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Mets Should Not Re-Issue Beltran’s 15

Since the Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler much has changed for both the Mets and Beltran.  With respect to the Mets, they kicked off a rebuilding effort that year which culminated in a 2015 pennant.  As for Beltran, he would play with the Cardinals, Yankees, Rangers, and Astros winning a World Series and solidifying his spot as a future Hall of Famer.

The latter part is important because with the Hall of Fame rules, Beltran really has three options as to which cap he will don on his Hall of Fame plaque – Royals, Mets, or blank.

The decision should prove to be a difficult one for Beltran for a few reasons.  First and foremost, Beltran grew up in the Royals organization.  He was drafted as a 20 year old out of Puerto Rico, found himself making his Major League debut with the team the following season, and he would win the 1999 Rookie of the Year Award.  In total, he spent eight years with the Royals organization, which is more time than he spent with any other team.

That includes an Astros team where he became a superstar with an epic 2004 postseason.  He would return to the team 13 years later, and he would get that elusive World Series ring with the team before retiring.

That also includes the Yankees who were a team Beltran longed to play for all of his life.  It was with the Yankees Beltran made his last All Star team.  It’s the same Yankees team Beltran has inquired about returning to now that his playing days are over.

It also includes a Cardinals team who took somewhat of a flyer on Beltran after he had knee issues in the later stages of his tenure with the Mets.  With the Cardinals, Beltran really cemented his case as a Hall of Fame player by pushing his WAR to a Hall of Fame caliber 67.7 and by having the third great postseason run of his career in 2012.  Also, in 2013, Beltran would finally get to play in the World Series.

When you bring up Beltran and the Mets, that’s the first thing that is brought up by someone.  We don’t hear about his four All Star teams, three Gold Gloves, 149 homers, or really anything else.  The focus is on his Game 7 strikeout against Adam Wainwright.  Even the Mets owner, Fred Wilpon, discussed it in a wide ranging interview with The New Yorker.

Fact is, this is just part of the tension between Mets ownership and Beltran.

The breaking point came on the eve of the 2010 season when Beltran opted to follow the advice of his own doctor instead of the advice of team physicians.  As a result of the surgery, Beltran would miss over 100 games, anger the Mets organization, and would ultimately save his career.

It turned out to be a Hall of Fame career.  What is interesting about that is Beltran has had the most success with the Mets, and he played more games with the Mets than with any other team.  As noted, he’s not entirely beloved by the team with whom he is most closely identified.

This creates an opportunity where the Mets can heal some wounds and put on a full court press to try to resolve whatever issues remain between the teams.  Certainly, Omar Minaya’s return to the organization will help on that front.

Another thing that will help is by not issuing Beltran’s #15 again.  What is surprising is that since Beltran’s departure, four Mets have worn his number including Val Pascucci, who was assigned the number shortly after Beltran was traded to the Giants.

Now, with Matt Reynolds gone, no one wears the number 15.  If the Mets were smart, no one else would ever wear it again, and hopefully, in the not too distant future, we will all see that number high above Citi Field next to Mike Piazza‘s 31 and Tom Seaver‘s 41 after he joins them in wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

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