MLB Spring Training: Carlos Beltran's Shift to RF and What It Means for Mets

Jim MancariCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2011

MLB Spring Training: Carlos Beltran's Shift to RF and What It Means for Mets

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    Today, the New York Mets announced that three-time Gold Glove center fielder, Carlos Beltran, will be shifting to right field this season.

    Beltran missed the entire first half of last season, which allowed current Mets’ center fielder Angel Pagan to show his skills at the position.

    Beltran is 33 years old and entering the final year of his contract.

    Though it’s unlikely he will be a New York Met beyond this season, (if he even makes it through this season), he will have a chance to help the Mets organization with this move.

    Here are 10 reasons why this move is beneficial to the Mets.

10. Decision Came Early in Spring Training

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    Since the decision was made early in spring training, Beltran will have plenty of time to adjust to playing right field.

    For his career, he has only played three games in right, but he will see extra reps each day so he can get comfortable.

    He is close to 100 percent healthy and will get moving on the position change as soon as he can.

9. Beltran Still Has Good Range

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    Just because he’s making the shift doesn’t mean Beltran is not a good outfielder.

    When healthy, he is still a great defensive player who can cover a lot of ground.

    Citi Field’s right side is quite an adventure, so having someone out there that can cover ground will take away would-be extra-base hits.

8. Angel Pagan Has More Range

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    At this stage of his career, Beltran realized that it would be a matter of time before he shifted to one of the corner spots.

    Pagan has more range than Beltran and certainly showed it last year.

    The Mets will benefit from the up-the-middle defense Pagan provides.

7. Pagan Played Well in Center Last Season

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    During the first half of last season, Pagan filled in beautifully for Beltran. He was arguably one of the top outfield defenders in the league for the entire first half of last season.

    When Beltran returned, he willingly shifted to right to accommodate the Gold Glover.

    Beltran wasn’t the same player last year, and it showed with his limited range in center.

    Beltran’s shift to right opens up center for Pagan, who rightfully won this competition early last season.

6. Beltran Can Rely on Pagan

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    The benefit of having two center fielders playing next to each other is simple: not many balls should find the gap.

    Both can cover a ton of ground, so they have a chance to limit the number of extra-base hits.

    The shift to right won’t be an overnight process for Carlos Beltran. However, having the confidence that he can rely on Angel Pagan should allow for a smooth transition.

    Pagan idolizes Beltran, so the two have formed a solid connection.

5. Beltran’s Knee Can Heal Properly

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    Of course, right field for a Major League team is still an incredible responsibility.

    However, Beltran will not be responsible for covering the deep balls in the gap like he once did. This will allow Beltran’s ailing knee to heal properly.

    A healthy Beltran is a five-tool player, so the Mets will do anything to ensure their talented star is ready to play.

4. The Move Can Help Beltran’s Offense

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    The move to right should positively impact Beltran’s offense as well.

    Once again, this ties into Beltran’s health. Without having to cover the majority of the ground in the outfield, Beltran’s knee will heal properly.

    He said he felt pain in his knee last year when he swung the bat, which affected his hitting.

    Beltran may not put up 30 HR or 100 RBI, but he should put up good numbers if healthy. He will need to be productive since he is the Mets’ projected clean-up hitter.

3. Establishes Pagan as a Leader

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    As the center fielder, Angel Pagan instantly becomes one of the leaders of this team, which has lacked a bona fide leader for some time.

    I may be biased for having played the position, but center field is the most important position on the field. Any ball the center fielder can get to is his.

    Pagan can take charge out there and continue to build on his breakout season from last year.

2. Terry Collins Handled Situation Perfectly

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    In his first real test as Mets’ manager, Terry Collins succeeded with flying colors.

    Collins brought Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan together and put the decision in Beltran’s hands.

    If Beltran felt he could still play the position at 100 percent, he would be the center fielder. However, Pagan would be ready to step in if necessary.

    Though Beltran said he would eventually regain the strength to play center, he decided that Mets would be best suited with Pagan at the position moving forward.

    Rather than telling Beltran what he had to do, Collins handled the situation perfectly and actually let Beltran make the announcement himself.

1. Shows No One Is Above the Team

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    Despite recent injuries, Beltran has had an impressive Major League career.

    However, the Mets established early on that the no one is above the team. The Mets will need many things to click simultaneously this year if they have a chance of competing.

    Beltran’s move to right could be the first of several surprises in store for the 2011 New York Mets.