Val Pascucci

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Should Beltran’s Number Have Been Re-Issued?

The New York Mets organization has been quite reticent to retire their best player’s jersey numbers.  From a player perspective, hat is an honor which has been bestowed upon just Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, two players who just so happen to be Hall of Famers who have worn a Mets cap on their Hall of Fame plaque.

With respect to Piazza, once he departed via free agency, the team did not reissue his No. 31.  Instead, like what we now see with Gary Carter‘s No. 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s No. 17, the number was taken out of circulation.  Unlike Carter and Hernandez, the Mets retired Piazza’s number.

What is interesting is Carlos Beltran is seen by most as a sure fire Hall of Famer, and it is eminently possible he enters the Hall wearing a Mets cap.  Given precedent, you would think the number would be reserved for future retirement.  Instead, it has been reissued to Val Pascucci, Fred Lewis, Travis d’Arnaud, Bob Geren, Matt Reynolds, and finally Luis Guillorme.

In this latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we ask the question about whether the Mets should have treated Beltran’s number like the Mets greats before him, or whether there is no issue with 15 being given to other players:

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

No uniform number discussion is important to me until 8 goes on the wall.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

I could go either way about retiring Beltran’s number but have to agree with Metstradamus’ excellent point. Let’s wait for 8.

Michael Baron (MLB)

I’m wishy washy on this subject regarding Beltran. He is the best center fielder they ever had, and easily among the top 10 players they’ve ever had. But he doesn’t identify with the base that way – people connect Beltran with that Adam Wainwright curveball in 2006. So if the Mets were to unofficially retire Beltran’s number by no longer issuing it, that could generate a negative discussion which, to be honest is avoidable and unnecessary. The team knows that and is obviously very sensitive to negative press and discussions, so it might actually be best to remain at a status quo on this. But ask me tomorrow and I might feel a bit different.

Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus)

As great as Beltran was as a Met, the only way it’ll be taken out of circulation is if he goes into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap on his plaque. Keith Hernandez was a team captain and, like Beltran, was a top hitter and fielder. But his No. 17 was given to the likes of Graeme Lloyd and Jose Lima. If Hernandez, who was more beloved as a Met than Beltran ever was, can’t get his number out of circulation, then Beltran won’t either.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Let’s keep getting some use out of 15. Maybe Luis Guillorme will make us want to retire it twice.

Tim Ryder (MMO & FOB)

As much as I loved watching Beltran with the Mets and the countless times I’ve defended him for looking at strike one, two, and three in Game 7 (three of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen to this day), I personally do not retire his 15 or even take it out of circulation. When he gets into Cooperstown, which he will, if they stick a Mets hat on his head, I think at that point they have to retire it. Until then, if it were up to me, I say no.. He was successful everywhere else he went. That’s hallowed ground for this organization. Until David Wright‘s #5 gets a spot up there, no one else from that era should.

Dilip Srindhar (MMO & MMN)

Yes. Carlos Beltran is very deserving of this honor. Beltran from 2005-2011 hit .282/.369/.508 with a 130 OPS+. To put this into perspective, Mike Piazza hit .289/.367/.534 with a 133 OPS+ from 1999-2005. Also add on that Beltran was an elite defensive CF during most of his Mets career. Beltran seems quite likely to enter the Hall-of-Fame as a Met. Beltran is an all-time Met and deserves the respect that the others before him have received. The Mets retire very few numbers and there is no reason Carlos Beltran shouldn’t be next along with David Wright. There has been some tension with the Mets and their fans against Carlos Beltran the few years. But fans have started to realize how great and impactful of a player he was and hopefully the Mets do too.

Mets Daddy

The biggest issue with the Mets not taking out of circulation is like many things with the Wilpon family, it has the stench of being personal.  It’s why we saw the team have a patch for Rusty Staub but not former owner Nelson Doubleday, a man who owned the team during the franchise’s greatest run.

The decision reeks of pettiness related to Beltran striking out in the 2006 NLCS and for his going against team advice to have career saving knee surgery.

Honestly, I’m not sure the team ever considered taking his number out of circulation, and if the topic was raised, it was quickly dismissed.

When Beltran does get inducted ino the Hall of Fame, I seriously doubt we see the Mets replicate the Yankees efforts to heal old wounds like we saw when Dave Winfield was inducted, and in the event Beltran does opt to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, part of me doubts the Mets take the next step in deciding to retire his number.

One thing I don’t doubt is the terrific writing from the people who participate in this Roundtable.  I encourage you to take the time to read what they’ve written about Beltran, Carter, and a host of all other Mets topics.

 

 

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.

Beltran Wearing A Mets Cap On His Hall of Fame Plaque Isn’t a Guarantee

Now that Carlos Beltran has officially retired, the Hall of Fame discussions can now begin.  In the case of Beltran, one of the Top 10 centerfielders of all-time and the best Puerto Rican baseball player not named Roberto Clemente, the discussion for him is not whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame.  Rather, the discussion is what cap he will wear when he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.

As we learned from Gary Carter, Beltran is not going to be able to just pick whatever hat he wants.  This means no Astros, despite him winning the World Series there, and no Cardinals, where he cemented his place in Cooperstown.  Unless the Hall of Fame invokes the Reggie Jackson, you can go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee regardless of tenure with them, Beltran is going to have three choices: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) Blank.

Under normal circumstances, the case for the Mets should be quite easy with him playing more games in a Mets uniform than with any other team.  Beltran had his best years in Queens posting 31.3 of his 69.8 career WAR with the team.  He won all of his Gold Gloves with the Mets, and five of his nine All Star appearances came as a member of the Mets.  Some of his greatest highlights (and lowlights) came with the Mets.  In many ways, his entire career is defined by what he did with the Mets.

With this being the Mets, this isn’t normal circumstances.  There are indications this was and continues to be a very strained relationship.

The biggest indication of this was the fight over Beltran’s 2010 knee surgery.  It created a he said – she said situation where Boras insisted the Mets were informed, and the Mets acted as if they were blindsided.  For younger fans, the perfect analogy to this was the hysteria surrounding Matt Harvey and his innings limits during the 2015 season.

Beltran had knee problems for two seasons, and when push came to shove, he had the surgery upon the recommendation of a world class knee surgeon.  The Mets position was Beltran needed to clear medical decisions through them.  As the New York Post reported, “the Mets are claiming this was done without clearance and that the Mets are threatening to take some form of action.”

Action never came, but the bad feelings persisted.  Much of that can be directly attributed to Fred Wilpon’s interview with the New Yorker:

At one point, I mentioned to Wilpon the theory that the Mets might be cursed. He gave a sort of half laugh, and said, “You mean”—and then pantomimed a checked swing of the bat.

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When Carlos Beltran came up, I mentioned his prodigious post-season with the Astros in 2004, when he hit eight home runs, just before he went to the Mets as a free agent. Wilpon laughed, not happily. “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series,” he said, referring to himself. In the course of playing out his seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets, Beltran, too, has been hobbled by injuries. “He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”

Wilpon reportedly apologized, and Beltran being the man he was accepted said apology.

After that, the Mets did give him the perfunctory video montage his first game back at Citi Field.  However, that was about it from the team.

Immediately after being traded from the Mets, Beltran’s number 15 was immediately assigned to Val Pascucci, and it has been assigned to Fred Lewis, Travis d’ArnaudBob Geren, and Matt Reynolds.  This was not done with Mike Piazza‘s 31 or Tom Seaver‘s 41.  In sum, the Mets not taking the number out of circulation indicates the team had no intentions of retiring the number.  That’s odd considering Beltran’s Hall of Fame resume and tenure with the Mets.

It’s also odd how long it took the Mets to acknowledge Beltran’s retirement and to provide well wishes to one of the best players in their history:

In that time frame, the Mets wished Hasdrubal Cabrera a Happy Birthday, corrected the tweet to say Asdrubal Cabrera, and tweeted the April 15 glove promotion.  The silence on Beltran was almost deafening.

It seems to be symbolic on a frost between both sides as evidenced in Beltran’s Players’ Tribune piece.  Beltran talked about getting called up and breaking into the majors with the Royals.  He waxed poetic about tips he received from Reggie Jackson during his time with the Yankees.  He spoke about the championship run with the Astros.  As for the Mets, he mentioned getting traded in 2011.  Overall, there wasn’t any quip about something positive that happened to him during his time in Flushing.

There could be many reasons for that, but given the history between the two sides, it doesn’t seem accidental.

Overall, there seems to be some chasm between the Mets and Beltran.  It’s a real shame too because Beltran’s Hall of Fame case was built during his time with the Mets.  For the Mets, they have not had many players as great as Beltran in their history.  Beltran is definitively their best center fielder, and quite possibly, the best outfielder in their history.

Five years from now, when Beltran is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he should be talking about wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, and the Mets should be planning a number retirement ceremony.  Based upon what we’ve seen over the past few years, that doesn’t seem as much of a certainty as it should.

The good news is that there’s still time for the Mets to sell Beltran on wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.  That starts with the easiest decision imaginable with the team inducting him into their own Hall of Fame.  It would also behoove them to take 15 out of circulation.  This is just a step, but an important one – one the Mets need to do if they want to add a third Hall of Famer to the legacy of the New York Mets organization.

 

Time to Find Matt Reynolds a New Number

Since Mike Piazza left the Mets in free agency, no Met had worn 31. The number was taken out of circulation until he made the Hall of Fame. Once that happened, the Mets announced his #31 was going to be retired this summer. The Mets were following their long unwritten policy of only retiring the numbers of Mets Hall of Famers. 

It makes you question why the Mets have continuously issued Carlos Beltran‘s number 15 since he was traded away from the Mets. 

They reissued the number to Val Pascucci the same year Beltran was traded away. The number was then worn the following year by Fred LewisTravis d’Arnaud tried it out for the following two years before switching to the number seven. At that point, former bench coach, Bob Geren wore 15 for the 2015 season. Now, Matt Reynolds has become the latest Met to wear Beltran’s number. 

Make no mistake. It is Beltran’s number. 

With Beltran hitting his 400th homerun this year, he had further cemented his Hall of Fame case. He’s only the fourth switch hitter with 400 homeruns. He’s only one of three players with 500 doubles, 400 homeruns, and 300 stolen bases. He’s been a true five tool player that has the WAR, WAR7, and JAWS score to deserve induction. All of this is before taking into account his postseason heroics. Make no mistake, he is a Hall of Famer. 

For his part, Beltran has said he could see himself going into the Hall of Fame as a Met

However, at this point, it doesn’t seem the Mets are interested in encouraging Beltran to enter the Hall of Fame as a Met. They say it loud and clear every time they reissue his number to other players. It was clear going into this year that Beltran was going to be a Hall of Famer. The number was vacated with Bob Geren’s departure. The Mets should’ve set the number aside until that day the Mets retired his number. 

They’re not. Instead, the Mets are going to let their differences and acrimony get in the way of honoring a great Met. 

Beltran gave his all with the Mets. He was the best baseball player on the planet in 2006 leading the team to the NLCS. He’s in the Top Six in WAR as a Met (seven spots ahead of Piazza). He’s in the Top Ten in runs (eighth), doubles (seventh), homeruns (sixth), RBI (sixth), OBP (sixth), and SLG (fifth). He made six All Star teams and won three Gold Gloves. He hit the final Mets homerun in Shea Stadium. 

Beltran was a great Met. He will be a Hall of Famer. He should be in the Hall of Fame as a Met, and his number 15 should forever be on the LF wall. It’s why his number shouldn’t have been issued to Matt Reynolds. 

Don’t Re-issue 15

For one reason or anotherTravis d’Arnaud switched uniform numbers with bench coach Bob Geren heading into the 2015 season. Now that Bob Geren has left the Mets for the Dodgers, the Mets should not give out the number 15 again. 

It’s what the Mets have traditionally done with numbers they have anticipated they will retire. After Tom Seaver was traded to the Reds, no other Met would wear the number 41. After Mike Piazza left the Mets as a free agent, the Mets never re-issued 31. These were two future Hall of Famers that were expected to enter the Hall of Fame as a Met. These are the only players to have their numbers retired by the team. With them, the Mets have created the standard that they will retire the numbers of players that have entered the Hall of Fame as a Met. 

With Carlos Beltran announcing he may retire after this year, the Mets should give him similar treatment. 

Beltran is coming to the end of a terrific career, one that is certainly worthy of the Hall of Fame. Right now, it appears it’ll be up to Beltran as to whether he enters the Hall as a Met, Royal, or a blank cap. For what it’s worth, Beltran has said that if he receives the honor, it’s possible he could enter the Hall of Fame as a Met. If so, the Mets should effectively retire the number now instead of handing it out to the Fred Lewises and Val Pascuccis of the world. Looking at the Mets current roster, the number hasn’t been assigned. The players without designated numbers aren’t players of Beltran’s caliber. 

d’Arnaud should be the last Met to ever wear the number 15. Hopefully, one day the Mets can retire the number 15. Even better, it would be great to retire number 7 for d’Arnaud.