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Carlos Beltran is moving to right field full time

Feb 28, 2011, 10:48 AM EDT

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Two weeks ago new Mets manager Terry Collins said of Carlos Beltran: “When he walks in the first day, he’s the center fielder.”

Beltran may have walked into camp as the center fielder, but those plans have apparently already changed, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports that Beltran will be moved to right field full time and Angel Pagan will be the everyday center fielder.

While the time it took for the switch is quicker than expected, the move is anything but surprising. Plenty of outstanding center fielders ceased being assets defensively at Beltran’s age, and that’s without even factoring in his knee problems. Pagan is four years younger and showed last season that he’s a big plus in center field, with Ultimate Zone Rating pegging him as 11.8 runs above average in just 792 innings.

Pagan in center field and Beltran in right field is the Mets’ best defensive alignment, and if the switch also reduces some of the wear and tear on Beltran physically then that’s just a bonus. Beltran seems to recognize that, as Rubin suggests he actually went to Collins to initiate the move in the final season of a seven-year, $119 million contract that has seen him play exclusively center field.

  1. BC - Feb 28, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Oh man, that puts us OVER THE TOP! World Series here we come!

  2. cur68 - Feb 28, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Hey, this is shaping up cosmic-like for me. I had suggested that where he go and lo! that is where he did go. Earlier this AM, in an espresso fueled typing frenzy, I suggested Perez learn to knuckleball, since there are studabakers that move faster than his pitches. Maybe that too will come true?

  3. chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    Good. It’s too risky to put him back in CF. I think he’ll be signing his next contract with an AL team too, so he can DH if necessary. Makes sense and it will extend his career. He’s still a good hitter.

  4. chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    The fact that Beltran initiated the move to RF says he is not a selfish player, contrary to some of the criticism he’s gotten from a few Mets fans. Despite his knee injury, I think he was one of Omar’s best moves, and when healthy, he’s performed extremely well. I’d do that contract over in a heartbeat. The knee condition could not have been anticipated.

    • BC - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      If he proves the knee is healthy and has a good first half, yeah, I’d do something contract-wise.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 4:43 PM

        BC, I wasn’t suggesting the Mets re-sign him. His knees are too much a risk. He belongs in the AL where he can DH if necessary. I was just saying that it was a worthwhile contract back in 2004, and I’d do it over again.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:48 PM

      His first year was terrible. His next year was great. Years 3 and 4 were very good, but not great, and then years 5 and 6 he missed 169 games. How does this clarify him as “performed extremely well”? Maybe if he weren’t averaging $17 million a year, it would be OK. But for the money, the Mutts didn’t get nearly enough great play out of Beltran.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 4:37 PM

        For his 4 first seasons with the Mets, he averaged a 5.475 WAR. Name a centerfielder in all of baseball besides Sizemore who had a higher average WAR during that time period. So for more than half his contract, Beltran was the second best centerfielder in all of baseball, and one of the elite outfielders in the game.

        I would certainly call that performing “extremely well”

        The injuries which started in 2009 could not be anticipated.

        For a 5.475 average WAR, 17 million is actually a bargain and not overpaying, especially if you look at the price the Yankees paid for A-Rod’s WAR and what the Phillies paid for Howard’s 2.0 WAR last year. Do you know Howard has only posted a WAR above 5.0 only once in his career?

        Again, I’d do the Beltran contract over in a nano second. He was worth every paid for the times he’s been on the field.

      • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 4:45 PM

        “He was worth every PENNY paid …”

    • henryd3rd - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:51 PM

      That dude had one great post season before Omar signed him to that humongous contract. He never was more the an slightly above average player; but the Mets saw what the Yankees were doing and felt they had to make a big splash on the back pages of the tabloids. He’s a career .280 hitter and has never been one to carry a team. Just look it up!

      Carlos, can you spell DH? You better learn how; because unless you can will your body to stay healthy that’s your next career move. Maybe Scott BorAss can convince some American league GM that you still have plenty of gas left in the tank and offer you one more humongous contract?

      • chrisny3 - Feb 28, 2011 at 4:41 PM

        For his first four seasons with the Mets, he averaged a 5.475 WAR. He has certainly been an elite outfielder during that time.

        Can you name many players who had a higher average WAR during that time and who weren’t paid more than him? Especially outfielders?

        He has been worth every penny.

  5. browngoat25 - Feb 28, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    There will always be a segment of Mets fans that will never forgive him for taking that curveball from Wainright. Beltran is an under appreciated player. Yes the injuries hurt his performance, but when he was on the field, he was excellent.

  6. aronmantoo - Feb 28, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    For the fact that it’s his decision and not managements? Makes me think he IS a team player, We nrrd him in the lineup at leat 135 games

  7. dickclydesdale - Feb 28, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Belting Beltran was the best all around player in baseball but his heyday might be over.

  8. nittanylion0 - Feb 28, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Seven year contracts that live that long (non opt outs) are usually mangled at some point. Beltran was a joy to watch and I can’t believe it’s been 7 years. I’ll miss him, but he needs to go to the AL. Hope he goes out on a positive note.

  9. mrznyc - Mar 1, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    He read the ball off the bat better than anyone I ever saw – AND – I saw plenty of Mays and Ashburn who were the gold standard. Not a hitter on the same level as either of them but certainly respectable, and an absolute joy to watch in the outfield – Didn’t really get the applause he deserved because he always seemed to be camped under the ball – Balls that other outfielders made spectacular dives to catch.

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