|Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen at a press conference last season. Photo by Jason Schott.|
In the wake of being revealed as one of the ringleaders of the Houston Astros sign-stealing operation in their 2017 championship season, Carlos Beltran has stepped down as Mets manager before even managing a game.
This is the right move, as Beltran was hired for his supposed leadership as a player on that team. That reputation is now severely clouded by his role in instigating the creation of the cheating apparatus with video monitors and banging trash cans.
The Mets also thought Beltran would be a good fit since he played with the team for seven years, but the problem was that his most memorable moment as a Met was taking that strike three from Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright to end the 2006 NLCS.
It was practically the opposite of Aaron Boone being greeted by video of his 2003 pennant-clinching home run when he was hired as Yankees Manager a couple years ago.
The Mets never returned to the postseason with Beltran, whose tenure also included battles with management over injuries and a less-than-amicable parting when he was traded to San Francisco in 2011.
Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and Executive Vice President and General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen released the following statement, "We met with Carlos last night and again this morning and agreed to mutually part ways. This was not an easy decision. Considering the circumstances, it became clear to all parties that it was not in anyone's best interest for Carlos to move forward as manager of the New York Mets. We believe that Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. We are confident that this will not be the final chapter in his baseball career. We remain excited about the talent on this team and committed to reaching our goals of winning now and in the future."
The Mets' move follows the Astros firing of General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch on Monday after MLB suspended them for a year for their roles in the scandal, and Boston took the same course of action with their manager, Alex Cora, when his role in the operation was disclosed while he was Houston's bench coach in 2017.
Beltran said in a statement released by the Mets, "At a meeting this morning with Jeff and Brodie we mutually agreed to part ways. I'm grateful to them for giving me the opportunity, but we agreed this decision is in the best interest of the team. I couldn't let myself be a distraction for the team. I wish the entire organization success in the future."
There are two obvious choices for the Mets to make this right and make the most of the team they have built, which they feel can contend for a championship: Terry Collins or David Wright.
Terry Collins, who managed the Mets, is the obvious choice to take over, as he became a beloved figure during the team's 2015 pennant run. He willed the Mets back into the playoffs the next season and was let go after a lackluster 2017 season.
The last couple of seasons, Collins has been an advisor to the front office, so he still has a keen knowledge of the team, which still has plenty of faces from 2015, including their two top pitchers, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
The key to convincing Collins, who is 70 years old, young compared to some presidential candidates, to come back is to make it a one-year deal, with the promise that this could be the year the Mets break through and win it all.
David Wright would satisfy the qualities in which they hired Beltran (former Met, respected leader in clubhouse) and then some: beloved by the fans, one of the greatest players in their franchise history (Beltran is at the top in a lot of statistical categories, but would never be in the same category as Seaver, Piazza, and the 1986 legends - Wright has a seat at that table).
Since Wright was a member of the Mets until 2018, he has the respect of the clubhouse and an intimate knowledge of this team. Like Collins, been an advisor since then, so it's clear he wants to remain active with the game, specifically this team.
It will be interesting if the Mets choose to go back with their experienced long-time skipper or try another rookie manager, as Beltran would have been, and Mickey Callaway was when they hired him a couple of years ago (Mickey did have plenty of experience as a pitching coach, whereas Beltran and Wright have no coaching experience anywhere).
This Beltran situation looks bad now, but the Mets can make this a blessing in disguise and give their team an unexpected boost heading into spring training.