Would Carlos Beltran Be This Good as a Met?

Remember this guy? He was the 7-year, $119M man in Flushing until last July, when he became the bait for Zack Wheeler.

Today, we get to watch Carlos Beltran swing for St. Louis. After playing out 2010 in San Francisco, Beltran settled for a mere two years and $26M to play for the Pujoless Cardinals. Through 49 games this year, Beltran is batting like the All-Star the Mets signed prior to the 2005 season. His 15 HRs match the total he hit with the Mets through twice as many games; his .594 slugging percentage is equal to his career high in 2006; his .988 OPS is 4 points higher than his career high (also in 2006). His legs must be feeling pretty good as well — he’s already swiped 6 bases, which is one less than he stole in 2010 and 2011 combinged.

With Beltran belting the ball the way he is, no one in St. Louis is lamenting the loss of their formerly beloved Prince Albert Pujols — especially since Pujols is hitting only .240 with a sub-.700 OPS on the Left Coast.

How has Beltran put up such big numbers through the first quarter of the season? Is he simply on a tear? Did he spend his winter drinking from the Fountain of Youth? Is he more relaxed in stress-free St. Louis?

Probably, it’s a combination of things allowing this new Cardinal to spread his wings. However, one factor jumps out at me: the supporting cast in St. Louis. When Carlos Beltran hit like a superstar in Houston, it was as a #2 hitter, with sluggers Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent, and Lance Berkman around him. His best years as a Met coincided with people like Carlos Delgado, David Wright, and Jose Reyes all performing at their peak levels. This year, Beltran reunited with a similarly revived Berkman, plus the big bat of Matt Holliday, as well as surprisingly swift starts by Yadier Molina, Jon Jay, Rafael Furcal, and David Freese. There’s no need for Beltran to be “the man” in St. Louis, because so many others are contributing. I think much of Beltran’s under-performance as a Met — in addition to the chronic injuries — had at least something to do with the perception of needing to carry the club, to be the main feared slugger in the lineup. That said, I wonder if Beltran would be performing similarly if he was wearing a Mets uniform today. Also, if Beltran were back in the orange and blue, would David Wright have emerged as the team leader? And finally, would the Mets be in first place right now, rather than looking up at the Nationals?

What do you think? And, are you looking forward to seeing Beltran play tonight? How do you expect the Citi Field crowd to receive him? Should the Mets have tried to sign him last winter — or was it necessary to make room for youngsters such as Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Mike Baxter?

Post your feelings in the comments.

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. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. MikeT June 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm
    Berkman has barely played all year. I should know since I drafted him, and refused a trade that would have netted me Beltran for Berkman straight up because he was eligible at more positions than Beltran. Stupid.

    Beltran would be pretty good as a Met this year. The team would be much better as well, with less pressure on young guys, Duda and Davis would be having better years. The Mets might even be in first place. I advocated for the team to resign him in the off season since two years was really not all that long.

    Praise Beltran.

  2. Paul Festa June 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm
    The 15 hrs would be nice, but he’s still having knee problems. Despite the fact the Mets are very much in it here on June 1st, the focus needs to remain on the future, and Wheeler is a huge part of that.
  3. SiddFinch June 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm
    This was a team that had to get younger with an eye on the future. Trading Carlos was a sad, but necessary reality which netted us a potential ace in Wheeler. We know the Nats are loaded with pitching-Strasberg, Gonzalez, Zimmerman for example. Although a few years behind, by mid-decade a potential trio of Harvey, Wheeler, and Familia will give the vaunted Nats rotation a run for its money and for future division crowns.
  4. Joe June 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm
    I don’t look fwd to it especially since announcers always want to remind me of a bad time in ’06 whenever you know who (it’s like the “Scottish play”) pitches.

    Anyway, as Paul noted, Wheeler was a pretty good deal for a two month rental that didn’t amount to much and 26M is pretty much money for someone who probably would get hurt if he was here and like David Wright will probably come back to earth or is hitting better given who is around him.

    It’s time to move on. If the team spends that sort of money for a corner outfielder, I’d want someone younger.

  5. Mike June 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm
    There has got to be something about being in St. Louis. Honestly, I would have never thought Beltran would be this good, but hats off to him.
  6. Gary S. June 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm
    Best center fielder in history of franchise imho.happy for him for putting up huge numbers this year but he needed to be moved due to injuries and age.If Wheeler pans out it’s a great deal for the mets.
  7. John from Bay Ridge June 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm
    Left out of the discussion is that year after year the NL Central is one of, if not the worst division in baseball. When you play in a division that typically has four teams finishing below .500, you are going to see a lot of mediocre and bad pitchers. I think the level of competition has something to do with his success.
  8. jerseymet June 2, 2012 at 11:04 am
    Kudos to Beltran. I loved him as a Met. The time has moved on.
  9. mic June 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm
    2005 is the time i started posing here nd I have hardly if ever criticised CB. HE is the best CF ever in mets history, and last yr might have been his 2nd best season as a Met after 2006…if he had stayed.
    – We criticised the 7yr 120M contract but hell…how many times has a contract that look EVER worked out? Injuries…over 7yrs who ever is is injury free?
    -We sighed over the deal the cards gave him this off season…guess what…he is earning it!
    – AND..as for Wheeler….Yes he IS the future…but imagine if CB stayed, or was traded and resigned as a no compensation due FA? CB will be a hall of famer i would have liked to see him do it as a Met.
    – As for future. Gee, Reyes could have netted at least 2 Wheelers…
  10. mic June 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm
    pS: Yes we must move on…we were forced to.

    BUT: the same was said by many as applied to Dave Wright and Johan Santana. 2012 Has seen a rebirth of DW and Johan in their value to this organization. It could well have been the same for CB.