Earlier this week, I wrote an article talking about the Mets outfield dilemma now that Carlos Beltran is playing rehab games for the St. Lucie Mets. I concluded that the best-case scenario would be for the four outfielders to platoon. I also joked that maybe Angel Pagan should take ground balls at second base, giving Jerry Manuel the ability to play all four outfielders at once.
Though the idea for Pagan to play second is far-fetched, it's also pretty unwise.
Ruben Tejada is the current second baseman. Personally, I am a big fan, largely because of his spectacular defense. Tejada is a natural shortstop, who has stepped in at second and played like he has been a second basemen all of his life. Mets announcer Gary Cohen can't help but marvel every game at Tejada's ability to turn double plays, and make hard plays look easy.
Undoubtedly, a good offensive player will win a spot over a good defensive player most of the time. For that, I had expected that hypothetically, if Manuel had to choose between Tejada and Pagan, he would choose Pagan. Tejada, however, is proving to be a better offensive player than we had thought.
The twenty-year-old Tejada is currently hitting .264 with a .328 OBP. While these numbers are only mediocre, that is not what impresses me.
What I am impressed by is his consistency; he currently has a nine-game hitting streak, and has gotten a hit in 13 of the 16 games he has started this year! His 11 runs scored also means that he has scored more than half of the times that he has reached base.
Tejada is the future, and his playing time and at-bats are a valuable experience for him to improve an offensive game that, mixed with superb defense, will make him a good player for years to come.
So if Tejada is not taken out of the lineup for Pagan, that still leaves the Mets with four outfielders. While platooning outfielders is still the most likely option, I have a suggestion.
Why don't the Mets consider trading Carlos Beltran?
Despite his relative inability to stay healthy recently, he undoubtedly has the highest trade value of all of the outfielders. If the Mets want to snag a pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline, maybe they should consider shopping Beltran for a Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt.
Beltran is 33, and becomes a free agent after the 2011 season. He is due $18.5 million this year and next. His hefty price tag and questionable health may be question marks for teams who are looking to unload payroll by trading their superstars, but at the same time, Beltran is still a very talented player, whom every team wouldn't mind having at the top of their lineup.
For the Mets, unloading Beltran would give them a little bit of financial flexibility to resign a newly acquired pitcher. Also, trading Beltran would allow the Mets to keep their current core of youth intact. They would be able to acquire a pitcher while keeping their prospects, as well as the players who have led the Mets to a 42-31 record.
I hate to see a starter lose his job to injury, but at the same time, I hate the prospect of breaking up the current team, which has been a tremendously pleasant surprise in 2010. You know what they say, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
Now, I have to admit that I don't think a Beltran trade is very likely, or even on the mind of the Mets brass. Beltran has a full no-trade clause, teams would be skeptical about picking him up after his knee surgery, and trades of this caliber rarely take place.
But the idea makes sense, and swapping Beltran for a pitcher of equal pedigree could catapult the Mets into the playoffs.
What do you guys think?