s some sort of clubhouse cancer. I’m so deeply embedded in the first camp that I struggle to comprehend the second camp’s argument.

Beltran has now appeared in 13 games for the Mets. He’s still a bit tentative in the field and his .702 OPS is well below his career .855 mark, but he’s still more productive than Jeff Francoeur (.670 OPS after today’s game). Of course, the anti-Beltran camp’s argument isn’t rooted in statistics: they seem to be fascinated with the all-important (and ambiguous) factor of “chemistry”. According to one theory, Carlos Beltran and Oliver Perez destroyed the the team’s chemistry as soon as they walked in the door. The Mets’ 2-9 road trip happened because Beltran and Perez simply don’t play well with others.

That’s unacceptable to me. Yes, I understand that you’re still mad that Beltran took that curveball in 2006. I wish he’d swung at it, too. Heck, I wish he’d hit that pitch over the Whitestone Bridge. But that was just one sour moment in a fine Mets career. He’s played 689 games for the Mets, in which he has hit 128 home runs (6th in franchise history), scored 473 runs (11th), and has an .870 OPS (5th). Beltran also has accounted for 26.7 WAR (using Baseball Reference’s calculation), good for 5th in franchise history. Simply put, he’s one of the very best position players this franchise has ever fielded. Any “chemistry” concerns can go pound sand.

That brings us to the heart of this (pointless) debate: those fans who don’t care for Beltran also don’t care for statistics, advanced or otherwise. They “know what they see” and don’t need to dig any deeper. A part of me understands this: I can’t tell you how to calculate WAR, and I struggle to understand some of the more advanced statistics. But I can tell you this: I’ve been to plenty of games at Shea Stadium and Citi Field, and I’ve seen Carlos Beltran steal bases, make gravity-defying catches, and hit titanic home runs. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. And the fact that some Mets fans haven’t makes me wonder what they were watching.

Carlos Beltran is awesome, and your argument is not valid.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets, Oliver Perez | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »