Steve Phillips Was Right After All

On national television in May 2009, Steve Phillips made the bold statement that the Mets should trade Carlos Beltran. This caused quite a ruckus in the blogosphere, but I supported the idea. Mind you, my argument for dealing Beltran was wildly different from Phillps’ — but the end result was the same.

Back then, there was still this fantasy brewing that the Mets were a playoff-contending team, and so people thought Beltran was central to their expected success — a “core player” so to speak. Phillips saw Beltran as a “flawed” core player — one who wasn’t as “perfect” as Albert Pujols or Derek Jeter (his examples). Ironically, the true fallacy of Phillips’ argument was that he bought into the same nonsense suggesting that the Mets would be a postseason team in 2009 — his feeling was that the Mets should trade Beltran for a player or players who had more “grit”.

It was dumb on many levels. But if “the ends justify the means”, then Phillips was right on target – May 2009 would have been an ideal time to trade Carlos Beltran.

But not only because Beltran was about to destroy his knee beyond full repair; even if he played a healthy and productive 160 games in ’09, the Mets still would’ve missed the postseason by a wide margin and it still would’ve made good sense to trade Beltran — while his stock was still high.

Interestingly, I thought it would be a good idea to trade Beltran long before the 2009 season began — suggesting a mega-trade with the Dodgers that would also shed Luis Castillo and Brian Schneider and bring back Russell Martin, Brad Penny, Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones, and Cory Wade. Of course, we have no idea whether LA would’ve agreed to such a deal, but it would’ve looked pretty good to them considering how good Beltran looked at the time, and how badly the Jones, Pierre, and Penny contracts were weighing down the Dodgers’ budget. Hindsight is 20-20, but looking back, if the Mets were able to pull off such a deal, they would probably be in a slightly better situation than they are now. Not much better, but maybe the Mets would have close to $16M more in their budget (the sum of Castillo’s and Beltran’s contracts in 2011 minus the $8.5M owed to Pierre). Add that $16M to the $5M they are working with now and you have over $20M — maybe enough to think about adding someone like Carl Crawford or Adam Dunn, or spending more efficiently on several players.

It’s a moot point of course — the Mets are stuck with Beltran, his $18.5M this year, and won’t get a draft pick after he leaves this winter. The proposed deal with the Dodgers was pure fantasy, and unlikely to have been executed by either club at the time. But the point is, the Mets had a window of opportunity to trade Beltran when his value was still high, at a time when those not drinking the Kool-Aid could see that the organization needed a major facelift. Now, of course, it’s more of a facelift that’s needed, the Mets have no leverage in dealing Beltran, and those in charge are looking at a much longer-term plan than they are letting on. It doesn’t make Steve Phillips any less of an idiot, but the irony is scathing.

10-11 Offseason

About the Author

A Mets fan since birth, Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Oh, and he's often a bit cranky.

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